Tag: cash back

Credit Cards

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: 1.5% Cash Back

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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review

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 the card.

The cash back credit card market continues to heat up with the introduction of the Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM credit card. In the race to acquire new customers, banks are introducing increasingly lucrative products. Cash back credit cards can be an excellent way to put some extra money in your pocket, so long as you don’t give into temptation and spend more than you should.

With Freedom Unlimited, you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. The card does not charge an annual fee and there is no minimum redemption amount for the cash back: you can redeem at any time and for any amount. You can also earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

We like the simplicity of this product. There are no caps, opt-in requirements or minimum redemption rules. If you want a good return and little hassle, this could be a good addition to your wallet.

There are opportunities to get even more from this new credit card if you can use it in combination with your existing Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards. Just beware, the card does charge a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. In this review, we will explain:

  • The key features
  • The best ways to use the card
  • How the card stacks up versus the competition
  • Our Final Verdict

Key Features

FreedomUnlimited

Here are the key features of the Chase Freedom Unlimited card:

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it’s automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.24-23.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Redeem for cash – any amount, anytime
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

Here is an example of how the cash back can add up. If you are able to spend $1,000 a month on your credit card ($12,000 a year), you could earn:

  • During the first year: A $150 bonus offer (for spending $500 in the first three months) and $180 of cash back (1.5% of your annual spend). That is $330 of cash back in the first year.  
  • Thereafter: After the first year, you would continue to earn $180 of cash back every year.

Best Ways to Use The Card

The best part of Chase Freedom Unlimited is its simplicity. Some people are willing to work hard for a deal. They will carry multiple credit cards to maximize the cash back that they earn. They eagerly opt-in to bonus offers and even create spreadsheets to keep track of their rewards. If that sounds exhausting, Chase Freedom Unlimited could be a better option for you. There are no rotating categories, no caps and no requirements on your end. You will earn a solid 1.5% cash back on all of your spending all of the time. And you don’t have to do anything other than carry this card in your wallet and use it for all of your purchases.

But there are some ways to get even more from this credit card with a little extra work. If you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, you will have more redemption opportunities with the Freedom Unlimited card. Why? If you have a Sapphire Preferred card, it means that the 1.5% you earn will turn into 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spend on your credit card. Those points can be combined with the points that you earn on your Sapphire Preferred credit card. Even better, you can use those points in the following additional ways:

  • Redeem for travel: Chase offers 20% off travel when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Imagine you want to buy a $300 airplane ticket. That would require 24,000 Ultimate Reward Points. With a Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, it would take $16,000 of spend to earn enough points for the ticket. By using your Ultimate Rewards points for travel, you are actually earning 1.9%.
  • Transfer to an Airline or Hotel Partner: With Ultimate Rewards, you have great flexibility. You can transfer points to your frequent flier account with airlines (including United Airlines and Southwest Airlines) and hotels (including Marriott and Hyatt). If you do a lot of business travel already, this is a nice way to top up your account.

If you already have and use the Sapphire Preferred card, Freedom Unlimited could be a great addition. With Sapphire Preferred, you earn 2x points for every $1 spent on dining and travel, and you earn 1x point for $1 spent in all other categories. You can boost all other categories to 1.5 points per $1 with Chase Freedom Unlimited.

If you already have the original Chase Freedom credit card, you do not have to give it up. You are allowed to keep both. You can continue to enjoy the bonus categories of Chase Freedom in addition to the unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase of Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Freedom Unlimited versus the Competition

The best part of Chase Freedom Unlimited is its simplicity. But here are a few places where the card loses out to competition.

If you want to avoid foreign transaction fees: Chase Freedom Unlimited charges foreign transaction fees. If you plan on traveling abroad, you might want to consider the Capital One Quicksilver card. With Quicksilver, you can also earn 1.5% cash back, but there are no foreign transaction fees.

If you spend a lot in one category: you might find a better deal with a different credit card. For example, Fort Knox Credit Union offers a credit card that pays 5% on gas. PenFed offers a credit card that pays 4.25% on airfare. You can find the cards that pay the highest bonus rates here.

If you want to earn 2%: With Freedom Unlimited you earn unlimited 1.5% cash back. Citi Double Cash currently offers 1% + 1%. You earn 1% when you spend and 1% when you make a payment. If you take the redemption as a deposit into your checking account and pay the balance in full and on time every month, you would be earning 2%. The downside is that Citi Double Cash has a higher minimum redemption requirement of $25 and no sign-on bonus. Chase Freedom Unlimited has a nice $150 bonus. In our earlier example (with the person spending $1,000 a month), you would earn $330 on Chase Freedom Unlimited in Year 1 compared to only $240 on the Citi Double Cash credit card.

Our Final Verdict

Chase Freedom Unlimited is simple, transparent and easy to use. You will earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it’s automatic! If you already have a Sapphire Preferred or the original Freedom credit card, adding this no fee card to your wallet is a no brainer.

If you want a solid credit card to earn good returns, this is a good option. Its biggest competition is Citi Double Cash, which can generate 2% cash back when used properly. However, Citi offers no sign-on bonus and has a higher minimum redemption requirement. In the first year, you will likely be better off with Chase Freedom Unlimited. And we have doubts about the ability of Citi to continue to pay 2% cash back. Given the bonus, long-term sustainability of the product and ability to leverage Ultimate Rewards, we believe Chase Freedom Unlimited could be a solid choice.

TAGS: ,

Earning Cashback, Reviews

Citi ThankYou Premier Card or Discover it: Which Offers Better Value?

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-cc-full

Getting inundated with credit card offers is overwhelming. Points versus cash back, signup bonuses versus dollar-for-dollar matches, how do you know if you’re making the right choice for your reward credit card? What features makes one card more valuable than another?

We’ll get into the details of how to evaluate reward cards with a head-to-head match of two heavyweight credit card competitors: the Citi ThankYou Premier Card and Discover it.

