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Updated November 21, 2014

REI Visa Credit Card Review

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
This article contains references to products from our partners. We receive compensation if you apply through links in our content. You help support CreditDonkey by reading our website and using our links. (read more)

Whether you always shop at REI to stock up on your outdoor gear or occasionally touch the smooth material of its pricey - but high-quality - athletic clothing with longing, you could benefit from the REI Visa credit card. Unlike many retailers' credit cards, the REI Visa provides a nice payback to the store's devoted fans and savvy shoppers. CreditDonkey analyzed the fine print and presents the pros and cons of owning this card to help you decide whether it makes sense for you.

With a good cash back program and extensive benefits, the REI Visa credit card ranks among one of the best store credit cards on the market. The card climbs above the crowded field of subpar store cards by providing value whether you’re buying a new backpack or booking a flight to go use it.

  • Rewards: 5% cash back at REI, 1% cash back everywhere else
  • Benefits: Visa Signature concierge, discounts on travel, dining and entertainment
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 10.99%-22.99% variable
  • Annual Fee: None

Store credit cards rarely fall under the category of “good financial decisions.” The interest rates are typically higher than 20%, and the cards are usually worthless in any other store. The REI Visa is different because not only does it have a reasonable APR depending on your creditworthiness, it also provides cash back rewards for purchases made inside and outside of the store. You get 5% back with REI purchases and 1% back with purchases everywhere else.

However – and there’s always a “however” – while the rewards are generous, you have to pay a one-time $20 REI membership fee to participate in these rewards. And you get access to your cash back and refund only once a year, in March.

Why We Like It

The REI Visa gives a good name to store credit cards. When you consider the reasonable APR and the cash back rewards, it’s one of the top store credit cards around. Those who are approved for the REI Visa Signature (versus the REI Visa Platinum) get 24/7 concierge and discounts on entertainment, travel, and dining.

The Downsides

Its rewards payout schedule is pretty complicated compared to most credit cards that let you tap into your rewards year-round. You’d have to pay attention every time you shop at REI to calculate how much cash back you’re getting – based on whether an item is full price or not. We’re also not crazy about the $20 membership fee; but for diehard REI types, that’s a small price to pay.

Who It’s Best For

© TRAILSOURCE.COM (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

If you love all things outdoors and already shop at REI at least twice a year, this card could be a godsend. As long as you pay off your balance every month, you can build up a nice amount of cash to splurge at your favorite store once a year – or get some cash in return for your loyalty.

Cash Back Credit Card Promotions You Should Not Ignore

ForCredit Card
Ultimate RewardsChase Freedom Unlimited
Cash Back with Signup BonusCapital One Quicksilver
5% Rotating CategoriesDiscover It

The Alternatives

If your idea of “the outdoors” begins and ends at “checking the mall,” then you’ll probably be better off with a standard credit card that offers rewards that you could use when you do occasionally shop at REI. Consider the following alternatives, based on how you usually use your credit card:

  • Responsible users: When you always pay off your balance, even after big splurges at the mall, look for a cash back credit card. Look for cards that offer 5% cash back rewards on rotating categories, during certain times of the years, and 1% on anything else.

  • Balance carriers: Those shoppers who usually carry a balance should steer clear of store credit cards, which have high interest rates. Opt for a card that offers low-interest rates instead.

  • College students: A student credit card will have fewer perks but are better suited to those who are just starting out in the world of credit and need to build up their history.

Ross Frasier is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a outdoor gear review and financial education website. Write to Ross Frasier at ross@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped families make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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CreditDonkey is a outdoor gear review website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

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CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.