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Ace Rewards Visa Business Card from U.S. Bank is a small business credit card designed for business owners who regularly shop at Ace Hardware stores – or who can be convinced to shift their business from another home improvement or hardware merchant.
A business credit card rewards program narrowly tailored to a specific hardware chain might sound like an oddity, but that’s just your lack of imagination talking. Even if you’re not a landlord or contractor, you can surely find reason to purchase cleaning supplies, replacement fixtures, paint, yard goods, and even regular old office supplies at your neighborhood Ace store.
Plus, this card earns double rewards on gas station and grocery store spending – two broad categories that speak to millions of business owners.
If you can stomach the lack of a sign-up bonus, I invite you to keep reading to learn more about this unusual card’s features, advantages, disadvantages, and overall suitability.
Earning Ace Rewards
The Ace Rewards Visa Business Card earns an unlimited 15 points per $1 spent on qualifying net purchases made at Ace Hardware locations. It earns unlimited 10 points per $1 spent on qualifying net purchases made at gas stations and grocery stores. All other qualifying net purchases earn unlimited 5 points per $1 spent.
Redeeming Ace Rewards
Ace Rewards points are redeemed automatically on a quarterly basis, provided you earn at least 12,500 during the period. Each 12,500-point tranche earns a $25 rebate, redeemable at any Ace Hardware location. Rewards are only disbursed in $25 increments, with leftover points carrying over to the following quarter.
Ace Rewards points are worth $0.002 at redemption. Though the point totals and redemption ratios are a bit confusing, the conversion rate (and therefore return on spending) is straightforward: 3% for qualifying net purchases at Ace Hardware locations; 2% for qualifying net purchases at gas stations and grocery stores; and 1% for all other qualifying net purchases.
The Ace Rewards Visa Business Card’s additional benefits include:
- Overdraft Protection for U.S. Bank Deposit Account Holders. If you have a U.S. Bank business deposit account, you can link it to your Ace Rewards Visa to protect against overdrafts. Once you opt in, checking account transactions that would normally result in overdrafts or NSF failures are instead executed as normal. To cover the shortfall, U.S. bank draws cash advances on your card’s cash advance credit line in $50 increments. There’s usually a deposit account fee associated with this maneuver, and cash advances begin accruing interest at the cash advance rate as soon as they occur. As such, it’s in your best interest to use this benefit sparingly and pay off advances as soon as practically possible.
- U.S. Bank Connect. U.S. Bank Connect is a cardholder-driven resource designed for small business owners. It’s a one-stop source for all kinds of advice about starting, growing, and running a business or independent professional practice. Though it doesn’t provide any direct financial benefits, it could help you avoid costly mistakes in the future.
- Travel Accident Insurance. This card includes up to $500,000 in travel accident insurance at no additional cost to you. The coverage kicks in if you’re seriously injured or killed while in common carrier transit, subject to certain restrictions and exclusions.
- Complimentary Rental Car Insurance. Enjoy complimentary loss and damage coverage on car rentals paid in full with your card. To earn this coverage, you need to decline the rental merchant’s offered insurance policy.
- Visa SavingsEdge. Visa SavingsEdge is a savings network exclusively for Visa Business cardholders. The network includes hundreds of national merchants and smaller shops that extend exclusive discounts typically ranging from 3% to 5% off the total purchase price. Occasionally, you’ll find discounts as steep as 50% off face value, usually for smaller, niche retailers. Discounts are applied at the point of sale with no action required on your part – just register your card and you’re good to go.
Account Management and Expense Tracking Tools
This card has some additional account management and expense tracking tools:
- Employee Card Controls. This feature lets you control “how, where and when your employees can use their cards.” You can restrict activity by merchant type (for instance, hardware only), time and day of week, geographical area, dollar amount, transaction type, and more.
- Choose Your Own Statement Due Date. You have the flexibility to choose the statement due date that best fits your company’s needs and alter or update your selection at any time.
- Account Alerts. You can create, customize, and remove account alerts for key events, such as large purchases made by employees or transactions that exceed your credit limit – a great help for accounts with multiple authorized users.
