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Princess Cruises Visa Review: Seaworthy, but Hard to Navigate

Nov. 21, 2018
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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Whether you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime cruise or it’s the only way you ever travel, costs can add up. The Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card might help brand loyalists get their travel-reward sea legs, but it’s not necessarily the smoothest sailing.

The card, issued by Barclays, offers frequent Princess passengers some decent perks, including a sign-up bonus and a $0 annual fee. But plenty of other travel credit cards offer higher rewards rates, richer bonuses and more straightforward redemption rules. Some of these other options do charge an annual fee, but some will waive that fee for the first year — and there are no-annual-fee travel cards to choose from, too.

Even if 100% of your travel budget goes toward cruises, you might be better off charting a different course for a travel rewards credit card.

›› MORE: NerdWallet’s best travel credit cards

Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card: Key features

Annual fee: $0

Sign-up bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus points after you use your card for the first time - that's enough to redeem for a statement credit of up to $100 toward your next cruise purchase

Rewards:

  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on all Princess purchases, including onboard purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Points can be redeemed for statement credits, starting at 5,000 points for a $50 statement credit toward an eligible Princess Cruise Line purchase. But what makes this card different, and confusing, is that the amount of points needed to redeem will vary by transaction because redemption value is tied to the amount of your Princess Cruise Line purchase:

  • $50 – $499.99: You’ll get a statement credit redemption value of 1%.
  • $500 – $2,000.99: Statement credit redemption value of 1.25%.
  • $2,001 – $4,000.99: Statement credit redemption value of 1.5%.
  • $4,001 and up: Statement credit redemption value of 2%.

You can also redeem points for statement credit toward several other cruise lines (see list below), as well as for eligible airline purchases. The statement credit redemption value for airline purchases is 1%.

Points can also be redeemed for:

  • Onboard amenities (when available).
  • Airfare, hotel and car rentals booked via BarclaycardUS.com or by calling customer service (10,000-point minimum required).
  • Gift cards/certificates and merchandise (points required for redemption may vary).

Intro APR: 0% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening., and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.99% Variable.

Balance transfer fee: 3%.

Foreign transaction fee: 0%.

Other benefits:

  • Concierge service for assistance with reservations for dining, travel and more.

Highlights of the Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card

No annual fee: Many travel cards charge annual fees, meaning you’ll have to figure out whether you’re earning enough in rewards and perks to outweigh the yearly cost of card ownership. Not an issue with the Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card.

Flexible redemption options: When you’re ready to cash in points, you’re not limited just to Princess cruises. You can also redeem points for statement credits toward Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, The Yachts of Seabourn, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, Ibero, and Aida. Other travel-related redemptions are available, too, not to mention gift cards and merchandise.

Good terms for balance transfers: The balance transfer fee is relatively low at 3%, and the 0% intro APR for balance transfers is decent, too: 0% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening., and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.99% Variable.

Drawbacks and alternatives to consider

Redemption complexity: With many travel cards, points are often worth a penny each. But the Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card has a tiered system of varying statement credit redemption values, which can make it tough to know what exactly your points are worth. When you erase a $50 Princess purchase by redeeming points for statement credit, you get a penny a point. But when you erase a $5,000 purchase, you get 2 cents per point. If you don’t have the required amount of points to cover the full transaction, you can redeem only in $50 statement-credit increments, between $50 and $5,000.

Other travel cards offer more: There are a variety of travel rewards cards with larger sign-up bonuses, higher point-earning potential and much-easier-to-understand redemption options. Consider the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar on all purchases, and 10 points per dollar spent on hotel stays booked at hotels.com/venture. Redeem points for any travel expenses using the card’s Purchase Eraser feature. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® also has a hefty sign-up bonus: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases and, much like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you can redeem points for any travel expenses in exchange for a statement credit. You’ll get 5% of your miles back any time you redeem them. The annual fee is $89.

And if you want travel rewards with no annual fee, you’ve got options.

There’s no 0% intro APR for purchases: The ongoing APR for purchases kicks in on Day One. If you’re planning to spend a few thousand dollars on a cruise and pay it off over several months, for example, the Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card isn’t your best option.

You can also evaluate other top credit cards in our roundup to see how this card stacks up.

Should you get the Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card?

The Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card can offer some benefit to Princess Cruises fans who spend a lot with the cruise line, and its flexible redemption options are a plus. But its complicated redemption tiers can be confusing.

Even if you do take to the sea on a regular basis, other travel cards offer more lucrative sign-up bonuses and point-earning programs that are easier to understand and potentially better fits for everyday spending. Research these options to make sure the Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card is seaworthy for you.

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