Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Barnes & Noble Mastercard

overall rating
3.8

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The Barnes & Noble Mastercard is designed for book lovers who want to earn money back when they shop at Barnes & Noble. It's also rewarding for everyday spending and has no annual fee.

Barnes & Noble Mastercard®

overall rating
3.8
Barnes & Noble Mastercard®
On Barclaycard's Secured Site.

Current Offer:

Earn a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card after your first purchase.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Get 5x points on all Barnes & Noble purchases. Earn 2x points for every $1 spent at restaurants. Earn 1x points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 15 Billing Cycles
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

Full Review of Barnes & Noble Mastercard

Pros
  • 5% rewards for Barnes & Noble purchases

  • Barnes & Noble annual membership fee waived if you spend enough

  • Up to 2 points for purchases elsewhere

Cons
  • Small one-time offer

  • Limited redemption options

  • Carrying a balance could be expensive

Pros Explained

  • 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. 

Cons Explained

  • 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

  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist

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. 

Average Case

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. 

Aspirational Case

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. 

Standard Benefits

The Barnes & Noble Mastercard offers this additional benefit:

  • Discounts and free shipping if you spend enough to qualify for Barnes & Noble membership

Cardholder Experience

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. 

Security Features

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. 

Our Verdict

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.

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For Barnes & Noble Mastercard®
on Barclaycard's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Barnes & Noble Mastercard®
overall rating
3.8
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Get 5x points on all Barnes & Noble purchases. Earn 2x points for every $1 spent at restaurants. Earn 1x points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.