Getting a New Credit Card: Sallie Mae MasterCard Review

You might remember that a few months ago I had written about I had been rejected for a credit card from Capital One. I already had what was considered the Capital One Newcomer’s Card which gave me 1% flat cash back rate on everything. I had talked with Capital One over the phone about upgrading to the Quicksilver and they had told me that I would need to apply for the card myself but with my credit score and history of on time payments with Capital One I was almost guaranteed to be accepted. Well it turns out I was part of the “almost” and I received a rejection notice from Capital One about a week later. I decided to change my sights towards the Sallie Mae MasterCard, which was a credit card I had been eyeing in addition to the Quicksilver from the beginning. I’ve now had that card for two months, and now I’m going to give you a quick review on the card.

I was looking for a card to compliment my initial card that would boost the 1% flat cash back in certain areas, and this seemed like a card that would be a perfect fit. The Sallie Mae MasterCard offers the following cash back:

  • 5% cash back on the first $250 you spend each month on gas
  • 5% cash back on the first $250 you spend each month on groceries
  • 5% cash back on the first $750 you spend each month on book purchases
  • 1% cash back on everything else

You can see right away how this card fits into my budget, with gas being one of my biggest expenses each month. Being able to get 5% back at the pump is a huge bonus over just 1%, and have never even hit $200 of gas spending in a month this card is perfect as I’ll get the 5% back on the full amount I spend on gas each month.

The other category of groceries doesn’t really affect me as greatly, as I am not the one doing the grocery shopping in my household just yet. But that category is more for future purchases and I can still take advantage of it when I’m on vacation. You can’t really beat 5% cash back on all grocery store purchases and I don’t think there are any better cards out there with no annual fees. You can get the American Express blue cash preferred which gives 6% cash back, but that requires you to spend a large amount on groceries to break even after the annual fee.

I’ve also read things on the “books” category affecting a lot of general purchases on Amazon as well, but I have not tested this at all. I’ll probably stay away from abusing this loophole of sorts as the other two categories are what I was really looking for. But if I can get a few extra dollars back when I use this on Amazon every so often I will try to take advantage of it.

One of the things that I really like about this credit card is the dashboard for purchases being extremely simply and displaying the rewards right next to the purchases. You are able to see right away on each individual purchase if you are receiving the 5% cash back (5x “points”) or the 1% cash back (regular “points”). There is no guessing game or having to go back and calculate to make sure you are getting the rewards that you wanted for that purchase which I think is awesome.

The card actually is only Sallie Mae in name, and is completely managed by Barclay Card US so if you have any experience dealing with them it is a similar experience. I’ve had no problem setting up my payments and the first two payments were processed quickly with no issues. Honestly I have no real issues with this card and if you are looking for a solid gas or grocery card it’s the perfect fit.

The only drawback that I have to this card is it’s association to Sallie Mae and the fact they are making money off of it. It kind of sucks due to all the nightmares I’ve read about dealing with Sallie Mae as a student loan lender, but this card does not deal with them at all like I said. It is simply in name only as all the back end processing is handled by Barclay US. My Sallie Mae MasterCard review is that I can definitely recommend this card as a solid cash back option.

photo credit: Images_of_Money via photopin cc

16 thoughts on “Getting a New Credit Card: Sallie Mae MasterCard Review

  1. Curious why you were rejected?!? Anyway, I have both the Discover IT and Chase Freedom cash back cards that compliment each other well by being able to get better than 1 % cash back on most of my purchases. I recommend looking into those cards when you go looking for another card!

    • I was rejected due to lack of credit history, which I thought wouldn’t be a problem after 1 year! But I guess the standards for the Quicksilver were stricter than I thought.

      I was looking into both those cards, but they had really good sign up bonuses at the end of 2013 which either dropped significantly or went away in 2014. I’m hoping they will bring those bonuses back at the end of the year and I will probably go for them. Some of the rotating categories are things I would be able to take advantage of.

  2. First of all, great website and posts. I have question on Cash Back rewards on the Sallie Mae Mastercard. Do I have to spend over $250 to get the full 5% cash back on gas and groceries? And do all gas stations including ones that belong to wholesale or grocery store qualify for the 5%? I recently called them (April 25th) and a couple reps told me I have to spend over $250 to get the benefit and another rep told me you don’t have to. Who is right?

    • Hey, thanks for stopping by I appreciate it. For your question on this card you will get the full 5% cash back on the first $250 in each category. So let’s say you spend $300 on groceries that month, you will get 5% cash back on the first $250 for $12.50. Then you will get 1% cash back on the extra $50 for $0.50 so you will get a total of $13.00 back. You will then be eligible for $250 of spending towards 5% of cash back on gas as well, separate category. Hope that made sense it is the FIRST $250 you spend, not over $250. This is the best cash back for groceries if you don’t spend a lot each month. If your budget is high, check out the AMex Blue Cash Preferred – but this comes with an annual fee.

      Most gas stations will give you the correct cash back, I’ve stopped at convenience stores + gas stations and got 5% cash back. It depends on what the retailer is coded as, you will have to try it and then check your statement. Or try google-ing that particular chain like ‘costco gas credit card rewards’, etc.

      • But what about spending less than $250 on each category? Let’s say I only spend $100 on gas in a specific month, do I still get $5 back on that?

        • If you spend less than $250 category you will still get the 5% cash back 🙂 For each individual transaction they will give you the 5% back right away which is nice, my Capital One card is not nearly as easy to see what percentage you are getting back.

    • Glad to hear that, I haven’t shopped much on Amazon recently but when I do I’ll be sure to use this card now. I had a read a lot about all Amazon purchases giving 5% cash back, but it seemed too good to be true at the time.

  3. Thanks for the great review. My question is that do you need to have their account to pay off credit card bill? Or can you just use online bill pay and pay with any bank accounts?

    • No problem, I hope it was of some help for you. You don’t need an account with Sallie Mae and once you get the card you will be able to open a Barclay’s card US account that will be just for your credit card account. So if you have any other cards with Barclay’s you should be able to just use that account as well.

      You can schedule an online payment through their portal, or if your bank has the option you should be able to push the payment from your bank as well. I hope this answered your question!

  4. According to the people at Barclays with whom I spoke, You Do Have To Spend over 250 to get the 5 % cash back!

    If you spend less than 250, you only get 1%.

    To me, this is total fraud and not what their web site says you will get!

    • I think the representative was uniformed, and told you the wrong information unfortunately. I have been using it and I never spend even close $250 a month on gas and I always receive 5% cashback. I usually spend around $100 a month on gas and that’s all I really use this credit card for.

      The nice thing about the card is it instantly tells you how much cashback you get for each transaction.

      Here is a recent gas purchase I made:

      Every 100 points is a dollar, and if you take 5% of $18.76 you will get 94 cents. That’s the exact amount of rewards I received for that transaction. Hopefully that helps to clear things up!

    • you are sooooo right! I checked my statement and I am getting the 5%!
      I spoke to 3 people at Sallie and they all gave me the wrong info.
      This really is a great card!

      • Glad to see you are getting the correct 5% cash back credit! Sounds like their reps information would actually turn people away from the card…

        I know that I wouldn’t have bothered with the card if you had to spend over the amount!

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