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The Barnes & Noble Mastercard® is a Barclays-issued rewards credit card built for bookworms loyal to Barnes & Noble. Part retail credit card, part cash back credit card, it’s perfect for anyone who spends serious cash at Barnes & Noble – and it happens to be a pretty useful, if indirect, tool for diners looking to save money at restaurants.
Barnes & Noble Mastercard isn’t for everybody, including those who prefer their local library to the corporate bookstore. Still, it has the potential to appeal to millions of literate Americans – and, with no annual fee, there’s little financial downside to keeping it in your wallet.
Here’s what you need to know about Barnes & Noble Mastercard’s features, advantages, disadvantages, and overall suitability.
When you make your first purchase, you get a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. The card is sent to your mailing address on file.
Earning and Receiving Barnes & Noble Discounts
When you use your Barnes & Noble Mastercard to make Barnes & Noble purchases online (at bn.com) or in-store, you get a 5% discount on all eligible purchases, subject to the terms and conditions of the rewards program. The discount is applied as a statement credit during the same billing period as the transaction. It’s automatic – no action is required on your part.
Earning Barnes & Noble Rewards
This card earns rewards on non-Barnes & Noble purchases. Eligible restaurant purchases, excluding purchases made at Barnes & Noble Cafe (which earn discounts at the 5% rate), earn unlimited 2 points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent. There’s no limit to the number of points you can earn.
Redeeming Barnes & Noble Rewards
When you accrue 2,500 points, you receive a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card at your mailing address on file. The card typically comes within two weeks.
Complimentary Barnes & Noble Membership
When you spend at least $7,500 in purchases in a year, you get a complimentary Barnes & Noble membership for the following twelve-month period.
Normally $25 per year, your Barnes & Noble membership entitles you to $60 in bonus coupons, free express shipping on online orders, 40% off hardcover bestsellers, 10% off “almost everything else,” and other valuable benefits.
Free FICO Score
You’re entitled to a free FICO credit score with your monthly account statement. The score is visible in your online account dashboard as well.
There’s a 0% APR promotion on balance transfers for fifteen months from your account opening date. Qualifying transfers must be made within 45 days. The variable regular purchase APR applies from day one.
This card has no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Late and returned payments cost up to $37.
This card requires good to excellent credit. If you have any noteworthy blemishes on your credit report, your application may be denied.
- No Annual Fee. Barnes & Noble Mastercard has no annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders seeking to maximize the value of their earned rewards without worrying about recurring levies.
- 5% Discount on Barnes & Noble Purchases. This card’s across-the-board discount on Barnes & Noble purchases is great for regular customers – even those who haven’t set foot in a Barnes & Noble store in years. Plus, the 5% cut is necessary in many cases to keep Barnes & Noble’s products cost-competitive with Amazon’s, which has long been relentless in its pursuit of smaller booksellers.
- Nice Rate of Return on Restaurant Purchases. This card earns double points on all eligible restaurant purchases. That’s an awesome incentive for frequent diners – in line with popular diner-friendly alternatives like Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
- Attractive Introductory APR Promotion. New cardholders enjoy 0% APR interest on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening for the first fifteen months. With discipline, that’s more than enough time to pay down pesky high-interest balances transferred from other card accounts.
- Little Effort Required for Sign-Up Bonus. All you have to do to qualify for this card’s sign-up bonus is make your first purchase. That’s it – no minimum spending thresholds or time limits.
- Complimentary Barnes & Noble Membership for Big Spenders. When you spend at least $7,500 in qualifying purchases in a year, you get a complimentary Barnes & Noble membership. Membership normally costs $25 per year, and that’s a steal when you consider all you get: free express shipping, $60 in welcome coupons, 40% off hardcover bestsellers, 10% off most other items, and much more. If you’re an avid Barnes & Noble customer and can clear the relatively high spending bar, there’s little reason not to go for it.
- No Penalty APR. This card doesn’t charge penalty interest on past-due balances. If you’ve found yourself making late payments in the past due to unforeseen cash flow issues or unexpected purchases, this break could save you hundreds should similar circumstances arise in the future.
- Mediocre Return on Everyday Spending. Barnes & Noble Mastercard isn’t great for everyday spending. Purchases not made at restaurants or within the Barnes & Noble ecosystem earn just 1 point per $1 spent – a 1% rate of return. That’s lower than no-annual-fee cash back credit cards like Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.
- Rewards Accrue As Barnes & Noble Store Credit. Barnes & Noble Mastercard’s rewards accrue as Barnes & Noble store credit, not straight cash. If you’re a big Barnes & Noble spender, this might not matter much to you, but less frequent customers probably prefer more versatile rewards.
- $25 Rewards Redemption Threshold. You can’t touch your rewards until you accrue 2,500 points, which requires $2,500 in everyday spending or $1,250 in restaurant spending. If you dine out occasionally and use another card for general purchases, clearing the 2,500-point threshold could take months. Some competing cards, including Discover it Card, let you redeem rewards in any amount.
- Modest Sign-Up Bonus. Though it’s easy to attain, this card’s sign-up bonus is pretty meager – just $25. It’s not hard to find better bonuses. Chase Freedom pays $150 when you spend at least $500 in qualifying purchases within the first three months.
- 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you regularly travel outside the United States, you’ll want to bring another credit card with you.
Barnes & Noble Mastercard® might just be the most literate rewards credit card on the market. If nothing else, its across-the-board discount on Barnes & Noble purchases is worth the time it takes to apply, even for very occasional shoppers. Throw in the elevated earning rate on restaurant purchases and complimentary Barnes & Noble membership for big spenders and you’ve got yourself a solid product.
Of course, not everyone has the time or budget to buy new books. If you’re skeptical that the Barnes & Noble Mastercard is the best choice for you, rest assured that there are plenty of other options out there.