Invitation-only credit cards are typically reserved for people with high net worth or big spending habits, but the invite-only Ollo cards are designed for average users. Here’s what you should know about these cards.
It’s hard to resist the allure of being part of something that’s “by invitation only.” For serious credit card users, that so-called white whale might be the Centurion Card from American Express (aka “the Black Card”), which bestows famed concierge service and oodles of travel perks upon whoever’s lucky enough to score a membership invitation – provided they can pony up the hefty $10,000 initiation fee and $5,000 annual fee, that is.
The Ollo credit card is another “by invitation only” financial product, but it isn’t just for people with high net worth or big spending habits. Here’s what you should know about Ollo’s suite of credit cards – and how you can decide whether an Ollo card might be right for you.
What is Ollo?
Launched in 2017, Fair Square Financial Holdings is the company behind Ollo, a brand of consumer credit cards designed to meet the needs of “hardworking Americans who are often not adequately served by major financial brands.”
Although Ollo is a relatively new kid on the credit card block, a number of Ollo credit card reviews on sites including Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau mention a troubling pattern of poor customer service, with many cardholders reporting that their accounts were canceled suddenly and without explanation, despite being in good standing at the time.We reached out to the company for comment and received a response from Florian Egg-Krings, Fair Square’s chief marketing officer and head of products.
“While we take any negative review and/or complaint seriously, the sites do not show a balanced view of the experience reported by our customer base,” Egg-Krings said. “We do ongoing [customer satisfaction] surveys and collect reviews directly on our website through an independent party. While we are certainly open to feedback and any opportunity to improve what we do, we are pleased to report that we see consistently high satisfaction and mostly positive commentary from our Ollo customers.”
The Ollo card is built to be simple and transparent, Egg-Krings said, and comes with the promise of “no surprise fees” (more on that below), plus 24/7 customer service, a top-rated mobile app and credit education tools.
“All our offers are preapproved, which means we are doing our homework upfront (using sophisticated machine-learning algorithms) to offer more certainty to middle-class consumers who are often concerned about the possibility [of being] declined for credit following their application process,” Egg-Krings added.
Ollo credit cards
Ollo’s product lineup includes the Ollo Platinum Mastercard, the Ollo Rewards Mastercard and the Ollo Optimum Mastercard. All three are serviced by Ollo Card Services and issued by the Bank of Missouri. Here’s an at-a-glance look at the features and benefits of each:
|Ollo Platinum Mastercard||Ollo Rewards Mastercard||Ollo Optimum Mastercard|
|Rewards rate||N/A||2.5% cash back on all purchases|
|Intro offer||0% intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 9 months (targeted)||N/A||0% intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (targeted)|
|Other notable features||Automatic account reviews for credit line increases, free FICO score, zero fraud liability, 24/7 customer service, credit education resources||Rewards don’t expire, no minimum required to redeem, free FICO score, zero fraud liability, 24/7 customer service, credit education resources||Rewards don’t expire, no minimum required to redeem, instant “Lock It” tool if you misplace your card, free FICO score, zero fraud liability, 24/7 customer service, credit education resources|
Ollo Platinum card details and benefits
The Ollo Platinum Mastercard, Ollo’s entry-level offering, is best suited for people with fair to good credit.
Though it doesn’t offer spending rewards, the Platinum’s uncomplicated fee structure gives it a leg up on similar credit-building cards: It carries no annual fee, no returned payment fee and no over-limit fee. The card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, either, making it a potentially good choice for frequent travelers or online shoppers with a penchant for international retailers.
The fees the Ollo Platinum does carry – for late payments, balance transfers and cash advances – are easy to avoid. But if you happen to miss your payment due date, you’ll pay $28 for your first slip-up and $40 for any subsequent occurrence within six billing cycles, per the Ollo cardmember agreement.
Unfortunately, other aspects of the Ollo Platinum Mastercard aren’t quite as noteworthy. While cardholders who are invited to apply may be offered an intro 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers – this happens in “a lot of cases,” Egg-Krings said – the intro period is a short nine months, and the 4% balance transfer fee is higher than average.
