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Academy Credit Card Review

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Holding a store credit card usually offers you, the consumer, a way to save money on merchandise. Almost every store has one these days. Did you know that Academy Sports + Outdoors, the discount sporting goods chain, offers its customers a co-branded Visa credit card?

The Academy credit card issued by U.S. Bank offers rewards to sports and outdoors enthusiasts who shop at the sporting goods store. Although not the most popular credit card on the market, you might find some value in it. Let’s take a look at the card’s benefits.

Features and Benefits of the Academy Visa Credit Card

If you’re instantly approved for the Academy Visa card while shopping in-store, you will earn a $15 discount on your purchase. If your application takes longer to review, you’ll get a $15 statement credit toward any Academy purchase.

In both cases, you must make at least a $15 purchase to get the discount. You will also earn 1,000 bonus points after making your first purchase within 60 days.

As an Academy credit card member, you will earn five points per dollar spent at Academy Sports + Outdoors. Gas station purchases earn two points per dollar, and all other purchases earn one point per dollar. The bonus for gas purchases is capped at $150 per billing cycle.

Typically, store cards don’t offer any bonus categories besides the stores within their own network. This is a unique and potentially valuable feature of the Academy Sports credit card.

There are two versions of this card: the Academy Sports + Outdoors Visa Signature and the Academy Sports + Outdoors Visa. The card you receive will depend on your creditworthiness.

What You Get:

  • $15 discount on your first Academy Sports purchase
  • 5 points per dollar for Academy Sports purchases
  • 2 points at gas stations
  • 1 point for all other purchases
  • Either no annual fee or $29, based on your creditworthiness

What Is the Value of the Academy Card’s Rewards Points?

You will earn points for every dollar you spend with your Academy credit card. However, your redemption options are limited. You have to use the points toward Academy Rewards Cards, which are only good for purchases from Academy.

For every 2,500 points earned, you will automatically earn a $25 Academy Rewards Card, which is essentially a gift card to the store. This means that points are worth one cent each.

If you use the U.S. Bank Academy credit card at Academy Sports, you’ll get $25 back for every $500 you spend. That’s a 5 percent return.

However, your return will likely hover in the 1 to 2 percent back range, depending on your spending habits. Still, it’s not bad for a no-fee card.

How Much Will You Earn With the Academy Credit Card?

This is completely up to you. Except for the monthly cap on gas purchases, the rewards are unlimited. The more you swipe your Academy Visa card, the more Academy Rewards Points you earn.

Say, you’re going to Lake Powel this summer and want to buy a stand-up paddleboard. By spending $499.99 on a paddleboard package, you will earn 2,500 points. Those points are good for a $25 certificate toward a future Academy Sports + Outdoors purchase. In this case, you will earn 5 percent of your money back.

What You’ll Earn:

  • Academy Sports purchases: 5 points
  • Gas: 2 points
  • All other purchases: 1 point

Other Ways to Save With the Academy Credit Card

Sometimes, for a limited time, the Academy credit card has a 0% intro APR offer on purchases. After that, a variable APR applies. That rate is determined by your creditworthiness. Keep in mind that the intro APR does not apply to cash advances or balance transfers.

Let’s go back to our paddleboard example. At $499.99, it’s not cheap. But you know that you will get enough use out of it to justify the purchase.

If you’re unable to come up with the entire sum, you could finance it with the Academy card. With most credit cards, this would be an expensive proposition because of the high interest rates.

With the Academy credit card, though, you can save a lot of cash and buy the board without having all of the money you need on hand. You could pay just $83.33 plus tax per month for six months.

With the 0% APR offer, you won’t pay an extra penny to spread the cost of the board over several months. However, do not make the purchase or spend beyond your means unless you’re absolutely sure you can pay off the balance within six months.

How Does the Academy Sports Credit Card Compare to Other Cards?

The Academy Visa is a decent card, but the rewards are very limited. They can only be used at Academy Sports stores. You might be wondering what other options you have for credit cards that offer no-interest promo periods and earn decent rewards. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

The Citi Rewards+® Card is great if you are planning a big purchase. You will have 15 months of 0% intro APR to pay off your purchase and a chance to earn 20,000 bonus points. In addition to the zero introductory on purchases, you can also take advantage of the 0% intro APR on balance transfers.

The card’s ongoing rewards include 2X ThankYou® Points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X ThankYou® Points; all other purchases will earn 1X ThankYou® Points. Plus, the card comes with a unique feature – round-up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase.

Redemption options, as well as points value, vary depending on how you redeem them. You can see redemption options at the ThankYou portal.

Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom is a fantastic starter card with lucrative rewards. The introductory offer of 0% APR applies for both purchases and balance transfers. So you can take time paying off that sweet paddleboard.

With this card, you’ll earn $150 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months. You’ll also get 5 percent cash back in rotating categories. Bonus categories typically include gas stations, grocery stores, wholesale clubs, restaurants, movie theaters, and more.

The bonus categories change every three months. The bonus rate is capped at $1,500 in purchases per quarter. All non-bonused purchases earn 1 percent back.

Discover it Miles

If you’re into travel rewards and want a simpler earning structure, the Discover it Miles card might be for you. This credit card earns reward miles per dollar spent on any purchase. You don’t have to worry about rotating categories, quarterly caps or merchant codes. No matter what you pay for, all spending earns miles at the same rate.

At your first anniversary, Discover will match the number of miles you earned in the first card member year and double them. In a way, you control your own bonus.

The Discover it Miles credit card also comes with 0% APR for purchases. So you don’t have to worry about saving up for that big ticket item.

Should You Get the Academy Credit Card?

The Academy Sports + Outdoors Visa card earns a generous five points per dollar at Academy stores. However, it might not be the best card for you. The rewards are limited to Academy Sports, and you can’t redeem the points any time you want. The reward certificates are automatically mailed to you after every 2,500 points earned.

It’s not a great option for someone in need of more flexible rewards. Almost any bank’s cashback card would be a better choice for that.

You could use the rewards you earn with the Chase Freedom card, for example, toward any purchase from any store. You could even use the cash back you earn to buy a paddleboard from Academy Sports if you wanted. Even better, you could use the Freedom card’s $150 sign-up bonus to drop the price down to just $350.

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