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5 Things to Know About the Ducks Unlimited Credit Card

Nov. 14, 2019
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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The no-annual-fee Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card is a rare bird indeed, offering an exceptionally high rewards rate of 5% cash back on both gas and sporting goods store purchases.

That rich rewards rate rightfully earns it a spot as one of NerdWallet’s best credit cards for gas.

But on all other spending, the card’s earnings are light as a feather and easily bested by many other flat-rate cash-back cards.

Here are five things to know about the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card.

» MORE: How to choose a gas credit card

1. It truly is an exceptional gas credit card …

The Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card is issued by First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha. It boasts something that few other cards on the market can: a big, honking cash-back rate on gas with no strings attached — no reward limits, spending caps, fees or membership requirements. It earns:

  • Unlimited 5% cash back on gas purchases. (This includes businesses whose merchant category codes are either “service stations” or “automated fuel dispensers,” per the card’s terms.)
  • Unlimited 5% back on sporting goods store purchases.
  • Unlimited 1% back on everything else.

To be sure, 5% back on gas isn’t unheard of. The Sam's Club Mastercard, for example, offers that rate — but only up to $6,000 spent on gas per year. After that, you’ll drop down to 1% back on gas. And while the card’s annual fee is technically $0, you must join Sam’s Club to get it. Membership there costs at least $45 a year.

The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card earns 5 points per dollar spent on gas at the pump — but only “at the pump,” meaning purchases made inside an accompanying service station may not count. Plus, you can’t redeem points for cash back, and many of the card’s other redemption options offer value below the industry standard of 1 cent per point. And, again, there’s a membership requirement: You’ll have to join PenFed’s credit union to get the card.

For a pure, high rewards rate on gas with no hurdles or hoops, the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card is best in class. And that’s to say nothing of its generous rate at sporting goods stores. Stock up on whatever you need to pursue your outdoor passions, or just get a few pairs of yoga pants and watch nature shows on your couch. Either way, you’ll earn that same rich rewards rate of 5%.

2. … But there are some drawbacks

First, when it comes to redemption, let’s talk about cold hard cash back. If that’s what you seek, you can take your earnings either as a statement credit, a deposit into any checking or savings account, or via a mailed check — but it must be in set denominations of $25, $50, $100, $250 or $1,000.

So if you’ve got $99 worth of rewards stored up, you’re only going to get your hands on $75 of it (a $50 spot and a $25 bill) at redemption time.

Points can also be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, travel or other goods and services. But unlike a lot of other cash-back options, this card offers no sign-up bonus, nor will you get any kind of intro APR rate on purchases or balance transfers.

More importantly, while the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card may be a world-class gas card, it’s worth considering whether that’s enough to meet your needs. The truth is, most families simply don’t spend all that much a year on gas alone, in comparison with the rest of their budget. If your household were to spend the average $2,000 annually on gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, you would get $100 back via the card.

Some hunters, business owners or long-haul truckers might spend well beyond that. But for many households, the best “gas” card will be one that also offers generous rewards on more than just fuel and sporting goods. If groceries, restaurants, travel or entertainment represent bigger chunks of your budget, you can do a lot better with a different card.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best credit cards for families

3. Ducks Unlimited is a wetlands and waterfowl conservation society …

Of course, it may not be just about the rewards for you.

With every purchase you make using the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card, a portion will be donated to Ducks Unlimited’s efforts to preserve and maintain wetlands and other native habitats for ducks, geese and other wildlife dependent on that ecosystem.

The organization says its conservation and management efforts have provided over 14 million acres of habitat for waterfowl, and that the number of ducks recorded in those areas has increased as a result of their work.

As their credit card motto says: “You buy, ducks fly.”

4. … It’s also about duck hunting

Ducks Unlimited was originally founded by sportsmen and waterfowl hunters who recognized that habitat conservation would help promote a healthy population of native birds. The organization is clear in its mission statement that it supports waterfowl hunting only when it’s done in an “ethical and sustainable manner.”

That said, the group’s website has an entire section devoted to hunting — migration alerts, hunting tips, duck calling, decoy strategies, shooting tips, waterfowl gear, dog training — and notes that 90% of its members are hunters. Hunters, of course, would have a vested interest in the organization’s aim of promoting and restoring healthy wetlands so ducks and other native species can flourish, and then become fair game.

5. You don’t have to support hunting to benefit from the card

If you love getting your friends together and piling into your 4×4 to spend the weekend huddled in a duck blind, there may never be another card as tailored to your needs as the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card. For anyone whose interests lie elsewhere, look past the card’s marketing and try to ignore the suggestion that you use the card when you’re “buying gear for your hunting trip or filling up your truck.”

There are plenty of ways to maximize this card’s high rewards rate beyond a hunting trip. For example, sports-minded households can save big on licensed team gear and equipment for the whole family. Or splurge on a treadmill for the house, then drive all over the state entering road races. Get a kayak, a rack for your car and those shoes that make a “squish” sound when they’re wet.

If you think outside the box, you could find a ton of uses for the Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card that fit your lifestyle.

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