Finally, although late payments won’t trigger a penalty APR, the Ollo Platinum card’s variable APR is already 24.99%, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the average credit card interest rate of 16.05%.
Ollo Rewards card details and benefits
The Ollo Rewards Mastercard, the next step up from the Platinum card, is a lot like its entry-level counterpart. But how it differs is significant: Unlike the Platinum, the Ollo Rewards card lets you earn cash back for your spending (albeit in exchange for an annual fee as high as $39).
Ollo Rewards cardholders earn 2% cash back on purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores and 1% cash back on all other purchases everywhere else Mastercard is accepted. There’s no limit to the cash back you can earn, and your rewards won’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
Unlimited 2% cash back is nice, of course, but the best cash back cards apply a similar rate to all purchases, not just those made at certain types of merchants. And the only way to redeem your cash back is in the form of a statement credit (Egg-Krings said the company has found that Ollo customers “look for straightforward propositions”).
Accumulated cash back earnings are found on the account summary page within the Ollo mobile app, and cardholders can redeem their rewards at any time with just the tap of a button – no minimum required.
Other than its rewards program and potential annual fee, the Ollo Rewards card is exactly the same as the Platinum, all the way down to the 24.99% APR.
Ollo Optimum card details and benefits
The third and final Ollo card – the Ollo Optimum Mastercard – is essentially a supercharged version of the Rewards card, offering an excellent 2.5% cash back rate on all purchases, with no limit to the rewards you can earn, no minimum to redeem and no expiration dates.
But unlike the Rewards card, there’s no annual fee on the Optimum, suggesting this card is reserved for Ollo customers with the best credit scores. In addition to all the benefits associated with the lower-tier Ollo cards, Optimum cardholders benefit from a “Lock It” feature, which essentially lets them freeze their account if their card is ever lost or misplaced.
While it doesn’t offer bonus rewards in specific purchase categories or any of the lucrative travel credits that come with many top-tier cards, the Ollo Optimum’s high cash back rate puts it on par with some of the best cash back credit cards available. In fact, for a card with no annual fee, this high of a flat rate of cash back is practically unheard of.
How to qualify for an Ollo card
As mentioned earlier, Ollo credit cards are by invitation only. In other words, the only way you can apply for an Ollo card is if you receive a prescreened offer. This means that the information in your credit report meets Ollo’s criteria, and should you decide to apply, chances are good that you’ll be approved (although there’s no guarantee). Your chances of being invited in the first place, though, remain somewhat of a mystery.
“While we don’t have an offer for everyone, we generate and market several million preapproved offers each month,” Egg-Krings said. “Our targeted approach allows us to evaluate risk and tailor our product to the consumer. The goal is to provide selected consumers with the right credit offer at the right time.”
Are Ollo cards worth it?
The answer to that question depends on your existing credit and financial goals. While there are tons of credit-building cards for people with fair or poor credit, only a few such cards come with rewards programs, and the Ollo Platinum isn’t one of them.
If you need to rebuild your credit after a previous misstep, consider the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card or even the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, both of which offer a low barrier to entry as well as the opportunity to earn rewards for your spending – not to mention more reasonable APRs.
The Ollo Rewards card is a decent cash back card, though, particularly if you tend to do most of your spending at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores. That said, the comparable Citi® Double Cash Card offers the same up to 2% – 1% when you buy, additional 1% when you pay off purchases – but charges no annual fee, carries a lower APR and has one of the longest intro deals on balance transfers around.
When it comes to the Ollo Optimum Mastercard, though, we think it’s safe to say that the answer is yes – the card is very much worth it. It offers the same rewards as the Alliant Visa Signature Card, our pick for the best premium flat-rate cash back card. But unlike the Alliant card, the Optimum doesn’t require membership in a credit union, charge an annual fee, cap your cash back or impose redemption minimums. You just have to be lucky enough to receive an invite.