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Spectrum Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Spectrum Credit Union’s checking account options

Checking Account

This account offers a small amount of interest, but only on balances of $500 or more.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.15%

$500

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: ATMs owned by Spectrum Credit Union are always free. Your first eight transactions at other ATMs each month are free. After that, you’ll pay $1 per withdrawal (even at in-network ATMs), plus any ATM surcharge fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

You only need a small $25 deposit to open this account, but once open, there is no minimum balance. However, you’ll only earn interest payments for a given month if you have $500 or more in the account that month. If not, you won’t earn any interest for that month, but it’ll still be a free checking account.

This checking account comes with an ATM card, and you’re allowed to withdraw up to $500 per day through this method; you can also write an unlimited number of checks. Spectrum Credit Union will send you an account statement once per quarter, rather than once per month as with most banks.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s Checking Account

You can open this account online. But first, you’ll need to apply for a membership with Spectrum Credit Union.

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New Solutions Checking Account

If you’ve been denied for a checking account, this account offers a second chance to prove you can handle it.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5
  • ATM fee: ATMs owned by Spectrum Credit Union are always free. Your first eight transactions at other ATMs each month are free. After that, you’ll pay $1 per withdrawal (even at in-network ATMs), plus any ATM surcharge fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

Did you know that banks and credit unions perform a check on you when you apply for an account? This might be a regular credit check, or it could be from a specialized company like ChexSystems. If the bank or credit union doesn’t like what it sees, it can deny you for an account.

If that’s happened to you in the past, you might find this account useful. It’s open to people who might otherwise be denied for an account. If you go for 12 months without any problems with the account, Spectrum Credit Union will automatically convert this into its regular Checking Account, which carries no monthly fees and offers interest if you have a large enough deposit. Additionally, you’ll get a free box of checks when you sign up.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s New Solutions Checking account

If you’re interested in opening this account, you’ll need to first apply for membership with the credit union online. You’ll need to provide basic personal information about yourself such as your name and address, along with some identifying documents like a driver’s license or another government-issued I.D.

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How Spectrum Credit Union’s checking accounts compare

We do like that Spectrum Credit Union offers a second-chance checking account to allow folks who’ve had trouble getting checking accounts in the past another shot to prove themselves worthy. However, the interest rate offered on its main checking account isn’t really that great, especially when compared with the best online checking accounts out there.

Spectrum Credit Union’s savings account options

Primary Savings

Spectrum Credit Union’s basic savings account doesn’t offer a very high interest rate.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.50%

$25

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: ATMs owned by Spectrum Credit Union are always free. Your first eight transactions at other ATMs each month are free. After that, you’ll pay $1 per withdrawal (even at in-network ATMs), plus any ATM surcharge fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee:$25

If you need a safe space to park your money while banking with Spectrum Credit Union, you might be tempted to open this account. We suggest passing on this account in favor of its money market account, however, since that one offers a much better interest rate than this one.

If you do open this account, there’s a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. Make sure to keep your balance up above $25. If it drops below that level, two things happen: you won’t earn interest for that month, and you’ll have to pay a $5 monthly “low balance fee.” At that rate, your account would be drained dry in five months or less.

This account is also subject to federal regulation D limits, meaning that you are allowed up to six certain withdrawals out of the account per month out of the account. One of the nice things about this account, however, is that you can open “sub-savings accounts” where you can save for specific purchases, like a new car or a summer vacation.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s Member Savings account

You can open this account easily online. First, however, you’ll need to become a member of the credit union. You’ll have to provide personal information about yourself when you apply, such as your name, address and a provide a copy of your driver’s license or another government-issued I.D.

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Holiday Savings Club Account

If you find yourself going into debt each holiday season, this might be a good account for you.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: ATMs owned by Spectrum Credit Union are always free. Your first eight transactions at other ATMs each month are free. After that, you’ll pay $1 per withdrawal (even at in-network ATMs), plus any ATM surcharge fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee:$25

This account was designed to help members save for the holidays, and it has a unique setup to do so. When you open the account, you can set up automatic transfers to this account each month. Then, every year on Nov. 10, the entire balance — plus interest — will be sent to you in a check, just in time to start your holiday shopping.

