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The Sony Card from Capital One is a branded, no-annual-fee rewards credit card with a complicated rewards program (Sony Rewards) that rapidly earns points on qualifying Sony purchases, as well as purchases in other select spending categories. To earn rewards with this card, you need to sign up separately for Sony Rewards – a free, straightforward process.
You can redeem accumulated Sony Rewards points for electronics, general merchandise, entertainment (including concerts), celebrity memorabilia, special experiences, gift cards, and more. Sony Rewards points’ redemption values vary widely depending on how they’re redeemed. They’re generally worth less than $0.01 apiece when redeemed for gift cards and general merchandise, but can be worth several times that amount for items purchased through special limited-time deals and through online Sony auctions.
Though this card carries the Capital One logo, it’s important for applicants to understand that it doesn’t participate in Capital One’s cash back or travel rewards programs. Sony Rewards is completely separate from the rest of the Capital One rewards ecosystem. In fact, this card is more accurately described as a Sony store credit card that just happens to be backed by Capital One.
Since this card’s loyalty program is a bit unusual, it’s hard to make direct comparisons with many other rewards cards. Its closest cousin is the PlayStation Card from Capital One, which uses the same Sony Rewards loyalty program with a differently weighted earning scheme. It’s also similar to other Capital One partner cards, such as the BuyPower card, which essentially functions as a loyalty card for General Motors. More broadly, the Sony Card has some things in common with cash back credit cards tied to broad-based rewards programs, such as Citi ThankYou (Citi ThankYou Preferred and Premier), Chase Ultimate Rewards (Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred), and American Express Membership Rewards (Amex EveryDay, among others).
Early Spend Bonus
If you make at least one purchase within 90 days of opening your account, you get 5,000 bonus points.
Earning Sony Rewards
The Sony Card earns an unlimited 5 points per $1 spent on Sony-branded purchases with more than 1,000 Sony authorized retailers, which include independent electronics retailers and chain stores such as Best Buy.
However, to earn 4 out of the 5 points, you must fill out a Sony Rewards Bonus Points form online, send it electronically to a designated address, and then print it out and mail it (with receipt or other purchase confirmation attached) to the program administrator. You must repeat this step for every purchase you wish to earn full points for, regardless of size.
The Sony Card also earns an unlimited 3 points per $1 spent on music and video downloads, movie theater and rental purchases, and digital streaming and subscription services (such as Netflix and Amazon Prime), with no Bonus Points form required.
Finally, the Sony Card earns an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Redeeming Sony Rewards for Purchases
You can redeem your accumulated Sony Rewards points for general merchandise, entertainment (movies, music, games, and more), gift cards, and experiences through the Sony Rewards portal.
To find what you’re looking for, you can browse Sony’s general catalog, which contains thousands of full-price or slightly discounted merchandise, gift cards, and entertainment, with redemption minimums as low as 500 points and point values at redemption usually lower than $0.01.
Sony Card users occasionally get access to special deals that aren’t available to regular Sony Rewards members, but it’s difficult to predict when these apply and how much they’re worth.
Separately from the general catalog, Sony Card users can get deeper discounts – sometimes more than 50% off – on electronics, music, and general merchandise through Sony’s Deals & Steals feature.
If you have too few points to redeem for general catalog or Deals & Steals items, Sony lets you make up the difference by purchasing additional points at $0.01 each.
Redeeming Sony Rewards in ShowStoppers Auctions and Reverse Auctions
Sony also allows you to use accumulated Sony Rewards points to bid in periodic auctions. These take two main forms.
First, ShowStoppers auctions offer access to Sony-branded collectibles (including celebrity memorabilia) and experiences (such as private events) that are hard to find or completely unavailable elsewhere. ShowStoppers auctions are similar in process and structure to other online auctions, with the main difference being that you use Sony Rewards points (not dollars and cents) to set your bids. You can always purchase additional points for $0.01 apiece.
Second, Sony offers Reverse Auctions – which are more like timed, 10-hour sales than traditional auctions – on the third Wednesday of every month. Every hour on the hour, the listed prices of Reverse Auction items drop by a predetermined amount. You’re allowed to wait as long as you want (until the last hour) to make your purchase – but be careful, as supplies often run out before the auction ends.
Sony Card users typically get deeper Reverse Auction discounts compared with non-cardholding Sony Rewards members, though it’s not clear how Sony calculates the difference. Also, since item prices fluctuate a lot during both types of auctions – particularly for special experiences and collectibles with difficult-to-calculate retail values – it is difficult to make conclusive statements about points’ redemption values at auction.
This card comes with a 0% purchase APR through the March 2018 billing period.
There is no annual fee, foreign transaction fee, or balance transfer fee. The cash advance fee is the greater of $10 or 3%. Returned payments cost $35. Late payments cost up to $35.