Citi ThankYou Premier

Citi provides three different options for its ThankYou cards, but the one providing the most rewards for your spending is Citi ThankYou Premier. You earn points each and every time you spend, but will be rewarded more generously for certain purchases:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on travel, which includes everyday gas purchases
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment
  • 1 point per $1 spent on everything else

Currently, there is a 40,000-point signup bonus when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. Unfortunately, opting to redeem your points for cash back only nets you .5 cents per point, making your cash back percentage between 0.5%-1.5%. That means the signup bonus is worth $200 in cold, hard cash, but you won’t be earning very much on your purchases.

Points hold more value when you choose to redeem them for travel. Typically, your points are worth 1 cent each in this category, but when you have a Citi ThankYou Premier card, their value is bumped up to 1.25 cents each. You can also transfer your points to a partner airline miles program to redeem them at a 1:1 ratio. You can get the same 1:1 redemption ratio if you cash in for certain gift cards or call Citi to use the cash back for a mortgage or student loan payment. Some redemption options, however, don’t hold much value such as cash back and statement credit. Both of which are redeemed at 0.5 cents per point.

The Citi ThankYou Premier card has an annual fee of $95, though that fee is waived for the first year.

189_cardCitithankyoupremier (1)

Apply Now

Discover it® Cashback Match™

While point-earning power is fixed with Citi ThankYou Premier, Discover rotates the categories and is one of the best options for 5% cash back. Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter 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.

You earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. With Discover it, your cash back holds the same value regardless of whether you choose to redeem it via a statement balance, deposit into an outside account, or gift cards. The only caveat is that you have to register every quarter in order to earn the 5% cash back rewards for seasonal categories, and you can only earn 5% on up to $1,500 of spend every quarter you activate.

As of publication, Discover has a special introductory offer for new customers. Discover will match the cash back in your first 12 months of spending, with the points being awarded at the end of the first year.

Learn More

Pros & Cons

There are positives and negatives to each program, depending on your primary goal when opening an account.

Citi ThankYou Premier

Pro: Forty thousand point (or $200 cash) signup bonus. If you spend $3,000 in the first three months, you’ll be rewarded with this bonus early on. The travel value of the bonus is $500 with the 1.25 redemption ratio.

Con: Points aren’t worth very much. If you opt to get cash back in the form of a check, you’ll only get .5%-1.5% back on all of your purchases. Spending on travel will earn you the most, and when you redeem points for travel you’ll be getting the best redemption value.

Pro: Categories don’t rotate. Earning points with Citi ThankYou Premier doesn’t require a calendar or alarm. Because you don’t have to register for higher-grossing categories, you can spend how you normally would without having to think a lot about strategy.

Con: More expensive. Interest rates on this card are negligibly higher than on the Discover it, but the real pain comes from the fact that they’re not reduced to 0% for the first year like the competitor. There is also an annual fee of $95, though it is waived for the first year.

Discover it

Pro: The bonus is worth waiting for. Although you’ll only get the bonus of double cash back at the end of your first twelve months, you’ll only have to spend $2,000 in incentivized categories to equal the $200 from Citi ThankYou Premier. You spend less to get the same bonus, and if you spend more, you’ll get more.

Con: Have to register to earn 5% cash back. In order to get 5% cash back in the rotating, incentivized categories, you’ll have to remember to register at the beginning of each quarter. If you’re not organized enough to remember, you could blow the biggest earning opportunities with this card.

Pro: Rewards are more valuable. 1 reward point with Citi ThankYou is only worth 0.5 cents. Even if you spend completely outside of incentivized categories, you’d be earning 1 cent for every dollar spent with Discover it.

Con: Travel is not incentivized. Aside from your daily commute from January-March, Discover it does not incentivize travel. If that’s what you’re looking for in a card, you may want to look elsewhere.

Pro: Less expensive. Discover it does not have an annual fee, and interest rates are 0% for the first year. After twelve months, interest rates are still slightly lower than its competitor’s.

When to Use Both Cards

You can use both cards in conjunction with each other. If you’re a traveler, but like the idea of getting 5% cash back for certain everyday purchases throughout the year, you can optimize your earnings by doing the following:

  • Most of the year, dining and entertainment purchases will earn you equivalent cash back in either program. However, during the months of April through June, dining and movie purchases will earn you far more if you purchase using Discover it.
  • Put all other purchases throughout the year, except for travel and dining/entertainment, on Discover it. That’s where you’ll find more value in rewards, as long as you’re redeeming those dining/entertainment points through Citi’s Travel Center as opposed to taking them back as cash.

Other Cash Back Card Options

There are other cash back card options on the market that are more competitive with Discover it. One is the Chase Freedom card. 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. Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Freedom154

Learn More

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature presents a different type of advantage. While it only offers 2% back, you earn that 2% on every single purchase you make, eliminating the need to strategize when to buy the things you need, and figure out point conversions.

fidelityrewardsvisa

Apply Now

Just keep in mind, all of these cash back options are only valuable if you pay off your card on time and in full each month. Once you start paying interest it voids the return of earning cash back.

Cash Back Winner

In this head-to-head battle, Discover it dominates when it comes to cash back. The only time Citi ThankYou points are worth more is when you are spending on travel, and in some cases when you redeem for travel through their Travel Center. For almost all other purchases, Discover it is the better deal.

TAGS:

Best of, Earning Cashback, Reviews

QuickSilver or Venture: Which Capital One Card Should You Pick?

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.

QuickSilver or Venture: Which Capital One Card Should You Pick

Comparing cards from differing financial institutions is a tough decision, but what do you do when you’re looking at two cards from the same provider? They have identical interest rates, points never expire on either card, and they both have great bonuses.

I’ll tell you what you do: you do some math to figure out which one provides the better value. That’s exactly what we’ve done with Capital One’s Quicksilver and Venture cards. If cash back is your goal, rather than travel rewards, we’ve found a clear winner.

Capital One Quicksilver

Capital One’s Quicksilver card offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There are no rotating categories; every dollar you spend will earn 1.5 cents, redeemable in cash. At publication, it comes with a bonus: $100 back when you spend $500 in the first three months.

This card has no annual fee, and comes with 0% APR until January of 2017 when rates will jump to 13.24%-23.24% depending on your credit worthiness.

