Our editor's take
Curtis Arnold Editor-in-chief
The next British invasion may hit your wallet instead of your music collection, with UK lending giant Barclays using its Barclaycard brand to make inroads into the American credit card market. For a few years now, Barclaycard has backed some recognizable retail and travel rewards cards bearing familiar brands like US Airways and Wyndham Hotels. Lately, though, Barclays has put the new logo and brand of its American unit into the spotlight. The self-branded Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard offers borrowers with average credit the opportunity to earn perks and bonuses usually reserved for consumers with higher FICO scores.
This no annual fee card gives you a point for every dollar you spend on purchases, with double points for purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and on monthly utility bills. Rack up more than 2,500 rewards points and you can redeem your balance for statement credits that can help cover the cost of your purchases. Like similar programs from Chase, American Express, and Citi, Barclaycard's reward structure doesn't require you to redeem your rewards points with a specific airline, restaurant, or retailer. Redemption values in Barclaycard's program compare favorably with those from similar programs that offer access to consumers with average credit.
How Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard compares with other credit cards for average credit
Like other credit cards for average credit, this card balances perks with a much-higher-than-average APR. If you're trying to earn as many rewards points as possible, Barclaycard's convenient website and smartphone apps allow you to process payments throughout your statement cycle. You won't want to carry a balance on this card, though.
Because Barclaycard doesn't define a warehouse store as either a gas station or a grocery store, you might get a better overall redemption rate from a card that bears a retailer's brand. However, for most consumers with average credit, the lack of an annual fee makes this card a relatively risk-free way to build a long-term relationship with a trusted lender as they grow their U.S. operation.
Rewards credit card for building or rebuilding credit
If you want to upgrade to a rewards credit card for average credit with no annual fee you might consider this card.
Credit reporting agencies rely heavily on your credit utilization ratio when calculating your credit score. Therefore, you'll get the most mileage from this account by keeping your monthly balance just above zero. If you've been using a prepaid debit card for routine expenses, switching to this card can give you added security and with the rewards program you can earn points thereby getting extra value with your purchases. Just submit your payments in time and keep your statement balance as low as possible.
Should you switch to Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard?
If you're currently paying an annual fee just to participate in a credit card rewards program, the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard offers a compelling alternative. However, as your credit score improves, you'll earn access to accounts with lower APRs and higher rewards redemption rates. Many of Barclaycard's own credit cards for good to excellent credit offer added rewards bonuses and lower APRs.