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The Firestone credit card, issued by the Credit First National Association bank, can help you finance a car repair or maintenance purchase at participating tire and automotive service retailers.
When compared with other credit cards on the market, it’s not the most valuable card, but it may be the most convenient for covering an urgent car repair. That's primarily due to its instant accessibility. Unlike some other cards, you get the Firestone credit card's numbers and details immediately after you're approved, so you can use it right away.
But while it may be fast and easy, it’s not without risks. Here’s what you need to know before giving this card the green light.
1. There’s no annual fee
With no annual fee, the Firestone credit card is easy to keep open without an impact on your budget. And you'll always have it on standby for future repairs or maintenance purchases.
Emergency car repairs happen. While the right credit card can lessen the blow to your finances, nothing beats being able to tap an emergency fund to avoid taking on debt. Aim to save up to $500 for an emergency car repair, even if you can only put away $5 per week. It will make the cost of a car repair less expensive.
2. It can be used at Firestone and participating locations only
The card is accepted at 8,000 participating tire and automotive service retailers nationwide, not just Firestone locations. However, you won’t be able to use it on purchases anywhere else.
A card like the $0-annual-fee Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® can be used anywhere that Visa is accepted, and it earns 3% cash back on home, auto and health purchases, and 1% on everything else. You can also qualify with average credit (a FICO score of 630 to 689). It’s one of the few credit cards that earns rewards on car repairs, including auto parts, purchases at car dealerships, car washes, auto repairs and towing services. That’s a lot of potential ongoing value, compared with the lesser upfront value you’ll get with the Firestone credit card.
Plus, if you have a balance left over, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa® automatically converts it into an installment loan with a fixed rate and predictable monthly payments. If you need a personal loan, you can also request that funds (within the available credit limit) be sent to a bank account.
3. The high ongoing APR isn’t ideal
The Firestone credit card's high ongoing APR of 28.8% (as of July 2022) can add up, especially if you’re in the habit of keeping a balance on the card. For comparison, the average interest rate charged on credit card accounts assessed interest in 2021 was 16.45%, according to Federal Reserve data.
If you must carry a balance from time to time, consider a low-interest credit card instead. Of course, a card’s interest rate will depend on your credit scores and other factors, but you can potentially shoot for a lower APR range. Credit unions are also known for offering lower interest rates.
4. It has a (risky) deferred interest offer
The Firestone Credit Card has a deferred interest offer that guarantees no interest if paid in full in six months on purchases of $149 or more. Pay careful attention to that “if,” though — not understanding the terms of this card can cost you a lot of money.
What the terms mean
A deferred interest offer puts interest on hold for the duration of a card's promotional period, but you’ll have to pay off the balance in full by the promotion’s expiration date or be socked with interest charges dating back to the time of the original purchase.
Let's say your car repair bill is $750, and for the six months of the promotion, you make on-time payments, responsibly chipping away at that balance. On the seventh month, you find that you still owe $5. Even though you're so close to the finish line, the card's hefty 28.8% APR (as of July 2022) will be charged on the original $750.
If you have good credit (a FICO score of 690 or higher) and won’t be able to pay off a deferred interest offer by the deadline, it may be possible to transfer the balance onto a balance transfer credit card, such as the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, to get more time to pay down debt. Just remember to weigh the cost of the balance transfer fee with the cost of the deferred interest charges to identify the better option.
How a 0% APR card compares
With a true 0% APR offer, you also start paying interest the moment the promotional offer expires but only on the balance left over. So with the previous example, you would pay interest solely on the remaining $5 come the seventh month.
If you have time to apply and wait for a card to arrive in the mail, the $0-annual-fee Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card can offer a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 17.99%, 22.99%, or 27.99% Variable APR. That’s much longer than the promotional period on the Firestone Credit Card. It also earns 2% cash back on all purchases, a decent rate everywhere you shop.
5. It offers incentives, but no rewards
To start, the Firestone credit card offers 5% off of your first purchase. So if you had a bill of, say, $500, you'd get $25 off. It's not a ton, but when it comes to an expensive car repair, any little bit saved goes a long way. You also don't have to wait for this incentive like some other credit cards have you do with rewards or sign-up bonuses.
As a cardholder, you’ll get exclusives that vary from time to time, too. Through Sept. 30, 2022, a couple of discounts are available when you pay with the card: Get $20 off any $100 service purchase and $70 off standard brake service with a brake fluid exchange at participating Firestone Complete Auto Care stores only. Terms apply.
But, if the maintenance or car repair can wait, it’s worth taking the time to apply for a credit card like the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card which offers a healthy sign-up offer: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Your purchase, if hefty, may also meet a portion of the bonus requirements. Plus, it goes farther than the 5% off you get upfront with the Firestone Credit Card.