QuicksilverOne

Apply Now

Capital One Venture

The Venture card operates differently. While you can get cash back, the best way to use points earned is for travel. For every dollar you spend, you earn two points. When you redeem Venture points to pay for travel, you get $1 in value for every 100 points. However, if you choose to redeem those points for cash, you will only get half that ($0.50 back per 100 points)

This means if you’re only looking for cashback, Quicksilver is the better deal.

The Venture card comes with a 40,000 point bonus at publication, which is $400 in travel rewards, but worth only $200 if you opt to use the cash back method. In order to qualify for this bonus, you must meet a $3,000 minimum spend in the first three months of your account opening.

There is no introductory APR on this card; you jump right in at 13.24%-23.24%. There is also an annual fee of $59, though it is waived for the first year. Points on both cards never expire.

venturerewardscard

Apply Now

Pros & Cons

Both cards are nice additions to your wallet if you use credit responsibly, but you’ll want to look over the pros and cons of each before choosing one the one that is best for you.

Quicksilver

Pro: Higher points for cashback. Quicksilver’s rewards come in at a higher value when you redeem for cashback.

Con: Other options in the industry offer more. In this matchup, Quicksilver clearly comes out on top, but when you compare it to other cards in the cashback niche, such as Citi Double Cash, its return isn’t stellar.

Pro: Simplicity. While other cashback cards may have a higher yield, you often have to spend money on certain items during specific months to see those yields. You also typically have to register for each higher earning category. With Quicksilver, you earn 1.5% cashback every day, regardless of what you’re purchasing.

Pro: Less expensive. While we don’t advise carrying a balance on your card, the introductory 0% interest rate makes this card less expensive than its competition in this head-to-head. To add insult to injury, it also doesn’t come with an annual fee, making Quicksilver the cheaper option.

Venture

Pro: The bonus is bigger. Even at lower redemption levels, the signup bonus of 40,000 points, or $200 in cash, is larger than Quicksilver’s bonus offer. However, the cashback offer on Quicksilver is a better deal simply because you don’t have to spend as much proportionately to earn it.

Con: It will cost you more to earn the bonus. When you spend $3,000 to earn 40,000 points, you are essentially spending $3,000 to earn $200 (or $400 if you use the points for travel). Contrast that with Quicksilver’s offer to earn $100 by spending $500, and you can clearly see that Quicksilver’s deal offers a better value, even though it’s smaller.

Pro: More value if you’re a traveler. If you redeem your points for travel, you’re earning 2% cash value from your spending, 0.5% more more than the Quicksilver’s cashback offer, and a full 1% than if you opted to use your points for non-travel purchases on the Venture Card.

Con: More expensive. While the annual fee is waived for the first year, you’ll find yourself spending $59 every year after that. This means that the card will earn back the annual fee after you’ve spent $2,950 if you plan to use the points for travel. Interest fees are also not waived for the first year.

When to Use Both Cards

If you like to travel, but also like getting cash to pay your monthly bills, it can be advantageous to use both cards in conjunction. Where you put your spend will depend on your immediate goals. For example, maybe you have a wedding to attend, and two nights at the hotel will cost you a total of $400. You’d want to take advantage of Venture’s signup bonus, spending $3,000 within the first three months. You’d even have $60 in travel credit leftover to take care of fun things like hospitality taxes and potential resort fees.

On top of booking accommodations, you also have to buy a gift. You decide to charge every additional penny to your Quicksilver card, paying it off every month. At the end of three months, you’ve spent $6,000: $3,000 on your Venture card, and $3,000 on Quicksilver. Because you’ve spent over $500 on your Quicksilver card, you get the $100 bonus, plus an additional $45 in cashback rewards, more than enough to purchase a wedding gift.

Other Cash Back Card Options

Quicksilver’s 1.5% return is far from the best on the market. Discover it offers 5% back on rotating categories, which gives you the potential for much higher returns, though you must actively register for these categories each quarter, and all other purchases only accrue 1% in rewards.

Discover it 18month BT card art

Read our full review of Discover it and apply here.

If you’re looking for something more akin to Quicksilver’s earning structure, Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature presents a different type of advantage. This card also allows you to earn at a constant rate regardless of which items you are purchasing, but instead of 1.5%, Fidelity’s card allows you to earn 2% cashback on all of your purchases. However, you do need to have a Fidelity account to be eligible.

fidelityrewardsvisa

Apply Now

Citi Double Cash also does 2% back on all purchases with a 1% when you make the purchase and 1% back when you make the payment.

citidoublecard

Apply Now

Just keep in mind, all of these cash back options are only valuable if you pay off your card on time and in full each month. Once you start paying interest it voids the return of earning cash back.

Cash Back Winner

If you don’t plan to use your rewards for travel, and are only looking at cash back, the numbers don’t lie. Spending on Quicksilver will earn you 1.5%, while Venture only garners 1%. Unless you’re a traveler, Quicksilver offers you more value for your spend, and it does so without an annual fee.

promo-cashback-wide

TAGS:

Earning Cashback, Reviews

Chase Freedom or Discover it: Who is the King of 5% Bonus Cash?

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.

Chase Freedom or Discover it: Who is the King of 5% Bonus Cash?

If you’re going to use a credit card, choosing one that rewards you for spending is a given. Choosing the right card? That’s another story. With so many cards offering similar cash back programs and terms it can be difficult to choose one over another.

For example, should you get the Chase Freedom or Discover It?

Both offer 5% cash back categories that change each quarter, with that 5% limited to your first $1,500 in spending on those categories each quarter. Where they differ is in the actual 5% bonus categories, the introductory bonus offer, and some fine print.

In this post, we’re going to dissect both cards and how they stack up against each other.

Chase Freedom

With Chase Freedom, you can 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. Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Freedom154

Learn more

Discover it® Cashback Match(TM) 

You can earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter 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.

Aside from the cash back program, Discover it has an introductory special just like the Chase Freedom card. There’s a 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. The introductory balance transfer fee is 3%. After the introductory period ends, the regular APR is from 11.49% to 23.49% variable.

Discover it

LearnMore

Pros and Cons

Now, let’s dive into the pros and cons of both cash back programs.

