About U.S. Bank REI Co-op Mastercard
Popular outdoor supply company REI has a simple motto: Get Outside. U.S. Bank partnered with REI to help people achieve that goal via the REI Co-op Mastercard, a store credit card with a series of rewards designed specifically for REI customers.
The card itself features a simple white background with a drawing of a campfire scene. Is this credit card more than just a campy attempt at getting business from outdoor enthusiasts, or are there some solid benefits that put it on par with other company-branded credit cards?
Having heard or read very little about the card before we wrote this review, our curiosity was pretty high. So, to answer the question of value, we ran the REI Co-op Mastercard through our in-depth review process. We examined the following features:
- Benefits you get in the first year
- Benefits you get after the first year
- Rates and fees
- Expert and customer reviews
The reason we focus on those four areas is you. Our goal with each credit card review is to give you a full picture of exactly what you’re going to get with a credit card. We try to eliminate surprises and present the card in an objective way.
At the end of this review, we’ll give you a short list of pros and cons and we’ll also give you our thoughts on who might enjoy this card the most.
Pro tip: There are two versions of this card: the World Mastercard and the Platinum Mastercard. The World Mastercard is the version given to those with the best credit and that’s the card we’re reviewing here.
The Benefits You Get in the First Year of Owning the REI Co-op Mastercard
The REI Co-op Mastercard has one major benefit: a $100 REI gift card when you make your first purchase within 60 days of being approved for the card.
The card’s fine print says that you’ll get the gift card 6-8 weeks after you make your first purchase. Remember, your first purchase doesn’t have to be at an REI store but it doesn’t include any finance charges, balance transfer fees or any other fee-type debits made to your card.
This intro bonus is average when you compare it to other rewards credit cards on the market. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited will give you $150 cash back if you can spend $500 in the first three months of owning the card.
The Discover it cash rewards card will match any cash rewards you get your first year. Based on our research, there’s a good chance you could earn about $240-$300 in cash rewards your first year.
So, as far as cash-back rewards go, the REI Co-op Mastercard doesn’t stack up well against cash back rewards cards.
However, the card’s up-front bonus is pretty good when you compare the REI card to other store-branded credit cards.
Here’s a quick list of the cash bonuses you get with some of the more popular store cards:
- Target: None
- Best Buy: None
- Walmart: Up to $125
- Bed Bath & Beyond: $25 off a $100 or more purchase
- GapCard: 15% off coupon
This is a deceiving list because Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond offer 0% interest on purchases for varying lengths of time.
So, if you need to buy something expensive at one of those stores, the 0% interest could save you a few hundred bucks depending on how much the item is and what your interest rates are on the other cards you own.
The REI Co-op card doesn’t offer any low-interest deals; just the $100 card. But, as we pointed out, that $100 stacks up well against the competition. Walmart’s “up to $125” offer is actually two different bonuses in one.
You get 15% off your first purchase for a total discount of up to $50 and then you get a $75 gift card if you make an electronics purchase of at least $149. Both of these purchases, though, have to be made the first day you’re approved for the card.
Not only is the dollar amount of the REI card competitive, but there are no specific rules on how much you have to spend or what you have to buy to get it. All you have to do is make a purchase and it doesn’t even have to be an REI purchase.
The Other Up-Front Benefit: National Forest Foundation Donations
At the time of publishing, REI would donate $0.10 of every REI purchase made with your REI Mastercard to the National Forest Foundation. However, the promotion was scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2017.
The Benefits You Get After the REI Co-op Mastercard’s Up-Front Bonus
Normally, a credit card gives you perks for the first year, so we recommend understanding what you get with the card after the first year because those are the features that will make the card worth it in the long run.
However, the REI Co-op Mastercard and other store-branded cards don’t work like that. REI cardholders will get a $100 gift card after the first purchase and that’s it.
Because of that, the long-term benefits of the card are really important. Do they make it worth it to sign up for the REI Co-op Mastercard?
REI Mastercard Points Bonuses: 5x and 1x
Whenever you make a purchase at REI brick-and-mortar or online locations you’ll earn 5% cash back on your purchases. So, if you buy a jacket and a tent for $400, you’ll get $20 cash back.
However, that $20 isn’t credited to your account right away. Instead, REI adds it to your member dividends that are sent out every March.
If you aren’t an REI member, “dividends” refers to the 10% cash bonus REI gives back to you each March based on how much you spent the previous year. This bonus can only be used on future REI purchases.
The big difference between membership dividends and the REI Mastercard’s cash back is that there are limitations on which purchases earn you dividends. For example, discounted items aren’t counted toward your dividends.
The 5% dividend payment you get from your REI purchases with your REI Mastercard include several types of purchases you don’t get with the normal membership dividends:
- Discounted items
- REI Adventures-invoiced payments
- Gift cards
As we mentioned, your 5% dividend from your REI credit card purchases are totaled up and sent to you in March along with your 10% membership dividend.
Zero Fraud Liability and Purchase Protections
In addition to cash-back bonuses, the REI Co-op Mastercard’s other long-term benefits are general ones that many credit cards offer.
The card’s zero-liability feature means you won’t be liable for any fraudulent purchases made with your card.
You also get a pair of purchase protections whenever you buy things with your REI Mastercard: price protection and extended warranties.
Price protections afford you a reimbursement if something you bought with your card goes down in price within a certain amount of days from the time of purchase.
Extended warranty benefits will cover an item for an additional year if the item has a manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less.
All of these benefits have certain rules and restrictions, so make sure you read the benefits guide that comes with your REI credit card.
The REI Co-op Mastercard’s Rates and Fees
One of the sneaky good features of the REI Co-op Mastercard is its APR. The card’s terms and conditions say that APRs range from 11.99% to 23.99%. The lowest APRs are given to customers with the best credit scores.
If you’re lucky enough to get that 11.99% APR, then your interest rate is lower than the store credit cards we reviewed in our two-part guide on store credit cards. Several of the cards we researched had APRs above 20%.
Here’s a quick list of the REI Mastercard’s other fees:
- Annual fee: None
- Balance transfer: 3%
- Late payment fee: $38
- Returned payment fee: $35
Expert and Consumer Reviews of the REI Co-op Mastercard
The various reviews we read of the REI Mastercard were very positive, with a couple of sites saying the card is great for REI customers and another site saying that you should sign up for the card right away.
Our Closing Thoughts on the REI Co-op Mastercard
After spending some time researching this card and comparing it to other store credit cards, we’ve come up with a list of clear pros and cons.
Pros of the REI Co-op Mastercard
The $100 gift card and the 5% rewards rate are definitely this card’s best features. There are no specific rules for what you have to buy to get that $100 gift, which makes it easy to get the perk.
Also, we like how the 5% rewards rate applies to several types of purchases that normal membership dividends don’t cover.
Cons of the REI Co-op Mastercard
As far as store credit cards go, we don’t see any significant drawbacks to this card. If you travel out of the country a lot, the 3% foreign transaction fee might be annoying.
Who the REI Mastercard is Good For
Anyone who is an REI member and makes multiple purchases each year at REI will enjoy this card.
The Final Word: Great Choice for REI Loyalists
That this card is a good fit for REI members is pretty obvious, considering it’s the only store credit card REI members can get.
While the bonuses on this card are great for REI purchases, there are other cash-back rewards cards that have better rates on grocery, gas and other types of purchases.
In our opinion, the REI Co-op Mastercard should be used whenever you make any purchases at REI. For the rest of your shopping, we’d recommend examining the Citi Double Cash and other cash-rewards cards we reviewed in our Best Cash Back Rewards Cards guide.