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First National Bank American Express card review

First National Bank American Express card review

Published: November 15, 2017
Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
3.2 rating
3.2 rating
3.2 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.2
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.0
Rewards Flexibility: 4.5
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

This unassuming cash back card offers a straightforward 1.5 percent cash back rate on every purchase; but its flat APR is high for cardholders with excellent credit.

Rewards Rate
1.5% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
$100 if you spend $500 in first 3 billing cycles

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$271

APR
19.99%

Pros

  • No limit on amount of cash you can earn
  • Cash is automatically deposited each time you earn $25

Cons

  • Rewards expire 3 years from when they are earned
  • Can only redeem cash as a statement credit
  • Must wait until you earn $25 to redeem

Other Notable Features: Free FICO credit score, discounts and special deals on travel, car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty

No Annual Fee Rating:
3.4 rating
3.4 rating
3.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.7
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.3
Rewards Flexibility: 4.5
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The First National Bank American Express card makes earning and redeeming rewards really simple — you earn 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases and you have a variety of options for redeeming that cash back, including as an automatic statement credit.

Rewards Rate
1.5% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
$100 if you spend $500 in first 3 billing cycles

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$271

APR
19.99%

Pros

  • No limit on amount of cash you can earn
  • Cash is automatically deposited each time you earn $25

Cons

  • Rewards expire 3 years from when they are earned
  • Can only redeem cash as a statement credit
  • Must wait until you earn $25 to redeem

Other Notable Features: Free FICO credit score, discounts and special deals on travel, car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty

Rewards Rating:
3.2 rating
3.2 rating
3.2 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.2
Annual Percentage Rate: 1.9
Rewards Flexibility: 4.5
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The First National Bank American Express card offers a high rewards rate on all your spending and a fair sign-up bonus, but the standout feature is the card’s ease of use: Your cash back is automatically credited to your statement whenever you earn $25.

Rewards Rate
1.5% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
$100 if you spend $500 in first 3 billing cycles

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$271

APR
19.99%

Pros

  • No limit on amount of cash you can earn
  • Cash is automatically deposited each time you earn $25

Cons

  • Rewards expire 3 years from when they are earned
  • Can only redeem cash as a statement credit
  • Must wait until you earn $25 to redeem

Other Notable Features: Free FICO credit score, discounts and special deals on travel, car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty

If your credit is excellent and you’re used to getting approved for relatively low interest rates, you can almost certainly do better than the First National Bank American Express card. The lowest available APR on this unassuming cash back card — which awards the same 1.5 percent cash back rate on every purchase — is well above average for a cash back card. This card also charges comparatively high fees for additional services, such as balance transfers and cash advances.

But if your credit isn’t stellar enough to qualify for the best available rates, you may be able to get a better deal with the First National Bank American Express card than what you would get from a larger issuer. Unlike most big bank credit cards, the First National Bank card charges the same interest rate to every customer, so you won’t be surprised by a higher APR than you expected.

Simple cash back for busy cardholders

Like many flat rate rewards cards, the First National Bank American Express card awards 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. The modest rate is large enough to add up quickly if you use your card for all or most of your purchases. It’s also simpler to use than most cash back cards, which typically reserve bonuses for certain types of purchases.

With a flat rate card such as the First National Bank card, you won’t have to keep track of rotating bonuses, nor will you have to shift your spending to maximize your earnings. That’s a big plus for busy cardholders who don’t have time to track their purchases. The First National Bank card is also a good card to use to supplement rewards spending on other cards. Most cash back cards with traditional bonuses only offer 1 percent cash back on general purchases, so the extra 1.5 percent bonus could push your rewards earnings to a new level.

A modest sign-up bonus

The First National Bank card also offers a small $100 sign-up bonus when you spend $500 in the card’s first three billing cycles. The bonus is smaller than what’s offered by some competitors. Many rewards cards lure applicants with bonuses as large as $150 to $200 or more. However, the First National Bank card’s $100 sign-up bonus is also more accessible than most. Many rewards cards require cardholders to spend at least $1,000 or more to claim an early bonus.

Easy redemption

First National Bank also makes redeeming your cash rewards relatively simple by automatically crediting your statement each time you earn $25. With the automatic credit, you won’t receive your cash until you reach $25. You also can’t have your cash deposited in a checking account or redeemed with a gift card or other card reward. But the automatic credit is a nice perk for busy cardholders. Many credit cards make you opt in to claim your rewards.

One flat APR

The biggest downside to the First National Bank card is its high APR for cardholders with excellent credit. The First National Bank American Express card charges a single APR of 19.99 percent, which is nearly 4 percentage points above the national average for cash back cards. The typical cash back credit card charges a minimum APR of 16.17 percent. Meanwhile, cards with similar cash back rates charge APRs as low as 12 to 13 percent.

The First National Bank card is a better value for cardholders who have good credit, but don’t have a high enough score to qualify for the best rates. The First National Bank card’s single APR rate of 19.99 percent is several points lower than the maximum rates offered by most cash back credit cards, so cardholders who just barely qualify for the USAA Cash Rewards Visa card could end up saving a significant amount.

High fees

Just be sure to use a different card for cash advances and balance transfers. The First National Bank card charges a 5 percent fee each time you take out a cash advance or transfer a balance, which is substantially more expensive than most credit cards. Many competitors, for example, charge just a 3 percent fee for the same services.

Why get the First National Bank card?

  • You want a simpler card with automatic cash bonuses on every purchase.
  • You have good but not great credit and are looking for a lower interest rate on a card with a strong rewards program.

 How to use the First National Bank card:

  • Use your card for all or most of your purchases in order to collect the maximum amount of cash back.
  • Try to pay off your balance each month, since the regular APR is high.
  • Take advantage of USAA’s free FICO score program and take the time to regularly monitor your credit score.

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