Reviews

Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings Account Review: 0.01% APY, $25 Minimum Deposit

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Wells Fargo is a major bank with 6,000 physical branch locations and 13,000 ATMs. It acquired Wachovia for $15 billion dollars in 2008 and now serves 70 million customers globally. You’ve probably seen Wells Fargo make headlines recently for news that’s a little less pleasant than the huge acquisition.

In 2016, Wells Fargo accepted responsibility for employing sales associates and managers who were opening fake debit and credit card accounts under customer names without their consent to meet sales goals.

Wells Fargo was fined $185 million dollars for the account fraud. The bank refunded $5 million dollars to customers affected and terminated 5,300 employees tied to the misconduct. Wells Fargo announced the removal of sales goals at retail branches to dial back on the aggressive sales culture that led to fraud. And executives went on an apology tour at the end of 2016 to restore consumer faith.

Despite the scandal, Wells Fargo is still one of the largest U.S. banks and offers many products, from savings accounts to mortgage and education loans.

In this post, we’re going to dive into the Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings account to review the terms and how this account could fit into your savings strategy.

Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings Account Basics

The Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings account has the traditional fees and terms that you can expect from a brick-and-mortar bank. There’s a monthly fee if you don’t follow certain rules and a minimum balance required to open the account.

Here’s an overview of the account fees and terms:

  • Minimum deposit required to open an account – $25
  • Annual percentage yield (APY) – 0.01%
  • Monthly fee of $5, unless:
    • You maintain a $300 daily balance, or
    • You set up and maintain monthly automatic deposits of $25 or more into the account
    • You are under the age of 18 or 19 in Alabama

Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings Account Tools

Extra features of the Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings account include tools that encourage you to save more money.

If you sign up for the Save As You Go transfer tool, Wells Fargo will move $1 from your checking account to your savings account every time you:

  • Pay bills through Wells Fargo Bill Pay
  • Make a debit card purchase
  • Make automatic payments from the connected checking account

Let’s say you make 20 qualifying transactions a month. In this scenario, $240 per year will be transferred into your savings account automatically. That can add up.

You can also set up monthly or daily transfers from a linked checking account to your savings account. If you set up monthly transfers, the minimum you can transfer each month is $25.

If you do daily transfers, you have to transfer at least $1.

How to Apply for the Way2Save Savings Account

To apply for a Wells Fargo savings account, you’ll need your:

  • Social Security number
  • Valid ID (driver’s license, state ID, or Matricula card)
  • $25 to deposit (If you already have a Wells Fargo account, you can transfer $25 from it; you can also use a debit or credit card, or check for this deposit.)

Filling out the application gives Wells Fargo permission to pull your credit history. Your application can be denied if you have negative history from other bank accounts like unpaid overdraft fees.

A Comparison of Fees and APY Against Our Top Choice for Savings

The APY offered by Wells Fargo for the Way2Save Savings account is nothing to write home about.

Wells Fargo offers the Way2Save Savings account with just 0.01% APY when other online-only and credit union savings accounts offer as much as 1.05% APY.

We have a roundup of the best savings accounts that we update regularly here for you to check out.

As for fees and account terms, there are also several savings accounts in the roundup we mention above that have the Way2Save Savings account beat.

Wells Fargo charges $5 per month in the event that you can’t maintain the minimum $300 daily balance and you don’t have enough money to set up $25 monthly automatic transfers from checking to savings.

Let’s be real here, life happens, and there may be a situation where you’re in a financial pinch and can’t meet these conditions.

In comparison, the High Yield Savings account from Synchrony is currently our top recommendation and doesn’t have the same fine print. The Synchrony High Yield Savings account offers 1.05% APY with no minimum account balance required and no monthly fees.

APY of the Way2Save Savings account from Wells Fargo vs. High Yield Savings from Synchrony

Both accounts compound interest daily and pay out monthly.

If you keep $1,000 in a Wells Fargo account for 12 months at 0.01% APY, you’ll earn just $2 in interest for the year. Barely enough for a coffee.

If you put $1,000 in the Synchrony High Yield Savings account for a year at 1.05% APY, you’ll earn about $21 in interest. That’s a few mornings worth of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

APY-Way2save-2

Of course, this is savings you shouldn’t be using for a caffeine fix, but you get the idea. When your money is sitting in a savings account, it should be earning you as much money as possible.

Downside of Having Savings Connected to Checking

Wells Fargo touts the ease of connecting your Wells Fargo checking account to a savings account as one of the Way2Save Savings account benefits, but that’s not always ideal.

Keeping all of your cash in accounts that are connected to each other may cause you to rely on savings more often than you should. If you’re already a Wells Fargo checking account customer, keeping a Way2Save Savings account for emergencies in addition to an online-only account could be a good savings strategy.

In fact, it’s the strategy that I use as a Wells Fargo customer. I put money that I may need more urgently into the Wells Fargo savings account. The rest I put in a savings account that’s harder to reach. It can be easier to resist temptation and grow savings when money isn’t sitting pretty in an account you have access to instantly.

Should You Open a CD Instead?

To answer this question, CDs can be a good choice. A CD with Wells Fargo — not so much.

A certificate of deposit is an account that you put money into for a certain term, and the money earns interest. During the CD term, you’re not able to deposit any money into the account. You can get charged a fee if you withdraw money before the CD matures. The longer you hold money in a CD account, the more interest you’ll earn.

This type of account is one you may want to open instead of another savings account if you have extra funds that you do not need for a long period of time.

Wells Fargo offers standard and special CDs requiring a minimum deposit of $2,500 to $5,000. These accounts earn 0.01% APY to 0.50% APY plus an interest bonus if you have the CD linked to a Portfolio by Wells Fargo product. Find out more about Wells Fargo CDs here.

Interestingly enough, the APY for Wells Fargo CDs is lower than what you can get from one of the regular high-yield savings accounts we have in our “best of” roundup. You can check out that roundup here.

If you’re shopping for a CD with a more competitive rate and a minimal initial deposit, Ally Bank is a good place to start. Ally Bank has a CD that requires no minimum balance to open and pays out 1.20% APY.

Find out more about Ally Bank CDs here and a roundup of our other favorite CDs here.

TAGS: ,

About MagnifyMoney

Credit One Bank Review: Average Credit Welcome But Complicated Terms

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The information related to the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Credit One Bank (not to be confused with Capital One Bank) specializes in credit card products that come with free credit score monitoring and cash back rewards perks. The Credit One Bank product line also includes credit-building cards that you can qualify for with less-than-perfect credit.

The potential drawbacks of choosing a Credit One Bank credit card are the fees and conditions that can apply to your account, depending on your creditworthiness.

Credit One Bank Credit Card Terms

Credit One Bank Credit Card TermsCurrently, Credit One Bank offers three main credit cards including the Cash Back Rewards Visa, the Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit, and the Official NASCAR Visa.

However, the account terms for each card above including the interest rate, annual fee, and rewards program varies, depending on your creditworthiness. This means Credit One Bank will take a look at your credit history and income before offering your credit card terms and conditions.

There are 26 available credit card agreements you may be offered by Credit One Bank after applying. You can find them here. Fortunately, you can prequalify to review which specific terms you will receive, and the good news is this prequalification won’t impact your credit score.

Interest Rates, Fees, and Fine Print

Credit One Bank does provide an easier to read terms-and-conditions disclosure document with a range of the possible fees, interest rates, and terms you may encounter as a cardholder. You can find the condensed terms and conditions here.

We’ve also put together a quick overview of the facts:

  • The minimum credit line is $300
  • Variable interest rates start at 15.90% to 24.40% APR when you open an account
  • Accounts may or may not have a payment grace period
  • The annual fee ranges from $0 to $75 the first year
  • The annual fee after the first year is $0 to $99
  • If you add on an authorized user, the fee is $19 annually
  • The late payment fee is up to $37
  • The returned payment fee is up to $35

As you can see from the terms above, the cost of borrowing from Credit One Bank can vary greatly, specifically when it comes to the annual fee. You can pay no annual fee at all or up to $75 the first year and $99 for each following year. That’s no small amount of money.

For the first year, the annual fee is charged to your account right away. This means when you first receive the card the annual feel will be subtracted from your available credit line. After the first year, the annual fee may be charged all at once or split into 12 monthly payments.

The payment grace period

Another area besides fees to draw attention to is the payment grace period. The account you qualify for may or may not have one.

A payment grace period is a certain amount of days that credit card issuers give you to pay the bill before applying interest. Credit cards that don’t have a grace period begin charging interest on the day the purchase hits your account. For example, if you were to buy a nice, new couch on a credit card today, interest would start applying to that purchase today.

Again, terms vary, depending on creditworthiness, so it’s possible you can get the best terms that Credit One Bank has to offer, including the lowest possible interest rate, no annual fee, and an account with a payment grace period. But you should be aware of the most expensive scenario.

Cash Back Rewards and Card Benefits

Credit One Bank offers five cash back rewards programs and a few additional card benefits.

There are three cash back programs that reward you for everyday spending like gas, groceries, and dining, and two other programs that reward you for auto and NASCAR.com related purchases.

Here are the the five rewards programs:

Cash Back Rewards Program

  • 1% cash back on eligible gas, groceries, mobile phone service, internet service, and cable and satellite TV service; OR
  • 1.1% cash back on eligible dining purchases and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases; OR
  • 1% cash back on all eligible purchases.

