Sallie Mae Signature VISA Review


As I've noted in multiple posts, I have been mourning the death of the Schwab Invest First VISA program which officially ended on Oct. 31.  It was a great card that I ended up replacing with the Fidelity Retirement Rewards AMEX.  It offers 2% that gets moved over into a brokerage account in much the same way the Schwab program worked.  I like the card, but I don't love it.  The primary limitation is that it's an AMEX which is not accepted at certain stores.  The one thing that bugs me the most is my food co-op where I easily spend $1,000/yr.  Thus, I'm losing 50% of the rewards I used to get when shopping there since I have to use a 1% cashback card.  Blech!

Enter the Sallie Mae Signature VISA card.  

  • It also pays 2% cashback on all purchases, and it's a VISA!  
  • On top of that, right now they're offering 10,000 points if you spend $500 in the first 3 months.  
  • There is no cap on points.
  • Points don't expire.
  • You can redeem points for merchandise, travel, paying down a Sallie Mae loan OR as a statement credit.  No redemption process is easier than having your bill reduced.

Awesome right?  Well, pretty awesome.  These are the drawbacks:

  1. You have to wait in order to get the full 2% reward.  You can't redeem for the 2% until you've accumulated 25,000 points.  Since points don't expire, that's no big deal, but still that's $12,500 in spending.
  2. 3% foreign transaction fees.  I would not use this card for any foreign travel.  Actually the Fidelity Retirement Rewards AMEX is just as bad so I wouldn't use it either.  Consider instead the PenFed VISA Platinum Gas / Cash Rewards Card (a sponsor) which has no foreign transaction fees.  Reviewed here.

Even with the drawbacks, this is a good card that helps me overcome the AMEX problem.  Like the AMEX, it's not a perfect replacement to my Schwab card, but it fills a gap.  My new card is in the mail!

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  • Mike G

    How often do you use this card, and have you had any problems with it? It sounds like they have some very poor customer service. I also tried to apply for the card and got hung up on the "identity verification questions section". I clicked the "Next" button and nothing happened, WTF. Now what? Anyway check out the link below. I think I've been scare off from this card.

    • Mike,

      I really respect Fat Wallet and it’s members, and I read the thread you posted. However, as with any forum, it often draws the people experiencing issues while the folks enjoying the card aren’t out there reading or web searching about their credit cards.

      That said, I will comment on my own experience. I have had the card for about 4 months now. I had no trouble getting my DW an authorized user card. I had no trouble setting up online payment and have had no issues with it. I received the 10,000 bonus points in a timely manner. The card updates perfectly in Yodlee Personal Finance. I have not redeemed rewards yet so I can’t speak to that at this point, but given my experience thus far, I have no problem with this card. I use it any time I go somewhere that won’t take my Fidelity Investment Rewards AMEX.