This account is also governed under federal Regulation D which allows you up to six certain withdrawals out of the account per month. But, since this account is designed to be used just once per year, it’s a good idea to let it grow as long as possible without touching it.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s Holiday Club Savings account

To open this account, you’ll first need to become a member of the credit union. As a part of the application process, you’ll need to provide information about yourself such as your name and address, as well as some form of ID, like a driver’s license or another government-issued I.D. You can do this online.

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MySavings

People under age 22 can earn a fantastic interest rate with this account while they learn about saving.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

7.00%

$0.01-$1,000

0.50%

Over $1,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: ATMs owned by Spectrum Credit Union are always free. Your first eight transactions at other ATMs each month are free. After that, you’ll pay $1 per withdrawal (even at in-network ATMs), plus any ATM surcharge fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

If you have a child under age 22 and want to teach them what compounding interest is all about, this is a great account to do it with. Your kid will earn a smokin’ hot interest rate, but only on the first $1,000 saved (a very high amount for any child to work up to). After that, they’ll still earn interest, but at the much lower Primary Savings account rate.

Once your child reaches age 22, this account will automatically be converted into a Special Purpose Savings account, which is basically the same thing as a Primary Savings Account for all intents and purposes. Your child cannot make more than six withdrawals out of this account per month, as dictated by federal rules.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s MySavings account

You can help your child sign up for this account online. To qualify, they’ll need their own email address, social security number and agree to sign up for e-Statements within 60 days after opening the account.

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How Spectrum Credit Union’s savings accounts compare

Spectrum Credit Union’s savings accounts are a bit hit-and-miss. Its Primary Savings doesn’t really offer that great of interest. However, its MySavings youth account offers one of the highest interest rates we’ve seen, even if it’s just on the first $1,000 in the account.

However, if you’re looking for a better savings account that offers higher rates for adults, you can do much better with one of these top online savings accounts.

Spectrum Credit Union’s CD rates

Share Certificates

These Share Certificates offer decent rates, and many options for those who have larger deposits.

Term

APY

Minimum deposit to Earn APY

3 months

1.75%

$500

6 months

1.80%

$500

9 months

1.85%

$500

12 months

2.00%

$500

12 months

2.00%

$50,000

12 months

2.05%

$100,000

12 months

2.10%

$250,000

24 months

2.05%

$500

24 months

2.05%

$50,000

24 months

2.10%

$100,000

24 months

2.15%

$250,000

36 months

2.10%

$500

36 months

2.10%

$50,000

36 months

2.15%

$100,000

36 months

2.20%

$250,000

48 months

2.15%

$500

48 months

2.15%

$50,000

48 months

2.20%

$100,000

48 months

2.25%

$250,000

60 months

2.20%

$500

60 months

2.20%

$50,000

60 months

2.25%

$100,000

60 months

2.30%

$250,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: Varies; see chart above.
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: You can’t drop the balance of your CD below the minimum opening deposit for your interest rate tier. If you do so, Spectrum Credit Union will close the CD.
  • Early withdrawal penalty: This will depend on your CD’s term length.
    • For CDs of one year or less, you’ll pay three months’ worth of interest
    • For the 24 month CD, you’ll pay six months’ worth of interest
    • For the 36 month CD, you’ll pay nine months’ worth of interest
    • For the 48 month and 60 month CDs, you’ll pay 12 months’ worth of interest

Spectrum Credit Union’s CDs are very flexible. There are eight different term lengths to choose from, and you can open an account with as little as $500. If you have more than that, though, you’re in luck, because Spectrum Credit Union offers even higher interest rates for those with larger deposits.

You have a few options for how to receive interest payments. You can opt to have them rolled back into the CD to earn even more interest, or you can opt to have it paid out via check or deposited into another account each month.

When your CD matures, it’ll automatically be rolled over into another CD of the same term length. This CD does come with a 10-day grace period, however, so you do have a little bit of time to withdraw the money or make changes to the CD without penalty.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s CDs

You can open these accounts online easily if you’re a member of the credit union. If you’re not already a member, you’ll need to apply for membership first, which can also be done online.

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How Spectrum Credit Union’s CD rates compare

The interest rates offered on these CDs are pretty good, especially for the shorter terms such as 12 months. We also like that these CDs are accessible to savers just starting out with a smaller amount of cash, but that people who have larger deposit sizes still have the option to earn more interest.

If you’d like to compare these rates with our current top CD picks, head over to this page.