NASCAR Cash Back Rewards Program

  • 1% cash back on eligible gas and automotive purchases, double cash back on NASCAR.com purchases; OR
  • 1% cash back on all eligible purchases, double cash back on NASCAR.com purchases.

If you qualify for a cash back program, the cash back that you earn each month will be credited to your account statements. The cash back credited to your account doesn’t count as a payment, so you’ll need to make your regular minimum payment to keep your card in good standing.

Additional card benefits

As mentioned, free credit score tracking and a credit report summary are included. Visa Zero Fraud Liability is another benefit and means you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Visa account if you report them in a timely manner.

How to Prequalify for Credit One Bank Credit Cards

On the Credit One Bank website, you can prequalify for a card without a hard inquiry. You just need to type in your address, Social Security number, birthdate, and income.

Make sure to read through the terms you receive after prequalification for the interest rate, the fees, and whether you get a payment grace period before thinking about moving forward with the full application.

The Cost of Using a Credit One Bank Card

So, what’s the cost? That’s always the most important question.

Taking a look at the cost of cash back rewards first, the interest rate range offered by Credit One Bank is slightly higher than other rewards cards with similar cash back offers.

Here are a few cash back alternatives with lower interest rates and no annual fee:

  • The Citi Double Cash offers 2% cash back and interest from 13.49% to 23.49% APR with no annual fee
  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% cash back and 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. After that, 15.49%–24.24% variable APR. There is no annual fee.
  • The Quicksilver from Capital One offers 1.5% cash back and 0% intro APR for nine months; 13.49%-23.49% variable APR after that. There is no annual fee.

For the most part, the cheaper cash back rewards cards listed above are also ones that require decent credit, which may be a reason why you would try applying with Credit One Bank instead.

However, Credit One Bank cards can come with fees you need to be mindful of before thinking they’re an ideal alternative. You may qualify for Credit One Bank with less-than-perfect credit, but the catch is you may also get approved for less-than-desirable credit card terms like high interest and a high annual fee.

Example of what it costs to borrow

To analyze the cost of borrowing from Credit One Bank, let’s take the terms and conditions of the very first card that appears on the Credit One Bank account agreement list. (You can find it again here.)

This card has:

  • 24.15% variable APR
  • $75 annual fee the first year
  • $99 annual fee the following years
  • No payment grace period
  • 1% cash back on gas and grocery spending

If you charge $500 of furniture to this card as soon as you get it, it’ll cost you about $62 in interest to pay the balance off in 12 months with regular payments of $51 per month.

The exact interest cost will vary, depending on interest rate fluctuations and when you make the purchase during the month. (Remember, there’s no grace period.)

Payment Interest Principal
$51 $10 $459
$51 $9.23 $417.23
$51 $8.39 $374.62
$51 $7.53 $331.15
$51 $6.66 $286.81
$51 $5.77 $241.48
$51 $4.86 $195.34
$51 $3.93 $148.27
$51 $2.98 $100.25
$51 $2.02 $51.26
$51 $1.03 $1.29

In total, you would pay about $137 (interest plus the $75 annual fee) to borrow $500 during your first year as a cardholder. The next year, you also have another $99 in annual fees ($8.25 per month) to look forward to paying before even swiping your card on new purchases.

From this example, you can see fees play a big role in costs and are a factor you want to measure if you prequalify for a Credit One Bank credit card.

Another caveat to this is if you planned to use this card for cash back specifically, you would need to pay off your balance the same day you make a purchase. Otherwise, interest charges from having no grace period can eat away at the cash back earned.

Other Ways to Borrow Money and to Build Credit

The big advantage of Credit One Bank is that you can prequalify without a hard inquiry so it doesn’t hurt to find out what terms you will receive. There are a few other credit card issuers that offer the same convenience. If you’re not sure whether you can qualify for cards with lower fees, you can search for providers that offer prequalification here.

To build or rebuild credit, you can also turn to store cards or secured cards. Learn more about how to build credit with a secured card here. It’s worth mentioning that not all store cards and secured cards are cheap either. You need to review the fees and interest rates to find the most affordable option just like you would with the Credit One Bank accounts.

Finally, if your focus is solely getting your hands on cash, a personal loan may offer you a better deal when you need to borrow money than a credit card. You can also prequalify for personal loans without impacting your credit score. You can shop for personal loans here.

TAGS:

Credit Cards, Reviews

Gap Credit Card Review: Earn 5 Points Per Dollar at Gap Brands

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Gap Credit Card Review: Earn 5 Points Per Dollar at Gap Brands

The Gap store credit card is one that you can use at multiple brand stores including Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta. There are two types of Gap credit cards. There’s the store exclusive GapCard that you can only use at the Gap Inc. brand stores listed above. The Gap Visa Card has the same rewards benefits of the GapCard, but it can also be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

In this post we’ll discuss:

  • The Gap rewards program
  • Interest and fees
  • How to apply for the card
  • The hazards of store cards

Gap Credit Card Reward Basics

When you are approved for a Gap credit card, you get $15 off your first credit card purchase made at Gap or Gap Factory stores.

You earn 5 points for every dollar spent at Gap Inc. brand stores, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta. Gap Visa Card members earn 1 point per dollar at other stores where Visa is accepted as well.

Both GapCard and Gap Visa Card members receive special promotions to earn extra points and birthday savings throughout the year. Cardholders can also take advantage of 10% off Tuesdays at Gap and Gap Factory stores.

How to redeem points

There’s no cap on the number of points you can earn. Every time you reach 500 points, you’ll receive a $5 reward. You can use this reward to get $5 off your next purchase of greater value.

Points earned cannot be redeemed for cash or used for statement credit or gift cards.

If you don’t make enough to earn the $5 reward during a billing period, you can roll over the points you have to the next month. Points expire 24 months after your last purchase on the card, so you don’t want your card to go completely inactive.

Gap Silver status

Gap has a second rewards tier that’s exclusive to cardholders who spend big bucks.

To obtain Gap Silver status, you need to earn 5,000 points within a calendar year (e.g. spend at least $5,000). You must also requalify each year to stay on this rewards tier.

The benefit of being a Gap Silver member is that you get 20% extra bonus points at the end of each quarter.

For example, if you were to earn 1,000 points (by spending $1,000) in a quarter, you’d get an additional 200 bonus points.

In addition, Gap Silver members get:

  • A sales day of their choosing for additional store discounts.
  • Free online shipping with no minimum purchase required.
  • Free basic alterations on Banana Republic purchases.

Interest and Fees

The Gap credit card has no annual fee. However, like most store credit cards, it comes with a staggeringly high interest rate — 25.24% APR. This rate is right on par with other popular retail branded credit cards, but about two points higher than the average APR for store credit cards today.

If you get the Gap card, it’s crucial to pay it off in full each month to avoid racking up tons of interest charges. Interest is charged when you carry a balance instead of paying it off. Like any other credit card, you can avoid interest by keeping your credit card balance low and manageable for each billing cycle.

Applying for a Gap Credit Card

Applying for a Gap Credit Card

You can apply for the Gap credit card online or in any Gap brand store. You’ll be assigned the type of Gap credit card at application.

There isn’t a specific credit score guideline used to determine which applicants get approved or denied. Although the qualifying criteria is more strict for the Gap Visa Card than it is for the GapCard.

According to a representative from Gap credit card services, you may get approved for the Visa card if your credit score is in the good or excellent range (a score of 700 or above). You may get approved for the GapCard instead if your credit score is fair (a score in the 600s).

Keep in mind, other factors from your complete credit history may disqualify you from a credit card, so having a score within these ranges does not guarantee approval.

Hazards of Store Credit Cards

A store card may be easier to qualify for than other major credit cards because you can get approved with fair credit. But these cards do come with their fair share of downsides.

We’ve already mentioned the high interest rate. You never want to carry a balance on a store rewards card because the interest charges can exceed what you earn in rewards.

The other negative of this store rewards program is that rewards earned can only be used on brand merchandise.

With other major rewards credit cards, you can earn more points (or cash back) in multiple ways and you have more redemption options such as cash back or statement credit.

Other Cards That Can Be Used for Retail Spending

Above we covered some reasons that a store card may not be the most valuable and flexible card to have in your wallet. Here are two low-interest cards with no annual fee that can reward you for diverse spending.

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card rewards program allows you to choose bonus categories. You can earn an unlimited 2% cash back on an essential category of your choosing like grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

There are also two 5% categories on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases per quarter.

In these categories, you can choose from retail stores, department stores, and more. (Find out the other 5% bonus categories here.)

This U.S. Bank card lets you use cash back as a statement credit or deposit funds into a U.S. Bank savings, checking, or money market account. There is currently a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles. After that, your interest rate is 13.49% to 23.49% APR.

The Citi Double Cash card is a no-fuss rewards card that gives you 2% cash back for all spending. There’s no need to select bonus categories each quarter. You simply earn cash back on whatever you buy and then use the cash back for checks, statement credit, or gift cards. The interest rate is currently 13.49% to 23.49% APR.

