What is a Plain Vanilla Card

A plain vanilla card is a basic credit card with no special features or perks and no annual fee. The perks of plain vanilla cards are basically the same from one financial institution to the next, while the card’s credit limit also depends on the cardholder’s creditworthiness.

BREAKING DOWN Plain Vanilla Card

Plain vanilla credit cards, along with other plain vanilla financial products, are supposed to be easy for consumers to understand. The terms and conditions should be clear, and it should be easy for the cardholder to use the card without incurring fees or interest if they do not carry a balance and pay on time. These types of cards are best for consumers who don’t want to decipher complicated fine print and prefer not to bother with credit card rewards programs, or who don’t spend enough to earn meaningful rewards. Prospective cardholders with little credit history may find it easier to qualify for a plain vanilla credit card.

While plain vanilla credit cards are generally consistent across financial institutions, that does not mean they offer the same terms. Typically, the card’s interest rate will depend on the cardholder’s credit score. As with other credit cards, if the cardholder pays the balance in full and on time each month, the card issuer does not charge any interest.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Plain Vanilla Cards

Plain vanilla cards have the advantage of simplicity and ease of use. However, they are not necessarily the best option for every consumer. A sophisticated credit card user might not mind jumping through a few hoops to earn cash back, or other perks. For example, a credit card company may offer a plain vanilla card with no perks, as well as a card that offers $500 cash back after making $5,000 in purchases in the first three months. If the cardholder qualifies for both cards, they may find the cash back offer to be worthwhile, even though it will require taking extra steps. The cardholder will have to be aware of when the three-month window closes and make sure to meet the spending threshold before it does. A cash back reward may be worth it to some consumers who can understand how these programs work and who don’t incur any interest or fees on their credit card purchases.

Plain vanilla cards are, however, often the best option for new credit card users who need to focus on learning to use a card responsibly. They are also often the best option for consumers who plan to carry a balance, since they tend to charge lower interest rates than rewards credit cards.