After the Borders bankruptcy, we’re only left with Barnes and Noble as the go-to bookstore chain. So if you buy books there it probably makes sense to get their credit card, right? Not necessarily. Review the pros and cons for yourself and decide.
- Bad rewards elsewhere – Outside of their bookstores/website the Barnes and Noble credit card is pretty lackluster. You get a flat 1% on all other spending. This in and of itself is not bad. The problem is that you on you only get the higher rebate one category, Barnes and Noble. If there were a few categories giving a higher payout than 1% would be just fine. But when you average out only 1% on most of your spending and 5% at B&N the cumulative amount you will be earning probably won’t be that great.
- Only two tiers of interest rates – As I write this review the credit card application lists the APR as 13.99% or 24.99%. The first isn’t so bad but the second is quite high. So you either get average or really high and no in-between. This is unfortunate because many cards have 3 or 4 tiers of interest rates so those in the middle don’t get stuck with a super high rate.
- Not many benefits – This is only a Platinum level MasterCard (not the more robust “World”) and it looks like you only get the basic benefits you come to expect from this lower tier. It’s too bad Barclay’s won’t throw in some extra perks for it.
- 0% intro rate is for balance transfers only – The 0% intro does NOT apply to purchases, only balances you transfer over (and as a warning, doing that will incur a 3% transfer fee).
- Good rewards at their stores – As you can probably guess the biggest advantage of the Barnes and Noble MasterCard is the rewards it gives at their stores – a 5% rebate in the form of a statement credit.
- Bonus for new accounts – It’s not a very good bonus but still better than nothing, which is why I’m mentioning it in the “pros” category. There’s a $25 gift card given when applied and approved for a new credit card account.
- No fee for the card – No annual fee is always a good thing.
B&N MasterCard vs. the competition?
The Barnes & Noble card does give higher rewards than the Amazon card (5% at B&N versus 3x points at Amazon). However when you take into account the fact that Barnes and Noble usually prices their books significantly higher, the extra 2% in rewards is hardly worth it.
If you only shop at B&N occasionally, then their card probably isn’t worth it. Instead what I would recommend is just getting a good all-around cash back card. Brand new for 2013, the Discover It card definitely fits that bill. Check it out for yourself to see how it stacks up against the MasterCard from Barnes and Noble.
Updated for 2016