Editorial Review

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 RathnerDecember 18, 2019

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  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

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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

Purchase: None

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • 0% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Complex redemption values

Alternate Pick: 2 miles back on everything

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

No annual fee in first year

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent. The annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Read our review

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

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%.

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% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

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% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

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 travel cards offer more

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

  • The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card also has a $0 annual fee, but it earns much richer rewards on a much wider variety of spending. You get triple points back on dining, travel, gas and more, and there's a generous welcome offer: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value. Terms apply. Points are worth 1 cent each regardless of how you redeem, and options include travel, gift cards and the most flexible reward of all: cash back. See 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 points per dollar on all purchases. The card comes with a generous sign-up bonus, too: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. Redeem points for any travel expenses using the card's Purchase Eraser feature. The annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

  • You can also evaluate other top credit cards in our roundup to see how this card stacks up.

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.

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