2013 NRA Credit Card: How Much Is It Really Helping Them?

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First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO for short) manages and issues the NRA Visa. But how much of the revenue actually goes to the National Rifle Association versus the bank?

Off the top of my head, I can think of around a dozen credit cards on the market that are affiliated with various non-profits, affiliations, and other organizations.

My biggest complaint about these types of cards is that often times, they’re structured to be a good deal for the issuing bank, but not such a good deal for the other party.

The parts of the pie (and who gets what?)

There are a lot of ways credit card companies make money off your account:

  • Processing Fees: Even if you never carry a balance, merchants have to fork over an average of 2-3% of the purchase price (sometimes even more) in processing fees. Think about it… if you charge an average of $1,500 per month, that might be $360 to $540 per year for just this category alone! The lion’s share of that usually goes to the bank who issues the credit card. This is why – contrary to popular belief – credit card companies want even the customers who never carry debt… because they can still make a boatload of money off of them.
  • Interest Charges: This category needs no explanation.
  • Fees: Again, we are all familiar with this, too.
  • Cross-Sales: Got a credit card from a given bank? Next thing you know, they’ll probably be pitching you a new bank account, loan, and mortgage. Sure, most of us ignore these solicitations, but when you consider that even just one new mortgage or refi can make up to tens of thousands of dollars for the bank – even if only 1% of cardholders take them up on that, it’s a lot of additional money they’re making.

That brings us back to the question: With the NRA credit card, how much of it is actually going to the NRA?

Thus far, I have not been able to find the answer.

Using the contact form on their website for journalists, I reached out to them a few weeks ago but have not received a response. I know they received my message, because I got a confirmation email shortly after submitting.

Is the deal that the NRA has for their credit card structured in a manner similar to other cards? If it’s anything like the card for “Working Assets” (a far left organization), then the actual affiliation might not be getting anywhere near the amount of revenue you might think.

Without knowing how much money the NRA makes off your credit card account, it might be better to do the following:

(a) get a good cash back card, and then…
(b) redeem the cash back for a check/bank deposit, which you can then use to make contributions directly (and possibly get a tax write-off in the process, if you make them to the NRA Foundation).

NRA contributions and membership dues are not tax deductible – since they lobby for politicians and legislation which supports firearms, they can’t qualify as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

However, you can donate to the NRA Foundation and get a write-off since it is a 501(c)(3) organization (consult your tax advisor for details).

If you’re not familiar with their foundation, it teaches hunting and gun safety, as well as similar initiatives.

So that means earning rewards and making a contribution directly – to the NRA Foundation – might be more beneficial for you also, since you may qualify for a tax write-off by doing so.

And ultimately if First National Bank of Omaha is getting a big chunk of the revenue from you as a customer, then it definitely makes sense to go elsewhere for your rewards card. This is because both of their co-branded NRA credit cards have more cons than pros. Review for yourself and decide.

NRA Platinum Edition Visa Card

  • Interest Rate: 9.99% to 18.99% (V) based on your credit
  • Zero Percent Offer (For New Accounts): 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases only (not balance transfers)
  • Signup Bonus: only $35
  • Rewards: you don’t get any
  • Annual Fee: none

NRA Maximum Rewards Visa Card

  • Interest Rate: 13.99% to 19.99% (V) based on your credit
  • Zero Percent Offer (For New Accounts): none currently offered
  • Signup Bonus: only $35
  • Rewards: 1 point per dollar (can be redeemed for 1% cash back)
  • Annual Fee: None

On the first one that is labeled as the low rate card – if you’re lucky enough to get on the lowest end of that range, then absolutely the 9.99% is a good deal compared to most credit cards on the market right now (many have their lowest tiered rate at least 2% higher).

However with a short 0% offer (6 months versus the 0% for 12 to 18 month offers you can get elsewhere) it’s not the ideal choice for financing.

Meanwhile when it comes to the NRA maximum rewards program – the APRs are higher and the rewards are only worth 1%. It’s definitely better than nothing, but it’s also nothing to write home about.

Conclusion?

In no way to single out the credit card from the NRA, because this often holds true with similar programs co-branded with affiliations/organizations: you may be better off using a different credit card with higher rewards (or longer 0%) and with the money you save, making the contributions directly yourself.

This review was written or last updated August 19, 2013


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Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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