Retail credit cards are almost always a bad idea, except under the following circumstances:
(A) You shop at the affiliated store all the time, so you will actually be using the card on a regular basis
(B) The financing offer is better than what you can get elsewhere – a lower APR and/or longer 0% promotion
(C) You get good rewards/benefits for having the card
In the case of the Trek credit card, it actually fails all 3 of those litmus tests in 2015. Here’s why you should just say “no” to the application when one of their dealers tries to shove it down your throat.
Reason #1: How often do you actually buy a bike?
Getting something like a Target rewards card might actually make sense if you shop there on a weekly basis. But honestly, how often are you going to be buying a bicycle?!
If you throw down a couple grand for a Trek Madone, my guess is you won’t exactly be buying a new one every year. So aside from accessories, you will probably get very little use out of their credit card except for buying that new bike you want.
Reason #2: The financing offers are some of the worst
World Financial Network Bank (WFNNB) is the issuer of this card, so I’m not the least bit surprised to find out how treacherous the financing terms are that come with it.
The credit card application didn’t list the current financing promotions, so I called up a popular Trek dealer in my neck of the woods to ask some questions about the credit card. Here’s what I found out:
- 6 months deferred interest. He said this is almost always the offer, with the exception of once or twice a year where Trek might offer 12 months (but with that comes a minimum purchase amount).
- 24.99% interest rate! So you get the 0% deferred interest for 6 months. But remember that’s deferred interest, so if it’s not paid off before that amount of time, those finance charges will be added to your account afterward (to avoid interest you need to pay the full amount before 6 months).
- The financing terms are the same at all dealers. According to the guy I spoke to, you’re going to get the same financing terms regardless of which Trek dealer you go to.
So you only get 0% deferred interest and it’s only for 6 months (maybe 12). You can find a plethora of bank credit cards that offer 0% for longer AND it’s not deferred interest. Two good examples are the Chase Slate and the Discover it.
Reason #3: The benefits are a bust
Zero, zip, zilch rewards. If you’re only buying a $400 or $500 bike you won’t be missing out on that much. However if you’re buying a high-end model like the Madone, keep in mind that earning 2% rewards on a $3k purchase = $60. But that’s cash in the trash for you, because if you pay with the Trek Bike credit card, you won’t be earning a dime.
To add insult to injury, there’s no bonus offer for getting their card. I don’t know about you but when I apply for a credit card I expect a $100+ cash bonus, a free flight, or some sort of icing on the cake.
And other benefits? If there are any, I certainly can’t find ’em. The website only lists these:
- Minimum monthly payments
- No annual fee
- Payment options (ask your sales associate for details)
- Accepted at over 1300 Trek Retailers
Is that it for the credit card from Trek? The store rep I spoke to couldn’t think of any others.
Verdict for 2016: Almost anything is better!
Why on earth someone would choose to apply for the Trek card, I do not know. If you have a bad credit score though, you might not be able to qualify for anything better. However for anyone with an average credit score or above, you’re going to want to try for something better.
Written or last updated in August 2016