- Auto Pay and Accelerator. If you routinely carry a balance on your card, the auto pay feature eliminates worries about missed or late payments. All you have to do is set a date each month for your recurring payment to execute and sit back. Meanwhile, Accelerator allows you to customize your balance payments – increasing their amount above the minimum or frequency (as often as weekly) to reduce your long-term interest charges.
- Expense Tracking and Categorization. If you use your card for business and personal expenditures, this feature helps you separate and keep track of those respective categories with customized tags.
There is no annual fee or fee for additional employee cards. When denominated in U.S. dollars, foreign transactions cost 2% extra. When denominated in foreign currency, foreign transactions cost 3% extra. Cash advances cost at least the greater of $5 or 3% of the advanced amount. Certain types of cash advances, including overdraft protection transfers, cost more. Balance transfers always cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount. Late payments cost up to $39, returned payments cost $35, and overlimit fees are $38 per incident.
This card requires good to excellent credit.
- No Annual Fee. The Ace Rewards Visa Business Card has no annual fee. That’s great news for frugal business owners who simply want to load up on hardware, gas, and grocery rewards without shelling out for a recurring charge each year.
- Up to 3% Return on Spending at Ace Hardware Locations. When you use this card at Ace Hardware locations, your functional return on spending is approximately 3%: 15 points per $1 spent on qualifying net purchases. That’s better than many of the top business cash back cards, including Capital One Spark Cash for Business (maximum 2% return on spending).
- 2% Rewards Rate at Gas Stations and Grocery Stores. This card returns 2% on gas station and grocery store spending: 10 points per $1 spent on qualifying net purchases. If your business has a large fleet of vehicles or regularly supplies food for its employees, this spending tier can add hundreds to your annual Ace Rewards bottom line.
- Excellent Savings Opportunities Through Visa SavingsEdge. Visa SavingsEdge is one of the credit card industry’s best-kept secrets. It’s a savings network exclusively for Visa Business cardholders, reliably good for discounts up to 5% off face value and sometimes good for much deeper cuts. Best of all, discounts are automatically applied at the point of sale, so there’s no risk of forgetting to redeem.
- Rebates Hit Automatically. Speaking of forgetting to redeem: This card’s rebates hit automatically every quarter, provided you rack up at least $25 in Ace Rewards. All you have to do is bring them to your nearest Ace Hardware store and spend away.
- Nice Business Benefits. This card’s business benefits are super helpful to the average small business owner, even if they don’t result in direct savings. For instance, U.S. Bank Connect is a great resource for less experienced owners seeking advice and counsel from people who’ve been around the block a few times.
- No Sign-Up Bonus. The Ace Rewards Visa Business Card has no sign-up bonus. If you’re looking for an opportunity to bulk up your rewards balance right out of the gate, this isn’t the card for you.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee. If business takes you abroad, you’ll want to leave this card at home and bring a foreign-transaction-fee-free alternative instead. Try Capital One Spark Miles for Business or Chase Ink Business Preferred.
- Charges Penalty Interest. This card charges penalty interest at an elevated APR, penalizing cardholders who miss payment due dates. If you’re worried about cash flow issues preventing timely payments, look to an alternative without penalty interest.
- No Low APR Introductory Promotion. There’s no 0% APR introductory promotion here. If you need to finance a large purchase at a reasonable cost or pay down high-interest credit card balances accrued elsewhere, look to an alternative, such as U.S. Bank’s own Business Edge Cash Rewards Card, which has a 9-month 0% APR intro period.
- Redemptions Come in $25 Increments. Before you can use your accumulated Ace Rewards, you need to accrue at least 12,500 points – a $25 value. Thereafter, your rewards come in $25 increments. This is bad news for light-spending cardholders who might only take out this card at Ace Hardware.
The Ace Rewards® Visa® Business Cardfrom U.S. Bank might be right for you, even if you don’t realize it yet. After all, if you run a physical office (or even a home office in a spare bedroom or garage), you surely purchase supplies for it on a regular basis. You can buy those, and plenty of other things that your business needs to keep running smoothly, at your local Ace Hardware store.
That said, Ace Rewards probably isn’t your ideal general-spending card. Other business credit cards offer a better return on a wider range of spending. And, anyway, Ace Rewards Visa’s rebates are only good against Ace Hardware purchases.