Who Will Benefit the Most from a Gap Credit Card

If you often shop at Gap and Gap Inc. brand stores, a store card is probably one you have considered or have at least been asked to apply for at the register. While it does reward you for spending, this store card has high interest and a rewards program that can be limiting.

Before applying, think about whether you spend enough money at these retail stores and if you could be better served by the rewards program of another credit card.

TAGS: ,

Reviews

Buckle Store Credit Card Review: High Interest and Fine Print

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Buckle Store Credit Card Review: High Interest and Fine Print

Buckle is a retail store that sells women’s and men’s clothing along with footwear and accessories. If you’re a shopper who frequently shops at Buckle stores, there’s a store credit card program that will reward you for patronage.

Buckle has a three-tier credit card program that starts with the basic Buckle Classic card. There are also two exclusive tiers, Buckle BLACK and Buckle EXCLUSIVE.

Cardholders must spend a certain amount of money during the Buckle rewards year to get upgraded to the exclusive tiers. The perks of the top tiers are extra benefits like free domestic shipping.

In this post we’ll cover:

  • Card details and card benefits
  • Interest rates and fees
  • How to apply for the card
  • How to make the most of the card

Buckle Store Credit Card Details

Comenity is the company that manages the Buckle Credit Card program. You may be familiar with this company because it manages many retail store credit card programs.

The Buckle rewards program gives you 1 point per dollar spent at the store. Occasionally, there are special promotions where you can earn more than 1 point per dollar on merchandise as well.

Here are the Buckle Credit Card tiers and how to obtain them:

  • Buckle Classic – Has no spending requirement
  • Buckle BLACK – Requires $500 of annual spend (excluding tax and shipping)
  • Buckle EXCLUSIVE – Requires $1,000 of annual spend (excluding tax and shipping)

The Buckle rewards year goes from January to December. You will upgrade to the next credit card tier automatically if you meet the spending requirement during the rewards year.

To maintain Buckle BLACK or Buckle EXCLUSIVE status, you need to continue to spend $500 or $1,000 during program years. Otherwise, your account can be downgraded.

Redeeming Points Earned

There are three Buckle rewards point earning periods. Buckle will give you a $10 B-Rewards Card for every 300 points you earn during a rewards earning period.

The periods are:

  • January 1 – April 30
  • May 1 – August 31
  • September 1 – December 31

Here’s where the fine print comes in. Points expire at the end of each earning period, and you’re only allowed to roll over 200 or more points to the next one.

In addition, the expiration date for the $10 B-Rewards Card is about five weeks after being issued, so if you earn it, you need to use it right away at a Buckle store or online.

Additional Buckle Credit Card Card Perks

The Buckle store card program offers additional benefits by cardholder tier.

Buckle Classic

Aside from the opportunity to earn a $10 B-Rewards Card, Buckle Classic cardholders get a $5 birthday reward each year and other store mailings and exclusive offers.

Buckle BLACK

Buckle BLACK cardholders get a $10 birthday reward and other exclusive offer mailings.

Buckle BLACK members also get an extended redemption period for the $10 B-Rewards Card. As mentioned, the standard expiration date of the B-Rewards card is about five weeks after being issued. However, Buckle BLACK cardholders get seven weeks to use the card.

Buckle BLACK cardholders also get free domestic ground shipping on merchandise.

Buckle EXCLUSIVE

Buckle EXCLUSIVE cardholders get a $15 birthday reward. Like the Buckle BLACK card, the Buckle EXCLUSIVE card gets you an extra two weeks to use the $10 B-Rewards Card. It also comes with the free domestic shipping perk.

The “exclusive” aspects of this card level are bonus points and annual gifts. You get to choose your own Bonus Points Day during the rewards year where you earn more than 1 point per dollar. You also get an annual “Thank You” gift.

Interest Rates and Fees

The Buckle store cards have no annual fee, but a high interest rate. The interest rate is 25.24% APR, which is higher than most other major credit cards. We’ll discuss a few later in this post.

The late fee is up to $37, and the returned payment fee is up to $25.

Applying for the Buckle Credit Card

You can sign up for the Buckle Credit Card online or in the store. New applicants get 10% off of the first purchase made after getting approved.

Cardholders report getting approved with credit scores in the 500s and above. To see if you qualify, there is a way to get pre-approved without a hard inquiry on the Buckle website.

Here’s how:

1. Go Buckle.com.

2. Add an item to the shopping cart and hit “checkout.”

Buckle Online Checkout Page

3. Fill in your name and billing information.

Online Form at Checkout Page

4. When you move forward to “continue payment,” the website will pre-qualify you for the credit card with a spending limit. The actual credit limit and terms will be subject to final approval.

Buckle Credit Card Online Pre-Approval

Tip: If the pre-approval doesn’t work the first time, double-check your billing address. Then, go back to your shopping cart and press “checkout” again. This refreshes your billing address, which needs to be exactly right to pull your records for pre-approval.

Is a Store Card Worthwhile?

At a minimum, the Buckle Credit Card offers about 3% back in rewards for spending if you meet the point balance threshold each earning period (300 points earned divided by the $10 B-Rewards Card equals 3.33% back).

You may get even more back per dollar depending on the type of promotions you qualify for such as bonus point days if you’re a Buckle EXCLUSIVE cardholder.

Earning 3% back from shopping and a $5 to $15 birthday reward isn’t terrible.

However, a store card has major restrictions, with the biggest one being you can only earn and redeem rewards for spending in one place.

Do you need to spend $200 to $300 at Buckle each earning period to get the rewards card? Will you be inclined to shop more than necessary to receive the elusive $10 B-Rewards Card?

These are two important questions you’ll want to consider before taking out this store card.

Alternatives that may offer more value than a store-specific card

The Chase Freedom and U.S. Bank Cash+ are two other credit card options to think about that will reward you more in various areas.

The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.

You get unlimited 1% cash back on other purchases. The rewards categories for each quarter in 2017 can be found here.

If you’re considering the Buckle Credit Card to buy apparel, the Chase Freedom card could be worthwhile when they allow you to earn 5% cash back at department stores. Other past quarterly revolving categories have included restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.

The interest rate on the Chase Freedom card is also more competitive, with a range of 15.49% to 24.24% APR. It has a 0% introductory APR period for 15 months.

If you’re looking for a little more control over your cash back, the U.S. Bank Cash+ card lets you choose the quarterly 5% and 2% cash back categories. One of the 5% categories you can select is department stores. There are also other categories for every day and specialty spending such as:

  • Bookstores
  • Cellphones
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Specialty clothing stores
  • Sporting goods stores

The interest rate on the U.S. Bank Cash+ card offers interest of 13.49% to 23.49% APR. It also has a 0% introductory period for 12 months.

Who Will Benefit Most from the Buckle Credit Card?

Faithful Buckle shoppers will get the most use from this card. However, even loyal customers should consider the value they’ll be receiving. The interest rate is high, and your ability to earn rewards is restricted.

The Buckle Credit Card is not one you should sign up for just to receive 10% off on a big purchase that you can’t pay off right away. Paying the balance off slowly will mean paying interest costs that can surpass the rewards and benefits you get from the card. 

TAGS:

Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

DRB Student Loan Refinance Review

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Students throwing graduation hats

Updated January 24, 2017

DRB is a bank that offers a highly competitive student loan refinance product. In addition to the low rate, DRB offers some decent loan perks that sets it apart from others.

According to DRB, someone who refinances $100,000 has the potential to save up to $15,000 over the life of a 10 year loan. And in special circumstances like disability or financial hardship, DRB may completely forgive loans or allow for partial payments. Read on for the ins and outs of a DRB loan to see if it’s the right refinance for you.

Loan Details

DRB will refinance up to 100% of Federal, private and Parent PLUS loans. The minimum amount you can refinance is $5,000 and loan terms are available for 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Fixed interest rates are available from 4.20% to 7.20% APR. Starting variable interest rates are available from 3.64% to 6.29% APR. If you choose a variable interest loan, the rate will fluctuate throughout the loan term depending on market conditions. Only consider variable interest if you can pay off your student loan refinance quickly. Otherwise, you might be taking too much interest rate risk since your interest has the potential to increase over time.

The interest rates above include a 0.25% discount for using auto-pay. You just need to set up automatic payment from any checking account in order to get the auto-pay discount.

[Look into refinance options on our table here.]

Loan Qualifications

You must be a working U.S citizen or permanent resident with a degree from an accredited U.S. school program to be eligible. In terms of creditworthiness, DRB does not disclose its underwriting requirements. The requirements can change over time. However, DRB is targeting people with good credit.

To have the best chance of approval, your existing student loans should be in good standing. You should be able to demonstrate affordability and have limited negative marks on your credit report.

A cosigner is not required to be eligible for refinancing although you’ll probably need one if you only meet the minimum credit score or income requirements above. DRB does not have an official co-signer release program. However, a representative of DRB confirmed to MagnifyMoney that DRB will consider a co-signer release upon request of the borrower on a case by case basis.

DRB will ask for documents to backup the details of your application like photo ID, pay stubs, proof of graduation and student loan pay off statements.

Fees & Gotchas

DRB is very transparent with fees. There are no fees for origination or loan prepayment. There’s a late fee of 5% or $28 (whichever one is less) for payments that are over 15 days late. DRB also charges $20 for returned checks or electronic payments whether it’s due to insufficient funds or a closed account.

