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REI Co-op Mastercard review

REI Co-op Mastercard review

Published: November 14, 2017
Ratings Policy
Retail Rating:
3.4 rating
3.4 rating
3.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.7
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.3
Rewards Flexibility: 3.8
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

Outdoors enthusiasts are sure to love the REI Co-op Mastercard, which offers great rewards on REI purchases and an attractive sign-up offer for new cardholders.

Rewards Rate

  • 5% rebate at REI, including full-price and discount items, REI gift cards, services, fees and REI Adventures trips
  • 1% other purchases

Sign-up Offer
$100 REI gift card after first purchase within 60 days

 

Annual Fee
$0 ($20 one-time REI lifetime membership fee required)

Average Yearly Savings ($1,325 monthly spend)
$211

APR
11.99-23.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption

Pros

  • No limit to amount of rewards you can earn
  • No minimum amount required to redeem rebate
  • Rebates automatically applied to your annual dividend (distributed in March of each year)
  • Can redeem dividend for cash at an REI store before Jan. 3 of the following year
  • Refunds issued by cash or check for any unredeemed rebates when your dividend expires

Cons

  • Dividends distributed only once per year
  • Dividends only apply to purchase of REI merchandise
  • Dividends expire Jan. 3, just under 2 years after date of issue

 

Other Notable Features: $0 fraud liability, price protection, extended warranty, identity theft resolution, car rental collision damage waiver insurance, lost luggage coverage, donate 10 cents to the National Forest Foundation every time you use your card, EMV chip technology, emergency card services, World Mastercard benefits (priceless golf, personal travel advisor, luxury hotels & resorts program)

If you’re a fan of camping, hiking, whitewater rafting and similar outdoor adventures, the REI Co-op Mastercard is definitely worthy of consideration. While admittedly less-than-appealing when it comes to everyday use, the credit card offers handsome rewards on REI purchases, has no annual fee and features an easy-to-earn sign-up bonus.

Travelers will also appreciate the card’s valuable World Mastercard benefits such as concierge services, lost luggage coverage and access to the corporation’s luxury hotels and resorts portal.

Good rewards rate on REI purchases

The REI Co-op Mastercard comes with a clear-cut rewards program: Cardholders earn a generous 5-percent rebate (i.e., cash back) on REI purchases, including gift cards and discount items, which isn’t typical of most store-branded credit cards. You’ll also receive a 1-percent rebate everywhere else, which means this card isn’t a great option for everyday purchases — you can earn higher rewards with other cash back cards, such as the Citi Double Cash credit card and the Quicksilver Cash Rewards card.

In addition, the REI Mastercard is the rare card that gives back. Ten cents of every purchase (up to $1 million annually) is donated to the National Forest Foundation, a nonprofit that engages Americans in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System.

Valuable sign-up offer

The REI Co-op Mastercard awards a $100 gift card to new cardholders – this is a generous offer for a retail card and is also noteworthy for the lack of a minimum spending requirement to earn the gift card. All you have to do is make a purchase within the first 60 days of account opening and you’ll receive your gift card six to eight weeks later. It’s as simple as that.

REI lifetime membership required

Although the REI Co-op Mastercard has no annual fee, you’ll need to be an REI lifetime member to apply. Luckily, the membership costs just $20 and includes extra benefits on top of the credit card, such as special pricing on REI Adventures trips and access to semi-annual REI garage sales, where you can save 50 percent or more on gently used and returned gear.

Even better is that the lifetime membership’s annual dividend — your share of the co-op’s annual profits — is added to your card rebates. While not guaranteed, annual membership dividends of 10 percent are typical; plus, family members can use your member number when shopping to help accelerate your earnings.

Hands-off redemption

Annual dividends are sent in mid- to late March of the year following accrual. The dividend is good for REI purchases immediately upon receipt, but cardholders can also request their dividends in cash or check at any REI store. Cash requests can be made from July 1 through Jan. 3 of the following year. You can ask for a check at any time, but those are only sent to members during the same timeframe as cash requests.

Dividends expire on Jan. 3, just under two years after being issued (e.g., dividends received in March 2018 will expire Jan. 3, 2020). Fortunately, the rebates that you earn with the card don’t expire with those dividends –you’ll receive a refund by cash or check for any unredeemed rebates.

Keep in mind that if you’re the type who wants immediate access to the rewards you accumulate, you might not appreciate the REI Co-op Mastercard’s once-a-year redemption rule.

Potentially high APR

The REI Co-op Mastercard’s variable APR starts at a reasonable 11.99 percent. However, not all cardholders will qualify for that interest rate. Those with less-than-perfect credit histories could face an APR as high as 23.99 percent, which is even higher than 2016’s average retail card rate of 23.84 percent.

Regardless of the APR you’re assigned, it’s worth pointing out you should never carry a balance on any credit card unless you’re enjoying a short-term APR of 0 percent. In other words, try to avoid charging more than what you can afford to pay in full each month.

World Mastercard benefits

As a World Mastercard, the REI Co-op credit card comes with certain perks, including $0 fraud liability, price protection, extended warranty, identity theft resolution and more. You’ll also enjoy extra amenities at various hotels and resorts via access to the Luxury Hotels & Resorts portfolio, which you can find here.

Note: Card applicants are considered for either the REI Co-op World Mastercard or the REI Co-op Platinum Mastercard, the latter of which may not include the same Mastercard benefits.

Why get the REI Co-op Mastercard?

  • You’re a current REI customer or spend a lot of money on outdoor gear and clothing.
  • You already have a lifetime membership at REI.
  • You don’t plan to use this card for everyday purchases.
  • You want hassle-free redemption and don’t mind receiving rewards just once per year. 

How to use the REI Co-op Mastercard:

  • Make a purchase (no minimum required) within 60 days of card approval to score a $100 REI gift card.
  • Request your dividend in cash or check if you’d rather not spend it on REI merchandise. (This also helps keep your rewards from expiring before you have a chance to use them.)
  • Refrain from using this card outside of REI stores or the REI website.
  • Should your outdoor adventures take you abroad, leave the card at home to avoid incurring foreign transaction fees.

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