If you use Ameriprise Financial Services, you probably get their credit card offers in the mail. Should you bite the bait or chuck it in the trash?
For several years now, brokerage firms have used lucrative reward cards to lure in customers and keep ‘em around. The Merrill Lynch and Fidelity credit cards are probably the most well known examples.
But the Ameriprise MasterCard is another one that has been around for a while now. It comes in two versions: World and World Elite. Both are issued/managed by Barclays Bank. For 2013 here is my review of the benefits and rewards on both.
Ameriprise World MasterCard ($0 annual fee): Earn “up to” 1.25% cash back when you redeem points into a qualifying Ameriprise financial account.
Now earning 1.25% on non-category spending is pretty good, but it comes with a big catch: you have to redeem in increments of 30,000 points at a time. It could take you a long time to accumulate that many!
Instead of cash back, you can redeem in increments of 10,000 for financial planning certificates worth $150 each. At that rate, that means you’re getting 1.5% on your spending.
The signup bonus is 1,000 points after first purchase. Unfortunately that’s not worth much… around $12.50 to $15.
Ameriprise World Elite MasterCard ($150 annual fee): Basically the difference with this one is that you get 0.25% more (1.50% total) when you redeem for cash back. Using your points for financial planning certificates is the same conversion as the regular World MasterCard.
Sadly, the signup bonus is the same disappointing 1,000 points. I would expect a small bonus like that on maybe a department store card, but not something like this!
This particular Ameriprise credit card is more geared towards “Achiever Circle Elite members.” What the heck is that? This chart explains it…
So if you have $500k in assets under their management, then the annual fee can be waived. Everyone else with an Ameriprise World Elite MasterCard will be stuck paying the $150 annually and that is NOT waived the first year.
With both cards you also have the ability to pool the points you earn on spending, with the points you can earn doing these other things:
Keep in mind, even if you don’t have one of their MasterCards, you can still earn these “Achiever Circle” points on everything else listed above (aside from spending).
The rewards on the Ameriprise credit cards are certainly far from impressive. Paying $150 per year to earn 1.5% make sense being that there are no annual fee cash rebate cards that can accomplish the same thing.
So you shouldn’t apply just to get the rewards program, but are the benefits any good? Review for yourself and decide.
On BOTH versions you get the following:
- Extended Warranty
- Price Protection
- Purchase Security
- MasterCard Travel Assistance Hotline
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
- Concierge Service
- Roadside Assistance – Please note they only arrange the service, they don’t pay for the actual service.
These are what you will get on other World MasterCards and most are comparable to Visa Signature.
On the World Elite MasterCard, you also get the following benefits:
“up to” $200 in airline credits per year - Don’t confuse the AmEx Platinum Card’s similar benefit, because this credit card comes with more hoops to jump thru:
International Business Class Upgrade -You have to buy a full-fare, non-restricted economy class ticket (translation: that costs a lot) to be eligible for the upgrade. But if you do that, you can get an upgrade to business class. As of 2013 the MasterCard website listed the following carriers as participating: Aer Lingus, Austrian Airlines, Etihad, Japan Airlines, LAN, Lufthansa, SAS, Swiss Air. Please note that not all airports/routes will be qualify.
Complimentary Companion Ticket – This is one of those benefits that sounds better than what it really is. For starters, you only get this on “select airlines to select international destinations.” And which airlines are they? Well as I write this review, the only one I see listed on MasterCard’s website for World Elite cardmembers is Etihad.
They have that Etihad offer listed as good thru December 31st, 2013. Conclusion? Don’t apply for the Ameriprise World Elite MasterCard just to get the free companion ticket benefit.
The other benefits are…
- Trip Delay Protection Insurance
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Lost/Damaged Luggage Insurance
- MasterCard Global Service Premium (if card is lost or stolen they help with getting emergency cash, a quick replacement card, etc)
- MasterCard Price Assure (a price protection benefit for some air travel purchases but it comes with hoops)
- Misc. travel discounts/offers
Should you apply or not?
To be honest, I see little incentive to get either card. I say this for 3 reasons:
Problem #1: Earning 1.25% or 1.5% is good, but considering that cash back requirements increments of 30,000 points, it becomes a lot less attractive. You would be better off this no annual fee 1.5% cash back card.
Problem #2: The benefits look impressive at first glance, but once you dig into the details you realize the World Elite travel perks probably aren’t worth paying $150 for. Sure, the insurance benefits are nice, but you can get those on other lower cost travel cards.