Pros and Cons

Low interest is the major pro of refinancing with DRB. Loan benefits like forbearance, deferment and loan forgiveness are other advantages. DRB may forgive loans if you die or if you can prove a significant reduction in income due to disability. Hopefully these situations don’t occur, but it’s good to know you and your family is covered if it does.

On a less morbid note, DRB offers full or partial forbearance of payments if you can prove that you’re going through financial hardship. You may also qualify to pay just $100 per month while you complete a full-time post-graduate training program like an internship, fellowship or residency. If you graduate less than 6 months before refinancing, DRB may allow you to defer payments for up to 6 months.

There aren’t many disadvantages of going with DRB other than it not having an official co-signer release program with explicit qualification terms. This may be a turnoff for cosigners since your loan will likely appear on his or her credit report until it’s repaid.

DarienRowaytonBank

Apply Now

Student Loan Refinance Alternatives

How does DRB stack up to other available student loan refinances?

SoFi has a higher rate cap for fixed interest and a higher starting rate cap for variable interest than DRB. SoFi currently offers variable rates from 2.355% APR and fixed rates from 3.375% APR (if you sign up for autopay). However, the SoFi refinance does come with a benefit comparable to DRB called unemployment insurance. If you’re laid off, SoFi will pause your payments and help you find a new job.

SoFi logo

Apply Now

CommonBond has similar rates to DRB. Fixed interest rates are available from 3.37% APR and variable interest rates are available starting at 2.35% APR (if you use autopay). Although to qualify for the CommonBond refinance you must have obtained a degree from one of the graduate programs on its eligibility list. On the other hand, DRB will refinance any loan (graduate or undergraduate) from an accredited program in the U.S.

Commond Bond bank

Apply Now

Who Will Benefit Most From This Refinance?

The DRB refinance may work out really well for people who need to complete a post-graduate training program before finding a job in their profession. Since DRB allows for reduced payments in this circumstance, you’re given some leeway until you can earn your full professional salary. Still, you should compare the benefits of any Federal loans you have to the benefits of a refinance before making a decision.Customize Student Loan Offers with MagnifyMoney tool

 *We receive a referral fee if you click on offers with this symbol. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations. You can learn more about how our site is financed here.  

TAGS: ,

Earning Cashback, Reviews

Is the Amazon Rewards Visa Card or Amazon Prime Store Card Better for Your Amazon Purchases?

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Review - Amazon Rewards Visa Card or Amazon Prime Store

For loyal Amazon shoppers, a credit card that will give you money back for spending only makes sense. There are now three options:

  • New: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card (from Chase) – 5% back, and our top choice
  • Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card (also from Chase) – 3% back
  • Amazon Prime Store Card (from Synchrony, can only be used at Amazon) – 5% back

The good news: if you are an Amazon Prime member, it is easy to get 5% cash back from all of your Amazon spending all year long. And if you spend a lot of money at Amazon, the savings can be significant.

Note: The information related to the Amazon Prime and Rewards Visa Credit Cards has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

5% at Amazon: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card 

This is a new credit card that has just launched. If you are an Amazon Prime member, this is the best way to get the most cash back from your spending at Amazon.com.

With this credit card, you get 5% back at Amazon.com with an eligible Prime membership.

You also earn 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores. And you will earn 1% back on everything else.

There is no annual fee, no earning caps and no foreign transaction fees.

How the points work

When you use your card, you will actually be earning points.

You would earn 5 points for every $1 you spend at Amazon.com, 2 points for every $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores and 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.

You can choose to redeem those points at Amazon (during checkout) or through Chase.

When you check out at Amazon, you will see your point balance and would be able to apply those points to your purchase. Every 100 points = $1.

But you can also redeem those points through Chase and get cash back, gift cards or travel. If you want cash back or gift cards, the value is the same as using the points at Amazon to shop. Every 100 points = $1.

There is also a lucrative sign-on bonus of $70. You will receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card instantly upon approval. Unlike many other sign-on bonuses, you do not have to spend a certain amount of money in order to get the offer.

If you are already enjoying the benefits of Amazon Prime, this card is an obvious choice.

But if you are thinking about Amazon Prime, this card is a great way to try it out.

If you spend $99 for Amazon Prime membership and then apply for this card, you will immediately get $70 of it back in the form of an Amazon gift card. You can learn more about the card at Amazon.

3% at Amazon: Amazon Rewards Visa Card

Amazon RewardsThe Amazon Rewards Visa Card is also brought to you by Chase and gives you 3% back for Amazon.com purchases including digital downloads, gift cards, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Prime Membership and other items sold by third-party merchants on the Amazon marketplace. You do not need to be an Amazon Prime member to get the 3% cash back at Amazon.

You can also get 2% back at gas stations, drugstores and restaurants. On other purchases you get 1% back. So everything is the same as the Prime Rewards card, except you earn only 3% at Amazon instead of 5%.

Just like the Prime Rewards credit card, cash back is tracked with a point system. 1 point equals $0.01. For example, if you spend $100 on Amazon.com, you’ll get $3 in cash back, which equals 300 points. You can trade in points for statement credit, travel or gift cards. Points never expire unless your account is closed and there’s no rewards cap.

The card doesn’t have an introductory deal. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid transferring a balance to a card you want to use for rewards. This card has an exceptionally high balance transfer fee (5%) and no introductory deal; two major red flags for a balance transfer.

For a sign on bonus, the card gives a $50 Amazon.com gift card loaded to your Amazon.com account once your application goes through. The Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card has no annual fee and you can learn more here.

5% at Amazon: Amazon Prime Store Card

amazon store cardSynchrony Bank issues the Amazon Prime Store Card. If you’re already an Amazon Prime Member, you can apply for the regular Amazon Store Card and be automatically upgraded to the Amazon Prime Store Card, which gives you 5% cash back on eligible purchases. Those interested in the card and not currently Prime members can apply for the store card and then get the Prime membership to be upgraded.

The card can be used on Amazon.com and on other merchant sites that have the Amazon Prime Store Card option activated for payment. However, the card can’t be used to buy digital newspapers and magazines, games or software downloads on Amazon.com.

You can redeem cash back for statement credit until instructed otherwise. In the fine print, Amazon reserves the right to change the cash back program into a rewards program where you redeem points for products instead.

If you end your Amazon Prime Membership, your Amazon Prime Store Card will become a regular Amazon Store Card that doesn’t earn 5% cash back. There’s no annual fee on the card, but Prime membership does cost $99 per year.

Pros and Cons

Amazon.com Rewards Visa Cards

Pro: Multiple bonus categories. Sure, you shop on Amazon.com, but you probably shop elsewhere too. With this card you’ll get an extra bonus for shopping online plus cash back in other areas that fulfill everyday needs like filling up your gas tank. You also have flexibility to redeem cash back in multiple ways.

Pro: No annual fee. Earning cash back from each category is free, no annual fee.

Pro: A sign on bonus. When you get approved you’ll get either a $70 (Prime Rewards) or $50 (Rewards) gift card right away you can use to shop.

Pro: 3% or 5% cash back when you pay for Amazon Prime Membership. Amazon Prime Membership comes with free two-day shipping and unlimited TV and movie screening with Prime Video. What devoted Amazon shopper doesn’t want that? An added benefit with this card is double-dipping. You get the Prime perks and cash back for paying for them.

Pro: High cash back for Prime members. If you’re a Prime member, you can get 5% cash back. You likely won’t be able to beat that rate.

Con: No intro APR. Since most credit cards have some type of introductory interest rate, a card that doesn’t have one stands out. You’ll need to pay off the balance each month starting from the very beginning to benefit from rewards earned.

Con: Tougher approval. You may need better credit to get these cards from Chase than the Amazon Store Card from Synchrony, which has a much higher interest rate.

Amazon Prime Store Card

Pro: 5% cash back. This is a huge amount of cash back for faithful Amazon shoppers. You’ll get rewarded handsomely for spending. And the redemption process is easy; your cash back is used for statement credit. One thing to keep in mind is it may take up to two billing cycles for the money to appear on your account.

Pro: Easier approval. This is a store card limited to Amazon purchases, so you might find it easier to get approved for this card with less than perfect credit.

Pro: No annual fee. The Amazon Prime Store Card doesn’t have an annual fee.

Con: A very high APR for everyone: This card charges a 26.24% APR for everyone, regardless of credit score. Yes, even an 850 FICO would still get you a horrible 26.24% interest rate. Never borrow with this card.

Con: Fine print. The fact that you can’t use this card for software downloads on Amazon sticks out as a negative. Amazon sells software downloads including TurboTax, QuickBooks and Norton Security. These products aren’t cheap and purchases you would want to get 5% cash back on.

Con: Requires Amazon Prime Membership. To use this card you have to be an Amazon Prime Member so in some respects there is a fee involved even though it’s not an annual fee specifically for the card. Amazon Prime Membership costs $99 per year. If you’re not already a member and want to become one for the card, you must spend enough to pay for membership.

Con: Exclusive to Amazon. A gift and a curse. You’ll have to follow up with another card for cash back on other things like groceries, gas, dining or travel.

Other Cards for Amazon Spending

Chase Freedom is another excellent option.

With the Freedom, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. In the past, Amazon has been included as one of the 5% categories, typically around the holidays. 

