About Nissan Visa Signature Card
It’s not often that we review credit cards linked to car brands, but Synchrony Bank’s new Nissan Visa Signature Card caught our attention.
The Nissan credit card is a basic rewards card with bonuses handed out for several categories, including a 5x bonus for purchases at Nissan.
Those purchases, like most rewards cards, will get you points you can convert into cash or specific rewards.
“The Nissan credit card program will be a great opportunity for consumers to benefit from the same level of excellence and customer service they’ve come to expect from this respected automotive brand,” Synchrony Financial CEO Tom Quindlen said in a press release about the card.
While the card is linked to Nissan dealerships, which is unique, its points system, APR and other aspects are very similar to cash-back rewards cards that we’ve reviewed in the past.
If you want to know whether or not this is a good credit card, read on. We’re going to talk about the benefits you get (rewards, etc.), the rates and fees you’ll pay as well as what experts aside from HighYa say about the Nissan Visa Signature.
The Benefits of the Nissan Visa Signature Card
As with all rewards credit cards, the Nissan card gives you a specific set of benefits you can enjoy over the course of your card membership.
One benefit, however, is painfully absent: the sign-up bonus.
You see, most rewards cards offer a sign-up bonus to reel you in and get you to sign up for the card. Most of these bonuses are contingent on you spending a certain amount of money in the first 90 days of owning the card.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first 90 days of being approved for the card.
Now, even though the Nissan Visa Signature is missing a sign-up bonus, it does give you the chance to earn points on every purchase you make.
Earning Points With the Nissan Card
The Nissan Visa Signature has a 5x/3x/1x points bonus structure, which means that you have the chance to earn either five, three or one point for every dollar you make on purchases with the card.
Whenever you use your Nissan card to buy something at a Nissan or Infiniti dealership – oil changes and tune-ups are good examples – you’ll earn five points for every dollar you spend.
So, if you take your car to the local Nissan or Infiniti dealership and get $400 worth of work done, you can get 2,000 bonus points if you use your card to pay for the repairs.
You’ll also earn 5x rewards when you use your card to buy gas at gas stations and garages that aren’t a part of a wholesale club or, according to Nissan’s fine print, “certain supercenters or super markets.”
Pro tip: Airline fuel purchases don’t get the 5x bonus.
In addition to the 5x bonus, you’ll get triple points whenever you use your Nissan card at a restaurant or bar. Exactly how a place is defined as a restaurant is dictated by a something called a merchant code.
The locations included in the merchant codes defined by Nissan as “restaurants” include:
- Bars, taverns, cocktail lounges
- Nightclubs and discotheques
- Fast food
Your monthly credit card statement will show you how many bonus points you’ve earned via restaurant purchases, so make sure you check your point totals to verify you’re getting the bonuses you should be getting.
Minus a few money-based transactions like gambling-chip and traveler’s check purchases, you’ll get one point for every dollar you spend.
Using Your Nissan Points
You can use the points you rack up on your Nissan Visa Signature one of two ways: dealership purchases or cash.
According to the Nissan card’s fine print, you can use your points at a rate of $1 per 100 points to pay for the following types of purchases at Nissan or Infiniti dealerships:
- New car purchase
- Certified pre-owned purchase
- Car lease
The huge drawback to this car-centric rewards redemption is that only certain Nissan and Infiniti dealerships accept Nissan rewards points.
For example, at the time of publishing there was only one dealership in all of Florida that accepted rewards points.
California had only 10 dealerships statewide with most of them located in Southern California.
We see this as being a pretty big problem for someone who doesn’t live near a participating Nissan or Infiniti dealership.
Now, if you live near one of the participating locations (click here to find out if you are), then this card could come in handy if you like to take your car to the dealership for maintenance and service.
Here’s a quick list of how many participating locations there are in the following states:
- California: 10
- Oregon: 0
- Washington: 0
- New York: 0
- New Jersey: 0
- Illinois: 0
- Massachusetts: 2
- Florida: 1
As you can see, the participating dealership list is really sparse. And, according to the Nissan card’s terms and conditions, you can’t use rewards on Nissan or Infiniti’s websites.
This, in our opinion, severely limits your ability to use the rewards you get with this card.
We were curious as to whether or not this list of dealerships would grow over time, so we reached out to Darla Turner, a Nissan PR rep, for insight.
Darla told us that dealerships had to enroll in the rewards program, and since the program had only launched less than a week before our review was published, only a few had signed up.
“The list will be continually updated as dealers enroll in the program,” Darla told us.
Redeeming Rewards Points for Cash
We know what you’re thinking. If you can’t redeem the points at a Nissan or Infiniti dealership, then you should get cash for them, right?