Chase Freedom

Pro: Good 5% categories for necessities. The pro of the Chase Freedom cash back program is that it covers the bare necessities. There’s a bonus quarter for transportation and groceries, two things that everyone needs.

Pro: A good bonus for small spenders. The $150 Bonus is great perk for new customers.

Pro: Flexible points. While you can always use your points for cash back, the Freedom earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That means you can also use them for travel, gift cards, and other items. In addition, if you have another card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points you can combine the points for more reward opportunities.

Con: You need a certain number of points to get cash. A drawback of the Chase Freedom card is your point balance must reach 2,000 points before you can start redeeming for cash. That’s easy with the introductory bonus, but after your first cash back redemption, you’ll have to wait until you have at least 2,000 points before getting more cash back.

One point equals $0.01. For the 1% category, you get 1 point per $1. For the 5% cash back category, you get 5 points per $1; $5 in cash back equals 500 points.

Con: You need to activate your 5% bonus. Another negative of the Chase Freedom card is the 5% bonus category requires activation each quarter. If you forget to subscribe to the program, you’ll only get 1% cash back for all spending, so this is a card that you’ll have to actively manage.

Discover it

Pro: A good introductory offer for big spenders. The card doubles all the cash back you earn in the first year with no limits. That can really add up if you tend to be a big spender, though the catch is that bonus double cash back doesn’t hit your account until the very end of your first year. The Chase Freedom’s introductory offer hits your account after just 3 months worth of spending.

Pro: No minimum point balance. You can also redeem cash back at any time, no minimum point balance required. The Freedom requires you to save 2,000 points before you redeem.

Pro: $5 Bonus for gift cards. You get an extra $5 added for each gift card you redeem. So if you have $20 in rewards, you can get a $25 gift card, which is like 1.25% cash value from your base spending.

Con: You need to activate your 5% bonus. Like the Chase Freedom card, Discover it makes you subscribe to the 5% bonus category each quarter. You can set up email reminders, but it’s still a hassle to actively opt-in instead of being about to set that on auto pilot. So, again, this isn’t a card where you can passively earn cash back.

When to Consider Both Cards

Now, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds if it makes sense.

You can get both cards and alternate use throughout quarters so you can take advantage of both card’s 5% bonus categories to get 5% on more of your spending.

For example, if you entertain clients often, you could use the Discover it for restaurants in the second quarter and then follow up with Chase Freedom for restaurants during the third quarter. Or if you’re a big time spender at the holidays (enough to hit that $1,500 cap) then you could switch over to the other card and keep getting 5% back on your holiday shopping.

Of course, you’ll have to remember to activate each bonus category and label the cards in your wallet to know which one to use at what time.

But, if you spend in these areas anyway why not earn cash back for doing so?

There’s no annual fee for either card.

Other Cash Back Card Options

The Nusenda CU Platinum Cash Rewards Card offers a 5% cash back revolving category with 1% cash back on all other purchases. Rates are as low as 11.25% APR with no balance transfer fee. There’s an intro 5% APR deal on balance transfers for the first 6 months.

Even better, you don’t have to activate the categories each quarter. Here are the 5% cash back categories in detail:

  • 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 airfare

platinumrewadscardbynusenda

Apply Now

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature has a rewards program that’s a little different than all three offers above. With this card you can select which category you want to earn 5% and 2% cash back in each quarter.

In the 5% cash back category, you can choose between a large variety of options from clothing stores to movie theaters. The cap for the 5% category is $2,000 per quarter. In the 2% category you can choose from gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

As far as the intro special, the U.S Bank Cash+ Visa has a 9-month 0% intro period on balance transfers and new purchases. The interest rate is 13.24% to 24.24% APR after the intro period ends.

US bank cash-plus-detail

Apply Now

Which Card Will Benefit You the Most?

Overall, the Chase Freedom and Discover it are similar cards. Both have introductory periods with 0% interest and 5% cash back revolving categories. If you’re making a choice of one over the other, your choice would ultimately depend on your spending habits, so you can use the card (or a combination of both cards) to maximize your regular purchases.

TAGS: , ,

Earning Cashback, Reviews

Review: Amazon Rewards Visa Card for Cash Back

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.

Amazon Rewards Visa Card for Cash Back

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

Cash back cards are plentiful. You may feel overwhelmed by regular solicitations in the mail from airline or hotel branded cards offering big sign-on bonuses or constantly getting nudges online for cash back cards with 5% back. It can be difficult to pick which card, or combination of cards, is right for your wallet. If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, then the Amazon Rewards Visa may be the right tool to add to your reward card arsenal.

How to Earn Cash Back with the Amazon Rewards Visa Card

The Amazon Rewards Visa card is actually fairly straightforward when it comes to its reward system for granting cash back on your purchases. There are three parts:

  • 3% back on Amazon.com purchases
  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores, and drugstores
  • 1% back on all other purchases

Like most cash back rewards cards, the Amazon Rewards Visa card doesn’t grant cash back rewards for the following types of transactions that may apply to your account: balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, overdraft advances, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind. Rewards are only granted on purchases minus returns and refunds.

The top tier of earnings for cash back is on purchases made on Amazon.com. According to the fine print, this includes things like digital downloads, Amazon.com gift cards, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Prime subscriptions, and items sold by third-party merchants through Amazon.com’s marketplace. However, the 3% cash back offer does not apply to purchases made at amazon.co.uk or any other foreign Amazon website or website operated by Amazon.com.

In advertisements for the 2% cash back category offered by the Amazon Rewards Visa card, it shows that 2% cash back will be offered at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores. However, the fine print revealed that 2% cash back is also offered on purchases at office supply stores.

Redeeming Rewards

Technically, the Amazon Rewards Visa card can be used to earn other types of rewards besides just cash back. Every purchase is awarded points. You get one point for every penny you earn in “% back” rewards.

For example, purchases made on Amazon.com equate to $0.03 in % back rewards, which is equal to 3 points, for each $1 spent. This may seem a bit confusing as marketing materials will typically only show the “% back” when referring to the rewards you earn with this credit card.

