5 Things to Know About the NASCAR Credit Card

It's a decent option for fair credit, but racing fans with good credit would be better off with a general rewards card that features richer incentives.
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The NASCAR American Express Card, issued by Credit One Bank, doesn’t exactly lap the competition. General rewards credit cards offer more value for your NASCAR purchases as well as your everyday expenses. Still, it’s an option for those with average or fair credit when alternatives are slim.

Buckle up. Here are five things you need to know about the NASCAR American Express Card.

Nerdy tip: A previous version of this card, the NASCAR® Credit Card from Credit One Bank®, ran on a different payment network, offered different cash-back rewards and charged different fees. That card is no longer available.

1. You’ll pay an annual fee if you have less-than-stellar credit

If you have excellent credit (typically, FICO scores of 720 or higher), you’ll get to enjoy a $0 annual fee. But if your credit is fair (FICO scores of 630 to 689), you'll owe $39 a year.

The card’s website, including the fine print in the terms and conditions, is mysteriously silent on what you’d pay if you have good credit, meaning FICO scores of 690 to 719.

According to a Credit One representative, the annual fee you’d be charged, or not charged, is based on your creditworthiness. To learn your fee, you’d have to go through the pre-qualification process.

2. The rewards are lackluster

The NASCAR American Express Card earns 1% cash back on all purchases, which is underwhelming. You can do better, even with average credit.

For instance, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card also has a $39 annual fee, but you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on purchases with that card. And if you have good or excellent credit, a larger selection of more rewarding cash-back and travel cards is available to you.

The NASCAR American Express Card does make redemption easy. Cardholders automatically receive their rewards in the form of statement credit every month. That's better than the $20 to $25 minimum that some cards require you to accumulate before you can cash in your rewards, plus it involves no effort on your part.

3. It's a poor choice for revolving balances

Unlike many other rewards cards, this card doesn't have an introductory 0% APR. That makes it less than ideal for carrying balances month to month, since you will be paying interest. If you have good credit, a low-interest credit card will save you money compared with this one.

4. There are some side perks for NASCAR fans

With the NASCAR American Express Card, you’ll get discounts on NASCAR race tickets, parking, merchants and more. You’ll also get season-long desktop and mobile access to Scanner, a tool that lets you hear in-car audio for drivers in select races, live radio broadcasts and more. Scanner normally costs $19.99 for the season, or $2.99 per month.

Since the card is part of the American Express payment network, you’ll also have access to AmEx Offers, where you can get discounts by adding offers from participating merchants to your card, then using your card at those merchants. You can also get discounts on travel and entertainment.

5. You can pre-qualify without affecting your credit score

Credit One's application process starts with "pre-qualification," in which you provide some information and the issuer tells you which card you might qualify for. Pre-qualification doesn't affect your credit scores, so there's no harm in bailing out if you don't see the card you want.

This pre-qualification step can protect people with lower credit scores who can least afford the credit-score impact of multiple credit card applications. However, pre-qualification isn't the same as preapproval. The next step is to formally apply for the card, which can affect your credit scores. You can still be rejected even if you've been "pre-qualified," if your application shows you don't meet all the issuer's requirements for approval. Rejection is a risk with any credit card application, of course, but it's still something to keep in mind.

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