Normally, we’d say yes. Cash rewards cards usually have a rewards rate of $1:100 points, which means redeeming 10,000 points would get you a $100 statement credit.
For the Nissan Visa Signature card, we discourage you from redeeming your points for cash because the redemption rate is only half of the industry standard of $1:100 points. So, if you redeem 10,000 Nissan Rewards points, you’ll get $50 back.
Another drawback of the Nissan card’s cash rewards program? They cap your cash rewards at $300 per year.
Based on our research of cash-back rewards cards, we don’t believe the Nissan card’s rewards rate is advantageous. We think your spending would be better served on a cash-back card not affiliated with a company: the Capital One Quicksilver is a great example.
Other Benefits Besides Cash Back
Because the Nissan card is part of the Visa Signature program, you get a series of purchase- and travel-related protections and warranties.
One of the more well-known ones is rental car insurance, but there are a host of other programs you can take advantage of.
The Visa Signature website is a great place to go to learn about the specifics of these programs. Also, if you’re accepted for the Nissan card, you’ll receive a benefits guide that will explain the Visa Signature program, too.
The Nissan Visa Signature’s Rates and Fees
At the time of publishing, the Nissan Visa Signature Card had a very limited chart of rates and fees. Here are the basics you need to know:
- Purchase APR: 17.74%
- Cash advance APR: 25.74%
- Balance transfer APR: N/A
- Late payment fee: Up to $38
- Foreign transaction fee: 3%
- Annual fee: None
We confirmed with Darla that the card does not allow balance transfers, which is why we didn’t list a balance transfer APR.
Word to the wise: The APR might seem low if you have average or bad credit, but there’s a good chance you won’t get that APR. Why? Synchrony Bank, the card’s issuer, actually offers a Nissan Visa Signature and a Nissan Visa.
You can apply for the Visa Signature and end up getting the Visa, a move that happens, in most cases, when your credit scores and income don’t measure up.
If you get the Nissan Visa, your APR will be, according to the terms and conditions, 23.74%. All other rates and fees are the same.
Reviews of the Nissan Visa Signature
At the time of publishing, there was only one other review about the Nissan card.
Doctor of Credit, the one site with the review, didn’t have much to say aside from the information readily available on Nissan’s website. Their conclusion was a bit confusing, but our impression is that they didn’t think the card was all that great.
The Nissan credit card did get some chatter on myFICO forums. Two posters said they applied for the card and were denied, which makes us think you need good credit (720 and above) in order to get the card.
Our Final Thoughts About the Nissan Visa Signature Card: The Pros, The Cons and Who It’s Good For
Based on our research of the Nissan credit card and other cash-back rewards cards, we feel like this card has some very specific pros and cons.
The Pros of the Nissan Credit Card
The Nissan Visa Signature has some really great cash rewards rates. In fact, there is no other cash rewards card that we’ve reviewed that gives cardholders a 5x bonus when they make purchases at a gas station.
This perk makes sense in light of the fact that it’s a car-focused credit card whose best rewards rates are reserved for purchases made at enrolled Nissan and Infiniti dealerships.
We also believe that the card’s 3x rewards rate on restaurants is a strong benefit, too, making this card’s 5x/3x/1x rewards rate the best in the cash-rewards category.
Also, the card has no annual fee, but this is pretty standard for cash-back rewards cards.
The Cons of the Nissan Credit Card
While the Nissan Visa Signature’s rewards structure is one of the best in the credit-card world, the way you can redeem those points are among the worst.
Nissan only gives a $1:100-point conversion rate for rewards redemptions and Nissan or Infiniti dealerships.
Yes, you can cash out your rewards, but you’ll get a redemption rate ($1:200 points) that’s half of what most cash back cards offer.
A typical cash back card like the Discover it Cash or the Capital One Quicksilver allow you to redeem your rewards for statement credits or in check form; it’s a straightforward rewards rate.
Now, we get why Nissan halves their cash-out rewards rate – they want you to use your rewards money at their dealerships, which leads us to our final section.
This Card Is Great for People Who Frequent Nissan and Infinity Dealerships
There are three types of car owners in the world: those who take their cards to the dealership for maintenance and repairs, those who take their car to a local mechanic and those who do repairs on their own.
The Nissan Visa Signature is an excellent choice for the first group: those who take their cars to a Nissan or Infiniti dealership on a regular basis.
In that sense, we think the Nissan credit card is very similar to a store credit card in that you get the best rewards and redemption rates when you make purchases at Nissan or Infiniti.
The Final Word: Unless You Love Nissan or Infiniti Dealerships, Get a Cash-Back Rewards Card
If it’s rewards and free cash you want, take a look at our Best Cash Back Rewards Card of 2017 guide.
You can use the information we provide to make a smart, informed choice about which card will give you the biggest rewards according to your personal spending habits.