You can redeem your points for things other than cash back, such as eligible purchases on Amazon.com, travel, or gift cards.

Amazon.com almost encourages you to redeem your rewards on new purchases on their website by displaying your points balance during check out on Amazon.com.

An attractive feature of the Amazon Rewards Visa card is that there is no minimum that must be met before you can redeem your rewards points, and there does not appear to be a maximum amount of rewards that can be earned or redeemed in a statement period or other timeframe as there is with some other cash back credit cards.

Pros and Cons

Avid Amazon shoppers will enjoy the 3% cash back on Amazon purchases, plus it’s nice the card provides 2% back on other transactions such as gas and restaurants when the industry standard is usually 1% on all other spend.

One downside of the card, however, is it appears you can only cash out your rewards as a statement credit and not use it as a direct deposit into a checking or savings account.

Amazon Rewards

You can learn more, including the most up-to-date details of the product, at Amazon.com.

How it Stacks Up

Compared to other credit cards that may be used to earn cash back, the Amazon Rewards Visa card doesn’t appear to be the best cash back card on the market.

Chase Freedom

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. 

Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

 

How to Get the Most Cash Back

Although the Amazon Rewards Visa card may be a good card to have in your wallet if you are a frequent Amazon.com customer, there are better cash back credit cards out there to maximize the amount you earn on purchases made at other websites and offline. We’ve put together a list of credit cards that offer 2% or more back in many categories here and another great option to pair with the Amazon Rewards Visa card to increase you cash back on non-Amazon.com purchases is the Citi Double Cash credit card.

This card offers 2% cash back on all purchases. But there is a catch. You earn 1% cash back upfront when you make a purchase and the other 1% is earned when you pay off your bill. The good thing about this card is that there are no category limits like there are with the Chase Freedom and Discover It cards.

Who Will Benefit Most from the Amazon Rewards Visa Card?

The Amazon Rewards Visa card offers a rewards program that is definitely worth considering if you are a frequent Amazon.com shopper. But for all other purchases, there may be better cash rewards credit cards out there, like the Citi Double Cash card that will reward you with 2% cash back on everything you buy, instead of just on certain categories like the Amazon Rewards Visa.

TAGS: ,

Building Credit, Credit Cards, Earning Cashback, Reviews

Review: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Back

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-cc-full

For people with average or fair credit, Capital One offers the QuicksilverOne cash back card with an introductory special. The promo is 0% APR for new purchases and balance transfers (with no balance transfer fee) until September 2016. After the intro period ends, standard interest kicks in at 23.24% APR. If your credit score is in the mid-600’s, this is a deal you may want to consider, but there are some drawbacks we’ll discuss in this post.

QuicksilverOne Cash Back Program

The QuicksilverOne cash back program is low-maintenance. Unlike other programs with preset categories, opt-ins, and spending limits, this card gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases, no restrictions. Cardholders can redeem cash back at any time through check, account credit or gift card. The cash back you earn never expires.

Are you an urban dweller? There’s an opportunity to earn even more cash back if you ride with Uber. Although it’s a short-term deal, you’ll get a 20% statement credit for each Uber trip when you pay with the QuicksilverOne card. Offer ends April 30, 2016.

QuicksilverOne Card Details

Cash back program aside, the QuicksilverOne card comes with TransUnion credit score tracking, alerts, and a score simulator. The score simulator allows you to see how spending money (or paying off debt) will impact your score.

Your QuicksilverOne credit line is determined based on creditworthiness. The lowest credit line is $300. However, your credit line will increase after you make the first five on-time payments.

As for other card perks, QuicksilverOne has fraud coverage and Platinum MasterCard benefits including extended warranty. It also comes with rental car insurance along with 24/7 travel and roadside assistance.

Fees and Gotchas

This card has a transparent fee structure. It costs $39 per year (the standard Quicksilver card is fee free). There’s no foreign transaction fee. If you transfer a balance before September 2016, there’s no balance transfer fee either. The cash advance fee is $10 or 3% whichever one is greater. The late fee can be up to $35.

Pros and Cons

Now, let’s weigh the good and bad of the QuicksilverOne.

Pros 

On the pro side, the cash back program is uncomplicated because there are no preset bonus categories and you can redeem cash back at any time. You don’t have to wait until your balance reaches a specific threshold.

In addition, you can transfer balances to the card with no interest or fees until September 2016, which sets the QuicksilverOne card apart. Often, cards that offer 0% APR balance transfer deals tack on a 3% to 4% processing fee for each transfer.

Lastly, QuicksilverOne is a good option for rebuilding credit. Your credit line will increase when you use the card responsibility. And there’s no need to sign up for another monthly credit score monitoring site since score tracking is conveniently included in the credit card product.

Cons

As for the disadvantages, you guessed it – the annual fee. But, the $39 fee per year in lieu of a balance transfer fee may work in your favor depending on how much debt you transfer to the card.

If you’re strictly looking to rebuild your credit score, then consider a no-fee secured card like the Capital One secured card or the Discover it secured card.

Another drawback is the standard interest rate of 23.24% APR; it’s pretty high. Don’t transfer a balance or spend more on this card than you can pay off before September 2016. That’s unless you have a plan to transfer the debt to another low-interest card after the promo ends. Otherwise, your debt will quickly grow with interest.

QuicksilverOne

Apply Now

Alternatives to the QuicksilverOne

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 like gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Freedom154

Learn More

The Citi Double Cash is another great option for low-maintenance cash back rewards. It gives 2% cash back on all purchases. You earn 1% cash back when you spend on the card and another 1% cash back when you pay off the bill. The Citi Double Cash card is now offering 0% APR on new balance transfers for 18 months. Standard interest after the special is 13.49% to 23.49% APR. There’s no annual fee and the balance transfer fee is 3%.

citi-double-cash-credit-card

Apply Now

Who Will Benefit Most from QuicksilverOne Cash Back Rewards?

The QuicksilverOne will benefit you most if you’re trying to rebuild credit because it gives you all the tools you need; free score monitoring, adjustable credit lines and 0% starting interest. The $39 annual fee is a drawback.

