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The PlayStation Card from Capital One is a branded rewards credit card with no annual fee and a complicated loyalty program (Sony Rewards) that favors PlayStation and Sony purchases, as well as certain other spending categories. Note that before you can start using this card, you need to sign up separately for Sony Rewards – a fairly quick and easy process.
Once accumulated, Sony Rewards points can be redeemed for a wide variety of electronics, entertainment, special experiences, gift cards, online store codes (including PlayStation store codes, which are very valuable to this card’s target audience), and more. Sony Rewards points’ redemption values vary wildly, depending on how they’re redeemed. They’re worth $0.01 apiece or less when redeemed for gift cards and full-priced merchandise, and up to several times that amount when redeemed for special, limited-time deals and items sold through online Sony auctions.
Though this card is backed by Capital One, it’s not tied to Capital One’s cash back or travel rewards programs. In fact, it’s useful to think of the PlayStation Card as a modern, omnichannel store credit card for Sony – it just happens to have the Capital One logo on it.
Since the PlayStation Card from Capital One is a bit different from traditional cash back and travel rewards credit cards, it’s hard to make apples-to-apples comparisons with other cards. The closest analogue is the Sony Card from Capital One, which uses the same rewards currency in support of a similar (albeit differently weighted) rewards program. The PlayStation Card also shares some similarities with other Capital One partner cards, such as the BuyPower family (Cadillac, Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet) of cards, and the Plenti Credit Card from American Express.
In a broader sense, the PlayStation Card has much in common with cash back cards tied to broad-based redemption portals, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred, among many others), Citi ThankYou (Citi ThankYou Preferred and Premier), and American Express Membership Rewards (AmEx EveryDay, and others).
If you make at least one purchase within 90 days of opening your account, you get 5,000 bonus Sony Rewards points.
Earning Sony Rewards
The PlayStation Card earns an unlimited 10 Sony Rewards points per $1 spent on all PlayStation Store purchases, including PlayStation games and in-game credits.
The PlayStation Card earns an unlimited 3 points per $1 spent on PlayStation games and Sony-branded purchases (such as electronic equipment) at Sony authorized retailers (generally independent or chain-store electronics retailers), of which there are more than 1,000 in the U.S. However, to earn 2 out of those 3 points, you need to complete a Sony Rewards Bonus Points form online, and then send it both electronically and by mail (with purchase confirmation attached) to the program administrator. You must do this for every purchase you wish to earn the extra points for, no matter how large or small.
The PlayStation Card also earns an unlimited 3 Sony Rewards Points on fast food restaurant, movie theater, and mobile phone bill (not hardware) purchases, with no Bonus Points form required for any of these categories.
Finally, the card earns an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Points expire 5 years after the last day of the month in which they’re earned.
Redeeming Rewards for Purchases
You can redeem accumulated rewards for a wide variety of general merchandise, entertainment items (including movies, music, and games), gift cards, and experiences at the Sony Rewards portal. For ideas, browse Sony’s general catalog of thousands of full-price or slightly discounted merchandise items, entertainment items, and gift cards.
Redemption minimums start as low as 500 points and redemption values usually a bit lower than $0.01 per point. PlayStation Card users sometimes receive special deals not available to regular Sony Rewards members, but these are variable and hard to predict.
Beyond the general catalog, Sony offers a handful of items per day through its Deals & Steals feature, which offers deep discounts (from 10% to more than 50% off full price) on electronics, music, and other merchandise.
If you don’t have enough points to redeem for a particular general catalog or Deals & Steals item, you can make up the difference by purchasing additional points at a flat $0.01-per-point rate.
Redeeming Rewards in ShowStoppers Auctions and Reverse Auctions
You can also redeem your Sony Rewards in periodic auctions.
ShowStoppers auctions are auctions for Sony-branded collectibles and experiences, such as private events and signed memorabilia, that are unavailable or hard to find elsewhere. The ShowStoppers auction process works similar to other online auctions, except you use Sony Rewards points to set your bids. If you don’t have enough points to bid, you can make up the difference by purchasing additional points for $0.01 apiece.
Separately, Sony offers monthly, 10-hour Reverse Auctions – which are more like timed sales than traditional auctions – on the third Wednesday of every month. Every hour, the listed prices of Reverse Auction items drop by a predetermined amount. You can wait as long as you want to make your purchase, but supplies often run out before the 10-hour limit. PlayStation cardholders usually get deeper discounts (relative to non-cardholding Sony Rewards members) during Reverse Auctions, though Sony doesn’t go into detail about how the difference is calculated.
Because item prices fluctuate so much during these auctions, particularly for special experiences that may not have set retail values, it’s difficult to make general statements about points’ redemption values here.
The PlayStation Card has a 0% purchase APR through February 2018.
There is no annual fee, balance transfer fee, or foreign transaction fee. The cash advance fee is the greater of $10 or 3% of the advanced amount. Returned payments cost $35. Late payments cost up to $35.
