Princess Cruises Visa Review: Seaworthy, but Hard to Navigate

Frequent cruisers may find some benefit, but the card's redemption rules are complex and its rewards rates are bested by other travel credit cards.
Sara RathnerDec 18, 2019

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Our Take

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: If you want to save on cruises, a general travel card can earn you higher rewards without having to keep track of varying redemption values.

Barclaycard Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card Credit Card

Princess Cruises Rewards Visa® Card

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 billing cycles

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • New cardholder bonus offer
  • Intro APR period

Cons

  • Low rewards rate
  • Complicated redemptions
  • High minimum redemption requirement

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$95

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

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.

Princess Cruises Rewards Visa® Card: Key features

Card type: Travel.

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 airline purchases. The statement credit redemption value for airline purchases is 1%.

Nerdy tip: These tiered point redemption values are common among other co-branded cruise line cards issued by Barclays, including the Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card and the Carnival World Mastercard. But this is not typical of most travel cards, where points have a fixed redemption value no matter how much you spend on a specific transaction.

Points can also be redeemed for:

  • Onboard credits.

  • 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. You'll need a minimum of 3,300 points for a $25 gift card, meaning points are worth less than a penny each when used this way.

  • Merchandise. Point values will vary.

Intro APR: 0% intro APR balance transfers for 15 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable.

Ongoing APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

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, Aida and Fathom. 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% intro APR balance transfers for 15 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable.

Drawbacks 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 rewards cards offer more

There are a variety of cash-back and travel rewards cards with larger sign-up bonuses, higher point-earning potential and much-easier-to-understand redemption options:

  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited® also has no annual fee, but it earns much richer rewards on a much wider variety of spending. You get 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% back at restaurants and on drugstore purchases; and 1.5% cash back on other purchases. Technically, that cash back comes in the form of points, which can also be used toward travel. See some of our other favorite travel rewards cards that don't charge annual fees for more options.

  • If you're willing to pay an annual fee, consider the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. You'll earn 2 miles per dollar on purchases. The card comes with a generous sign-up bonus, too. Redeem points for any travel expenses using the card's Purchase Eraser feature.

  • You can also evaluate other top cards in our roundup to determine which credit card is best for you.

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.

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.