Full Review of Barnes & Noble Mastercard
5% rewards for Barnes & Noble purchases
Barnes & Noble annual membership fee waived if you spend enough
Up to 2 points for purchases elsewhere
Small one-time offer
Limited redemption options
Carrying a balance could be expensive
- 5% Rewards for Barnes & Noble Purchases: If Barnes & Noble is your go-to choice for books, you'll appreciate getting 5% back on in-store and online purchases. The 5% back is applied as a credit against purchases on your statement, so it's like getting a discount when you shop Barnes & Noble.
- Barnes & Noble Annual Membership Fee Waived if You Spend Enough: Being a Barnes & Noble member entitles you to free shipping on purchases at bn.com, as well as special discounts. Normally, the membership fee is $25 a year. If you spend $7,500 per year on eligible purchases with the Barnes & Noble Mastercard, you'll earn a 12-month membership without having to pay the fee.
- Up to 2 Points for Purchases Elsewhere: Since this is a Mastercard, you can use it at places other than Barnes & Noble. And when you do, you earn points on purchases. The rewards rate is 2 points per dollar at restaurants, 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
- Small One-Time Offer: This card doesn't offer an introductory bonus in the traditional sense. While some cards may offer several hundred dollars in cash back or thousands of points/miles as a bonus when you join, the Barnes & Noble Mastercard doesn't work like that. Instead, you get a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card after making your first purchase.
- Limited Redemption Options: The 5% back on purchases at Barnes & Noble stores or online is applied to your account automatically. Points earned with the card are automatically redeemed for Barnes & Noble gift cards. That's a drawback if you'd prefer more options for using your rewards.
- Carrying a Balance Could be Expensive: Retail-branded credit cards often charge higher APRs compared with traditional rewards credit cards. The Barnes & Noble Mastercard is no different. Depending on your creditworthiness, you could end up with an APR above 20%, making it costly to carry a balance from month to month.
This Card is Best For
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
This card is designed for people who spend regularly at Barnes & Noble and want to save a little money on those purchases. It could also be good for people who would like to enjoy the benefits of Barnes & Noble membership without paying the regular $25 fee.
Barnes & Noble Mastercard Bonus
Again, this card doesn't have the kind of one-time offer that's typical of rewards credit cards. When you make your first purchase or transfer a balance, you can get a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. This is more of a welcome or thank-you gift than a conventional bonus.
Rewards Earning Details
The Barnes & Noble Mastercard has a simple rewards structure. When you spend with this card, you have three ways to earn rewards:
- Get 5% back on purchases when you shop Barnes & Noble in-store and online
- Earn 2 points per dollar on purchases at restaurants
- Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
The 5% back applies after the purchase, not at check-out. So you're basically getting a rebate on what you spend, with every $100 in purchases equal to $5 in statement credit. Points are also earned automatically when you spend at restaurants or at other merchants.
Rewards Redemption Details
Redeeming rewards with this card is also simple. The 5% back is applied as a rebate to your statement. So you don't have to do anything to redeem those rewards.
With the points earned from restaurants or other purchases, your rewards are also redeemed automatically. Once you reach 2,500 points, you'll receive a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.
Gift cards can be sent to you by regular mail or email. Once they're issued, they can't be exchanged or traded for anything else.
This redemption structure may be a pro or a con for you, depending on how often you spend at Barnes & Noble. If you'd like the flexibility to redeem points for things besides gift cards, then this card may not be the best choice.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Maximizing rewards with this card is pretty straightforward. The more you spend, the more points and 5% rebates you can earn. Here are two sample scenarios of spending with the card.
Say that you spend $100 per month on Barnes & Noble purchases. At that rate, you'd earn $60 in statement credit rebates, based on the 5% rewards rate. You also spend $200 per month at restaurants (at 2 points) and $300 a month on miscellaneous purchases (at 1 point), earning a total of 8,400 points in the process. Those points would be worth three $25 Barnes & Noble gift cards, with a little left over. So altogether, you'd earn $75 in rewards value for the year.
Now, assume you’re a major B&N brand aficionado who spends $500 per month on books, magazines, CDs, gifts and coffee shop purchases at Barnes & Noble, plus another $500 a month at restaurants and $500 a month on other purchases. You'd earn $300 back in rebates and 18,000 points. Those points would be worth seven $25 Barnes & Noble gift cards, bringing your total rewards value for the year to $475.
The Barnes & Noble Mastercard offers this additional benefit:
- Discounts and free shipping if you spend enough to qualify for Barnes & Noble membership
The Barnes & Noble Mastercard is issued by Barclays. In the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, Barclays received a rating of 806 out of 1,000. That's in line with the average for national card issuers.
This card also provides online FICO credit score access so you can keep an eye on your score.
You can manage your card account online or through the Barclays app. If you have questions or need help, customer service is available by phone, secure message, and Twitter.
The security features that come with the Barnes & Noble are fairly standard in terms of what most other retail store cards offer. That includes chip technology and a $0 fraud liability guarantee.
Fees to Watch out for
The only real fee to watch out for is the 3% foreign transaction fee. But unless you're planning to use this card while traveling internationally, you may not need to worry about that.
The Barnes & Noble Mastercard may be of interest to you if you're an avid Barnes & Noble customer. The 5% back that you can earn is comparable to what you would get with an Amazon.com Store card. And having rewards applied automatically as a statement credit or redeemed for Barnes & Noble gift cards means using rewards is pretty much hassle-free.
On the other hand, another kind of rewards card may be better if you want a little more flexibility. For example, you might choose a cash back credit card that offers a set percentage of cash back on every purchase and lets you redeem for checks, statement credits, gift cards, or travel. Or you might look for a cash back card with tiered rewards that earns more for certain categories of purchases.
Overall, the Barnes & Noble Mastercard is a good no-annual-fee option for book lovers who consistently spend a lot in that category and have a strong brand affinity for Barnes & Noble as the last of the national brick and mortar booksellers. But it's certainly worth checking out the rewards card competition to see what else is available before deciding if this is the card for you.