But, if you need to transfer a balance, it may be cost effective to pay the $39 and avoid the balance transfer fee that you find with other cash back cards like the Chase Freedom and Citi Double Cash. Shop around and do the math to find out which card will save you the most money before settling.

promo-cashback-wide

TAGS: ,

Get A Pre-Approved Personal Loan

$

Won’t impact your credit score

Earning Cashback

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card: Are there easier 2% cash back options?

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-cc-full

Banks are able to give customers credit card rewards thanks to interchange fees. Typically, banks charge merchants a two percent interchange fee for the convenience of swiping a credit card. Then the banks incentivize customers to apply for and use a card by offering some of that interchange fee in the form of a reward.

Knowing this, we often caution people to be wary of cash back rewards over two percent. So when you see a deal for 5% cash back – your bogus radar should go off. Sure, you might receive 5% for a quarter, but there is often lots of red tape, earning limits and categories that don’t even apply to your spending habits. If you aren’t doing home improvement work, how often are you really going to Home Depot?

How it works

The Fidelity Rewards Signature Visa offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits and no annual fee anywhere Visa is accepted (which includes Costco).

But there is a catch: you have to have a Fidelity account if you want the full 2% back.

The cash back goes into an eligible Fidelity account, which could be a brokerage account, a cash management account, a retirement account or a Fidelity-managed 529 account, and you can set up the account to automatically deposit the rewards each month you reach 5,000 points worth of rewards (the minimum you can redeem).

Any other way of using your rewards like statement credit, gift cards, or travel won’t guarantee you the full 2% rewards rate that depositing rewards into your Fidelity account offers.

The good news is you don’t need any money at all to open the account. Fidelity’s ‘cash management‘ account is basically a no fee checking account where your cash back rewards can be deposited, though you’ll get better rates from a good online savings account.

How it stacks up

The Fidelity Card receives the highest amount of cash back available without strings and rotating categories. The only other card currently offering similar cash back is the Citi Double Cash Card, though if you have heavy spending in certain categories there are other rewards cards that can earn you more.

People have various strategies for their credit cards, so see if your style is below and whether this card is right for you.

  • One is enough: If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of having too many credit cards in your wallet, then this credit card is hard to be beat. You won’t consistently earn higher than 2% cash back with any other card.
  • Bonus game: If you’re a rewards seeker dedicated to finding the best sign-on bonus, then this card is going to disappoint you. There is no bonus to sign up, though a prior version of the card that was an American Express offered $50 if you spend $500 in the first 60 days.
  • Bring on the categories: Some people actually like gaming the category system to maximize their spending habits. Perhaps you carry one card for gas, another for groceries and a third for travel. Odds are all these cards only get 1% cash back in non-category spending, so you might as well add Fidelity Investment Rewards to your line-up for all other purchases.

When Fidelity would lose to Citi Double Cash back:

  • You have to have a Fidelity account for 2%: This may be a deal breaker for some people who don’t want to take the time to set up a new account. You could simply set up a cash management account and then consistently transfer your cash back over to another bank account, but that also takes an extra step.
  • This is managed by US Bank: While Apple Pay and other modern features are available, US Bank isn’t known for having the best online interface for customers. Citi isn’t perfect either, but If all you want is 2% back and have no loyalty to Fidelity, you might prefer the Citi website and Citi Double Cash.
  • Stricter approval: Fidelity has historically considered total assets under management in their underwriting, so if you’re not already a Fidelity customer, you may not see the same credit line you could receive from Citi. Additionally, US Bank pulls your scores from two lesser known credit bureaus (SageStream, formerly known as IDA, and Advance Resolution Services, “ARS”) which may have a different history for you than the major bureaus. Citi typically uses one of the major bureaus that’s easy to keep track of. Our sense is you’ll  likely be rejected with a credit score under 700, but you could have a chance with Citi.

When Fidelity beats Citi Double Cash:

  • Costco acceptance: If you’re a Costco member, the Fidelity card is a Visa, which is the official payment at Costco as of April, 2016. This is one of the best choices if you’re a Costco shopper looking for rewards.
  • Automatic redemption: You can link your Fidelity account so that every month that you rewards balance reaches 5,000 points or more ($50 in rewards), the rewards are automatically deposited.

Fine Print

As with all financial products, you need to pay close attention to the fine print. We do like that this card offers 2% cash back with no hoops to jump through and no rotating categories. There is also no annual fee and foreign transactions have a 1% fee.

However, there are a few things to look out for.

  1. You have to be a Fidelity customer or open a Fidelity account in order to be eligible for this card.
  2. The interest rate for cash advances is much higher than that for purchases, but you really shouldn’t be using this card if you’re carrying a balance
  3. Your credit line might be based in part on investable assets – so if you don’t have anything invested with Fidelity, you may receive a lower credit line.
  4. Don’t expect 2% forever: Fidelity is committed for now to 2% based on its recent switch from American Express to Visa, but we wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years the cash back level is reduced or just reduced for those without assets under management. But right now, it’s a good deal. You can always search for another 2% cash back card, if and when Fidelity changes the rules.

In conclusion

We’re fans of this card for offering 2% cash back, but it may not be the best fit for you unless you’re an existing Fidelity customer. Those with 401(k)s, IRAs or other accounts already linked to Fidelity could help fund their futures with this cash back card.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 5.05.24 PM

TAGS: ,

Earning Cashback, News

Use Chase Freedom To Earn 10% Cash Back At Amazon.com

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.

MagnifyMoney News

Amazon.com is a popular destination for holiday shopping. Chase has introduced a promotional campaign that will make it even cheaper to shop at Amazon. Chase Freedom customers can now earn 10% cash back at Amazon.com, Zappos.com, Audible.com and Diapers.com. The promotion is valid on up to $1,500 of spend between November 23 and December 31, 2015. If you are already a Chase Freedom customer, you need to activate online to ensure you earn the cash back. If you are not yet a cardholder, the offer is even more lucrative. New customers can earn an additional $150 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months. So, if you plan on spending $500 at Amazon this holiday season, you would end up receiving a discount of $200 ($150 intro bonus plus $50 for the 10% cash back special). That is a discount of 40%. Given that Amazon already offers some of the lowest prices out there, this deal is hard to beat.

