Using credit cards as a way to save through cash back or other rewards programs may seem like a pipe dream for those with less than perfect credit. That’s because most credit card issuers have strict policies on who is eligible in terms of credit history and credit score, leaving some out in the cold. Fortunately, individuals with fair to good credit have an option in the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard – a cash back credit card built specifically for middle of the road borrowers. So if you’ve had a black mark on your credit recently, or are fighting to get back into the good graces of the lending powers that be, it is worth checking out the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard as your cash back credit card for every day use.
The Card Basics
The Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard falls under a flat-rate cash back category, meaning there are no bonuses to sign up for each quarter or rotating categories to keep track of. Instead, the Barclaycard offers a flat 2% cash back on gas station, utilities and grocery store purchases (not including Target and Walmart). All other purchases earn a flat rate of 1% on each dollar spent. One of the perks of the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard is the fact that card members do not have to be concerned with purchase limits in either category. On top of that, rewards points never expire, as long as the card remains in good standing with the issuer.
Once rewards points have accumulated to at least 1,000 – the equivalent of $10 – card members have the option to redeem them in the following ways:
- A statement credit toward the outstanding balance due
- A direct deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account
- Gift card purchases through the issuer’s rewards site
Added Card Member Benefits
While the rewards program is somewhat attractive in that is provides a simply way to earn cash back with no restrictions, the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard comes with an impressive list of added card member benefits. First, all card members have access to their FICO credit score through the website and the mobile application. The FICO score is updated periodically through the site, and alerts are sent directly to the card member when changes are reported. This no-cost perk can be a lifesaver to those concerned about increasing their credit score over time who may not have easy access to their credit score elsewhere.
Another added benefit with the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard is the ability to request a credit line increase after maintaining a strong payment record on the card. Barclaycard automatically reviews credit card holder accounts after five payments are made on time, and the issuer will increase the credit limit based on the card member’s repayment history. Credit line increases can be requested outside the automatic reviews but are subject to credit evaluation.
Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard also provides card members a safeguard in terms of over borrowing by not imposing an over the limit fee. Additionally, all Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard holders are credit cards with chip technology, which provides a wider acceptance around the world. Barclaycard also provides card members with $0 fraud liability on any charges that are unauthorized by the card member, meaning a lost or stolen card is less of a concern.
Although the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard is a smart choice for individuals with imperfect credit history, or someone interested in a simple cash back rewards program, the downside to the card comes by way of its total cost. Fortunately, the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard does not impose an annual fee on card members, nor does it charge any amount for redeeming rewards. The expense with the card comes into play with its purchase and balance transfer interest rates and fees.
Currently, the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard does not offer a promotional interest rate for new card members, on purchases or balancer transfers. Instead, the standard APR for both is a rather high 25.24%. The APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances is the same across the board and is a variable rate, meaning it could fluctuate over time based on the Prime Rate and its movements. Part of the reason the standard APR is higher than most comparable credit cards is due to the fact that Barclaycard accepts a greater risk when taking on lower credit score individuals. To help offset that risk, the issuer charges more to all borrowers.
In addition to the APR for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances, card members are assessed other fees for certain transactions. Anyone who opts to complete a balance transfer through the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard pays a 3% or $5 fee for each transactions, whichever is greater. Card members who take out a cash advance against the card pay a 5% or $10 fee per advance, whichever is greater. Finally, card members are assessed a 3% foreign transaction fee for all purchases made outside the U.S.
The Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard is an excellent choice for credit card users who have struggled with managing their credit in the past that resulted in a less than excellent credit score. The card may also be a preferred choice for individuals who appreciate the simplicity of the rewards program, or individuals who spend heavily on the categories that offer 2% cash back. The added perks the card provides – fraud liability coverage, free access to FICO credit score, chip card technology and credit line increases – make the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard even more attractive when compared to similar cash back credit cards.
However, individuals who have exemplary credit may want to search elsewhere for their go-to cash back credit card. The fees associated with the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard, specifically in terms of the purchase and balance transfer APR, are high, making carrying a balance from month to month expensive for the card member. The added foreign transaction fees should deter borrowers who utilize their credit card overseas, especially because there are other cash back credit cards that do not impose a fee for these transactions. All in, the Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard can be a great cash back credit card to assist in building credit or in earning simple rewards on certain purchases.