Spectrum Credit Union’s money market account option

MarketEdge Account

This account offers a very good interest rate, but there are still better options at other banks.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.45%

$0.01-$2,499.99

1.50%

$2,500-$249,999.99

1.50%

Over $250,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: ATMs owned by Spectrum Credit Union are always free. Your first eight transactions at other ATMs each month are free. After that, you’ll pay $1 per withdrawal (even at in-network ATMs), plus any ATM surcharge fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

If you want to earn the highest rate possible for your cash while still maintaining frequent access to your deposit (i.e., not locking it away in a CD), this would be a perfect go-to account for those who want to stick with Spectrum Credit Union. There are no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees, making this an easy-going account.

You are allowed to make up to six certain withdrawals per month out of this account, however, since it still does fall under federal Regulation D guidelines.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s MarketEdge Account

You’ll need to apply to become a member of the credit union before you can open this account. Applying for membership is a relatively simple task that you can do online, as long as you can provide a driver’s license or government I.D. to show proof of your identity. After that, you can open this account.

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How Spectrum Credit Union’s money market account compares

This account offers a high interest rate, especially for a credit union. However, it’s still not the highest out there. If you’re interested in earning the most money possible, we recommend one of these online money market accounts instead.

Spectrum Credit Union’s IRA account options

IRA CD rates

These are the same accounts as Spectrum Credit Union’s regular CDs, just opened up inside of an IRA.

Term

APY

Minimum deposit to Earn APY

6 months

1.80%

$500

9 months

1.85%

$500

12 months

2.00%

$500

12 months

2.00%

$50,000

12 months

2.05%

$100,000

12 months

2.10%

$250,000

24 months

2.05%

$500

24 months

2.05%

$50,000

24 months

2.10%

$100,000

24 months

2.15%

$250,000

36 months

2.10%

$500

36 months

2.10%

$50,000

36 months

2.15%

$100,000

36 months

2.20%

$250,000

48 months

2.15%

$500

48 months

2.15%

$50,000

48 months

2.20%

$100,000

48 months

2.25%

$250,000

60 months

2.20%

$500

60 months

2.20%

$50,000

60 months

2.25%

$100,000

60 months

2.30%

$250,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: Varies; see chart above.
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: You can’t drop the balance of your CD below the minimum opening deposit for your interest rate tier. If you do so, Spectrum Credit Union will close the CD.
  • Early withdrawal penalty: This will depend on your CD’s term length.
    • For CDs of one year or less, you’ll pay three months’ worth of interest
    • For the 24 month CD, you’ll pay six months’ worth of interest
    • For the 36 month CD, you’ll pay nine months’ worth of interest
    • For the 48 month and 60 month CDs, you’ll pay 12 months’ worth of interest

If you have a hankering to earn a high interest rate on an IRA CD, these ones might be worthy of your consideration. You can open them inside of either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, whichever you prefer.

When these CDs mature, they’ll automatically be renewed for the same term but with the current interest rate. If you’d rather do something else with your money at that point, you do have a short 10-day grace period to withdraw your money or make any changes to the IRA CD.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s IRA CDs

You’ll first need to become a member of this credit union before you can open an IRA CD. You can do this online, and you’ll need to provide a few details, such as your name, address and a driver’s license or another government-issued I.D.

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How Spectrum Credit Union’s IRA CD rates compare

Spectrum Credit Union offers good rates on these IRA CDs, especially considering that this is a small credit union. However, you can still earn even higher rates with one of these IRA CDs, some of which are available at banks that don’t require you to go through a run-around to become a member.

Accumulative IRA

Just like Spectrum Credit Union’s Primary Savings account, this account doesn’t offer much of a return on your savings.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.50%

$25

  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $25
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: ATMs owned by Spectrum Credit Union are always free. Your first eight transactions at other ATMs each month are free. After that, you’ll pay $1 per withdrawal (even at in-network ATMs), plus any ATM surcharge fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

If you want to keep your money more freely available and/or don’t yet have enough cash to open an IRA CD, this is one option for you. However, we also recommend skipping this IRA savings account in favor of Spectrum Credit Union’s money market IRA, because that one offers a much better interest rate.

