Don’t fill out a Best Buy credit card application in 2013 without seeing this review. No matter how good the Best Buy card's 0% looks on the service, take a closer look and you’ll see why it's not such a good deal after all.
How many times have you been pressured to apply? I don't know about you but I find it extremely annoying. You may be peddled one of two cards - either the Best Buy card (store use only) or the Reward Zone MasterCard from HSBC. Read these reviews of both.
Best Buy Card (store version)
This one doesn't appear to offer much for rewards, but it does attract atrociously high interest rates and fees.
- Store-Use Only: This version can only be used at their stores and nowhere else.
- Possible Low Credit Limits: Upon looking at Bust Buy credit card reviews posted by customers on various sites, one of the most frequent complaints I saw was about extremely low credit limits. Reportedly there are tons of people complaining about limits as low as $300. A limit like that won’t do much good if you plan on buying a plasma TV or new computer with the card.
- High Interest Rates: At the time of this review, the standard APR was 25.24% or 27.99% and the penalty APR was even higher:
- Credit Card Bait ’n Switch: I found this statement in fine print at the bottom of the card's application: “For your convenience, if we find that we cannot approve you for a Best Buy credit card at this time, we will automatically consider you for a Gold MasterCard® with Fee.”
There are a lot of complaints out there about this! This is troubling since those with lower credit scores may be signing up for something they don't want.
- Lousy Rewards: While researching the card and application on the Best Buy website, I was surprised to see the card appears to offer the same rewards as the non-credit card version of the Rewards Zone program. The only exception to this is with the financing offers: "you may also receive one additional bonus point for every point earned on qualifying standard revolve purchases (regular financing) made using the card"
- Retroactive Interest: Warning: This is the #1 reason to NOT get the card! What you may not realize is that the Best Buy zero interest promotional offers do not operate like normal credit cards from a bank.
See that? A store credit card runs a promotion that offers 0% interest for X number of months on purchases above a certain dollar value. But if you don’t completely pay for that purchase in full before the X number of months, you will be assessed interest charges from the first day of purchase on the purchase! Same thing can happen if you make late payments, too.
Normal credit cards thru a reputable bank will never charge interest retroactively like that. If they give you 0% for X number of months, you really will get that regardless of whether you pay it off in time. This is why it's so foolish to risk it with the store card from Best Buy. Imagine the pain if something unexpected happens with your finances and you can't afford to pay it off in time? With the excessive APRs it will be a steep price to pay!
Instead I strongly recommend you check out CreditCardForum's sponsored offers which give 0% for an extended period of time on purchases. You will NEVER pay retroactive interest with these 0% offers:
Best Buy MasterCard
- Chase Slate: Offers a long 0% promotion AND they consider those with average credit (so if you don't have excellent credit you still might qualify). Here's my review + 0% promotion for the Slate
- Citi Simplicity: Also offers an extended 0% special right now. A unique feature is that there are no late fees or APR hikes if you miss a payment. The only drawback is that you will need above-average credit to qualify. Check out this 0% deal for the Simplicity card.
- Chase Freedom: Also comes with 0% but shorter than the other two cards. The real draw for applying is to get the 5% cash back it offers on categories including Best Buy.
This one is affiliated with MasterCard so it can be used elsewhere, but unfortunately there are a lot of drawbacks. Is it difficult to obtain a Best Buy Mastercard? Not necessarily, but here’s why you might not want one even if you do have the credit score required for approval…Annual Fee: The Best Buy website does not do a very good job talking about the annual fee upfront, but once you fill out the credit card application, you are taken to a page to review your terms and decide whether or not you accept them. There used to be a no annual fee version given to people with "qualifying credit" but when I checked I didn't even see that offered anymore on the application's fine print:Verdict?
So it looks like a $39 to $59 annual fee based on your credit score.
Low Rewards: The Best Buy credit card rewards program is as follows:
For every 250 points accumulated, the cardmember gets a $5 rewards certificate, which can be used towards a future purchase from Best Buy. While it is nice to see that this credit card actually has a rewards program, the drawback is that it’s definitely not a very impressive one.
- Normal purchases at Best Buy = 2 points per $1 (in-store or online)
- Best Buy purchases w/ the promo financing give less points = only 1 point per $1
- 1/2 point for every $1 spent elsewhere
Rewards Forfeiture: In the fine print of the Best Buy MasterCard Reward Zone rules, there was a term titled “Program Annualization” that states at the start of the calendar year, accumulated points will be converted into Reward Certificates (in $5 increments) and any remaining points will be forfeited. I think this is extremely unfair.
High Interest Rates: The application lists 21.74% as the lowest (and only) tier available. So the best case scenario is nearly 22%? That's crazy.
Possible Low Credit Limit: Reportedly there are many complaints of cardmembers getting low credit limits with the Reward Zone MasterCard too. Ironically, out of all places, I saw many complaints on the BestBuy.com community message boards about this issue. For example, one poster alleges “I recently applied and was approved for a Mastercard for a measly $300.00…” and “…When I applied online it never mentioned that I would be charged $60 odd dollars annually…”
The Reward Zone MasterCard's minimum credit limit is only $300 which is obviously pitiful. For that high of a fee, should you get one if you might be stuck with such a low limit and crappy benefits?
After reviewing both cards thoroughly, I have difficulty finding any good reasons to apply for either. Is it hard to get a Best Buy credit card? Usually not as the credit score requirements are quite low, but as you can see, there's a good reason for that... you're getting a rotten deal in return!
Anyone with a half-way decent credit score would be better off trying for something like the Slate by Chase with its long 0% promotion.
Or if you have a good credit score then check out the 2013 Discover it card because it gives you 5% cash back at BestBuy.com when you access the website by clicking thru from your Discover.com account:
The bottom line is this: The vast amount of complaints and negative reviews about the Best Buy card are disturbing to say the least. You probably would be better off with just a regular credit card.