Jeeps are my favorite SUV. I don’t have one right now, but I admittedly envy my roommate’s silver Liberty that he snapped up before that model was discontinued.
So we all agree their vehicles rock, but what about their credit card?
You don’t hear about the Jeep MasterCard much because it’s pretty much only marketed at dealerships and through direct mail to Jeep owners. Here are 3 things you need to know about it…
1. The “Maximum Rewards MasterCard” points are less than exciting
This is frustrating… the Jeep card application tells you how to earn points, but it offers no clue as to what their actual value is! This is what it tells you…
- 3 points per dollar on “qualifying purchases” at Chrysler dealerships. What counts as qualifying? They say repairs, maintenance, parts, and accessories. The fine print doesn’t specify whether or not car purchases/leases charged to the card will earn 3x points, so check and confirm before you use it for that purpose.
- 2 points per dollar on “qualifying travel purchases.” Again, the application is pretty vague on this but when we read the fine print we find out what it includes: airlines, air carriers, hotels, motels, resorts, central reservation services and lodging, travel agencies, travel services, tour operators.
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
But it doesn’t tell you what these points are worth! I called the phone number for customer support (888-295-5540) and the rep I spoke to was friendly and helpful, except that he didn’t have access to any info about the rewards program. He said that’s the one thing that doesn’t show on his screen.
He told me the rewards department (888-856-0509) could help but they were closed as I write this (on a Sunday afternoon) so that was no help.
That being said, the rep from the general customer service dept. seemed to infer that it was a penny per point value during redemption. So this is basically a cash back card, except you’re redeeming the cash to get statement credits for…. (I’m copy/pasting from the application here):
“You can use points towards the purchase of parts (including Mopar parts and accessories) and services at Chrysler Group participating dealerships; to purchase or lease a new or used Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicle at a Chrysler Group participating dealership; or to obtain other merchandise, gift cards/certificates, travel, other goods and services and cash back as a credit to the Account (collectively, the “Rewards”)”
So in a nutshell you’re earning 3% cash back at Chrysler dealers, 2% on most travel, and 1% elsewhere.
That is good for your spending at the dealership, but do you spend enough on parts, accessories, etc. to be worth your while? Because the 2% on travel and 1% elsewhere is vanilla and nothing special.
2. It’s issued by First National Bank of Omaha
The Jeep card is NOT issued by Chrysler Financial. It’s actually issued by First Bankcard (a subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha, FNBO).
FNBO is far from being my favorite credit card company, but generally speaking their reviews are positive. They have US-based customer service.
3. The interest rates aren’t exactly the hottest
This would not be an appropriate choice if you carry a balance on your card. As of the time of writing (May 2013) the card gives everyone the same APR…. a relatively high 16.99% variable. And make sure you don’t get hit with the penalty APR because that is 29.99% which is also above average:
There is a 0% offer with the Jeep credit card but it’s only for the first 6 months. Most zero interest offers right now are 12 to 18 months so I wouldn’t apply for this one just to get the 0%.
Now on the brightside, at least there’s no annual fee.
Verdict for 2013?
Really I can only think of once situation where I would recommend the Jeep MasterCard: if you buy a lot at the dealership.
If you’re tricking out your Wrangler buying new wheels, lift kits, and the like…. then yeah, those purchases can equal several thousand dollars so it might make sense to get their credit card to earn 3% on them.
For everyone else, I’m not seeing a lot of compelling value. I would recommend you compare the Jeep rewards program to these credit cards with 5% cash rewards before you apply for it.