Sallie Mae Signature VISA Review
UPDATE: THIS CARD IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR NEW CARD MEMBERS
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:
- 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.
- 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!