5 Things to Know About the Barnes & Noble Credit Card

It'll take you a while to rack up rewards with this card, and your redemption options are limited.
Melissa Lambarena
By Melissa Lambarena 
Edited by Kenley Young

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

The Barnes & Noble credit card, issued by Barclays, can help you expand your reading library one purchase at a time. And since it's a Mastercard, it can be used nearly anywhere, allowing you to earn rewards beyond the bookshelves of Barnes & Noble's 600 or so locations.

Still, even the most devoted bookworms will probably find that rewards accumulate slowly. A general cash-back credit card can offer higher reward rates in more everyday spending categories, as well as greater rewards flexibility, since that cash back can be used toward anything.

Here’s what you need to know about the Barnes & Noble Mastercard.

1. There's a modest sign-up offer

You’ll earn a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble after the first purchase or balance transfer on the card. While it's nice that there's no minimum spending requirement to snag that bonus, it’s a pretty lean introductory offer. Typically, store credit cards offer a large percentage discount as an incentive when you sign up for a credit card, and some may even feature a separate welcome offer on top of that.

And general rewards credit cards can boast still-richer sign-up bonuses, valuable enough to offset the cost of several book series instead of just one book. Consider a card like the $0-annual-fee Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which features the following welcome bonus: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. The card also earns 2% cash back on all purchases.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The Barnes & Noble credit card features an introductory balance transfer offer, and unlike most other credit cards, a balance transfer will trigger the card's sign-up bonus. That's rare indeed. But note that the card's balance transfer fee is on the high side: $5 or 5% of the amount you're transferring, whichever is greater. Other balance transfer credit cards may offer either a longer interest-free window or a lower balance transfer fee of 3% — or both.

2. Rewards come as either a rebate or points

Rewards are issued in varying forms with the Barnes & Noble credit card. As a cardholder, you’ll earn:

  • A 5% rebate on all purchases made at Barnes & Noble (in store and online), B. Dalton, Bookstop, Bookstar, Doubleday, Ink newsstand and Charlesbank stores.

  • 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants (not including Barnes & Noble Cafe purchases).

  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Points do not expire as long as the program continues and your account is in good standing. But if you don’t spend a lot of money at Barnes & Noble or on dining out, many other credit cards can generate rewards more quickly that can also be used to fund your book collection.

Look for a credit card that earns rewards in everyday categories where you spend most. The $0-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, for instance, earns 3% back on dining, eligible streaming services, grocery stores and entertainment, as well as 1% back on all other purchases. (Unfortunately, for this card, books don't count as entertainment.)

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you have a Prime membership with Amazon (which of course initially made its name as a bookseller), also consider the $0-annual-fee Prime Visa. It's not as focused on the in-store book-buying experience, but it can offer 5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 5% back on Chase Travel purchases; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, local transit and commuting (including rideshare); and 1% back on all other purchases. There’s also a sign-up offer: Get a $100 Amazon Gift Card instantly upon approval exclusively for Prime members.

3. Redemptions are automatic

Redemptions for the Barnes & Noble credit card are limited, but that’s not uncommon among store credit cards. What's less common is how your rewards get applied, since there are two kinds: a rebate and points.

The 5% rebate simply arrives as an automatic statement credit. Meanwhile, the points you earn are also automatically redeemed, but only for Barnes & Noble gift cards, and based on a threshold that you preselect.

If you don’t update your preferences, redemptions for gift cards will default to a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card delivered by mail every time you accumulate 2,500 points. Gift cards by mail will be delivered to the billing address listed on the account within seven to 14 business days after the billing statement in which they're earned. You can cut down the wait time by choosing email as your delivery method.

Log in to your account or call the number on the back of the card to make selections.

4. The interest rate can get expensive

Carrying a balance on the Barnes & Noble credit card can be painful. Depending on your creditworthiness, you could have an APR north of 30% (accurate as of October 2023). As of May 2023, the average APR for credit cards that are assessed interest was 22.16%, according to Federal Reserve data.

By paying your balance in full every month, you can avoid interest charges. But if you suspect you'll need to carry a balance, you’ll save more money with a credit card that offers a low ongoing interest rate, even if it doesn’t earn rewards. With good credit scores of 690 or higher, it’s possible to find such cards at federal credit unions, which cap interest rates at 18%.

5. The complimentary BN Premium membership has a steep spending requirement

As a cardholder, you can earn a complimentary BN Premium membership for 12 months (an annual value of $39.99) — if you spend $7,500 annually on the card. Terms apply. A BN Premium membership offers additional perks: 10% off most items on BN.com and at Barnes & Noble stores and Paper Source stores; free shipping without a spending requirement; exclusive deals; early access to special editions and events; birthday offers and more.

Still, that's a relatively steep spending requirement in exchange for a relatively low value. Plus, will you spend $7,500 at Barnes & Noble alone — the card's most rewarding category — in one year?

You can get more value with other options. For instance, it's possible to earn decent rewards on your online book-related purchases with a card like the $0-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It offers 3% cash back on U.S. online retail purchases (on up to $6,000 spent per year); 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year); 3% back at U.S. gas stations (on up to $6,000 spent per year); and 1% back on other purchases. Terms apply.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Regardless of which credit card you use, it's possible to still get membership perks at Barnes & Noble upon signing up for the free rewards program. You'll collect 1 stamp for every $10 spent on a purchase. By collecting 10 stamps, you can earn a $5 reward.

Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Get Started
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.