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BMWs are expensive to buy and maintain.
Still, for many car enthusiasts, the thrill of gripping the wheel, inhaling the leather-tinged new-car smell, and zipping around town in a head-turning feat of German engineering make those monthly payments worth it.
There’s an additional way to show your Beemer loyalty — by using BMW credit cards. A handful are available, including the:
While they’re all associated with the luxury car brand, the details of each card vary. Here are five things to know about them.
Nerd tip: BMW credit cards are issued by BMW Bank of North America, but that will change as of January 2020, when U.S. Bank takes over the portfolio. At that time, new cards and features will be available.
1. Rewards tend to be BMW-centric...
With the BMW Rewards Visa® Credit Card, for example, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent at BMW Centers (that’s how BMW refers to its dealerships) and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
That means new cardholders can accelerate their earnings if they charge the down payment for a new car or use their card to pay for repairs to an older car.
All of the cards earn BMW Reward Points, which you can redeem to offset the cost of leasing, financing or maintaining your car, via BMW Financial Services Rewards, BMW Center Rewards and BMW Vehicle Rewards. Point values are generally worth 1 cent each but can vary depending on what you choose to redeem them for. You also may need to redeem a minimum number of points.
BMW Financial Services Rewards include credits toward lease or auto loan payments, or credits to apply toward end-of-lease expenses.
BMW Center Rewards include services, repairs or lifestyle accessories like clothing, luggage and other BMW-branded goods.
BMW Vehicle Rewards function much like a statement credit you would get with a cash-back card.
Certain BMW cards also offer 20% off the cost of going to the BMW Performance Driving School.
2. ... But some BMW cards also offer travel rewards
With the BMW Signature Visa® Credit Card and the BMW Ultimate Visa® Credit Card, you have the flexibility to redeem your BMW Reward Points for Get Away Rewards to purchase airline tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and cruises.
The BMW Signature Visa® Credit Card offers 4 points for every dollar spent at BMW centers, 2 points for every dollar spent on gas purchases and one point for all other purchases.
The BMW Ultimate Visa® Credit Card, which is by invitation only, offers slightly richer rewards: 5 points for every dollar spent at BMW centers, 3 points for every dollar spent on gas purchases and one point for all other purchases. But this card also comes with a minimum spending requirement of $50,000 between your January and December billing cycles. More on this below.
3. There's a card for two-wheel BMW enthusiasts, as well
The BMW Motorrad Visa® Credit Card differentiates itself by appealing to motorcyclists: It offers 3 points per dollar spent at BMW Motorrad Dealers as well as BMW Centers, in addition to 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases, including gas.
It doesn't, however, allow for travel-related redemptions.
4. Solid welcome offers are standard
The BMW Rewards Visa® Credit Card offers the following sign-up bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus BMW Reward Points when you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days after account opening. Redeem for exclusive BMW Rewards you won’t find anywhere else.
The BMW Signature Visa® Credit Card and BMW Motorrad Visa® Credit Card make matching offers.
The BMW Ultimate Visa® Credit Card doesn't advertise a sign-up bonus. (It's offered as a possible upgrade for eligible BMW Rewards Visa® Credit Card cardholders; BMW Signature Visa® Credit Card cardholders are automatically upgraded to it after meeting the above spending requirement.)
However, all four cards feature the same 0% intro APR window: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 26.49% Variable APR.
That means that if the dealership allows you to charge some or all of your down payment on one of these cards, it could allow you to essentially finance part of the cost of your vehicle interest-free.
5. Avoid late payments like you'd avoid rush hour traffic
Make even one late payment with the BMW Rewards Visa® Credit Card or any of the others and — tire screech — your APR may jump up to beyond 31%.
And if you make a late payment during the 0% introductory APR period, the issuer may cut that promotional offer short. You’ll have to make six consecutive on-time minimum payments before your APR will return to your regular rate.