Barnes & Noble Mastercard®

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This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our balance transfer category page.

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Bookworms of all types might be charmed by the terms of the Barnes & Noble Mastercard. Offering a generous 5 percent back on all Barnes & Noble purchases—including textbooks, Nook e-books, games and collectibles, it may seem like an open-and-shut case to add this card to your wallet. But there are other cards on the market that are likely to offer you more value on these same types of purchases.

Review

The Barnes & Noble Mastercard gives you 5 percent back as a statement credit on all Barnes & Noble purchases but also rewards you for using the card outside of its stores. The card pays 2 points for every $1 spent at restaurants, as long as they are actual restaurants: Barnes & Noble in-store cafes only yield 1 point per dollar. The card also pays 1 point per $1 on all other spending.

The card also comes with a 15-month 0 percent APR offer on balance transfers made within the first 45 days of opening the account. Additionally, every time you accumulate 2,500 points, you’ll get a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, as well as after either your first transaction or balance transfer. However, the 3 percent balance transfer fee is probably going to outweigh the benefit of a $25 gift card.

If you spend $7,500 or more a year on the Barnes & Noble Mastercard, you’ll also get a $25 Barnes & Noble membership for free. The B&N membership gives you $60 in coupons at sign-up, a 40 percent discount off the current hardcover bestsellers, and a 10 percent discount on everything else, including at the in-store café. Members also get free express shipping for online orders and special members-only offers throughout the year.

But the $7,500 minimum is a rewards rate of about a third of a cent per $1 spent. You’d be far better off with a cash-back card that pays 2 percent back on all purchases; you would earn enough back to cover the cost of a B&N membership after spending just $1,250.

Although this card does give you a 5 percent rebate on all B&N purchases, so does the Amazon Prime Rewards Signature Visa Card, and Amazon has a far greater breadth of merchandise than Barnes & Noble.

If you’re looking to save money on books, music and a selection of gifts, there are better ways and better credit cards to use than the Barnes & Noble Mastercard. We don’t see a happy ending with this card.

Who should get this card

Someone who does the math and somehow finds greater value in this card than a cash-back or other rewards card may benefit from owning this card.

Fees and APR

  • There’s no fee to own this card.
    • This card has a variable APR of 15.24 percent or 26.24 percent on purchases.
    • There’s an introductory 15-month 0 percent APR offer on balance transfers made within the first 45 days. After that, it’s a variable 15.24 percent to 26.24 percent.
    • Balance transfers are subject to a 3 percent fee.
    • Late payments won’t affect your APR but you may be subject to a late fee of up to $37.
    • There’s a foreign transaction charge of 3 percent.

Extras, perks and using points

You’ll automatically receive 5 percent back on your Barnes & Noble purchases as a statement credit. Every 2,500 points earned on the card will automatically earn you a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, which will be sent via mail to the address on file with your card account.

How this card compares 

Citi® Double Cash Card
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.24% - 25.24% based on your creditworthiness*
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

15.24% - 25.24%* (Variable)

Annual Fee

$0*

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% for 18 months*

When it comes to rewards value, the Citi Double Cash Card ranks among the very best cash-back credit cards that charge no annual fee.

So why does this card not receive a higher score from Bankrate? Because the Citi Double Cash offers no sign-up bonus, so it struggles to compete with many cards in this category.

In the long term, the Citi Double Cash Card may earn you more rewards overall. The card earns an unlimited 1 percent cash back when you make a purchase and another 1 percent back when you pay for those purchases.

Chase Freedom®
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

16.74% - 25.49% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

The Chase Freedom card is fee-free and offers rotating bonus categories that pay 5 percent back, with a cap of $1,500 in each category and an unlimited 1 percent back on everything else. However, you also have to sign up each quarter to get the bonus.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • 5% back at Amazon.com with an eligible Prime membership; otherwise 3% back
  • 5% back on Whole Foods Market purchases with an eligible Prime membership; otherwise 3% back
  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores.
  • 1% back on all other purchases.

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our balance transfer category page.

Credit Needed

Regular APR

15.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

Annual Fee

No Annual Fee.

Balance Transfers Intro APR

If you’re looking to earn maximum rewards back on your everyday shopping, you may want to consider the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Think of this card as a constant coupon for the busy household that uses Amazon Prime to buy everything from bulk pantry goods to birthday party gifts, sports equipment, and other items for their kids. This card’s 5 percent return on Amazon purchases is among the highest rewards of any credit card on the market today. The card is free with a $99 Amazon Prime membership.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Credit Needed

Excellent, Good

Regular APR

14.74%-25.74% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 15 months

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Depending on your spending habits, the no-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express may ultimately give you better cash-back earnings. The card offers a rate of 3 percent at supermarkets, 2 percent at gas stations and select department stores, and 1 percent on all other spending.

 

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.