In addition, new customers receive 0% interest for the first 15 months. That means you would not pay interest on your holiday spend until 2017. Although we do not believe you should ever spend money you don’t have on holiday gifts, this is a much better way to do it than a traditional credit card.

In this article, we will explain:

  • How the standard Chase Freedom Cash Back offer stacks up
  • The fine print, and how to make sure you get the best deal possible
  • How to activate the offer if you are an existing customer
  • Words of caution regarding holiday spending in general

The Standard Chase Freedom Offer

This card has no annual fee. You earn a flat 1% cash back on all of your purchases. Every quarter, Chase selects certain categories where you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spend. In order to receive the bonus offer, you have to enroll in the bonus offer. You can do that online, at the ATM or on your mobile phone. However, if you don’t enroll you will only earn the 1% base rate. You can review MagnifyMoney’s full review of the Chase Freedom card, including how to apply, here.

The 5% offer is hard to beat for the bonus categories. However, the 1% can be beat. You can find the best cash back credit cards in every category here.

Like all cash back credit cards, make sure you pay your balance in full and on time every month. The product has a grace period, which means no interest will accrue if you pay your statement balance in full. However, if you don’t, the interest expenses could quickly add up to more than the cash back that you earned.

The Fine Print

If you use your credit card for a cash advance (at an ATM) or as overdraft protection, you will be subject to a much higher APR. The interest rate would be 24.99%, regardless of your credit score. In addition, there is no grace period for either cash advances or overdrafts. So, you would see interest accrue immediately. Additionally, you would not earn cash back on these transaction types. With a cash advance, you would also be charged $10 or 5% (whichever is higher) on the cash advance amount.

There is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Late payments will cost you up to $37. It would be $15 if the balance is less than $100 and $27 if the balance is $100 to less than $250.

So long as you pay your statement balance in full and on time, no interest will accrue.

How To Activate The Offer

Once you have a Chase Freedom offer, you must activate the bonus offer every quarter. You can do that online. Visit the Chase Freedom website, and click on “Activate 5% Cash Back.”

 

Words Of Caution

This holiday bonus offer is a great way to save money on your holiday spend. As the earlier example demonstrated, a savvy new customer could save 40% of their total spending (if they spend $500 at Amazon.com). However, one risk of all great offers is that you spend more money than you should.

Make sure you set a clear holiday budget. Use this offer to save money. Avoid the temptation to spend even more money. Otherwise you will wake up to regret, and debt, in January.

TAGS: ,

Earning Cashback, Reviews

Review: Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World MasterCard

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: Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus

The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World MasterCard offers 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases plus the chance to earn up to 1.8% total cash back with its Purchase and Relationship Bonuses. The card places no limits on the amount of cash back you can earn, no rotating categories to keep track of or activate, and no annual fee.

How To Apply

You can apply for the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World MasterCard either online or by calling customer service at 1-800-684-2222 Monday through Friday from 7 am to 1 am EST, or Saturday and Sunday from 7 am to midnight EST.

Be prepared with the following information:

  • Personal: You name, address, phone number, Social Security number, and birth date
  • Employment: Place of employment and length of employment
  • Income: Current income, plus any mortgage payments

The application should take about 10 minutes to complete. After your application is submitted, a confirmation page will appear on your screen. Once you application has been processed, Citizens Bank will contact you will approval or denial.

Perks

The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World MasterCard boasts a simple cash back rate, but in reality, it’s not quite that simple.

The good news is that you will never earn less than 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases – it’s the opportunities to earn more than 1.5% back that get complicated.

You will receive a 10% Purchase Bonus on your earned cash back rewards when you make at least one purchase every month for 6 consecutive months or more. Your first Purchase Bonus will be credited on the seventh month, assuming you meet the criteria. As long as you continue to make one purchase each consecutive month, you can continue to receive the bonus, which will be credited monthly on the previous month’s cash back rewards.

This card also offers a 10% Relationship Bonus on your earned cash back rewards and Purchase Bonus when you choose to have them deposited directly into your Citizens Bank personal checking, savings, or money market account.

Taking advantage of both of these bonuses on top of the existing 1.5% cash back would net you 1.8% in cash back rewards.

For the first 12 months after opening the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World MasterCard, you will receive 0% APR on balance transfers.

There are no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APRs for late payments, and Zero Liability Protection against unauthorized purchases. This card also offers Extended Warranty Protection, which doubles the manufacturer’s original warranty up to 2 years, and 120 day of price protection.

The Fine Print

Cash back rewards or bonuses, such as the Purchase Bonus and Relationship Bonus can only be redeemed in increments of $25. They can only be direct deposited into a Citizens Bank personal checking, savings, or money market account or given as a Credit Card Statement Credit. You cannot deposit the rewards to an account outside of Citizens Bank or receive your rewards by mail.

The 0% balance transfer APR is only valid for the first 12 months after the account is opened. After that, the APR jumps to 14.99%, 17.99%, or 20.99%, based on your creditworthiness. You will not know your non-balance transfer APR until you apply.

If you choose to complete a balance transfer with this card, you will be charged either a fee of either $10 or 3%, whichever is greater.

There is no introductory period for purchases with the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World MasterCard. The APR for purchases will be 14.99%, 17.99%, or 20.99% based on creditworthiness, and starting as soon as the account is opened. You will not know your APR until you apply.

The APR for cash advances is 22.24%. A Cash advance will also be charged the greater of a $10 fee or 3% of the transaction.

If you make your payment late, you could be charged a fee of up to $38, but there are no fees for returned payments or going over your credit limit. This card also does not charge a penalty APR for late payments.

