Reviews BBVA Compass Select credit card review
BBVA Compass Select credit card review

BBVA Compass Select credit card review

Published: April 25, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
2.4 rating
2.4 rating
2.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.1
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.5
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

One of our least favorite rewards credit cards, the BBVA Compass Select credit card charges a surprisingly high three figure annual fee in exchange for mediocre rewards and limited benefits.

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 in your choice of one category (utilities, restaurants, groceries)
  • 2:1 in your choice of two categories (travel, gas and health care)
  • 1:1 on general purchases
  • 5,000 bonus points for each month you spend more than $5,000

Sign-up Bonus
20,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the card’s first 90 days

Annual Fee
$125, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$219

APR
13.99-17.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No limit on the number of points you can earn
  • Redeem points for travel, merchandise or gift cards

Cons

  • Points expire after 3 years if card isn’t active
  • Must go through BBVA to redeem points for travel
  • Stopovers and open-jaw tickets are not allowed
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty program

Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fee, concierge service, roadside dispatch, lost luggage insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, car rental insurance, travel assistance, price protection, purchase security, extended warranty

Travel Rating:
2.5 rating
2.5 rating
2.5 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.4
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.0
Rewards Flexibility: 3.6
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

Despite flexible rewards and a competitive APR, the BBVA Compass Select card is an overpriced travel rewards card with middling benefits and an oversized annual fee.

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 in your choice of one category (utilities, restaurants, groceries)
  • 2:1 in your choice of two categories (travel, gas and health care)
  • 1:1 on general purchases
  • 5,000 bonus points for each month you spend more than $5,000

Sign-up Bonus
20,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the card’s first 90 days

Annual Fee
$125, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$219

APR
13.99-17.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No limit on the number of points you can earn
  • Redeem points for travel, merchandise or gift cards

Cons

  • Points expire after 3 years if card isn’t active
  • Must go through BBVA to redeem points for travel
  • Stopovers and open-jaw tickets are not allowed
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty program

Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fee, concierge service, roadside dispatch, lost luggage insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, car rental insurance, travel assistance, price protection, purchase security, extended warranty

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If it didn’t charge a three-figure annual fee, the BBVA Compass Select credit card would be a decent choice for cardholders who want flexible rewards they can customize themselves paired with an affordable interest rate. This card allows you to handpick bonus categories, giving you a rare amount of choice and flexibility. The card also offers bonus points in everyday categories – such as utilities, groceries and health care – and makes it relatively painless to quickly amass a lot of points.

You have to be an especially heavy spender, though, to earn enough points to fund even a one-way airline ticket – let alone a round-trip flight – with this high-priced rewards card. To get the most out of the BBVA Compass Select card and justify its high annual fee, you need to spend a minimum of $5,000 a month. Even then, you might still earn fewer rewards than you would with another travel card. Access to the BBVA card is also limited. Only cardholders living near a BBVA bank are eligible to apply.

Overpriced for what it offers
After the card’s first year, the BBVA Compass Select credit card charges a $125 annual fee, which is substantially more than most rewards cards charge – even those with an annual fee. But despite the BBVA card’s high initial price, it doesn’t deliver the same level of benefits that many cards with comparable annual fees offer, such as exclusive perks on travel and entertainment. Nor does it leave the average credit card spender with very many rewards.

The BBVA card does offer a generous 20,000-point sign up bonus – worth around $200 – if you spend $2,000 in the card’s first three months, which can help temporarily deflect some of the card’s expense if you save the bonus for the card’s second year.

Flexible rewards program
To its credit, the BBVA Compass Select card also offers an innovative rewards program that can, in theory, deliver enough points to make the card’s annual fee worthwhile – but that’s only if you spend heavily enough in the bonus categories you select and exclusively use your BBVA card when you make those purchases. For example, BBVA offers three points for every dollar you spend on an everyday spending category of your choice, such as utilities, restaurants or groceries. It offers an additional two points for every dollar you spend on another everyday spending category, such as travel, gas and health care.

If you spend a minimum of $5,000 a month, you’ll also receive an additional 5,000 bonus points – worth around $40 a month – for every month your spending passes the minimum threshold.

Best for heavy spenders
Because BBVA doesn’t limit the total number of points you can earn, BBVA Compass Select cardholders who use their card for all their purchases can build up an extensive collection of rewards – especially if they’re strategic with their bonus categories and only choose categories they know they will spend money on. However, cardholders who don’t spend a large amount may just barely earn enough to cover the card’s annual fee. For example, we estimate that cardholders who spend around $1,325 a month only take home about $147 worth of rewards by the end of the year – just $22 more than the card’s $125 fee.

Competitive interest rate
On the bright side, the BBVA Compass Select card does offer a relatively low interest rate, making it slightly less risky to carry a balance. Cardholders with the best credit scores are charged rates as low as 13.99 percent, which is a little higher than what some comparable cards charge, but still well below average for a rewards card. Meanwhile, the most cardholders with higher scores can be charged is just 17.99 percent. The typical rewards card, by contrast, charges cardholders around 15.72 percent to carry a balance.

Reasons to get it:

  • You want a flexible rewards card that lets you customize bonus categories.
  • You have money to burn and don’t mind paying a $125 annual fee.
  • You expect to spend at least $5,000 a month on the card.

How to use it:

  • Think carefully about which categories you spend the most on before picking your rewards bonus. For example, you may find that charging rare but pricey medical bills pays off more than charging travel or gas.
  • If you’re a heavy monthly spender, use the card for as many purchases as possible in order to meet the card’s $5,000 monthly spending threshold. By the end of the year, you should amass an extra 60,000 points – about $480 – that you can put toward airfare or other travel expenses.

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