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REI Co-Op MasterCard Credit Card Review

T.L. Rob
Updated on: 05/05/2018
RE®: 73
Our Rating
REI Co-op Mastercard®
Compare Shopping Cards
For excellent/good credit
  • 70
    for REI Co-op Customers
  • 73
    for Cash Rewards
  • 75
    for Everyday Use

"This MasterCard earns 5.0% back at REI and offers access to exclusive sales and discounts."

One of the greatest stores for adventure seekers is REI, but as any outdoorsman (or woman) knows, the necessary equipment can get expensive. Look no further than the REI Co-Op Mastercard from U.S. Bank as a way to earn great rewards to help offset your camping, climbing, and kayaking needs. And unlike many store credit cards, the REI card is a solid offering.

You’ll earn the most rewards when actually shopping at REI or rei.com (which is nothing new for store-branded cards), and you can earn an exceptional 5.0% back on all REI purchases. In addition, you’ll earn 1.0% back wherever else you use the card. Next, the signup bonus with this card is also attractive compared to its peers. Once approved and after your first purchase, you’ll earn a $100 REI gift card. This reward is issued right away, but all the other cashback you earn is sent with your yearly membership dividend.

You read that right about annual rewards redemptions. The biggest downside to the REI card is that you only receive your hard-earned cash once per year. Despite this, one huge advantage of this card is the ability to redeem your REI rewards for actual cash and not just credit towards a future REI purchase. There is a catch, however, which we’ll cover in a bit.

Are there other credit cards out there better for everyday spend? Sure. But if you enjoy spending time exploring nature and use REI to supplement your hobby, this card is definitely worth considering. Read on to learn all about this unique card.

REI Co-Op Credit Card Features and Benefits

While a simple and straightforward credit card, the REI Co-Op Mastercard comes with multiple solid benefits. To get you started, you’ll earn a $100 REI gift card after making your very first purchase. This purchase can be at any store that takes Mastercard. As for rewards, you’ll earn 5.0% back on all REI purchases as well as 1.0% back everywhere else. Plus, you’ll be eligible for a slew of World Mastercard benefits if your credit is strong enough. Examples of these benefits include Priceless Golf, a personal travel advisor, and access to Mastercard’s Luxury Hotels & Resorts program. Whether you’re approved for the Platinum or World versions of the REI Mastercard, you’ll get all the standard benefits for no annual fee.

What You Get

  • $100 REI gift card as a signup bonus
  • 5.0% back on all REI purchases
  • 1.0% back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • World Mastercard benefits (for those who qualify)
  • As an REI member, you’ll get access to exclusive sales and offers

Whether shopping at REI or not, you’ll earn rewards on every purchase. While the 5.0% back at REI with no caps is a great earnings rate, you’ll only be able to take advantage of your rewards through your annual membership dividend that’s mailed in March of each year. Once your rewards are issued, you have until the beginning of January two years later to cash in toward new REI purchases or eventually for cold hard cash.

In-Store Financing

Unfortunately, the REI Co-Op card does not come with any special financing perks. Other credit cards offer a low introductory APR or special financing throughout the year, but this is not a benefit with this particular card.

Customer Perks

All REI Mastercard holders are required to be an REI member (or join before applying). As a member of the REI co-op, you’re eligible for special offers, access to in-store sales, special pricing on classes, as well as the famous annual member refund. For years and still today, it only costs $20 for a lifetime membership.

While these perks are just a few of the benefits of membership, the rewards you can earn with the REI credit card are on top of what your membership already gets you. Sadly, being an REI credit card member gets you no further benefit (other than the ability to earn rewards on all your purchases).

How Much Will You Earn with REI Co-Op Credit Card?

Unlike many store-branded credit cards, the REI Co-Op card earns straightforward cash rewards. As an REI member who spent at least $10 at REI each year, you’re eligible for an annual dividend (typically 10% of your full-priced purchases from the prior year). Mastercard members earn an extra 5.0% back on ALL purchases (not just full-priced merchandise), and the rewards you earn outside REI are included with your annual dividend. But as previously mentioned, your rewards are only sent once per year, but you do have almost two full years to redeem them before they expire.

