Trek Credit Card Promotion = Terrible Choice?

riding Trek bike up mountainRetail 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

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I just got the Trek card with a $3k limit and I disagree with this article. You can buy anything in the bike shop from what I understand. The no interest promo is a deal. You can’t beat ZERO!

@Christopher – maxing out your card is not good. 30% (or lower) of the limit is better.

It is not as great as other deals sure, I also have to disagree with this article. Sure, you don’t buy a bike that often, but no annual fees and minimum amount it most be used per year, and the 6 months deferred interest, why not?
Sure, people may get a bike and not be able to pay it off in that 6 months, but that is poor money management on their part. In my mind, if you cannot afford to get the bike paid off in full in 6 months, you should probably hold off until you can.
The other issue of not wanting to go over 30% of your limit (as I believe was the response to Chris’s post?) is very true in terms of credit management. However, if you get the amount paid off in full in the 6 months, the hit to credit score will be maybe 1-5 points, and that will be reversed usually entirely when the amount is paid off. I know this from experience of buying 3 bikes since 2013 with my Trek card, and be a former Trek dealer.

Bottom line: if you are not good with your finances, you should probably steer clear, as with most credit cards. But, if you manage your money well, the 6 months deferred interest is a great deal!

Seems I can’t type. What I meant to say is: with no annual fees and no minimum amount it must be used per year… along with 6 months deferred interest, why not?

To answer Janet, retailers take the card, so if you find a bike store that takes the card, you can buy anything that retailer sells. I have bought two bikes with this card and have used the 12 months no interest both times. So I disagree with this article that says this card isn’t worthy.

Does anyone know if you get a Trek card do you have to buy Trek bikes and accessories with it or can you buy any bike makers products?

If you are approved for $2000 and the bike you want is $3000 save up the $1000 difference or more before trying to get what you want, I know people say the trek card isn’t the best but according to credit karma the more cards you have WITH payments paid on time is a big plus to your credit, I have been learning so much from credit karma the last few days; check your credit it is really free and it shows EVERYTHING!!!

I have a credit score of 596 and was not approved so I tried a family member and they were approved for $1K so I got my x-caliber 7 and a bike rack for my car just barely under $1K and I pay $100 with 12 months no interest and my minimum payment went from $80 to $50 so always pay more than your minimum and pay off your card before upgrading accessories, KNOW YOUR LIMITS!!! CREDIT MEANS EVERYTHING NOW A DAYS!!! Trust me I’m rebuilding mine