Discover itDiscover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer gives you the chance to earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter.

You’ll get 5% back in categories like gas stations, restaurants, Amazon.com, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.

From January until March 2017, the bonus categories are gas stations, ground transportation and wholesale clubs

All other purchases get an unlimited 1% cash back. You can redeem cash back for gifts cards, statement credits, charitable donations, deposits to an account or merchandise.

Which Card Should You Choose?

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa is a good one to consider if you already have an Amazon Prime account. It’s not worth getting an Amazon Prime account just to get this card unless you plan on spending big in the future on the site. If you spend moderately throughout the year, the basic Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card is a better choice between the two. You’ll get rewarded for more diverse spending in addition to your online shopping.

TAGS: ,

Best of, Reviews

10 Best NO FEE Rewards Credit Cards of 2017

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

There are an abundance of no fee rewards credit cards available, so how do you best determine which one to keep in your wallet? Most earn a measly 1% on your spending, while others have no rewards at all. To help, we’ve dug deep into our database of thousands of rewards cards to find the very best no annual fee rewards credit cards of 2016 for each category.

While you might find rewards credit cards with an annual fee can give you the best rewards, we’re sticking to no fee cards that are available even if you don’t have truly excellent credit (good credit should be fine for most of these).

The first cards we list here offer unlimited double rewards on everything you purchase, while the remaining offer 3% or better rewards on spending in popular categories so you can mix and match to maximize your rewards, or they offer the chance for better earning if you use your rewards for travel.

1. Double Rewards on Everything, NO FEE – Citi Double Cash

721_card.Citi_doubleCiti offers you rewards twice. First, you get 1% cash back when you make a purchase. Then, you get another 1% cash back as you pay it off. All with no annual fee and no spending cap. If you pay off in full each month, you’ll get both rewards at the same time. That lets you earn rewards twice as good as standard reward cards.

If you like to maximize things and want to earn more rewards in special spending categories, consider pairing this with one of the no fee cards we list below.

Go to Site

2. Honorable Mention: 2% Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature, NO FEE

fidelityrewardsvisaFidelity provides no annual fee 2% cash rewards on purchases if you deposit the cash you earn into a Fidelity account. But you don’t need to have any stocks or investments to have an account. Fidelity has no fee cash accounts where you can deposit your rewards, then withdrawal when you’re ready to spend. Be aware this card is designed for people with Excellent credit, while the Citi Double Cash might be easier to get.

Go to Site

Both cards offer you the flexibility to earn double rewards on anything you purchase; so either one of these is a nice addition to a rewards strategy. The advantage of the Fidelity card over the Citi Double Cash is that its foreign transaction fees are just 1% versus 3% for the Double Cash. But setting up the Fidelity card and rewards is more cumbersome than the dead simple Citi Double Cash.

If you want to earn more than 2% rewards here’s a rundown of the best no fee rewards credit cards that earn 3% or more in the most popular categories. You can click on each category for our take and details:

And if you’re interested in traveling, here are the best no fee rewards credit card deals:

If you like to dig, we also have a complete (and long) list of cards that earn more than 3% on purchases in many more special categories, including cards with an annual fee.

3. Restaurant Spending: Chase AARP Visa – 3% Rewards, NO FEE

1167_cardAARPBychaseAlthough AARP is known for serving Baby Boomers, foodies of any age can sign up for this card – AARP membership not required. You get 3% cash rewards at restaurants as well as gas stations. You also earn 1% rewards on all other purchases.

The information related to AARP Visa credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Learn more at AARP.org

4. Travel Spending: AAA Member Rewards Visa – 3% Rewards, NO FEE

340_card.340_card.AAA_Member_Rewards_Visa_Signature_CardNo need to be an AAA member to take advantage of this rewards card. You earn cash back when you shop at travel merchants including airlines, car rental agencies, hotels, cruise lines and travel agencies. Along with the 3% cash rewards for travel, you earn 2% cash rewards on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases. On everything else you get 1% rewards.

 

Go to Site

5. Gas Spending: Fort Knox Credit Union Visa Platinum – 5% Rewards

fort-knox-visa-platinumSpend a lot of cash at the pump? The Fort Knox Credit Union Visa Platinum offers 5% cash back for gas. On all other retail purchases, you get 1% cash back. Anyone can join the Fort Knox Credit Union by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council for $5.

Go to Site

6. Grocery Spending: Blue Cash Everyday from American Express – 3% Rewards

381_card.205_card.blue_Cash_Everyday_Card_from_American_ExpressThe Blue Cash Everyday from American Express offers 3% cash rewards on grocery store purchases up to $6,000 per year. You also get 2% rewards at gas stations and select department stores. On everything else you earn 1% rewards.

Go to Site

7. Honorable Mention: Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards – Unlimited 3% Grocery Rewards

If you live in California, the Golden 1 Credit Union Platinum Rewards card will give ygolden1ou 3% cash rewards for purchases on groceries without the caps on the Blue Cash Everyday, along with gas and restaurants and 1% rewards on all other purchases. Also in California, the JCB Marukai Premium card offers unlimited 3% cash rewards on all purchases after your first $3,000 in spending each year. The catch is there’s a $15 annual fee on the card.

Go to Site

5% Cash Rewards in Rotating Categories: NO FEE

Cards with a rotating reward program can give you 5% cash rewards with no annual fee, but you’re limited to spending in special categories each quarter and there’s a cap on how much spending earns the 5%. You also have to opt into the 5% cash back rewards program each quarter.

8. Chase Freedom – 5% in rotating categories, $0 ANNUAL FEE

Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Learn More

9. Discover it® Cashback Match™ – 5% in rotating categories, NO FEE

With Discover, you earn 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter up
to the quarterly maximum (up to $1,500 of combined purchases) when you sign up. You also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can redeem your cash back for any amount at any time. And your cash back never expires. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year on the credit card – only for new cardmembers.

Learn More

10. Platinum Cash Rewards Visa from the Nusenda Credit Union – 5% in rotating categories, NO FEE

nusenda_logo5% cash rewards on groceries, gas expenses, movies, restaurants, home improvement, education and travel. This quarter, cardholders will earn cash back on restaurants, hotels and airfare purchases. There’s a cash back cap of $1,500 per quarter. Anyone can join the Nusenda Credit Union by donating $10 to the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance; contact a customer representative for details. The advantage of this card is that its categories tend to be more broad, and not store-specific like those on the Chase Freedom and Discover It, so it’s a great way to get you closer to 5% rewards on everything you spend.

Go to Site

If you’re going to go through the effort of enrolling in a rewards program, consider all three cards to see which categories will benefit you the most. But, if you’re looking for freedom to spend without restrictions, sticking with the Citi Double Cash card may be your best simple bet.

Honorable mentions for travelers

No foreign transaction fees with plain cash back: Quicksilver from Capital One – 1.5% Rewards

Capital One's QuicksilverCapital One’s Quicksilver gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. And like all Capital One credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees. Even though you earn less rewards than the Citi Double Cash or Fidelity American Express, this card is a better option for your international spending, since you avoid fees of 1 to 3%.

Go to Site

Real airline miles: Amex EveryDay Card

The Amex Everyday Card is a no annual fee rewards credit card that earns Amex Membership Rewards points, which you can turn into real amexeverydayairline miles with several airlines, including Delta SkyMiles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, JetBlue True Blue, and Virgin America Elevate. It’s the only no annual fee card you can apply for online that can net you real Delta SkyMiles. When you want to convert points to Delta miles, just go to the Amex site, and transfer your points to Delta or the other participating airline programs any time.

Go to Site

Points for travel on any airline: Bank of America Travel Rewards

bankofamericatravelrewardsThe Bank of America Travel Rewards card earns a base 1.5x points per dollar you spend, and you can use the points to erase travel purchases from your statement. Every 10,000 points is worth $100 when you use them for travel, so each point is worth one cent. Where the card gets interesting is if you’re a Bank of America customer with a checking, savings, or IRA account. If you are, you’ll get a 10% bonus on what you earn each year, so the card effectively earns you 1.65x points per dollar. Even better, if you’re a Platinum level member of Bank of America Preferred Rewards (which you get by keeping a lot of your money with them), you can earn up to 2.625x points per dollar, which is an incredible deal. There are also no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

Go to Site

How can you get the most value from a rewards credit card?

In order to best benefit from no annual fee rewards credit cards, follow these tips:

  • Narrow your focus: Before choosing a no annual fee rewards credit card (or cards), take a look at your budget and several months’ worth of bank statements. Then, pick cards that’ll offer you the most cash back for things you already buy. You shouldn’t change your spending habits to match a rewards program.
  • Give your rewards cards a job: Don’t spread out your spending onto too many cards without a purpose or you risk making less cash back overall. Choose a few cards and assign them a job so you know what purchases to make on each one to maximize your cash back.
  • Don’t get overzealous: Rewards shouldn’t justify overspending, especially if you’re struggling with debt. It’s a reward for making legitimate purchases. After all, you won’t make enough back to put a big dent in your monthly statement. For instance, $2,500 spent on the Fidelity American Express card equals a $50 deposit. It’s a great perk, but it shouldn’t be your sole reason for buying something.
  • Read the fine print: Understand the implications of each rewards program. For the rotating category cards, you get a huge amount of cash back, but you’ll have to strategize your spending each quarter to earn it. And you have to enroll into the program by the deadline to qualify. Set a reminder on your smartphone or calendar if necessary. You don’t want to miss out on a cash back category for an entire quarter.