REI Co-Op Credit Card Rewards

Your Monthly Charges
Rewards You Will Earn Annually
$240cashback
Grocery
1%cashback/$1
Gas
1%cashback/$1
REI (in-store and online)
5%cashback/$1
Dining
1%cashback/$1
Entertainment
1%cashback/$1
All Other Purchases
1%cashback/$1

The only bonus category with the REI card is with purchases made at REI. But unlike the annual member dividend exclusions, you will earn rewards on all purchases including full-priced and sale merchandise, REI gift cards, services, fees (but not the one-time membership fee), and REI Adventures invoices. For all other purchases, you’ll earn a flat 1.0% back.

Should You Get the REI Co-Op Mastercard?

As far as store credit cards go, the REI Co-Op cards are very competitive. As far as general rewards cards go, you could easily make the case that there are better cards out there, but there’s no such thing as a one-card-fits-all solution. What it really comes down to is how much you shop at REI. Getting 5.0% back on just about everything in the store (and at rei.com) is a great rate of return. And while general members don’t earn rewards toward their annual dividend on discounted merchandise, REI credit card holders do, so that’s a huge advantage.

On the other hand, earning 1.0% on all you other purchases used to be average, but compared to many other credit cards on the market, it’s pretty measly. Chances are you don’t spend a majority of your paycheck at REI, so getting 1.0% back at the grocery store or when going out to eat pales in comparison to other rewards cards. It’s safe to say the REI card should not be your everyday card.

Also, while the $100 gift card for signing up is nice, it can only be used at REI. Plus, the biggest downside of the card is that your rewards are only issued once each year. However, you don’t have to use them all at once, and the REI card does have the advantage of being able to redeem your rewards for cash, albeit not once your dividend is initially issued.

Ask yourself how much do you realistically spend at REI each year? This specialty store will at best earn 2X on some other no-fee rewards cards, so 5% is obviously much better. Then again, if you don’t shop at REI often, another card is probably a better bet. If you are a heavy REI shopper and spend a good chunk of change there, this could be a great addition to your wallet.

Here’s another word of caution. Store credit cards have become extremely popular over the years because studies have continuously shown that shoppers who have and use a particular store’s credit card are more likely to shop at that store more frequently and spend more on each visit compared to customers who do not have that store’s credit card. You’re probably not going to take your new credit card and buy ten camp stoves, but it becomes a lot easier to justify another backpacking gizmo if you’re not careful.

FAQs

Need more info? Check out our frequently asked questions. If you have other questions, please click on “Ask Now” below.

  • Why do I have to become a member to get the REI credit card?

    Unlike some stores like Costco where you have to be a member to get in the door, nonmembers can shop as much as they want at REI. However, members get access to additional sales and offers compared to non-members, so when REI and U.S. Bank teamed up to create this credit card, they made membership a requirement. As a reminder, it only costs $20 to join and that’s it. The savings you’ll get over a lifetime will definitely surpass this nominal cost.
  • Tell me again how the annual dividend works.

    This is the big question amongst many REI members. As a national consumer co-operative, REI’s corporate structure is designed to give back to its members, and this comes in the form of a cash-equivalent rewards program. The exact percentage returned to members is semi-dependent on the company’s full-year performance, but the dividend each member receives is typically equal to 10% of the total of the full-priced merchandise that member purchased that year. If you spent $1,000 on full-priced camping gear, you’d get $10 back.
    For REI Mastercard members, they’ll receive extra rewards on top of their normal dividend. They earn an additional 5.0% back on ALL purchases (not just full-priced items), as well as 1.0% back on non-REI purchases. Each month, your rewards are calculated and provided to REI, and your credit card rewards are included with your annual dividend that’s mailed each March. You then have until January two years later to redeem your dividend towards additional REI merchandise or for cash back.
  • How do I redeem my rewards for cash?

    Good question. While all members can redeem their annual dividend for cash, REI would rather you use your rewards toward a future purchase. And frankly, most members do. But if you’d rather have that cold hard cash to spend elsewhere, you have that option with a catch.
    As we discussed earlier, your dividend is issued in March for rewards earned the prior year. (For example, rewards earned in 2018 will be issued in March 2019 and expire in January 2021.) In our example, however, you can only redeem your remaining rewards balance for cash starting in July of 2020. The idea is that members redeem some rewards for merchandise, and anything leftover can be redeemed for cash at a later date. However, the details of this policy are grey.
    You could potentially wait until the July after you receive your dividend and cash in your rewards in full, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing that. But at that point, you’ll have waited at least 16 months to capitalize on your rewards. Then again, if you do that year after year, you’ll eventually start a cycle where you can redeem rewards for cash every year.
    This may seem obvious, but it’s also worth noting that stores have limited cash on hand. Cashing your dividend is at their discretion; they may choose to issue you a check instead. However, you can request a check through REI’s website if you prefer. Just know the check can only be made payable to the member and not given to anyone else.
  • What’s the difference between the Platinum Mastercard and World Mastercard?

