Full Review of L.L. Bean Mastercard
Straightforward, generous rewards system
Free shipping and monogramming
Relatively low APR
Must have an L.L. Bean account to apply
Foreign transaction fee
No introductory APR
- Straightforward, Generous Rewards System: With the L.L. Bean Mastercard, you receive Bean Bucks based on spending, and the system is pretty easy to understand: Each Bean Buck is equal to $1, which amounts to a dollar off a purchase down the road. In many cases, when you earn points with rewards programs, the valuation comes out to something like one cent per point for cash back or travel. For example, the Gap Visa card (another store co-branded card) offers $5 for every 500 points you get, which works out to be a lower rewards rate. L.L. Bean purchases provide 4% back on your purchase amount, so spending $100 at L.L. Bean means four Bean Bucks—or $4 in rewards. This is a relatively high reward rate. The 2% back for dining out and for gas is decent, if less extraordinary.
- Free Shipping and Monogramming: Cardmembers who make purchases with the L.L. Bean Mastercard enjoy free regular shipping and free return shipping when they shop the store or website. They also get complimentary monogramming, if they want to slap their initials on those flannel pajamas or duffel bag.
- Relatively Low APR: The L.L. Bean card has a relatively low regular purchase APR, at least when compared with other store cards. In general, this card has a regular purchase APR of 14.99%–20.99%, depending on the applicant's creditworthiness. That's pretty good for store cards, which often skew much higher, usually between 25% and 27% APR.
- Must Have an L.L. Bean Account to Apply: This card requires an L.L. Bean account. Before applying, a consumer either needs to log into their account or create an L.L. Bean account. Those who don’t have an L.L. Bean account, no matter how much shopping they do, can't get this credit card.
- Foreign Transaction Fee: Even though this is a Mastercard, and so accepted worldwide, using it overseas could result in hefty additional charges. There is a 3% foreign transaction fee for each purchase.
- No Introductory APR: While there is a 20% discount on the first L.L. Bean purchase made with this card, there is no introductory APR offer. There is no 0% APR introductory period for balance transfers for purchases.
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 likely to work better for those who are loyal to L.L. Bean and make a lot of purchases with the company. The rewards are in Bean Bucks, which can only be redeemed at L.L. Bean, so this card might not be suitable for those who aren’t devotees and don’t shop at the retailer regularly.
For those who do make L.L. Bean purchases, it can be a decent choice, since each Bean Buck can be applied to future purchases to reduce the cost on a dollar-for-dollar basis. For those who want to earn Bean Bucks faster, this card might help with the 2% Bean Bucks on purchases made at restaurants and gas stations.
On the other hand, even with the generous rewards value, those who don’t do much shopping at L.L. Bean might not see as much value. Instead, it might be worth it to get a rewards credit card that offers more universal rewards on more common purchases.
L.L. Bean Mastercard Bonus
There isn't a true bonus with this credit card. However, for those who are approved, it’s possible to get 20% off the first L.L. Bean purchase made with the card. This includes those who are instantly approved online and then use the card to make an immediate purchase and get the savings.
Rewards Earning Details
With the L.L. Bean Mastercard, rewards are based on tiers. Cardholders get 4% of their purchases made at L.L. Bean back in Bean Bucks. Additionally, the card offers 2% of the purchase price in Bean Bucks on gas station and restaurant purchases.
It's important to note that the 2% Bean Bucks might not be credited for certain purchases, such as those made at wholesale clubs and department stores that offer gas or bakeries and cafes located inside some department stores.
All other purchases get 1% in Bean Bucks back.
Rewards Redemption Details
Bean Bucks can only be redeemed through L.L. Bean. It's possible to redeem Bean Bucks in any amount, and they should be available when you log into your account. Cardholders can redeem Bean Bucks online, over the phone or in person.
Each Bean Buck amounts to a one-dollar reduction in the cost of the L.L. Bean purchase. For example, someone that has accumulated 100 Bean Bucks could apply those Bucks to a purchase of $150. That would leave $50 remaining to pay on the purchase.
There is no mechanism for transferring Bean Bucks. They are expected to be used to reduce the cost of items purchased through L.L. Bean.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The most likely way to maximize rewards is by using them at L.L. Bean. In fact, that’s the only way to maximize them, since there isn't a mechanism for transferring Bean Bucks to another program.
For the L.L. Bean loyalist, maximizing the rewards is about focusing on the ways to get Bean Bucks faster and then redeeming those Bean Bucks for discounted purchases later. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average consumer spent $1,866 on apparel in 2018. If you buy all of your clothes from L.L. Bean, that’s a potential for 7,464 in Bean Bucks.
For loyal L.L. Bean shoppers, additional maximizing can be done by using the L.L. Bean card for most other purchases, as well. For example, the average consumer spent $3,459 on food away from home in 2018. If all of that were spent at restaurants, and a member used their L.L. Bean Mastercard for all of those purchases, that would mean 6,918 Bean Bucks. That’s enough to buy a decent amount of L.L. Bean merchandise.
L.L. Bean Mastercard's Outstanding Benefits
- Free shipping/returns
- Bean Bucks reduce the cost of purchases dollar-for-dollar
- Standard Mastercard protections and perks
The L.L. Bean Mastercard is issued by Citibank. When it comes to mobile app satisfaction, Citibank ranks third, with a score of 870 out of 1,000, according to J.D. Power.
When it comes to satisfaction as a credit card issuer, though, Citibank ranks lower and only gets "average" ratings, according to J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. In this study, Citi got 799 points out of 1,000, ranking even a little below the national issuer average of 806.
However, for those looking for L.L. Bean related perks, it might not be as important that Citi is at best average among issuers. Experiences like free shipping and monogramming might make up for it, as well as the dollar-for-dollar discount on purchases when using Bean Bucks.
In general, because the L.L. Bean card is a Mastercard, it comes with the issuer’s basic protections available. This means $0 liability for fraudulent purchases as well as ID theft protection.
For the most part, the L.L. Bean Mastercard is only going to work for those who already are big fans of the brand, and who make quite a few L.L. Bean purchases throughout the year. For L.L. Bean devotees who want a little extra perk and price break, using this card for their purchases at the retailer can result in ongoing benefits.
Plus, cardholders don't have to try to make their rewards offset an annual fee, since this card doesn't have one. As a result, it won't cost you anything to have it in your wallet.
On the downside: The most generous rewards by far only come with purchases at L.L. Bean; the 2% and 1% offered in other categories are pretty par for the course in the rewards-card universe nowadays. And, no matter how you accumulate them, the rewards are limited to Bean Bucks that can only be redeemed on L.L. Bean purchases.
For consumers looking for more general and flexible rewards programs, it might make sense to consider other reward credit cards—either instead of, or as a companion to, the L.L. Bean card—for more all-around use.
For example, the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card offers 3% cash back on at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 on purchases each year)and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. Those rewards might be a little more practical for someone hoping to get actual cash, rather than just discounts on a single brand’s merchandise. For frequent travelers, there are also options like the Bank of America Travel Rewards card. Also annual free-fee, it earns an unlimited, never-expiring 1.5 points for every $1 spent on any purchase anywhere. These points can be redeemed to pay for a whole host of trip-related expenses, from flights to hotels to cruises to rental cars.