TAGS: , ,

Best of, Earning Cashback

10 Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards for 2017

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Cash Back Credit Cards for 2016

Credit card reward programs come in so many varieties that it can be difficult find the best cards for your spending habits. A basic, flat-rate card that earns you a certain percentage cash back on all purchases is probably the simplest bet out there. Typically, rates range from 1-2%. Not shabby, especially if you use that card exclusively. But it’s not exactly something to call home about either.

There are even better cash back rewards offerings out there, some as high as 5%. But with these high rewards cards, there’s almost always a catch. Most of the cards don’t offer 5% cash back across the board. Every few months, they pick a few select shopping categories that can earn 5% cash back. Once those few months are up, the categories change. For example, a card could offer 5% cash back on groceries, gas and airfare from January to March, then switch those categories to whole sale stores, restaurants and gyms from April to June.

Additionally, there are sometimes caps on how much of your spending can qualify for the 5% reward. So if the cap is $1,500, for example, everything past that amount won’t qualify.

The key to maximizing these great cash back card offers is to find the cards that offer cash back in categories you use the most. We can help there.

We dug around and found 10 cards that offer at least 5% cash back in the three most common spending categories: gas, groceries and entertainment.

Chase Freedom®: Access to a Special Option 5% Category

How it works: The Chase Freedom® card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. This translates to a maximum return of $75 per quarter on the 5% bonus category. You earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases outside of the bonus categories. You can also earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

The 5% category changes every quarter.

Another area where the Chase Freedom shines is in how it allows customers to redeem their rewards. The cash you’ve earned converts into Ultimate Rewards points. Every $1 equals 100 points. You only need to have earned $20 (or 2,000 points) in order to redeem your reward. You can easily use the cash and apply it to your monthly statement. Or you can convert them into points and use them on travel, gift cards, merchandise, and other services through the Chase Freedom® rewards dashboard.

They make it super simple to redeem points on the go through the Chase Freedom® Mobile app. While you’re shopping, you can pick the merchant from the list on of eligible merchants on your app (popular ones include Nike, Regal Cinemas, Lowe’s, Starbucks and Best Buy). Then tell the app how much cash you want to use.  You’ll get a custom e-gift card that you can present at checkout to pay for your purchases.

chasefreedommobileapp

Plus, you can stack the points earned on your Chase Freedom card with your points on other Chase rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire. That just increases the spending power of your points.

The Fine Print: You can’t beat 5% cash back for your spending, especially with no annual fee. The downside is you have to remember to activate the category each quarter by subscribing to the program. But, if you set a reminder to do so, you can earn money without too much effort.

Chase Freedom card

LearnMore

Discover it: 5% Cash Back for the Big Spender

How it works: The Discover it offers 5% cash back on two different spending categories each quarter.  You earn 1% cash back on all other purchases outside of those categories.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2017:

  • January to March: Gas stations, ground transportation, and wholesale clubs.
  • April to June: TBA.
  • July to September: TBA.
  • October to December: TBA.

Using your rewards: Cash back from the Discover it is tracked in dollars and cents. You can immediately apply your cash back earnings to your bank account or as a statement credit toward your bill (note: your minimum payment will still be due).There’s also no minimum rewards value if you want to redeem them for charitable donations. However, if you want to redeem cash back for gift cards or eCertificates, you’ll have to wait until your balance reaches $20.   You can also leverage up on your rewards by purchasing available gift cards or eCertificates. For example, you can use $80 of Discover rewards to get a $100 gift card to Banana Republic.

The fine print: You can only earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in total across the two activated categories. Once you’ve hit that cap, you’ll earn 1% on the rest of your purchases. This adds up to a $75 maximum return on your rotating bonus categories. You can set up email alerts to be notified when it’s time to activate quarterly categories and will also be prompted when you log into your account. There is no annual fee.

Extra perks:  You can double your cash back if you stick with the card for at least one year. On your one-year anniversary, Discover it will match your cash back earnings for that year.

 

LearnMore

 

BONUS OFFER COMPARISON: Chase Freedom vs Discover it: Discover’s offer to double all cash back earned in the first year can easily beat Chase’s $150 bonus after $500 of spend. However, this only holds true if you spend enough to earn more than $75 in cash back on the Discover it card within the year.

Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards: Best for Gas and Restaurants in 2017

How it works: The Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards card gives 5% in revolving categories up to $1,500 and 1% on all other purchases. Notably, it offers both gas and restaurants in two quarters. As a bonus in the first 90 days, new cardholders will earn 2% instead of just 1% on purchases outside of the 5% category.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2017:

  • January to March: Groceries and gas expenses.
  • April to June: Movies, restaurants and home improvement.
  • July to September: Gas and education expenses.
  • October to December: Restaurants, hotels, and airfares.

Using your rewards: This offer stands out as a decent companion card for maximizing cash back. When coupled with the Chase Freedom or Discover it, you can maximize cash back in different areas during one quarter.

For an example, you can turn to the Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards card for 5% on gas and school expenses in Q3. Then pull out the Discover it for home improvement purchases for another 5% the same quarter.

The Fine Print: Once again, you’ll need to monitor your spending habits to get the most cash back from a revolving category card. If you choose to use this card along with another one, a good practice would be labeling the cards in your wallet to ensure you use the right one for the right purchases in a given quarter.

One final caveat: While there is no annual fee, Nusenda is a credit union, so you will have to go through the process of applying for membership.

platinum rewads card by nusenda

LearnMore

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature: Pick Your Own Cash Back Categories

How it works: The U.S Bank Cash+ card has a revolving cash back program that’s unique in comparison to the others above because you get options.

Earning cash back: You can earn 5% cash back in two categories of your choosing each quarter limited to the first $2,000 of spend. Then you can choose another category with no cap to earn 2% cash back. On all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back.

The categories for an unlimited 2% cash back (choose one each quarter) are:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores

The categories for 5% cash back up to $2,000 (choose two each quarter) are:

  • Select clothing stores
  • Cell phones
  • Electronic stores
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Bookstores
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Charities
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Furniture stores
  • Movie theaters

Using your rewards: You can redeem cash back for gift cards, statement credit or a deposit into a U.S. Bank Savings, Checking or Money Market account. The first time you redeem $100 in cash back in a single transaction, you get a $25 Cash+ Bonus.

The Fine Print: Same opt-in revolving category spiel applies here except you must also remember to choose your categories. There is no annual fee. The U.S. Bank Cash+ is another good example of a card you may want to couple with another that gives you higher cash back for necessities i.e. groceries. But, for diverse spenders who can benefit from the 5% category options, the U.S. Bank Cash+ is worth considering.

US Bank Cash +

LearnMore

SimplyCash Plus Business Card from Amex: Ideal for Typical Business Expenses

How it works: The SimplyCash Plus Business Card gives 5% cash back on office supply and wireless telephone provider services. You also get 3% cash back from a list of categories you can choose from, including:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

Earning cash back: You have to choose your 3% category within two months of signing. If you don’t choose one, the default is gas stations. The combined annual cap for the 5% and 3% categories is $50,000. On all other purchases, you get 1% cash back.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear as a credit automatically on your statement. This American Express card has no annual fee, so you’ll earn cash back with a generous cap at no cost.

The Fine Print: You must remember to choose your 3% cash back category every year. If you select one this year and forget to do so next year, you’ll be locked into the same 3% category for another 12 months until you make a switch. There is no annual fee.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.15.53 PM

LearnMore

Amazon Prime Store Card: 5% Cash Back for the Amazon Prime Enthusiast

How it works: The Amazon Prime Store Card is open to Amazon Prime Members, so it’s somewhat exclusive. The perks of this card is 5% cash back on eligible purchases made on Amazon.com. Buying items on other merchant websites that have the Amazon Prime Card payment option enabled will not earn you 5% cash back.

Using your rewards: The cash back you rack up will apply as a credit to your statement.

Do the math: If you’re not already an Amazon Prime Member, it’s probably not worth signing up to become one just for the card unless you intend to spend big bucks on the site. You need to spend more than $2,000 per year at Amazon.com for the 5% cash back to cover the $99 annual membership fee.

The Fine Print: The fine print of what you can and can’t buy to earn 5% is the only gotcha here. But, if you shop on Amazon.com often and stick to the rules, you’ll see a nice return from this card. There’s not an annual fee for the card, but you must be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $99 a year.

amazon prime store card

LearnMore

REDcard: Only a Good Fit for the Regular Target Shopper

How it works: For Target shoppers, there’s the REDcard. It gives you a 5% discount on your purchases at Target (minus any other discounts or promotions). Purchases that won’t earn 5% cash back include:

  • Target eye exams
  • Target gift cards and prepaid cards
  • Previous purchases
  • Target credit account payments, Target Debit Card cash back and cash advances on the Target MasterCard
  • Gift wrap and shipping and handling on Target.com purchases
  • Wireless protection program purchases and deposits required by mobile carrier

Earning and using rewards: The program is pretty simple as far as how Target gives you money back. Your 5% will apply to eligible purchases in your shopping cart at checkout. In addition to 5% cash back, this program includes free shipping from Target.com and 30 extra days for returns.