    Not much when it comes to day-to-day usage. The card you’re approved for will depend on your credit score and history. All applicants are first considered for the World version, and if their credit isn’t strong enough, they may be approved for the Platinum version instead.
    U.S. Bank does not share their credit criteria publicly (no bank does), so it’s impossible to predict which version you may be approved for. But in general, a higher score and cleaner credit report will lead to a greater chance of being approved for the top tier card. See our section at the end of the review for more info on World benefits.
  • I got approved for a World Mastercard. Should I use this card for travel?

    While World Mastercards do offer some travel benefits, they are generally not the best cards to use while traveling or for most travel purchases. For starters, the REI World Mastercard does incur foreign transaction charges of 2-3% while those are generally waived with travel-centric credit cards. Also, unlike many travel rewards cards, the REI card does not earn bonus points for airfare, hotels, or other travel-related purchases. Plus, better travel cards come with annual credits, airport lounge access, lost baggage insurance, and more. Yes, this card does come with a chip for greater global acceptance (although most U.S.-issued credit cards have this nowadays), we don’t recommend this as your out-of-the-country card unless it’s your last resort.
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Compare REI Co-Op Credit Card

Only one bank issues the REI credit card, and both versions are very similar (as mentioned in our FAQ above). To get a better idea of how the REI Mastercard compares to similar stores’ cards, we’ll take a look at some of REI’s competitors: Bass Pro Shops, Dicks Sporting Goods, and L.L. Bean. All three co-branded cards offer no annual fee, but let’s take a closer look to see which may be best for you.

REI Co-op Mastercard®
For Excellent/Good Credit
Check which U.S. Bank card is the right fit for you
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Compare REI Co-op Credit Cards with Similar Stores’ Cards

Bass Pro Shops® World Mastercard®Bass Pro Shops® World Mastercard®
Sign-up bonus0 points$1000 points
Annual Fee

$0

$0

$0

APR On Purchases14.24% to 24.24%12.49% to 24.49% Variable±27.99% Variable±
Foreign Fee3%2%3%
Bonus Value$0$100$0
Second Year Value$480$240$264

Looking at some of the basics of the card, the REI Mastercard is definitely a leader. The $100 REI gift card is by far the best signup bonus for these (and most) store credit cards. Bass Pro Shops offers a pathetic signup offer.

Another major benefit to the REI card’s favor is the ongoing rewards-earning structure and ability to redeem rewards for cash. But as great as these perks are, the other cards in this group allow you to cash in your rewards more quickly (as soon as you meet minimum thresholds). If you’re considering any rewards credit card, the ability to redeem your rewards should be a major factor.

Here’s something else to consider. The stores in this group are more different than similar. Dick’s, Bass Pro, and REI all have the leg up here. Additionally, Dick’s is primarily a sports competition type store (think football, basketball, baseball, etc.) and their merchandise reflects that while REI is about outdoorsy-type sports. Bass Pro Shops is more similar to REI, but they also sell big ticket items like boats. While Dick’s, REI, and Bass Pro all sell clothing, their clothing lines and target customers are different.

If you’re considering a store credit card for your wilderness hobby, it’s a good idea to think about where you shop for your gear. While the REI card, in our opinion, is the best of this pack, you should get one of the other cards if they’re better for you.

Some Alternative Cards for REI Shoppers

While the REI Mastercard is a decent credit card, especially for the REI enthusiast, there are other cards on the market today that offer compelling awards with a lot more flexibility. Today, we’ll compare the REI card to these three competitors:

$100 offer
REI Co-op Mastercard®

Check if REI Co-op Mastercard® is the best option for you

Highest-Earning Card on Every Purchase

Rotating category cards are nice, but maybe you’re looking for a card with a solid return with every purchase you make. Take a look at the Citi Double Cash Card. This popular credit card earns 2.0% cash back on every single purchase, and there are no caps or limits to the amount of cash you can earn. This card does not come with a signup bonus, but for a $0 annual fee, it’s hard to beat this level of earnings. The one catch is the breakdown in how you earn your cash. With every purchase you make, you earn 1% back. Then, you earn the second 1% reward with each payment you make. So the cash doesn’t come all at once, but with regular monthly payments, you’ll see your rewards add up quickly.