This card requires good credit. A credit ding or two probably won’t disqualify your application, but more serious issues will.
- No Annual Fee. The PlayStation Card doesn’t have an annual fee – great news for budget-conscious cardholders and those who don’t use the card enough to offset a recurring charge.
- Rapid Point Earning Rate on PlayStation Purchases. This card earns 10 points per $1 spent on PlayStation purchases – a fantastic earning rate that’s hard to match in absolute terms. Even at conservative redemption rates of $0.005 to $0.01 per point, that’s an effective return of 5% to 10% on every $1 spent with PlayStation.
- Nice 0% Intro Purchase APR Period. The PlayStation Card offers a 0% purchase APR deal through February 2018. This is a great benefit for new cardholders who need to make large purchases – and rack up the Sony Rewards points – in short order.
- Decent, Easily Attainable Early Spend Bonus. This card’s 5,000-point early spend bonus is easy to attain – you just have to make a single purchase within 90 days of opening your account. That’s far easier than some competing cards, which require you to spend $1,000 or more within the same time-frame. And some comparable cards, such as the Discover it family of cash back and travel rewards credit cards, don’t offer early spend bonuses at all.
- Points Can Be Redeemed for a Wide Range of Merchandise and Experiences. The Sony Rewards marketplace is extensive. Its merchandise stock is similar to what you’d find in a big-box electronics store, with some discounts approaching or exceeding big-box store clearance prices. The experience selection, while thinner, is potentially more valuable for those to whom the experiences appeal – for instance, fans who get a signed poster or VIP treatment at their favorite artist’s concert. Capital One’s consumer cash back cards (Quicksilver and QuicksilverOne) restrict redemptions to cash and cash equivalents, which is a big drawback for cardholders seeking memorable experiences and merchandise.
- Lots of Opportunities to Boost Point Values. While the value of Sony Rewards points varies by redemption method and doesn’t always compare favorably to competing loyalty programs, the PlayStation Card does give you lots of opportunities to stretch their value further. In particular, poorly attended ShowStoppers auctions, certain Deals & Steals items, and monthly Reverse Auctions, offer rare values that simply aren’t available in the Plenti, Membership Rewards, or Ultimate Rewards programs.
- Rewards Program Is Very Complicated. Though it offers a wide range of redemption options, particularly for people who enjoy electronics and entertainment, the Sony Rewards program is exceedingly complicated and comes with a lot of fine print – on par with many branded hotel and airline loyalty schemes. In particular, Sony Rewards redemption options that offer the most potential value, such as auctions and Deals & Steals, also require the most work, have the thinnest selection, and present the greatest likelihood of failure (in the case of auctions). If you’re looking for a similar program that’s a bit easier to understand, opt for a card tied to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards or Citi’s ThankYou portal.
- Need to Submit a Bonus Points Form for Authorized Retailer Purchases. To earn 3 points per $1 on purchases made with Sony authorized retailers, you need to complete and send in a Sony Rewards Bonus Points form – which basically functions as a rebate form. This is a time-consuming step that you must complete for every Sony authorized retailer transaction. While it’s potentially worthwhile for large purchases, it’s not likely to be worth your time for smaller transactions. Most other rewards cards with tiered spending categories, including Chase Freedom, Discover it, and Capital One BuyPower, don’t make you jump through this hoop.
- Points Can’t Be Redeemed for Cash. One thing Sony Rewards points can’t be redeemed for is hard cash – the most versatile redemption option of all. If you want a rewards card that does allow cash redemptions, consider Capital One Quicksilver, Chase Freedom, or Discover it.
- Rewards Expire. Your Sony Rewards points expire five years from the last day of the month in which they’re earned. While this isn’t a super-short time-frame, it’s annoying to have to worry about your points sunsetting at all. Points earned with other Capital One rewards cards stay active for as long as your account remains open.
- No Returns. All Sony Rewards purchases are final. If a purchased product is defective or you’re not satisfied for any other reason, you have no recourse. In certain situations, such as special events canceled due to extraordinary circumstances, Sony may elect to issue refunds on a case-by-case basis. However, you shouldn’t expect these exceptions as a matter of course.
The PlayStation Card from Capital One isn’t your typical rewards credit card, and Sony Rewards isn’t your typical rewards program. Both are a bit more complicated than the average competitor. That’s off-putting for many prospective cardholders, including casual gamers and fans who’d normally be intrigued by the idea of redeeming points for merchandise and entertainment.
On the other hand, if you’re a serious PlayStation user who also loves electronics and entertainment, you’re likely to find this card valuable. Like most niche products, its appeal isn’t readily apparent to outsiders – but it couldn’t be more obvious to those in the know.
For more options, check out our other credit card reviews. Many have flexible terms, low interest rates, and great rewards.