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If you’re planning to buy a new car from General Motors, the BuyPower Card from Capital One can help. It’s a cash back rewards credit card with no annual fee and a decent earning rate: 5% on the first $5,000 spent each year, then unlimited 2% after that. Rewards can be redeemed for discounts on car or truck purchases with any current GM brand (Buick, Cadillac, GMC, or Chevrolet) and on eligible in-dealership purchases like parts and service. General cash back or merchandise redemptions are not permitted.
The BuyPower Card is best viewed as a brand discount card, rather than a traditional cash back credit card. It’s a great way for loyal GM owners and drivers to use their spending power – ideally on purchases they’d already make – into discounts on upcoming vehicle purchases.
On the other hand, it’s important for prospective cardholders to understand upfront that the BuyPower Card does not allow regular cash back or general merchandise redemptions. Additionally, there’s no early spend bonus for cardholders who wish to boost their earnings right away. So, unless you’re definitely thinking about buying a new GM vehicle at some point in the future, you’re likely to find this card’s usefulness severely limited.
This card earns 5% cash back on the first $5,000 in purchases made each year, regardless of purchase type, category, or timing. That’s equivalent to $250 toward a new car. Beyond the $5,000 threshold, the card earns an unlimited 2% on all purchases. There are no rotating spending categories, spending tiers, or activation requirements, and earned cash back never expires.
This card does not have a formal redemption minimum or maximum for vehicle purchases. And, given the hefty cost of a new car, it’s in your financial interest to build up your rewards for some time before redeeming.
When you’re ready to redeem your rewards for a new vehicle, just head to your preferred GM dealership and initiate the car-buying process as normal. You’re not required to inform the dealer that you intend to use BuyPower rewards prior to selecting your vehicle or negotiating a price. In fact, doing so might actually hurt your negotiating position.
Once you’ve agreed on a price, tell the dealer you want to use your BuyPower rewards and they’ll be applied as your choice of a discount to the purchase price (thereby lowering your monthly payments, if you’re financing the vehicle) or an offset to the required down payment (thereby lowering your upfront cost).
BuyPower rewards can be combined with most dealer incentives and discounts, but certain private incentives (such as GM employee pricing) are off-limits. Also, rewards can’t be put toward the purchase of a used (pre-owned) or fleet vehicle.
You can also redeem your BuyPower rewards for up to $250 in statement credits each year against in-dealership purchases of service, parts, accessories, and GM extras. Redeem within 90 days of purchase to earn your statement credits.
Customizable Card Face
The BuyPower Card has 5 card face options. You can choose a plain Capital One logo or elect to customize the face with the Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, or Cadillac logos. Regardless of your choice, you can still apply earned rewards to the purchase of any new GM vehicle.
This card has a 12-month 0% purchase APR promotion.
There is no annual fee, foreign transaction fee, or balance transfer fee. The cash advance fee is the greater of $10 or 3% of the advanced amount.
The BuyPower Card comes with a host of additional benefits and perks, including:
- Concierge service for travel and event booking
- Complimentary loss and damage insurance for car rentals charged in full to the card
- 24/7 travel assistance services, including lost ticket replacement
This card requires good to excellent credit. A few minor credit dings probably won’t disqualify your application, but more serious issues will.
- No Annual Fee. The BuyPower Card doesn’t have an annual fee. That’s great news for cardholders who don’t want to pay a fee to accumulate discount rewards every year, and for those who don’t earn rewards fast enough to offset the cost of an annual fee.
- High Rewards Earning Rate. The BuyPower Card earns 5% cash back on $5,000 in general purchases per year, and then an unlimited 2% on general purchases after that. Some other discount cards that offer cash back on purchases made with specific merchants aren’t quite as generous.
- Rewards Can Be Combined With Other GM Offers. BuyPower allows you to combine your accumulated rewards with most dealer incentives and discounts, such as holiday sales events and model year-end clearance deals, presenting the possibility of even sweeter bargains when it comes time to buy.
- Nice 0% Purchase APR Promotion. The BuyPower Card comes with a 12-month 0% intro purchase APR promotion. This can be very useful for new cardholders who wish to make large purchases and pay over time. The intro period is longer than most other Capital One rewards cards, which have rolling 9-month purchase APR promotions.
- No Balance Transfer Fee. This card doesn’t have a balance transfer fee – a nice perk if you’re carrying high-interest balances on existing credit card accounts. Most competing cards do carry transfer fees, on the order of 3% of the transferred balance (or $5 minimum).
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. That’s great news for cardholders who regularly travel outside the U.S., perhaps on road trips across Canada or Mexico in their beloved GM vehicles. Many competing cards have foreign transaction fees ranging from 2% to 3%.
- No Rotating Categories or Activation Requirements. The BuyPower Card doesn’t have any rotating spending categories or cash back activation requirements. The spending limits and point-earning rates are always fixed, requiring little attention on the cardholder’s end. This is an extremely convenient perk that’s relatively rare among cards with such high earning rates.
- Rewards Can Only Be Redeemed for GM Cars and Other Dealership Purchases. The BuyPower Card’s biggest, clearest drawback is the fact that its accumulated cash back must be redeemed for GM vehicles or in-dealership purchases. You can’t redeem for cash or cash equivalents, such as statement credits and gift cards, nor for travel or general merchandise. Most competing cards, including Capital One Quicksilver and Discover it Cash Back, are more versatile. In fact, it’s dangerous to compare the BuyPower Card to regular cash back credit cards, as its super-restrictive rewards program requires cardholders to commit to spending tens of thousands of dollars on new vehicles to get any real value.
- Can’t Redeem for Used or Fleet Vehicles. The BuyPower Card’s rewards’ value is further eroded by a prohibition on redemptions for used or fleet vehicles. If you prefer to purchase pre-owned vehicles, which are often significantly cheaper than new cars, this is a big drawback. Likewise, if your business purchases its own vehicles and typically qualifies for fleet discounts, this card can’t help you.
- Charges a Penalty APR. This card has a penalty APR, which is a significant drawback for cardholders who occasionally miss payments. Many comparable cards, including Capital One Quicksilver, don’t have penalty APRs.
- No Early Spend Bonus. The BuyPower Card doesn’t come with an early spend bonus. That’s bad news for new cardholders who want to give their rewards balance an early boost. Many competing cards, including the Capital One PlayStation Card, offer early spend bonuses.
Buying a car is often a stressful, high-stakes experience. Most consumers’ cars are their second most-valuable assets, after their homes. Anything that can reduce the upfront or ongoing cost of a new car purchase, whether it’s a juicy year-end dealer incentive or a cash back credit card (or both), is surely welcome.
On the other hand, it’s a great, big car-buying world out there, with multiple makes to choose from. Not everyone can see themselves behind the wheel of a new Chevy, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac. If you’re a Toyota, Honda, or Ford loyalist, the potentially awesome money-saving power of the BuyPower Card from Capital One might not be enough to sway your desires. And that’s fine. After all, you’re going to have to live with your chosen car for years, or go through the equally time-consuming and high-stakes process of selling it. Better to make the right choice from the outset than to be stuck with a car you never really wanted.
Be sure to check out our other credit card reviews for more options. Many offer low interest rates, flexible terms, and great rewards.