Best Rotating Category Card

One of the biggest benefits of the REI card is the 5.0% back you can earn on your REI purchases. This is great, but what if you shop other places? Wouldn’t it be great to earn 5.0% back there, too? Out of this group, the Discover It card does just that by offering quarterly bonus categories where you can earn that 5.0% back. Every quarter, the types of merchants where you’ll earn this bonus cash change, and you’re capped at $1,500 in spend each quarter to maximize this bonus. However, these bonus categories may include groceries or restaurants, so it’s not difficult to take advantage. Plus, the best benefit of this card is that Discover will match all the cash you earn in your first year of cardmembership. That means all your normal and bonus rewards will be doubled at the end of the year which is an unparalleled benefit!

Best Everyday Card

Cashback rewards are great but only if you can earn them where you shop the most. Enter the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. This card offers a terrific $150 cash bonus after spending $1,000 within your first three months of opening your account. Then, you’ll earn 2.0% back at gas stations and select departments stores, as well as 3.0% back on your first $6,000 in annual grocery spend. Plus, you’ll earn 1% back everywhere else. Everyone needs gas and groceries, so this card is a great way to earn cash rewards on the places you may shop at the most.

Card Overview

Whenever you apply for a credit card make sure you read the terms and conditions of the card and the rewards program to find out about minimum spend requirements and any restrictions to ensure you can successfully obtain the card and earn the rewards it offers.

Card Details
Good credit score
From 700 to 749
Issuer
U.S. BankU.S. Bank
Rewards Currency
Cashback

Card Terms and Conditions

While it's easy to focus on the benefits of the REI card, it's worth taking a closer look at the terms and conditions. There's a lot to consider as you think about how you're going to use the card. Will you carry a balance, get a cash advance or maybe make a big purchase? Below is a rundown of the various interest rates, purchase protections, security features and mobile banking options that come with this REI MasterCard credit card.

Purchases

Intro APR:
N/A
Intro APR for balance transfers:
N/A
Ongoing APR:
12.49% to 24.49% Variable±
Minimum Grace Period:
24 - 30 days

Cash Advance Features

Ongoing APR:
25.49% Variable±
Cash Advance Fee:
Either 4% of the amount of each advance or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

Security and Protections

Since both REI Mastercards are issued by U.S. Bank, you can shop with confidence with the slew of security measures that come with all of their credit cards. Not only can you manage your REI card online and on your mobile phone, but U.S. Bank’s standard fraud monitoring and security measures are always in place looking out for you.

Account alerts:
Create customizable alerts to be notified of certain activity on your REI account.
Banking on the Go:
Download the free U.S. Bank app to view and manage your account straight from your smartphone.
EMV Chip Technology:
Use your card at home or abroad with the built-in chip which also provides better security than the magnetic stripe (but that’s still a feature for merchants that don’t accept chip cards).

Additional Cardholder Benefits

There are two types of REI cards you may be eligible for: the Platinum Mastercard and the World Mastercard. If your credit history is strong enough, you’ll be approved for the World version. While most of the benefits are the same with both cards, the World Mastercard offers many more benefits with multiple examples listed below. If approved, you’ll receive the full booklet of details when you receive your card.

Master Card Travel Benefits

Mastercard Airport Concierge:
Get first class service on the ground around the world at over 450 airports. Extra charges will apply.
Mastercard Luxury Hotels and Resorts:
Enjoy complimentary room upgrades, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and more when you book your stay through this hotel program.
Priceless Cities:
Whether at home or away, access special Mastercard-only experiences.
Priceless Golf:
Hit the links and get special savings, too.
Airlines Program:
Upgrades, savings, and discounts await you with select domestic and international carriers.
Car Rental Program:
Get complimentary elite status and savings with participating car rental agencies.
Cruise Program:
Prefer to travel on the water? Enjoy special benefits and savings on a global fleet of luxury cruise ships, yachts of all sizes, and riverboats, too.
Identify Theft:
Get this complimentary service to help you detect and/or resolve any identify theft issue.
Personal Travel Advisor:
Card travel advisors are available day or night to assist with your World benefits as well as manage your next trip.