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The Fifth Third Business Rewards Card is a no-annual-fee small business credit card that favors spending on utilities, restaurant meals, and office supplies. It doesn’t clear the high bar for inclusion on our best small business credit cards list, but it’s nevertheless a great option for small business owners seeking a meaningful return on everyday spending.
The Fifth Third Business Rewards Card also has a 0% APR introductory promotion on purchases. The promotion lasts 9 months from the day you open your account – long enough to finance a major purchase or simply provide some breathing room from interest charges should you decide to carry a monthly balance. One drawback that’s important to note upfront: unlike many rewards credit cards, this one doesn’t have a sign-up bonus for new cardholders.
Like all Fifth Third Bank rewards credit cards, the Fifth Third Business Rewards Card uses the Real Life Rewards® loyalty currency. It’s a pretty straightforward system: points are worth $0.01 apiece at redemption, and can be redeemed for cash, gift cards (gas only), general merchandise, and travel purchases.
For most business owners, the best redemption option is cash directly deposited into a Fifth Third Bank business checking account.
Interested in the Fifth Third Business Rewards Card? Here’s what you need to know to make the choice.
Earning Real Life Rewards
Fifth Third Business Rewards Card earns 2 Real Life Rewards points per $1 spent on purchases at restaurants and office supply stores, and with utilities providers, such as electricity, gas, and telecom. There is no limit to the number of points you can earn in this category. All other purchases earn unlimited 1 Real Life Rewards point per $1 spent. Points expire 4 years after they’re earned.
Redeeming Real Life Rewards
Redemptions occur on a “first in, first out” basis, meaning the oldest points are redeemed first. You can redeem for cash back deposits into a Fifth Third Bank business checking account, gift cards to gas stations nationwide, travel purchases (including hotels, car rentals, flights, tours, and other experiences booked through Fifth Third Bank’s proprietary travel portal), and general merchandise (including electronics, beauty products, and more).
Points are generally worth $0.01 at redemption, though values may vary on certain non-cash items. Cash redemptions have no minimum, but minimum thresholds may apply to other redemption methods – typically at least 2,500 Real Life Rewards points ($25 value).
No matter how you use your points, this card’s rewards program is a great way to reduce business costs and expenses.
There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3% of the transaction amount. Cash advances and balance transfers both cost the greater of $5 or 4%. Late payment fees range up to $39. The returned payment fee is always $39.
This card has a 9-month 0% APR introductory promotion. There is no equivalent promotion for balance transfers.
Following the end of the introductory promotion, the purchase rate ranges from 12.49% 23.49% APR, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. From the day you open your account, the balance transfer APR falls within the same range.
The cash advance APR is 24.99%, also from the day you open your account. The penalty APR is 29.99%. Going forward, all rates are variable with prevailing interest rates. If these rates are too high for you, check out our roundup of the best low APR interest credit cards on the market today.
Mastercard Easy Savings
Fifth Third Business Rewards Card users get complimentary access to Mastercard Easy Savings, a Mastercard-run discount program exclusively for business credit card holders.
Easy Savings participants enjoy small but significant discounts (instant rebates at the point of sale – reliably up to 4%, and sometimes as high as 5%) from thousands of merchants in three main verticals: fuel, hospitality, and food service.
Many national chains participate, and coverage is extensive throughout the United States, so you’ll enjoy access no matter where you live and work. Needless to say, this is a great option for business owners looking to save money dining out at restaurants or reduce the cost of hotel stays.
Mastercard-Backed Travel Benefits
This card comes with an impressive lineup of Mastercard-backed benefits for frequent business travelers. The most noteworthy include:
- MasterRental coverage, which provides up to $50,000 in loss and damage coverage for rental cars paid in full with the card
- VAT reclaim service for international travelers seeking rebates on taxes paid overseas
- Travel accident insurance
- 24/7 emergency assistance and cash disbursement for lost and stolen cards
- Roadside assistance coverage (may carry additional out-of-pocket charges)
- Travel assistance services, including help with lost luggage and documentation
Other Mastercard Benefits
Other useful benefits not exclusively for travelers include extended warranties that double the manufacturer’s warranty (up to 2 years) and purchase insurance (reimbursement for items lost, damaged, or stolen within 90 days of purchase).