The Fine Print: No red flags with the REDcard other than watching out for the purchases excluded from cash back listed above. For faithful Target shoppers, this no annual fee card with the 5% discount may be a no brainer.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.52.48 PM

LearnMore

Fort Knox Visa Platinum Card: Most Straightforward 5% Rewards Card Just for Gas

How it works: The Visa Platinum Card from the Fort Knox Credit Union makes our list with the most straightforward, no cap rewards program. You can earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear on your statement as a credit.

The Fine Print: This rewards program is offered by a credit union in Kentucky. You’ll have to take a few extra steps to qualify for membership. If you don’t live in Kentucky or have family in Kentucky, membership is open to anyone that joins the American Consumer Council. There is no annual fee for the card, but you will need to become a member of the credit union.

fort-knox-visa-platinum

LearnMore

Blue Cash Preferred from Amex: 6% Cash Back for the Heavy Grocery Shopper

How it works: The Blue Cash Preferred is our top pick for cardholders that want to maximize cash back on groceries. With this card, you get 6% cash back at supermarkets excluding superstores and warehouses up to $6,000 per year. You also earn 3% cash back at gas stations and select department stores and 1% cash back on everything else.

Bonus offer: In addition to the recurring cash back program, if you spend $1,000 within the first three months of signing up for the card you’ll get $150 cash back.

Using cash back: Cash back builds as Rewards Dollars you can redeem for statement credit in increments of $25.

The Fine Print: This card is the only one to make our list with an annual fee which is currently $75. In August, the fee will bump up to $95 per year. If you get your application approved before the fee increases, you need to spend a little more than $100 per month on groceries for the fee and cash back earnings to break even. Once the fee goes up to $95 per year, you need to spend about $132 per month on the card to break even.

bluecashpreferredcard

LearnMore

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus Amex: Only Advantageous for Military Service Members Living On-Base

How it works: The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus Amex gives 5% cash back on gas and military base purchases including commissaries, exchanges, and shopettes. The cap for the 5% category is $3,000 per year.

Earning cash back: In addition to the 5% back on gas and military base purchases, you’ll also earn 2% cash back on groceries up to $3,000 annually. On everything else, there’s 1% cash back. You can redeem cash back in increments of $1 through the USAA Rewards Service Center online or over the phone.

The Fine Print: The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus Amex card is light on the fine print. Just remember, the 5% category cap is $3,000 for combined gas and military base purchases per year and not per quarter. There is no annual fee.

USAA Amex

LearnMore

The Key to Earning from Any Cash Back Card

In closing, regardless of which cash back card you choose, be sure to pay off your bill in full each month. That’s one underlying trap of any card rewards program. If you carry a balance over time, adding interest into the equation means you may end up paying the credit card company more than what you’re making in cash back.

TAGS: ,

Featured, Mortgage

Guide to Getting a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Mortgage Loan

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Couple Celebrating Moving Into New Home With Champagne

Saving up the traditional 20% for a mortgage down payment is the kind of financial obstacle that can bar first-time homebuyers with minimal savings from becoming homeowners. The government-backed Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage is one solution for those who want to buy a home but can’t pull together a large down payment.

FHA mortgages are home loans funded by FHA-approved lenders and insured by the government.

The government backing protects lenders from loss if borrowers default. Because of this protection, lenders can be more lenient with their qualifying criteria and can accept a significantly lower down payment.

You can get approved for an FHA mortgage with a minimum credit score of 500, and you only need to put 3.5% to 10% down to buy a home.

How much can an FHA mortgage help you?

For a $150,000 home, a 20% down payment would mean you would need to bring $30,000 (along with other closing costs) to the table. That’s no small chunk of change. By comparison, an FHA mortgage would require anywhere from 3.5% to 10% for a down payment, which comes out to $5,250 to $15,000.

In this post, we’ll cover the following topics to explain the FHA mortgage, including:

  • FHA mortgage terms
  • FHA qualifying criteria and restrictions
  • FHA costs and mortgage premiums
  • FHA mortgages vs. conventional mortgages
  • How to shop for an FHA mortgage

FHA mortgage terms

There are both 15- and 30-year fixed-rate and adjustable-rate FHA mortgage options. With a fixed-rate FHA mortgage, your interest rate is consistent through the loan term. However, your monthly mortgage payment may increase based on your homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance premium, and property taxes.

Adjustable-rate FHA mortgages are home loans where the rate stays low and fixed during an introductory period of time such as five years. Once the introductory period ends, the interest rate will adjust, which means your monthly mortgage payments may increase.

A unique situation where signing up for a low, adjustable-rate FHA mortgage could make sense is if you plan to sell or refinance the home before the introductory period ends and the interest rate can change. Otherwise, a fixed-rate FHA mortgage has predictable mortgage payments and may be the way to go.

Qualifying criteria and restrictions

Although the FHA home loan is particularly appealing for first-time homebuyers, it’s not only open to first-time purchasers. Repeat buyers planning to use the home as a primary residence may qualify for an FHA home loan as well.

Besides the low down payment, an undeniable benefit of the FHA mortgage is the low credit score requirement. You may qualify for 3.5% down payment with a credit score of 580 or higher. You can also qualify with a credit score lower than 580, but you’ll have to make a 10% down payment.

Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is another key metric lenders consider in addition to your credit score to determine whether you can afford a mortgage. DTI measures the amount of debt you have compared to your income, and it’s expressed in a percentage.

Lenders look at two debt-to-income ratios when determining your eligibility — housing ratio or front-end ratio and your total debt ratio or back-end ratio.

Your front-end ratio is what percentage of your income it would take to cover your total monthly mortgage payment. Lenders like to see your front-end ratio below 31% of your gross income.

Your back-end ratio shows how much of your income is needed to pay for your total monthly debts. Lenders prefer a back-end ratio of 43% or less of your gross income.

FHA limits

The FHA mortgage can be used for both single-family and multi-family homes, but there are loan amount maximums that vary by state and county.

For an example, in Fulton County, Atlanta, the maximum loan for a single-family house is $342,700. You can find the loan limits for all states and counties here.

 

FHA mortgage costs and mortgage insurance premium

Just like a traditional mortgage, an FHA home loan has closing costs. Closing costs are the costs necessary to complete your transaction, such as appraisals and home inspections. However, you may be able to negotiate to have some of these costs covered by the seller.

The real expense of the FHA home loan lies in the mortgage insurance premiums.

At first glance, the FHA mortgage probably seems like the ultimate hack to buying a home with minimal savings. The flip side to this is you need to pay mortgage insurance premiums to cover the lender for the lower down payment.

Remember, FHA-approved lenders offer mortgages that require less money down and flexible qualifying criteria because the Federal Housing Administration will cover the loss if you default on the loan. The government doesn’t do this for free.

FHA mortgage borrowers must “put money in the pot” to cover the cost of this backing through upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums. The upfront insurance premium for the FHA mortgage is currently 1.75% of the loan amount, and it can be rolled into your mortgage balance.

The annual insurance premium is broken into a payment that you make monthly. The annual premium for mortgage insurance can be up to 1.05% based on your loan term length, loan amount, and loan-to-value ratio (LTV).

LTV is a percentage that compares your loan amount to your home’s value. It also represents the equity (or lack of equity) you have in the property.

For example, putting 3.5% down means your LTV would be 96.5%. In other words, you have 3.5% equity in the home, and your loan is covering the remaining 96.5% of the home value.

Here’s the annual mortgage insurance premium on a 30-year FHA mortgage (for loans less than $625,000):

  • LTV over 95% (you initially have less than 5% equity in the home) – 0.85%
  • LTV under 95% (you initially have more than 5% equity in the home) – 0.8%

As you can see, starting off with less equity (or a smaller down payment) will cost you more in insurance premiums. You can expect to pay 0.85% in annual mortgage insurance premiums if your down payment is 3.5% on the 30-year mortgage.

Unfortunately, if your LTV was greater than 90% at time of origination, insurance premiums tag along for the entire loan term or 11 years, whichever comes first. There are exceptions if you have an FHA mortgage that was taken out before June 3, 2013.

How does the FHA home loan compare to conventional home loans?

Government-backed home loans like the FHA mortgage are part of special programs that serve borrowers that can’t qualify for a traditional mortgage.

At the other end of the spectrum is the conventional mortgage or the “Average Joe” of mortgages.

These traditional mortgages are offered by lenders and banks backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s mortgage standards. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored agencies that buy loans from mortgage lenders and banks that conform to preset requirements.

Since conventional mortgages are loans eligible to be purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the qualifying criteria bar is usually set higher. For instance, you should have at least a 620 credit score to qualify for a fixed-rate conventional loan. Although, credit score minimums vary by lender, and a score above 620 will be necessary for the most competitive interest rates.

A misconception about the conventional mortgage is that borrowers must have 20% for a down payment to qualify. Mortgage lenders may accept less than 20% down for a conventional mortgage if you have a high credit score and pay their version of mortgage insurance premiums, which is called private mortgage insurance (PMI).

PMI is a private insurance policy that protects the lender if you default. Be careful not to confuse the two types of insurance policies.

