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5 Things to Know About the TRIO Credit Card

This no-annual-fee card offers decent cash-back rewards in popular spending categories — but not all consumers are eligible to apply.
Sept. 27, 2019
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards
5 Things to Know About the TRIO Credit Card
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The TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank is a $0-annual-fee cash-back card that offers bonus rewards on some of the most common spending categories, albeit with spending caps that could seriously cramp your style. The card also comes with a sign-up bonus and a break on interest for balance transfers. But to apply, you must either be a member of the Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank, or live in one of the 10 states it serves.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. There are restrictions on who can apply

The requirements for applying for this card depend on where you live and whether you already have deposit accounts — such as checking or savings — at Fifth Third Bank.

If you live in a state where Fifth Third has physical bank branches, you can apply regardless of whether you’re already a customer. Those states are:

  • Florida.
  • Georgia.
  • Illinois.
  • Indiana.
  • Kentucky.
  • Michigan.
  • North Carolina.
  • Ohio.
  • Tennessee.
  • West Virginia.

If you don’t live in one of these states, you can apply only if you’ve been a Fifth Third deposit customer for at least 90 days and your deposit balance is greater than $0. To be approved, you’ll also have to meet the normal credit criteria.

2. You’ll get bonus cash back — just not a whole lot of it

The base cash-back rate on the TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank is 1%. But you get 3% cash back at restaurants and 2% cash back at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores on up to $1,500 per quarter in combined spending in those categories. (Spending in those categories above the cap earns 1%.)

Depending on how you spend money, that could boost your overall earnings rate to 1.5% or more, which would rank it among the better cash-back cards. However, the $1,500 quarterly limit on spending eligible for bonus rewards is rather low — it comes out to just $500 a month for combined groceries, gas, restaurant and drugstore spending. The more you spend, the more likely it is that you would be better off with a simple, flat-rate card that pays an unlimited 1.5% or 2% on all purchases.

Use our calculator to estimate your annual rewards and your overall rewards rate on the TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank.


3. You can earn a modest sign-up bonus

This card offers a sign-up bonus worth $100 — not as big as what’s offered by some other cash-back cards, but not nothing, either. Here’s how you get the bonus, as described by Fifth Third Bank: “Earn a new account bonus worth $100! Earn 10,000 bonus points which can be redeemed for $100 cash back, simply spend $1,000 within 90 days of opening your account.”

Note that rewards on the card are actually given as points — Real Life Rewards points, to be exact —  which have a value of a 1 cent apiece when redeemed for cash back. Other redemption options include merchandise, loan and mortgage credit, travel and other experiences.

4. There’s a 0% period for transfers, but also a fee

New cardholders get a 0% Introductory APR on Balance Transfers for your first 12 billing cycles after the account is opened, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. That’s nice if you have high-interest debt you’d like to pay down. There is, however, a balance transfer fee of 4% of the amount of each transfer ($5 minimum). Also good to note: The card has no foreign transaction fees, so can be a good overseas travel companion.

5. The cell phone protection perk isn’t too impressive

If you pay your wireless phone bill with the TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank, you’re eligible for Fifth Third’s cell phone protection program. This benefit comes with some pretty big strings attached, though. Details:

  • The protection is only supplemental coverage, meaning it will reimburse you for damage or theft that is not already covered by another insurance policy, such as your homeowners or renters insurance. It kicks in only after your benefits on other policies have been exhausted.
  • Cell phone protection covers up to $200 per claim after you’ve paid a $50 deductible (maximum two claims in a 12-month period). Two hundred bucks isn’t much when modern smartphones cost hundreds of dollars. By contrast, Wells Fargo’s cell phone coverage pays up to $600 per claim, has only a $25 deductible and doesn’t require you to use up other insurance policies first.

The guide to this benefit says “electronic issues, such as inability to charge, mechanical or battery failure, where there is no evidence of physical damage, are not covered under this program.” For more details about the TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank’s cell phone protection perk, go here.

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