Typically, you can redeem credit card rewards points for things like cash back or travel. But if you’re dreaming of a shiny new car with a big red bow on it, are there credit cards that can help take the edge off of the cost? As it turns out, there are.
Toyota and its fancier cousin, Lexus, are perennial winners of the car-buying popularity contest in the U.S. But is a car-branded credit card worth it?
1. Take your pick: Reliable workhorse or reliable luxury
The main difference, as their names imply, is that one card is focused on Toyota, while the other is aimed at Lexus.
Otherwise, you earn points much the same way — and that extends to the cards’ sign-up bonuses. The Toyota Rewards Visa® offers 5000 points for spending $500 within first 90 days outside of a dealership. The Lexus Pursuits Visa® offers 5000 points for spending $500 in 3 months outside of a dealership.
- Earn 5 points per dollar at the dealership: With the Toyota Rewards Visa®, those extra points are earned at Toyota dealerships only. With the Lexus Pursuits Visa®, you’ll have to spend money at a Lexus dealership.
- Earn 2 points per dollar spent on gas, dining, and entertainment: This broad category includes the expected restaurants and bars, but also the unexpected — amusement parks, carnivals, aquariums, bowling alleys, cable television subscriptions, country clubs, golf courses, movie theaters, music and record stores, video game arcades and more.
- Earn 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
2. You can redeem points at the dealership …
What sets these cards apart from other rewards cards is that you can redeem points to pay for service, parts and accessories at Toyota dealerships (for the Toyota Rewards Visa®) and Lexus dealerships (for the Lexus Pursuits Visa®). You can even cash in points toward a new car for any amounts due at signing. For redemptions at a dealership, points are valued at 1 cent apiece.
You can also redeem points for cash back in the form of a statement credit, merchandise, gift cards or travel. These awards are governed by third-party companies, so the value of your points may vary and redemption terms may change without notice.
3. … but you’re out of luck if you live in Hawaii
According to the fine print, the option to redeem points at Toyota or Lexus dealerships isn’t available in Hawaii.
If you live there, that makes these cards significantly less appealing, since it’s the benefit that differentiates them from other rewards cards.
4. Redeeming for travel comes with lots of restrictions
Here’s just a taste of some of the rules you’ll have to follow when redeeming points for travel:
- You must book travel at least 21 days in advance.
- Your trip must begin in one of the lower 48 states (apologies again to Hawaii residents, and fresh apologies to Alaska residents).
- Your trip requires a Saturday night stay and may be subject to blackout dates.
If your goal in getting a rewards card is to use it to save on travel, consider a more general travel rewards card that lacks the limitations that the Toyota Rewards Visa® and Lexus Pursuits Visa® have.
5. Unless you plan to put points toward car costs, look elsewhere
The rewards for the Toyota Rewards Visa® and Lexus Pursuits Visa® are lackluster. The sign-up bonus is only worth $50 if redeemed for 1 cent per point, ranking it behind cash-back cards that offer more upfront. Travel rewards cards give you much more redemption flexibility and bigger sign-up bonuses.
Where these cards shine is at Toyota or Lexus dealerships — you earn 5 points per dollar spent there and can cash in points to pay for service, parts or even your down payment.