If you have PMI on a conventional mortgage, you’re able to request a removal of insurance payments when you build up 20% equity in your home.

On the other hand, the mortgage insurance premiums for new FHA mortgages (post 2013) can’t be removed unless you refinance.

When to choose a conventional mortgage instead

Putting down less money with the FHA mortgage can be a shortcut to homeownership if you don’t have much cash saved or the credit history to get approved for a conventional mortgage.

But, the convenience doesn’t come without strings attached and the additional insurance costs can follow you for the entire loan term. This can get costly.

Furthermore, putting a small sum down on a home means that it will take you quite some time to build up equity. A small down payment can also increase your monthly payments. Homebuyers with a strong credit score should consider saving a bit more money and shopping for a conventional home loan first before thinking the FHA home loan is the only answer to a limited down payment.

You may be able to qualify for a conventional home loan with PMI if you have a down payment of 5% to 10%. A conventional home loan with PMI may not require the same upfront insurance payment as the FHA home loan, so you can find some savings there. Plus, you’re capable of getting rid of PMI without refinancing.

How to shop for an FHA mortgage

If your present credit score and savings make you ineligible for a conventional home loan, the FHA home loan is still a viable option to consider for financing. Just make sure you understand the implications of the extra cost.

Like a conventional mortgage, you need to shop around with multiple FHA-approved lenders to find the most competitive rate. If you’re unfamiliar with FHA-approved lenders in your area, you can go to the HUD website to find a few.

Don’t rush to a decision. If you’re not sure which option (FHA or conventional mortgage) will be the most cost effective for you, ask each lender you shop with to break down the costs for a comparison.

TAGS: , ,

Reviews

Victoria’s Secret Angel Credit Card Review

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Victoria’s Secret Angel Credit Card Review

If you’re a big Victoria’s Secret shopper, the Angel credit card may be one you’ve considered signing up for especially since the holidays are right around the corner. The Angel card gives members the opportunity to earn Victoria’s Secret rewards, free shipping, and other gifts.

You can swipe the Angel card at Victoria’s Secret and PINK stores and Bath & Body Works (in-store only). But, you’re only able to earn and redeem points at Victoria’s Secret and PINK stores.

The Angel Rewards Program has three rewards tier levels including Angel, Angel VIP, and Angel Forever. A rewards level is assigned to you based on the points you earn from the card. We’ll discuss the benefits of each tier in this post along with:

  • The credit card basics
  • How to redeem points
  • The fine print details
  • How to qualify for the card
  • The pros and cons
  • The basics of the Angel credit card
  • Victoria’s Secret Angel Credit Card Basics

1. Earn 1 point per dollar when you purchase non-bra items.

Victoria’s Secret stores sell perfume, clothes, panties, and many other items besides bras. For these items, you earn 1 point for every dollar you spend.

2. Earn 3 points per dollar on bra purchases.

Victoria’s Secret gives you a special bonus when you shop for bras. On bras, you earn 3 points per dollar including ones that are on sale.

3. Extra benefits such as free shipping.

vs-credit-card-logCardholders also get free standard shipping for orders that include a bra purchase. All cardholders get a birthday gift as well. According to Angel credit card services, the birthday gift is a $10-off shopping coupon.

Redeeming Victoria’s Secret rewards

The Angel Rewards Program is multifaceted. You get extra opportunities to earn more points than the basic 1 point per dollar spent, and there’s a tiered rewards system that determines what exclusive offers you qualify for.

How to earn bonus points

Besides earning 3 points per dollar on bras, cardholders will be notified of special promotions where they can earn extra points for other items.

In addition, each cardholder can choose a triple point day or days. Triple point days are days you select throughout the year where you will get 3 points per dollar on all purchases, no restrictions.

The number of triple point days you can choose depends on your rewards tier.

Angel Rewards Program tiers

The Angel card has three rewards tiers:

Angel – no point requirement

Angel VIP – cardholders must earn 500 points to reach this level

Angel Forever – cardholders must earn 1,000 points to reach this level

You’ll be bumped up automatically to the next tier if you earn the amount of points required during the 12-month Angel Rewards Program year. The program year goes from February 1 to January 31.

If you get moved up to the second level, Angel VIP, you stay on that level until you earn enough points to reach Angel Forever status. You will never be demoted back to the Angel tier.

If you attain Angel Forever status, you’ll stay there for the entire program year you earned 1,000 points and one year after. However, the following year, you need to requalify by earning another 1,000 points. Otherwise, you’ll be taken down to the Angel VIP tier.

Cardholders at the very lowest tier (Angel) can choose 1 triple point day per program year. Angel VIP cardholders can choose 2 triple point days per year. Angel Forever cardholders get to choose 3 triple point days per year.

Exclusive benefits for Angel VIP and Angel Forever members include access to exclusive event invitations (like store promotions). Angel Forever cardholders also get a special thank-you gift each year.

Redeeming points

Every time you earn 250 points you receive a reward that’s essentially a store coupon. Angel and Angel VIP members get a $10-off reward. Angel Forever members get a $15-off reward.

The reward will be mailed to you within 3 to 6 weeks of earning it. It expires 90 days after it’s issued, so be sure to use it right away.

You cannot use points earned for statement credit, for cash redemption, or to purchase gift cards.

The fine print and fees

The Angel card has no annual fee. However, the red flag is in the interest rate. The interest rate is 25.24% APR, which is pretty high. Carrying forward a balance on this card will be counterintuitive if you want to benefit from the rewards program because you’ll pay quite a bit in interest charges.

The Angel card is standard in regard to other fees. The late fee is up to $37, and the returned payment fee is up to $25.

Qualifying for the Angel credit card

You can apply for the Angel card at a Victoria’s Secret or PINK store. You can also apply online. A credit check will be performed to determine your creditworthiness. Like most store cards, you can apply and get approved within minutes at the store checkout counter. Just know that any time your credit is run for a new credit card application, it will ding your credit score. 

However, there is a way to see if you are pre-qualified for a Victoria’s Secret credit card without hurting your credit. Getting pre-qualified is simply a company’s way of telling you that you could qualify for a credit card if you decide to apply for it. You are not actually signing up for a credit card if you are pre-qualified. This is simply a way to make sure you will qualify for the offer if you apply, so you don’t ding your credit score for nothing.

Here’s how: 

 

Step 1: Go to checkout with an item in your cart (you don’t need to buy anything in order to get pre-approved).

Step 2: Enter your name, address and phone number. Be sure to use the address you typically use for bills so they can match it up.

step1

Step 3: Continue to the payment and offers page

Step 4: If you’re pre-approved for a credit card, you will see a pop-up message with your initial credit limit and a link to apply (for real this time). You can then go on to open an account.

step4

If additional information is needed to make a decision, you may have to wait up to 30 days before you’re officially approved for the card. Victoria’s Secret doesn’t have a preset credit score requirement that’s used to qualify (or disqualify) applicants.

Current cardholders report getting approved for the card with a credit score in the mid-500s and higher. The high interest rate is also an indicator this card may be open to those with fair credit.

Pros and Cons

Pro: No annual fee. There’s no annual fee, so Victoria’s Secret shoppers will get rewarded for spending without having to worry about that extra expense.

Con: The interest rate. The interest rate for this card is high. If you carry an account balance, any reward earned (free shipping, coupons, or gifts) will be diminished by the amount you pay in interest charges.

Pro: No cap. You can earn an unlimited amount of points. You’ll automatically get a coupon whenever you reach the 250 point threshold.

Con: The restrictions. Even though there’s no cap, there are a few restrictions in other areas. Points expire 12 months from the date that you earn them. You’re also restricted in how you can use points. There’s no way to cash out other than making a new purchase with your rewards coupon.

Pro: Extra benefits. Beyond the $10 and $15 rewards given for points earned, you get free shipping on purchases that include a bra. Victoria’s Secret may occasionally offer more points for certain purchases as well. You also get a special birthday gift.

Other rewards cards

Ultimately, a store card won’t be worthwhile if you don’t have a reason to spend in that store often. Here are a few cards that will reward you for all spending:

Citi Double Cash – The Citi Double Cash card will give you 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay off your credit card statement. You can redeem cash back for statement credit, gift cards, or checks.

Chase Freedom – The Chase Freedom card is a cash back card with revolving quarterly categories. Shopping in the bonus category will earn you 5% cash back.

For 2016, the bonus categories are:

January to March – Gas stations and local commuter transportation

April to June – Grocery stores and wholesale clubs

July to September – Restaurants and wholesale clubs

October to December – Wholesale clubs, department stores, and drugstores

The cap for the bonus category is $1,500 per quarter. All other purchases on your Chase Freedom card get 1% cash back. You can use cash back for statement credit, direct deposit into a savings or checking account, gift cards, or travel.

Who will benefit the most from the Angel credit card?

Unless you shop heavily at Victoria’s Secret and PINK stores, getting a card that will only reward you for spending at these retailers is not a good idea. And since the credit card reward is a coupon for more shopping, taking part in the program may even cause you to spend more than necessary.

Be careful if you’re thinking about opening this credit card just for holiday shopping. Buying now with the intent to pay later can cost you. Accumulating interest charges may outweigh any benefit that you would get from free shipping, rewards points, or birthday gifts. 

TAGS: