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Fifth Third TRIO® Credit Card Review

At a Glance
fifth third trio credit card
3.9 / 5
Rating

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TRIO® Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: $100 when you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of account opening
  • Rewards: 3% cash back at restaurants and 2% cash back on gas, grocery store, and drug store purchases, up to $1,500 in combined quarterly spending across all categories; Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months
  • Regular APR: 15.49% to 24.49%
  • Fees: No foreign transaction fees; 4% balance transfer and cash advance fee ($5 minimum)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Needed: Good to excellent

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

The TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank is a solid cash back credit card, with no annual fee and a reward system that favors restaurant, gas, grocery, and drugstore spending.

You can earn 3% cash back on restaurant purchases and 2% cash back on gas, grocery store, and drug store purchases, up to a combined $1,500  in quarterly spending across all four categories. Above the $1,500 quarterly cap, you earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases in those categories. And all other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back, all the time.

TRIO Credit Card’s cash back comes in the form of Real Life Rewards points, Fifth Third Bank’s loyalty currency. Real Life Rewards are as good as cash – they’re worth $0.01 apiece at redemption, and they’re good for cash back deposits, Fifth Third loan credits, gift cards, general merchandise, and travel purchases.

The TRIO card has some unique advantages. Let’s see if it’s right for you.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

When you spend at least $1,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 10,000 Real Life Rewards points. That’s good for $100 when redeemed for cash back.

Earning Cash Back Rewards

TRIO Credit Card earns 3% cash back (3 Real Life Rewards points per $1 spent) on restaurant purchases and 2% cash back (2 points per $1 spent) on gas station, grocery store, and drug store purchases, up to $1,500 in spending per quarter across all 4 categories. All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back, including purchases in the four favored categories above the quarterly cap.

Redeeming Cash Back Rewards

You can redeem accumulated Real Life Rewards points for credit card statement credits, cash back deposits into your Fifth Third checking or savings account, gift cards at a variety of participating merchants, general merchandise (including beauty and electronics products), credits to your Fifth Third loan balances (including mortgages), and travel purchases (including hotels, flights, car rentals, tours, and more) made through Fifth Third Bank’s self-booking portal.

Real Life Rewards points are worth $0.01 at redemption. Points expire after 3 years, so it’s important to redeem regularly. There’s no minimum amount to redeem for cash, but limits may apply to other options – usually $25 (2,500 Real Life Rewards points) or more.

Important Fees

There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Cash advances and balance transfers both cost the greater of $5 or 4%. Late payment fees range up to $35.

Intro APR

This card has a 12-month 0% APR balance transfer promotion.

Regular APR

Following the end of the balance transfer promotion, the balance transfer APR ranges from 15.49% to 24.49%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The purchase APR falls within the same range from the day you open your account. The cash advance APR is 26.49%, also from the day you open your account. There is no penalty APR.

Cell Phone Protection Plan

When you charge your monthly wireless bills in full to your TRIO card, you’re covered under the terms of its cell phone protection plan. The plan protects up to 3 phones (your primary line and up to 2 additional lines) from theft, damage, loss, and certain other covered events. However, benefits are capped at $200 per claim and $400 per year, with a $50 deductible per claim.

Travel Benefits

This card comes with a host of benefits for travelers, including:

  • Mastercard concierge service, ideal for helping with bookings and reservations
  • Mastercard airport concierge, a separate service that helps you navigate unfamiliar airports
  • Mastercard travel service. which includes services normally offered by travel agents
  • Mastercard Priceless Cities, whose benefits include exclusive access to hot-ticket events and private shows

Other Mastercard Benefits

This card has some other useful benefits, including:

  • Extended warranties that double the manufacturer’s warranty up to 4 years total
  • Aprice protection policy that reimburses the difference if you find a lower price on an item purchased with your TRIO card

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit. Significant credit blemishes may disqualify your application.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. TRIO has no annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who spend too slowly to earn rewards sufficient to offset a recurring annual charge.
  2. 3% Cash Back at Restaurants. TRIO earns 3% cash back on restaurants. If you dine out frequently, try to use TRIO every time you pay the bill, and limit its use at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores, which also count toward the $1,500 quarterly spending cap. When used to the fullest extent, this 3% benefit is worth up to $45 per quarter and $180 per year. Few other cash back cards offer 3% cash back at restaurants.
  3. Solid Sign-up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is worth $100 on just $1,000 in spending in the first three months – you have to spend just $334 per month. Once you clear the $1,000 threshold, you can revert to using TRIO primarily for restaurant spending.
  4. Can Apply Cash Back to Fifth Third Loans. TRIO lets you apply your cash back to Fifth Third loans balances, including auto and mortgage loans. You can even set up an auto-pay system whereby your mortgage loan balance is automatically credited $25 when your Real Life Rewards balance reaches 2,500 points. That’s a lot easier than remembering to write a check or initiate a bank transfer each month.
  5. 12-Month Introductory Balance Transfer Promotion. If you’re struggling with high-interest balances on other credit cards, TRIO’s 12-month introductory balance transfer promotion is worth a closer look. You pay no interest on transferred balances for 12 months from account opening – potentially saving hundreds on larger balances.
  6. No Foreign Transaction Fees. If you regularly travel abroad, this is a nice discount on your out-of-country credit card spending. Many cash back credit cards carry foreign transaction fees in the 2% to 3% range, effectively negating their rewards programs.
  7. Nice Fringe Benefits. This card has unusually generous fringe benefits for an entry-level cash back credit card: cell phone protection, extended warranties, price protection, and personalized travel and concierge service, to name a few. If you can take even advantage of these benefits, you’ll extract value from this card far above and beyond its cash back earning potential.

Disadvantages

  1. 2% and 3% Categories Capped at $1,500 Quarterly Spending. TRIO’s 2% (gas, grocery store, and drug store) and 3% (restaurant) categories are capped at $1,500 in total quarterly spending. If you spend heavily in any (or all) of those categories, this relatively low limit won’t cut it. Instead, look to a general purpose cash back card with a more generous baseline earning rate, such as Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (1.5% on all purchases) or Citi Double Cash Card (2% on all purchases).
  2. Cash Back Points Expire After 3 Years. Real Life Rewards points earned with this card expire three years after they’re earned. If you only use this card occasionally or simply don’t remember to redeem regularly, this is a potential risk. Most competing cash back cards don’t sunset their points.
  3. Balance Transfer Fees on the High Side. The introductory balance transfer offer makes this a solid balance transfer candidate at the outset, but the high balance transfer fees reduce the benefits of 0% interest. If your primary motivation for opening a new credit card account is to transfer a high-interest balance, you’re better off with a card designed specifically for that purpose – for instance, Chase Slate, which has 0% APR interest on balance transfers for 15 months and no balance transfer fees for 60 days from account opening.
  4. No Deposit Bonus for Existing Fifth Third Accountholders. You don’t get anything extra for depositing your cash back earnings in a Fifth Third checking or savings account, nor for paying off a portion of an outstanding Fifth Third loan with your take. That’s a drawback relative to some other bank-sponsored credit cards – for instance, BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card has a bonus deal for customers who have substantial cash deposits with Bank of America, and Ally Cashback Credit Card juices cash back redemptions by 10% when they’re redeemed directly to an Ally Bank account.

Final Word

Fifth Third Bank isn’t just a cash back credit card issuer. It’s a full-service bank that operates primarily in the Midwest and Mid-South – a regional deposit institution, lender, and wealth management provider. If you live in Fifth Third Bank’s trade area, there’s a good chance you’ve seen its branches in your travels, and you may be in a position to take advantage of its periodic bank account promotions. If you’re from another part of the country, no worries: you’ll always have the TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank.

Verdict
fifth third trio credit card
3.9 / 5
Rating

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TRIO® Credit Card

TRIO Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank is ideal for light to moderate spenders who can focus their purchases on the favored 2% and 3% categories – especially restaurants. This card performs best as a secondary spending aid that’s used primarily at restaurants, and to a lesser extent at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores. People who spend heavily in different categories are better served by general purpose cash back cards with higher baseline earning rates.

 

The TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank has some notable benefits: no annual fee, 3% cash back at restaurants, a $100 sign-up bonus when you spend $1,000 within 3 months, the ability to apply cash back to Fifth Third loans, a 12-month introductory balance transfer promotion, no foreign transaction fees, and solid fringe benefits.

Still, TRIO has problematic limits ($1,500 in spending per quarter) on its 4 favored spending categories, time-limited cash back points (3 years), high balance transfer fees, and no deposit bonuses for existing Fifth Third accountholders.

Overall, TRIO Credit Card is a great secondary card for restaurant spending – or, for those who rarely dine out, for gas, grocery, and drug store spending.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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