2017 REI Credit Card Review – WalletHub Editors
This content is not provided or commissioned by any issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of an issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by an issuer.
The Verdict: If you shop at REI and have good or excellent credit, waste no time in adding the REI MasterCard Credit Card to your payment arsenal.
The only other qualification is that you must pay $20 for a lifetime REI membership, which is well worth the money even before the card enters the equation, given the 10% rebate it gets you on most REI purchases. This is also the only membership charge you’ll have to worry about as far as the card is concerned, given its lack of an annual fee.
Furthermore, the REI MasterCard gives you another 5% back on REI purchases, in addition to honoring your first one with a $100 gift card. Beyond that, you’ll earn the market average of 1% cash back on most non-REI purchases, save for certain limited-time bonus categories that earn 2%. The current offer is for 2% cash back on groceries through March 2017.
Bear in mind, however, that the REI MasterCard is designed to be paid in full each month and thus won’t do you any financing favors. It’s not the card to use if your outdoor expeditions take you abroad, either, considering its foreign-transaction fee of up to 3%. For more information, continue reading below.
- $100 Initial Bonus: Simply making a single purchase within 60 days of account approval will score you a $100 REI gift card. That’s quite an appealing signup incentive, especially if you plan to buy something from REI soon anyway.
5% Cash Back On REI Purchases: This plastic is your ticket to an extra 5% cash back on all REI purchases. Unlike most other store-affiliated credit cards, this actually includes gift cards and items that are on sale. These savings are also on top of the standard 10% “discount" that REI membership gets you.
It’s not all roses, however, as you’ll have to wait months to reap the rewards of your spending. Rather than being credited to your account immediately, or even within a billing cycle or two, your earnings are only distributed once per year, in March, along with your annual membership dividend. Dividends can be redeemed as cash at an REI store location, and they expire roughly 22 months after being awarded, with any unredeemed cash-back earnings being refunded to you.
- Up To 2% Back On Other Purchases: In addition to the 1% cash back that you’ll earn on most non-REI purchases, you’ll get 2% cash back on groceries through March 2017. It’s unclear whether another bonus category will replace groceries at that time, but it should nevertheless be lucrative while it lasts.
- Potential For A High APR: Everyone who gets approved for the REI MasterCard has at least good credit, but not everyone will be approved for that good of an interest rate. Depending on your creditworthiness, it could be anywhere from 11.74% to 23.74% for both purchases and balance transfers. In other words, it could be below the average for “excellent credit” credit cards (13.16%) or above the average for “fair credit” cards (22%), according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report.
- 2%–3% Foreign-Transaction Fee: The great outdoors isn’t limited to domestic locales, but your ability to make surcharge-free purchases with the REI MasterCard is. You will incur a 2% surcharge for each foreign purchase or ATM withdrawal that is processed in U.S. dollars and 3% for those in a foreign currency. The market average foreign transaction fee, in case you’re wondering, is 1.97%.
Other Things To Consider
- REI Membership Required: Only REI members are eligible for the REI MasterCard, which effectively gives it a $20 lifetime membership fee. REI members receive roughly 10% back on most REI purchases as well as access to special sales and other similar perks.
- No Reduced-Rate Introductory Financing: Many retail credit cards offer promotional financing, which often includes both a 0% teaser rate and a dangerous deferred-interest feature. The REI Credit Card offers neither the benefits nor the drawbacks of such deals. Hopefully, financing won’t be necessary for the types of things you’ll buy at REI.
- No Penalty APR Or Overlimit Fee: You won’t get punished with more expensive finance charges if you slip up when using the REI MasterCard. Not only will you avoid a fee commensurate with the amount by which you overspend your limit should you happen to do so, but you’ll also avoid seeing your new-purchase interest rate skyrocket due to an overlimit transaction, a late payment or other such infraction. Just make sure to view these features as potential conveniences, rather than as a crutch.
- 3% Balance-Transfer Fee: It’s unlikely that you’ll be tempted to transfer a balance to the REI Card, given its lack of a 0% intro rate and potentially high regular APR. This 3% transfer fee should be enough to dispel you of such notions, however.
Compared To The Competition
REI Credit Card
Cabela's Credit Card
Bass Pro Shops® Credit Card
Amazon.com Store Card
|Rewards Bonus||$100 gift card||up to $30 in CLUB Points||N/A||$10 gift card|
|Rewards Rate||1 - 5% Cash Back||1% - 2% in Points Back||1 - 1.5 points / $1||5% Cash Back|
|Purchase Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||0% for 12 months||0% for 6 - 24 months|
|Transfer Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $10)
|Regular APR||11.74% - 23.74% (V)||9.99% - 21.97% (V)||13.74% - 23.74% (V)||26.49% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||4.5 / 5||2.3 / 5||4.5 / 5||5.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
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