Why the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card Is 2020’s Best Card for Fair Credit

It's not as well known as other options, but its rich rewards and generous upfront incentives help it stand out among cards in its class.
Melissa Lambarena
By Melissa Lambarena 
Edited by Kenley Young

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In May 2020, ABOC changed the application requirements and other features on the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card. After the change, the card was available only to those with excellent credit.

In August 2021, ABOC sold its credit card portfolio to TCM Bank and made changes to the reward structure. So this page is now out of date.

If you have only fair credit, it's not that easy to find a credit card offering a slew of rewards and incentives.

The $0-annual-fee ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card is an exception, featuring perks that made it a virtual lock as NerdWallet's award winner for 2020's best credit card for fair credit.

It lacks the name recognition that cards from major issuers have, and it's not a very good option for those interested in cash back or low-maintenance rewards. But if you don’t mind redeeming for travel and staying on top of rewards categories, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card has a lot to offer. Here’s why it snagged a Best-Of award.

Bountiful rewards in popular categories

The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card offers rich ongoing rewards that make it a clear winner among other credit cards designed for fair credit (typically a FICO score of at least 630). You'll earn 5 points per $1 spent on up to $1,500 in combined quarterly spending on categories that change every three months. All other spending earns 1 point per $1.

Those rewards categories are broad and useful, too. Here’s a look at the rewards calendar for 2020:

ABOC bonus rewards categories for 2020

2020 categories

Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)

• Recurring payments (including utilities, cell phone plans, cable, insurance payments, streaming services and subscription services).

Q2 (April 1 – June 30)

• Dining. • Groceries. • Transportation expenses: Rideshare services, gas and mass transit.

Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)

• Dining. • Entertainment (including movies and theme parks). • Travel purchases: Airfare, cruises, car rentals, hotels, timeshares and travel agency services. • Transportation expenses: Gas, tolls, rideshare services and mass transit.

Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)

• Holiday shopping (including superstores, department stores, electronics stores, Costco.com and Amazon.com).

Points are worth about a penny each when redeemed for travel. Assuming you redeem that way and can max out these categories each quarter, that’s a potential value of up to $300 annually in the 5X categories alone.

No ongoing activation requirements

Unlike with other rotating bonus category cards, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card doesn’t require you to “opt in” or “activate” bonus categories quarterly. You’re only required to register once at ABOCRewards.com to qualify for the ongoing 5X bonus. This is potentially a timesaver and a welcome benefit for the forgetful.

Generous introductory incentives

The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card offers introductory incentives that are in line with what you might expect on rewards cards for good or excellent credit (FICO scores of at least 690):

  • A healthy sign-up bonus. Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening. That's a nice upfront sum that can help defray a travel expense.

  • A lengthy interest-free window. If you need to pay down debt or finance a large purchase, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card can help. It offers an intro APR of 0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 12.90%-22.90% Variable APR. Those balance transfer terms are particulary generous for a card in its class.

Few fees

There is a balance transfer fee of 3% (minimum $5), which is in line with other rewards credit cards. But unlike some competitors:

  • The annual fee is $0. This can make the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card worth keeping around even after you work your way up to a good credit score and can branch out to other credit card options. By contrast, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is also available to those with fair credit, but its annual fee is $39.

  • There are no foreign transaction fees. The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card doesn't charge you extra for purchases made internationally. And, as a Mastercard with worldwide acceptance, you won’t have much trouble using it wherever you go. Not every rewards credit card travels this well.

How we would improve this card

  • A higher redemption value for statement credit and other options. The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card does come with a caveat, and it's a big one. You can redeem for travel, statement credit, gift cards and merchandise, but the value of those redemptions will vary depending on which option you choose. Travel generally offers the best value at about 1 cent per point, which is the industry standard. But for statement credit and merchandise, you get a value of only about 0.75 cent per point; gift card rates vary between 0.7 cent and 1 cent per point. So if you don't travel much, this card may not be for you. Other cards make for much better cash-back options, including the aforementioned Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Should you get it?

The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card is a worthy option for those with fair credit who want a travel-friendly card or a get-out-of-debt option. If you’re willing to track the rotating rewards categories and plan your spending around them, you’ll get a lot of value from this card.

Otherwise, you might be more comfortable managing a different credit card for fair credit that earns a flat rewards rate on all purchases.

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