Reviews Fifth Third Preferred card review

Fifth Third Preferred card review

Published: January 19, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
2.1 rating
2.1 rating
2.1 / 5
Rewards Value 0.8
Annual Percentage Rate 1.1
Rewards Flexibility 3.5
Features 3.0

In a nutshell:

This is an overpriced rewards card with too few perks to justify its high annual fee.

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Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 on travel, restaurant, gas and grocery
  • 1:1 on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$79, $0 in first year

Estimated Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$191

APR
13.99-23.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No point limits
  • Redeem points for gift cards, travel, merchandise, savings, loan payments or cash back

Cons

  • Points expire after 48 months
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty programs
  • Must book travel through Fifth Third Bank

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, baggage insurance, extended warranty, price protection, reimbursement for lost or damaged cellphone

Travel Rating:
2 rating
2 rating
2 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.1
Rewards Flexibility: 3.5
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

An overpriced card with a handful of premium perks, the Fifth Third Preferred card rewards cardholders for paying a $79 annual fee with a mediocre points bonus and zero sign-up bonus.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 on travel, restaurant, gas and grocery
  • 1:1 on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$79, $0 first year

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$191

APR
13.99-23.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No point limits
  • Redeem points for gift cards, travel, merchandise, savings, loan payments or cash back

Cons

  • Points expire after 48 months
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty programs
  • Must book travel through Fifth Third Bank

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, travel and emergency assistance, car rental insurance, baggage insurance, extended warranty, price protection, reimbursement for lost or damaged cellphone

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At first glance, the Fifth Third Preferred card looks like a good deal: It offers bonus points on everyday purchases, making it an attractive card for families who spend a lot of money on gas and groceries, or who frequently travel and dine out. But at $79 a year, the annual fee for this rewards card is too high for what it offers, and the card’s redemption value is too low.

Fifth Bank customers who qualify for an annual fee waiver may find the Fifth Third Preferred card more appealing. But to make the most of this points rewards card, you need to be a heavy spender.

Bonus points for everyday spending

The Fifth Third Preferred card tries to differentiate itself by appealing to cardholders who want to be rewarded for more prosaic purchases, such as gas and groceries, as well as for indulgences, such as dining out and travel. Cardholders earn two points for every dollar spent on gas, groceries, dining and travel, and one point for every dollar spent on general purchases. Unlike similar rewards cards, earning bonus points is relatively simple. The bonuses stay the same and cardholders don’t have to keep track of rotating categories. But despite the card’s appealing bonus structure, its rewards rate is unremarkable for such a high annual fee.

Pay down your loans with rewards points

The Fifth Third Preferred card lets you use points toward various loan payments, including car loans and mortgages, which may appeal to cardholders who want extra help shaving down their loans. When you factor in interest, redeeming points to pay down loans is a slightly better value than redeeming them for gift cards or merchandise. The loans have to come from Fifth Third Bank to qualify, though, and you need to amass a substantial number of points to make a significant dent.

Limited points value

Valued at just a penny per point, the card’s “real life” rewards are disappointing for a card with an annual fee. Many cards with comparable fees offer substantially higher point values, making it easier for cardholders to redeem their points for bigger purchases. According to our calculations, cardholders would just barely earn $187 over the course of a year if they spent an average of $1,325 a month. For a card that charges nearly $80 a year, those are exceptionally low earnings. Unlike many competitors, the Fifth Third Preferred card also doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, which is unusual for a card with an annual fee. On the plus side, cardholders aren’t limited by the number of points they can earn, so cardholders who are heavy spenders may be able to rack up a significant number of points.

Mediocre benefits

Rewards cards with high annual fees typically offer more valuable perks to help justify the annual fee. But the benefits offered by the Fifth Third Preferred card are largely unexceptional. Most of the benefits offered on the Fifth Third Preferred card can also be found on less expensive cards. Some benefits, such as ID theft and cellphone protection, are less ubiquitous, but they still aren’t valuable enough to help make up for the yearly fee.

No annual fees for Fifth Third savers

Fifth Third Bank customers who have a substantial amount of money saved up may be able to get more value out of the card if they can qualify for a fee waiver. The card’s $79 annual fee is waived for any cardholder who has at least $100,000 saved up in a Fifth Third Bank account and is a member of its Preferred Program or Private Bank.

Reasons to sign up for it:

  • You’re already a Fifth Third Bank customer and want a credit card with the same bank.
  • You have at least $100,000 saved in a Fifth Third Bank account and can qualify for a fee waiver.
  • You want a simple rewards card that provides bonuses on everyday spending rather than on rotating bonus categories.

How to use it:

  • To maximize your rewards, use your card for all dining, travel, gas and grocery purchases.
  • If you’ve saved up a significant number of points, consider putting them toward one of your loan payments to help lower total interest payments.
  • Don’t let your points sit unused in your account. Points expire after 48 months.

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