ABOC Platinum Rewards Review: 5X Back in Rotating Bonus Categories

You'll earn 5 points per $1 spent in bonus categories that change quarterly — but point values vary depending on what you redeem rewards for.

Melissa Lambarena, Sara RathnerSeptember 17, 2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

4.6

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: This card offers decent benefits, if you're OK with varying point values and are willing to put in a little work to track bonus categories.

Best Credit Card for Fair Credit

ABOC Platinum Rewards

on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago's website

on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

12.90% - 22.90% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 12 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Intro APR period on Purchases

  • Sign-up offer

  • No Annual Fee

Cons

  • Fee of 3% of each balance transfer (minimum $5)

  • Poor cash-back redemption option

  • If you value simplicity, a flat-rate card may be better

Alternate Pick: Cash-back rewards

Discover it® Cash Back

Unique bonus

Earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, plus 1% back on all other purchases. INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. The annual fee is $0. Pay 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

12.90% - 22.90% Variable APR

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 12 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox

Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

(NOTE: THIS CARD HAS CHANGED ITS ELIGIBILITY RULES AND NOW REQUIRES EXCELLENT CREDIT.)

The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card earns bonus rewards in popular spending categories that change each quarter. Plus, there's a sign-up bonus, as well as a 0% intro APR period for purchases, all for an annual fee of $0.

One big caution, however: While you'll get good value from your rewards if you redeem them for travel, points are worth significantly less if you redeem for cash back. Other 5X-bonus-category cards don't have that problem, allowing you to redeem for travel or cash back (or other options) at the same rate of a penny per point no matter what.

Plus, those cards are also largely available to those with only good credit (FICO scores of 690 or higher). The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card requires excellent credit (FICO scores of at least 720).

Nerd tip: ABOC also issues the ABOC Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card. It shares many of the same features, but it's designed for union members or supporters. For more information, see our review of that card.

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card: Key features

Card type: Rewards.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening.

Rewards: Earn 5 points per $1 spent on up to $1,500 in combined spending on categories that change each quarter. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. Those 5X categories are:

ABOC bonus rewards categories for 2019 and 2020

2019 categories

2020 categories

Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)

• Dining. • Grocery. • Pharmacy.

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

Q2 (April 1 – June 30)

• Home improvement (including warehouse and wholesale club purchases).

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

Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)

• Travel purchases: Airfare, cruises, car rentals, hotels and travel agency services.

• 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)

• Automotive purchases (including services, repairs and parts).

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

Nerd tip: Unlike with other rotating-bonus-category cards, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card doesn't require you to keep "opting in" or "activating" your bonus categories every quarter. After a one-time registration at ABOCRewards.com, you'll be eligible to earn the 5X bonus going forward. Set it and forget it.

Redemption options: Points can be redeemed for travel, statement credits, merchandise and gift cards. You can also gift points to other ABOC Rewards members. Points don’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.

Redemption values vary, but travel (including flights, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages) generally offers the best value at about 1 cent per point. (If you don’t have enough points for a particular travel redemption, you may use a combination of rewards and charges to your card to cover it. But in those cases, minimum redemption thresholds apply.)

Statement credit and merchandise redeem for about 0.75 cent per point; gift card rates vary between 0.7 cent and 1 cent per point.

APR: 0% on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 12.90% - 22.90% Variable APR.

Balance transfer fee: 3% of each balance transfer (minimum $5).

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Additional perks: Mastercard benefits such as extended warranty and price protection — offerings that have become harder to find in recent years.

Why you might want the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card

Rotating 5X bonus categories

If you're in the market for a rotating-bonus-category card, you may have heard of two big names in that space: the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and select Discover cards like the Discover it® Cash Back. Like the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card, those cards also feature 5X-back rewards, up to a quarterly maximum, on categories that change each quarter (1% back on all else). But you must opt in to those bonus categories every quarter, unlike with the ABOC card.

Sign-up bonus, 0% intro APR period

Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening. Plus, you'll get an intro APR of 0% on Purchases for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 12.90% - 22.90% Variable APR. That's a solid time frame.

$0 annual fee

Cards with high reward-earning potential often charge high annual fees. But the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card is an easy card to hold onto for a long time, given its $0 annual fee.

It travels well

As a Mastercard with worldwide acceptance and no foreign transaction fees, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card makes a good travel companion.

Why you might want a different credit card

Cash redemption value is poor

If you're not interested in travel, this card isn't the best choice because all its other redemption values are poor. A cash-back card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer could be a better pick. It's also aimed at those with excellent credit, but it earns 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% back as you make purchases, and 1% back as you pay your bill. The annual fee is $0 and you’ll pay 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR. However, the card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus.

It requires excellent credit

While previously an option for consumers with fair and good credit scores, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card now requires applicants to have excellent credit to qualify. The aforementioned Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back require only good credit, and rewards you earn with those cards are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash back or travel.

There’s no 0% intro APR period for balance transfers

The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card has eliminated its 0% intro APR offer on balance transfers, though ABOC indicates this may be temporary, explaining it this way: “Please note: Amalgamated Bank of Chicago has temporarily suspended its balance transfer offer for new accounts due to the current economic environment. ABOC expects to reinstate this benefit in late 2020; in the meantime, new cardmembers can still receive a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months and have the opportunity to earn a $150 statement credit when they spend $1,200 within 90 days after account opening."

Rotating rewards create complexity

With the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card, you'll have to keep track of its rotating bonus categories every three months. If you would prefer to keep things simple, a flat-rate cash-back card like the above-mentioned Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer will be more your speed.

Is the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card right for you?

The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card features rich rewards. If, however, you're not interested in keeping track of bonus categories — or if you want cash back — consider other options.

Comments

NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.

Write a review

Read Our Posting Guidelines
user avatar
Overall Rating:
Select your rating
undefined reviews

Some of the reviews on the NerdWallet site were purchased through a third party provider. Users who post a review directly on the NerdWallet site will not be compensated in any way. Please see our Terms of Use and Posting Guidelines for more information.