This card requires excellent credit.
- No Annual Fee. The Sony Card doesn’t have an annual fee, which is great news for cardholders who don’t spend enough to offset a recurring charge.
- Easily Attainable Early Spend Bonus. The Sony Card’s 5,000-point early spend bonus is super easy to get – you just have to make a single purchase within 90 days of opening your account. That’s much easier than most comparable cards, which typically require $500 to $1,000 in spending within a similar time-frame.
- Great Earning Rate on Sony Purchases. This card earns 5 Sony Rewards points per $1 spent on all Sony merchandise purchases with Sony authorized retailers. Even assuming a low-ball redemption value of $0.005 per point, that’s an effective 2.5% return on spending. If you redeem for higher-value items and experiences, your return could be several times greater – a rare opportunity among fellow rewards cards.
- Nice 0% APR Intro Period. The Sony Card features a 0% purchase APR deal through March 2018. That’s awesome for new cardholders who intend to make large purchases on new Sony equipment or in other favored categories – and not bad for general spending either.
- Can Redeem for Wide Range of Electronics and Other Items. Though complicated, the Sony Rewards marketplace has a tremendous variety of merchandise. Its selection isn’t unlike what’s available in a big-box electronics store such as Best Buy, and many of its sale items are priced competitively with big-box clearance items. Additionally, the range of special events, memorabilia, and experiences on display here is great for people who value such things – for instance, music fans who get the opportunity to bid on a signed poster from their favorite artist. Many competing rewards cards, including Capital One’s own Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, don’t offer experiences and memorabilia.
- Points Can Be Valuable at Redemption. Sony Rewards points’ values vary widely by redemption method, and they’re not always a great deal when compared to competing loyalty programs. However, Sony Card users do have lots of opportunities to boost their points’ redemption value – for instance, ShowStoppers auctions that don’t attract lots of bids, cut-rate Deals & Steals items, and Reverse Auctions that don’t run out of stock right away. Such values are difficult or impossible to find in other card loyalty programs, such as Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, or ThankYou.
- Rewards Program Is Super-Complicated Overall. While Sony Rewards offers a nice range of redemption options for people who enjoy entertainment and electronics, it has a super-complicated structure and comes with an amount of fine print comparable to many branded airline and hotel loyalty programs. The most frustrating aspect is the fact that the redemption options with the highest potential value, such as timed auctions and Deals & Steals, have the thinnest selection, require the most buy-in, and present relatively high risks of failure, specifically for auctions. Most competing programs, including Citi’s ThankYou and Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, are easier to understand and involve less drama.
- Need to Submit Bonus Points Form to Earn Maximum Points. To earn the full 5 points per $1 spent on purchases made with Sony authorized retailers, you need to fill out and mail a special Sony Rewards Bonus Points form, which is really just a mail-in rebate form. It’s incredibly annoying and time-consuming to complete this step for every Sony authorized retailer transaction – and, frankly, probably isn’t worthwhile for smaller transactions. Virtually no other card with tiered spending categories, even those that require category opt-ins, such as Chase Freedom and Discover it, requires you to mail in a rebate form to earn additional points.
- Rewards Expire. Sony Rewards points expire five years from the final day of the month in which they’re earned. While this should give you plenty of time to redeem them, it’s annoying to have to worry about a time horizon at all, particularly if the Sony Card isn’t your primary credit card. Points earned on other Capital One rewards cards, such as Capital One Venture Rewards and Quicksilver Cash Rewards, don’t ever expire.
- No Cash Redemptions. You can’t redeem Sony Rewards points for hard cash, which is a major drawback if your top priority is a flexible, versatile loyalty program. For a cash redemption option, look to the cash back cards offered by Chase, Discover, or Capital One.
- No Returns. Purchases made through Sony Rewards are final. If you find that a product you’ve purchased is defective or otherwise unsatisfactory, you’re generally unable to recover the points you spent. There may be exceptions to this rule on a case-by-case basis, such as concerts or other events cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, but you shouldn’t expect this to be the norm.
If you’re considering Sony Card from Capital One, you’re probably also aware of the similar PlayStation Card from Capital One. Both cards are a gateway into the Sony Rewards universe, meaning they’re great for entertainment enthusiasts who regularly purchase Sony-branded products and content.
The biggest differences between the Sony and PlayStation cards relate to their respective rewards-earning schemes. On this point, the Sony Card fares slightly better (and appeals to a broader audience) due to a more generous 3x points tier and a 5x points tier that encompasses all Sony purchases with Sony authorized retailers. On the other hand, serious PlayStation users probably want to stick to the PlayStation Card, whose top spending category has one of the best point-earning rates around.
Check out our other credit card reviews for more options, many of which have flexible terms, low interest rates, and great rewards.