Ikea, Apple and other big brand cards are not great for rewards
Unless you spend a lot on your favorite brands, cash back and travel cards are better
Rewards expert who writes the "Cashing In" reader Q&A column for CreditCards.com
- Ikea rolled out a new rewards card, and Apple plans to do so in 2019.
- Cards associated with brands don’t always offer the best rewards.
- A traditional travel or cash back card may be a better rewards option.
If you’re a fan of Ikea or Apple products, then you may be interested in their co-branded credit cards. But just because you’re loyal to a brand, is it worth carrying its credit card in your wallet?
To know, read up on the credit card details.
For example, Ikea has rolled out its Ikea Visa Credit Card (no annual fee), which has some decent cash back offers in certain categories: 5 percent back on all Ikea purchases and installation services, 3 percent back on dining, groceries and utilities and 1 percent back on everything else.
Apple, meanwhile, is looking into offering a credit card, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The article says the new card would carry the Apple Pay brand and launch in early 2019.
Deciding whether an Ikea, Apple or other co-branded credit card is a good deal depends on how much you like switching between cards to maximize your rewards and how often you’re buying the products versus loving what you already have.
Most big brands have credit cards
Apple is a hip brand, with expensive, sleek products and a very loyal customer base. Ikea is wildly popular, especially with college students and budget-conscious home decorators. When it comes to rewards, though, the best advice is not to get wooed by what’s cool and hip, but to look closely at the costs of the card and its potential benefits.
Over the years, credit card marketers have devised many ways to attract people to their cards. For instance, some card companies allow you to personalize your card with a photo of your dog or baby. Several high-end cards are made of metal instead of mere plastic, giving them heft in an attempt to turn a card into a status symbol.
And some cards trade on popular brand names. Last year, a study identified the 10 brands that U.S. consumers identify with the most. The study measured “how connected” consumers feel to the brands, how important the brands are to their lives and how much they would recommend the brands. Of the 10 brands we Americans say we love the most, seven have reward credit cards associated with them: Apple, Disney, Amazon, Harley-Davidson, Whole Foods (the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa credit card), BMW and Toyota.
Not all rewards cards offer the same value
Like most retail credit cards, credit cards associated with big brands can make some sense for fans.
- If you love everything about Disney, you might check out the Disney Rewards Visa Card from Chase, because you can use the rewards at Disney parks, stores and cruises.
- If you love Harley-Davidsons, the U.S. Bank Harley-Davidson Visa earns points that can be redeemed at dealerships or the company’s online store.
If you’re just an occasional customer, though, cards associated with those brands might not be that helpful to you. Most people would be better off with a solid cash back card or a travel rewards card, depending on which kind of reward you prefer.
Apple already offers a credit card in conjunction with Barclays. The Barclays Visa with Apple Rewards (no annual fee) earns 3 percent back at Apple and 2 percent back at restaurants, with points redeemable for gift cards at the Apple Store or iTunes. It also allows you to receive “special financing” on Apple products.
The Wall Street Journal article indicates that Apple’s partnership with Barclays would be phased out in favor of a new rewards card offered by Goldman Sachs.
The top brands in the U.S. put out a lot of our favorite products, from iPhones to motorcycles to luxury cars. But that’s doesn’t mean their rewards cards are the best ones for you. Don’t be charmed by their iconic brand names. Instead, choose your credit cards wisely.
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