5 Things to Know about the REI Co-op Mastercard
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If you spend much time outdoors or have anything resembling a gear closet in your home, chances are you’ve shopped at an REI Co-op. With a wildly generous return policy and extra perks for Co-op members, the outdoor retailer breeds loyalty. And the revamped REI Co-op® Mastercard® gives members more reason to shop exclusively with the brand.
Sure, it’s not as flexible or easy to use as a general cash-back card. But if you can’t imagine buying your outdoor gear anywhere else, the REI Co-op® Mastercard® will help you earn significant rewards on purchases. Plus, if you don’t want to carry more than one card in your wallet, the card’s extra perks and ongoing rewards on other purchases make it a good one-and-done credit card for outdoor enthusiasts.
Here’s what you need to know about the REI Co-op® Mastercard®:
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1. You won’t pay an annual fee, but you do need to be a Co-op member
The REI Co-op® Mastercard®, issued by Capital One, doesn’t charge an annual fee, but you do need to be a Co-op member to apply. For a one-time fee of $30, you’ll get a lifetime membership which comes with:
Free standard shipping.
Ability to return most items for 365 days, even if you’ve used them.
A yearly member reward to spend at REI (usually, 10% of your eligible purchases on full-priced items for the year, but it’s not guaranteed).
Access to extra sales on used gear.
Discounts on rentals and other in-store services.
Having to pay for membership before you can apply for the card is a little inconvenient. But if you buy most of your outdoor gear at REI, membership is well worth the cost. Consider this: Assuming REI doles out the full 10% member reward (which it usually does), you'll need to spend $300 total to cover the cost of membership.
If your preferred name doesn’t match your legal name, you can opt to use your preferred name on your REI Co-op® Mastercard® (your legal name will still show up in your account). But if you’re asked by a merchant to verify your identity with your ID, they might need to call Capital One to complete the verification.
2. You’ll earn rich rewards wherever you spend money …
Cardholders earn 5% back on REI purchases. Combined with the annual membership reward, you’re looking at exceptional cash back earnings on purchases with the outdoor retailer. Plus, during a yearly double rewards event, you’ll earn an extra 5% on REI purchases. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal than that on outdoor gear.
Most retail credit cards offer minimal value on purchases made outside that brand. Not so with the REI Co-op® Mastercard®, since all non-REI purchases earn 1.5% back. For REI loyalists who don’t want to juggle multiple credit cards, using the REI Co-op® Mastercard® everywhere is a respectable way to rack up rewards to cover your next big outdoor purchase.
If you want a card that earns higher rewards on all purchases (and more flexibility when you redeem them), consider the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which earns 2% back on all purchases. Or, you could go with a two-card combination: use the REI Co-op® Mastercard® at the outdoor retailer and use the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card everywhere else.
Your annual membership reward expires a little less than two years after you receive it, but the rewards you earn with the REI Co-op® Mastercard® don't expire as long as you hold the card.
3. … But you can only redeem them at REI
Unlike many credit cards that don't give access to the rewards you earn until the close of your billing cycle, rewards from the REI Co-op® Mastercard® show up in your account as you earn them. The rewards, though, can be redeemed for REI purchases only. This likely won’t be a problem for outdoorsy people who purchase a lot of gear from the brand. But casual shoppers will likely be better off choosing a card with more flexible redemption options.
For instance, the rewards you earn with the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card can be redeemed for cash back. Plus, its unique rewards structure could help you earn extra rewards on REI merchandise, as long as you purchase it online.
With the card, you’ll earn 3% back on a category you choose from this list: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores, home improvement/furnishings. Plus, you’ll get 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% back on everything else. Co-op members who choose online shopping as their 3% category could earn a total of 13% back on purchases made at REI.com.
4. You’ll get a solid introductory bonus plus yearly statement credit
Once you make a purchase outside of REI within the first 60 days after opening the card, you’ll get a $100 REI gift card. That’s a sizable sign-up bonus, considering that you don’t need to spend a specific amount of money to get it.
Cardholders also get an annual $50 statement credit to use on REI Co-op Experiences. You can use this credit on things like classes about caring for your gear and day trips or longer overnight excursions.
5. You can take the REI Co-op® Mastercard® on adventures abroad
If your idea of a perfect adventure is rock climbing in Patagonia instead of the Rockies, the REI Co-op® Mastercard® will still make a good travel companion, because it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. It’s not that difficult to find a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees, but this is a rare perk on retail cards. And since you earn 1.5% back on all purchases outside of REI, you’ll still earn respectable rewards on any purchase you make during your next international trip.
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