The Bottom Line: This card offers solid benefits while you build credit, if you're OK with putting in a little work when it comes to tracking bonus categories.
- 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 15.15% - 25.15%, based on your creditworthiness
- Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
- Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
Pros & Cons
Intro APR period on Purchases
No Annual Fee
Qualify with average credit or better
Has foreign transaction fees
Fee of 3% of each balance transfer (minimum $5)
Alternate Pick: cash back rewards
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
A top-drawer rewards rate, for a fee
Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases — the same rate offered on many cards for good or excellent credit. This card has an annual fee of $39; you'd have to spend $2,600 a year to make up for the fee with the rewards you earn.Read our review
People with fair or average credit don't have a lot of options in rewards credit cards, which is why the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card is worth a look. Issued by Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, the card is an ideal option for people looking to strengthen their credit while earning rewards for their spending.
The ABOC Platinum Rewards Card offers some perks not generally found on cards for fair credit. Most notably, it unveiled changes to its rewards program in 2019, becoming a rotating-bonus-category product that offers elevated rewards in specific areas of spending that change each quarter.
That can make the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card worth keeping around even if your credit scores eventually improve.
ABOC Platinum Rewards 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. Those categories are:
All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. For the first half of 2019, you must register your card at ABOCRewards.com to qualify for the bonus. After July 1, 2019, you’ll need to activate the bonus each quarter.
Points can be redeemed online for gift cards, statement credits, merchandise and travel. Redemption values vary by method. There’s no points cap, and they don’t expire.
APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.15% - 25.15% Variable APR
Balance transfer fee: 3% of each balance transfer (minimum $5)
Foreign transaction fee: 3%
Highlights of the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card
Lucrative rewards for fair credit: If you're in the market for a rotating-bonus-category card, you've likely heard of two of the biggest names in that space: the Chase Freedom® and select Discover cards like the Discover it® Cash Back. Like the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card, those cards also feature 5X-back rewards, up to a quarterly maximum, on categories that change each quarter (you must opt in). All other purchases with those cards earn 1% back. But unlike the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card, you'll need a good or excellent credit score to qualify for those products.
Sign-up bonus, 0% intro APR period: Such perks are not typical features of cards designed for fair credit. Earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening. Plus, you'll get a 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.15% - 25.15% Variable APR. That can give you some breathing room to finance a big purchase.
$0 annual fee: When you're working on your credit score, every point counts. Closing accounts can ding your score, so you want a card that won't cost you anything to hold onto.
ABOC Platinum Rewards Card: Drawbacks and other options
Rotating rewards create complexity: The ABOC Platinum Rewards Card earns elevated rewards rates, but you'll have to keep track of its rotating categories every three months. And, to be eligible for the bonus, you'll either have to register your card at ABOCRewards.com (before July 1, 2019) or activate the bonus each quarter (after July 1, 2019). If you’d prefer to keep things simple, a flat-rate cash-back card could be a better choice. (Cash-back rewards are also more versatile than points-based systems such as the one ABOC offers.) The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, for instance, is aimed at those with fair credit, but it earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase — the same rate you'll find on many cards for people with good or excellent credit. However, this card does have an annual fee of $39.
Doesn't travel well internationally: Foreign transaction fees on credit cards are the bane of any international traveler. Like many cards, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card charges a fee of 3% of each transaction in a foreign country. The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card, however, doesn't charge such fees. It has a $0 annual fee. It doesn't earn rewards, but it does come with a benefit of particular interest to those with average credit: Make your first five payments on time, and you could gain access to a higher credit line.
Balance transfer fee: The 0% intro APR period on this card also applies to balance transfers, but you'll pay a fee of 3% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever is greater. That fee is in line with the industry standard, so it's not necessarily a deal-breaker, but still worth keeping in mind.
Do you actually have bad credit?
If your credit score is lower than 630, you might actually have bad credit rather than average. In that case, your best option might be a secured credit card. These cards require a cash security deposit — usually equal to your credit line — but otherwise function like a regular credit card. One of NerdWallet's favorites is the Discover it® Secured. It offers cash-back rewards, a bonus for new cardholders and a clear path to an upgrade for responsible cardholders, all with an annual fee of $0.
Is the ABOC Platinum Rewards Card the best option for you?
The ABOC Platinum Rewards Card offers generous, flexible rewards, making it a good option if you have an average credit score. If, however, you're not interested in keeping track of bonus categories — or those categories don't fit well with your spending habits — consider other options.
on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago's website
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