This card requires good to excellent credit. Significant credit blemishes may disqualify your application.
- No Annual Fee. Fifth Third Business Rewards Card has no annual fee. If you don’t spend heavily enough to outpace an annual levy with earned rewards, this is music to your ears.
- Broad, Unlimited 2x Categories. This card earns unlimited 2 Real Life Rewards points per $1 spent at restaurants, utility companies, and office supply stores. Needless to say, all 3 categories are popular with business owners – it’s a virtual certainty that your company needs office supplies and utilities to run, for instance. Depending on the scale of your operation and the intensity of your needs, you could earn hundreds of dollars per year on rewards in the 2x categories.
- 9-Month Introductory Purchase Promotion. If you need to make a large investment in your company or simply gain some breathing room on looming interest charges, this card’s 9-month 0% APR introductory purchase promotion could save you tens or hundreds of dollars on interest charges. Just make sure you pay down any accrued balances before the regular APR kicks in.
- Very Nice Fringe Benefits. For a no-annual-fee credit card, Fifth Third Business Rewards Card has an excellent lineup of fringe benefits. MasterCard Easy Savings is especially useful for business owners who travel and dine out a lot.
- Low Baseline Earning Rate. This card has a low baseline earning rate: 1 point per $1 spent. That works out to an effective cash back rate of 1%, assuming you redeem your points for bank account deposits. Other business cards have higher baseline rewards rates. For instance, Capital One Spark Cash for Business earns unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.
- Points Expire After 4 Years. Real Life Rewards points earned with Fifth Third Business Rewards Card expire 4 years after they’re earned, even if your account remains active in the meantime. If you use this as a secondary or tertiary credit card and only act to redeem your points once in a great while, this could result in an unpleasant surprise when it finally does come time to redeem. Most competing cards, including Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, allow points to remain in force indefinitely.
- Relatively High Balance Transfer and Cash Advance Fees. Fifth Third Business Rewards Card charges relatively high fees for balance transfers and cash advances: $5 or 4% in both cases. Moreover, there’s no introductory balance transfer promotion to reduce the hit. If you’re looking for a better deal on balance transfers, look to the ever-popular Chase Slate Card, which is specifically designed for low-cost balance transfers. It offers 0% APR interest for 15 months on balance transfers, plus no balance transfer fees for 60 days after you open your account.
- 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you routinely travel outside the United States on business, this is an unwelcome and costly impediment. Since the highest effective cash back rate is 2%, there’s no way to outpace the foreign transaction fee with earned rewards. Fortunately, plenty of competitors waive foreign transaction fees, including the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express.
- Penalty Interest May Apply. The Fifth Third Business Rewards Card charges penalty interest at 29.99% APR, effective as soon as you miss your first statement due date. If your business has unpredictable cash flows or encounters a large, unexpected expense, this can greatly impact carried balances.
- No Ongoing Bonuses for Loyal Customers. With the Fifth Third Business Rewards Card’s cash back program, what you see is what you get. You won’t receive any ongoing monthly or annual bonuses, nor any bonuses for depositing your earned rewards into a Fifth Third Bank deposit account. This is in contrast to comparable cards issued by Flagstar Bank (which provides a monthly cash back bonus of up to 50%) and Ally Bank (which juices the Ally CashBack Credit Card’s bank account cash back deposits by 10%).
If you live outside the Midwest and Mid-South, where Fifth Third Bank has the highest concentration of branches, you may well have never heard of the company. The good news: you can apply for the Fifth Third Business Rewards Card over the phone, so there’s no need to live within commuting distance of a physical branch.
That said, it may be worth your company’s while to pursue a broader relationship with Fifth Third Bank – and not just to take advantage of the convenient cash back direct deposit option. Fifth Third Bank has a full lineup of loan and deposit account options for small businesses and consumers alike, and it holds its own amid the ever-growing crowd of online banks. In fact, it occasionally appears on our list of the best bank account promotions of the month.