Pros

  • Up to 1.8% cash back
  • 5% cash back on everyday purchases
  • Additional 0.03% cash back bonuses can be earned
  • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn
  • No annual fee
  • No penalty APR for late payments
  • 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Zero liability protection against unauthorized purchases
  • 120 day price protection
  • Extended Warranty protection, Trip Cancellation Insurance, and Trip Interruption Insurance

Cons

  • 99%, 17.99%, or 20.99% APR for everyday purchases based on creditworthiness
  • Will not know your rate until you apply
  • Purchase and Relationship Bonuses can be complicated to earn
  • Only two ways to receive your cash back rewards: direct deposit into a qualifying Citizens Bank account, or as a Credit Card Statement Credit
  • Up to $38 late payment fee
  • $10 or 3% fee for balance transfers, whichever is greater
  • APR after 0% balance transfer period is 14.99%, 17.99%, or 20.99%, based on creditworthiness
  • 24% APR for cash advances, plus a $10 or 3% fee, whichever is greater

Citizens Bank_CashBack_Plus_dotcom

Apply Now

How It Stacks Up

The Citi Double Cash card offers 2.00% cash back with no annual fee and no rotating categories. When you make a purchase with this card, you receive 1% cash back. Then, when you make your payment on time, you will receive an additional 1% cash back, for a total of 2.00%. The APR can range from 13.49% to 23.49%, but as long as you can make your payments on time you can earn more cash back than with the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus.

Citi Double Cash card

Apply Now

The PNC CashBuilder offers 1.75% cash back and charges no annual fee. However, the terms of this card can be quite complicated. If you do not have a qualifying PNC Checking account, then you have to spend $4,000 or more per month to receive 1.75% cash back, but if you do have a qualifying PNC Checking account, then you only have to spend $2,000 or more to earn 1.75% cash back. Even though the terms are complicated, if you are a current PNC customer and spend $2,000 or more on a credit card each month, the cash back could be worth it.

PNC_cashbuilder_cardimg

Apply Now

The Citizen Bank Cash Back Plus World MasterCard offers a decent 1.5% cash back rate with very few complications. With a little effort and planning, you could earn up to 1.8% cash back, which is decent. If you have good credit, then you should explore higher earning cards first, but regardless, this card offers a good cash back rate and simple terms.

promo-cashback-wide

TAGS:

Earning Cashback, Reviews

Review: USAA Preferred Cash Rewards World MasterCard

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-cc-full

The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards World MasterCard offers interest from 11.90% to 25.90% APR and extra benefits like low-interest and fee rebates for active-duty service members. The rewards program gives 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no caps or category restrictions and no annual fee. You can redeem cash back for statement credit or cash deposit into a USAA checking or savings account.

Qualification Criteria

According to a USAA representative, can become a partial USAA member through civilian membership and qualify for products like investments, life insurance, health insurance and other shopping discounts. However, you must be a full member to apply for credit cards. Full membership is open to people who are:

  • Active military
  • Military veterans
  • Spouses of USAA Members
  • Widows, widowers or former spouses of USAA members
  • Individuals whose parents are or were USAA members
  • Former USAA members
  • Employees of certain government agencies

Bottom line: this credit card is for a select group of people. Visit the USAA membership page or call membership services to find out if you qualify. If you’re not eligible, we’ll share alternative rewards cards later in this post.

Perks for Active-Duty Military

USAA cards offer special benefits to active-duty military under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA is in place to protect servicemembers from financial stress (like high credit card interest) while on active-duty.

During deployment, USAA offers 4% APR on all balances for up to 12 months. And for active-duty servicemembers, USAA gives 4% APR on debt incurred before entering active-duty for up to one year after service is complete.

Active-duty military members also get a break on fees. USAA will rebate finance charges while you serve and there’s a team of people available to help manage your account while you’re deployed.

Fees and Gotchas

This card has a 3% balance transfer fee, but it’s capped at $200 per transfer. The foreign transaction fee is 1%. The late fee and returned check fee is $25 the first time a payment is late or returned within 6 months. Afterward, the fee is $35. There’s no over-the-limit fee. There’s a 3% cash advance fee, but it’ll be waived if you transfer electronically into a USAA deposit account.

Pros and Cons

The cash back rewards program offered by this card is good, but not remarkable.

Pros

What makes this card stand out are the benefits for military. USAA goes above and beyond what SCRA requires and waives foreign transaction fees and finance charges. Plus, USAA offers even lower interest (4%) than the credit card interest cap set by SCRA (6%).

Cons 

USAA limits how you can redeem cash back. You can either take a statement credit or deposit cash into a USAA account. Other rewards cards will cut you a check to deposit wherever you want.

Finally, if you’re looking for a low-interest introductory period, you’ll have to look elsewhere. There’s no interest reduction special for new purchases or balance transfers.

USAA world mastercard

Apply Now

Alternatives to a USAA Preferred Cash Rewards World MasterCard

Citi Double Cash gives 1% cash back when you make any type of purchase and another 1% cash back when you make credit card payments. It offers a 0% intro period on new balance transfers for 18 months. Standard interest is from 13.49% to 23.49% APR. There’s no annual fee. The late fee and returned payment fee is $35. But, your first late fee is waived. The balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fee is 3%.

If you have a Citi account before you enter active service you may qualify for benefits like waived fees and low-interest. You have to go through an application process to qualify for it on the Citi SCRA page.

Citi_double

Apply Now

Quicksilver Visa from Capital One gives 1.5% unlimited cash back on every purchase with no restrictions. It’s now offering 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers until July 2016. Standard interest is 12.90% to 22.90% depending on creditworthiness. There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. The balance transfer fee is 3%. The late fee and returned check fee is up to $35.

Just like Citi and USAA, Capital One offers military benefits under SCRA. Visit the Capital One SCRA page to check out the active-duty perks available.

40_cardQuicksilverCredbyCapitalonebank

Apply Now

Who Will Benefit Most from a USAA Preferred Cash Rewards World MasterCard?

You’ll get the most benefit from this card if you’re in active-duty because of the benefits and support. Of course, all members of USAA will qualify, but there’s potential to save more money on interest and make more money from cash back with other cards. The Citi Double Cash card gives an extra 0.05% cash back with no interest for over a year – you can’t beat it. Quicksilver offers the same amount of cash back as USAA, but there’s an intro deal and no foreign transaction fee. If you travel often, that’s the way to go.

promo-cashback-wide

TAGS: