REI Visa Credit Card — Don't Apply Without Reading This

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REI Visa Credit Card — Don't Apply Without Reading This

Postby CreditCardGuru » Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:38 pm

The REI Visa does offer great rewards and OK interest rates, but you should definitely read this REI credit card review before you apply.

REI mountain climbing gear
REI (short for Recreational Equipment Incorporated) has over one hundred stores across the country. For over ten years, Fortune Magazine has ranked REI among the top 100 companies to work for.

Have ADD? Here's the review in a nutshell:
5% at REI is its biggest strength. Its biggest weakness is that it only gives 1% everywhere else and the signup offer is no more than $100. That's nothing to sneeze at but know that some reward cards give much larger signup bonuses.
REI Visa review, the full thing if you have the attention span:
I originally became aware of the REI credit card one day when I was shopping for some new camping gear. I love the selection of sporting goods REI stores have, but the one drawback is they don’t price match. However, they do have a great return policy, so I suppose you can always take something back if you find a better deal elsewhere.

On that note, what sparked my interested in the REI Visa card is that it might be a good way to make purchases more affordable. Since the price of their sporting goods can sometimes be on the high end, any way to shave off a few bucks sounded good to me.

Annual Fee – There is no annual fee for the REI Visa.

Issuer – Currently, the card is issued by U.S. Bank. Sometime in the past, it appears this credit card was issued by Bank of America.

Rewards – I must confess, I am often critical of store credit cards, because they typically don’t give you decent rewards on purchases outside their stores. However, the REI Visa credit card appears to be an exception…
  • 5% on purchases at REI purchases (the net amount before sales tax)
  • 1% everywhere else
In my professional opinion, this is a fair and reasonable deal and I applaud REI Visa for giving fair rewards. I hate it when a store card gives 5% on their purchases, but only 1/2% on other purchases (that’s what you call giving with hand, taking with the other). So I was happy to see that the REI credit card gives 1% on other purchases. That’s not the highest out there, but it’s not the lowest either.

But beware, there are two versions...
There are actually two different credit card offers; the REI Visa Platinum card and the REI Visa Signature card. The rewards are the same on both. For the most part, the only significant difference between them is that the Visa Signature version does not have a pre-set credit limit.

No pre-set limit may sound great, but the are many who actually advise against the Signature cards...
Why no preset limit cards reportedly may backfire…
Part of your credit score is based on credit utilization (what percentage of your credit line you use). Many credit experts recommend never exceeding 25% of your credit limit on an account. But how is that calculated when there’s no maximum credit limit to base it off of? Reportedly, whatever billing cycle has the highest balance is the amount that is used as the credit limit for calculating that account... if that's true, depending on your spending, you can guess why that could be an issue. Keep in mind that even if you pay your balance in full every month, the statement balance on your bill each month is what’s being reported to the credit bureaus.

Can you apply for REI Visa Platinum instead?
While reviewing the REI credit card application page, unfortunately I saw no options where I could specify which card you want. Instead, they choose based on your credit. So if you have good credit, you’ll probably get the Signature card. I called up customer support and asked if it’s possible to apply for the Platinum version and she said that’s not an option, although she did recommend I call the application department directly to see if there might be a way around that. She mentioned there were a lot of other customers that call with this same complaint.
Interest Rate – At the time of this review, the REI Visa Signature carries a 10.99% to 22.99% APR depending on your creditworthiness. The REI Visa Platinum had the same rates. These are variable rates based on the prime rate, so it’s important to realize that when the prime rate increase, the APR will also (currently the prime rate is at a historically low level).

Conclusion –The REI Visa appears to be a good credit card with a nice rewards program. The only drawback is that if you have great credit, unfortunately you will automatically be given the REI with no preset limit. However I wouldn't worry about that as long as you have a few other cards that do come with preset limits (so there are multiple accounts to average out the credit utilization).

What is the best rewards credit card? (sponsored)
Aside from the possible REI Visa Signature predicament, it's a good choice if you spend a lot at their stores. But for everywhere else, do you only want to be earning 1% rewards?

The above would be a better option for non-REI purchases since its rebates can be higher than the standard 1% on the REI Visa.
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