If you’re still interested in opening this account, you can choose to open it as a traditional or a Roth IRA. You’ll also be subject to the six-item withdrawal limit per month with this account. If your balance drops below $25, you’ll also be subject to a $5 monthly “low balance fee.”

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s Accumulative IRA

If you decide this account is right for you despite its low interest rate, you can open it online after you become a member. To join, you’ll need to complete an application and provide a copy of your driver’s license or another government-issued I.D.

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MarketEdge IRA

This money market IRA offers a much better return than Spectrum Credit Union’s IRA savings account.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY

0.50%

$0.01-$2,499.99

1.65%

$2,500-$249,999.99

1.65%

Over $250,000

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: ATMs owned by Spectrum Credit Union are always free. Your first eight transactions at other ATMs each month are free. After that, you’ll pay $1 per withdrawal (even at in-network ATMs), plus any ATM surcharge fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $25

This is your best option for earning a high rate on your deposit at Spectrum Credit Union while still keeping your account relatively liquid. This is handy if you’re still growing your funds to put away in a higher-earning IRA that requires a steep minimum deposit, or if you’re already retired and are just looking for a place to stash your cash before you need to use it.

As with all money market accounts, you’re allowed up to six certain withdrawals per month as per federal Regulation D, however. You can also open this account as either a traditional or a Roth IRA.

How to get Spectrum Credit Union’s MarketEdge IRA

You can easily open this account online. First, however, you’ll need to establish membership with Spectrum Credit Union. You can also apply for membership online, as long as you have a driver’s license or another government-issued I.D. and can provide basic personal information about yourself, such as your name and address.

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Overall review of Spectrum Credit Union’s banking products

There are a lot of things to like about Spectrum Credit Union. It offers high rates on its CDs, its money market account (and the IRA versions of these), as well as its youth savings account. It doesn’t charge any particularly high monthly fees or high early withdrawal penalties on its CDs. It also offers a second-chance checking account to people who aren’t able to qualify elsewhere, which is a huge boon to those who remain unbanked.

There are also a few things not to like about Spectrum Credit Union as well. It doesn’t really offer a very good rate on its savings account, although you can avoid this by using the money market account instead.

All in all, this isn’t a bad bank to choose, especially if you want to work with a local credit union. However, if you’re the type of person who tries to get the highest interest rate possible on their accounts, we still suggest looking elsewhere.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here

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Credit Cards, Reviews

The Platinum Card from American Express Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

If you’re a frequent traveler looking for a top-of-the-line luxury credit card with lounge access and other premium perks, The Platinum Card® from American Express might be the card you want to carry. It charges a high annual fee of $550, but it comes with unparallelled airport lounge access, statement and travel credits which can help you cut down on the cost of the annual fee and a strong welcome offer, among other perks.

We’re going to look at the details of where this card stands out and where it falls short, and help you determine how well it fits your spending habits and travel needs.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee
$550
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Where The Platinum Card® from American Express stands out

Lounge access. This is where The Platinum Card® from American Express outshines its competitors. You’ll get access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection®, which includes more than 1,200 airport lounges in 130 countries.

Annual airline fee statement credit. You can select one qualifying airline and receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year to cover incidental fees (such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments) that are charged to The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Annual Uber credit. When you link this card with your Uber account, you can get up to $15 per month (and up to $20 in December) in Uber Cash. That adds up to almost $200 a year.

Welcome offer. 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Rewards. Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. Points are worth varying amounts depending on how you redeem them — booking airfare and hotel stays through American Express Travel will net you good value, with each point being worth 1 cent when redeemed that way.

You can also transfer your points to the following airline loyalty programs:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Avios)
  • AeroMexico Club Premier (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,600 Premier Points)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Aeroplan Miles)
  • AIR FRANCE KLM Flying Blue (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Flying Blue Award Miles)
  • MilleMiglia Alitalia(1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Alitalia Miles)
  • ANA Mileage Club (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 ANA Mileage Club Miles)
  • Asia Miles (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Asia Miles)
  • Avianca LifeMiles (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 LifeMiles)
  • British Airways Executive Club (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Avios)
  • Delta SkyMiles (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 miles)
  • El Al Israel Airlines Matmid Club (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 20 Matmid Points)
  • Emirates Skywards (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Skywards Miles)
  • Etihad Airways Guest (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Etihad Guest Miles)
  • Hawaiian Miles HawaiianMiles (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 HawaiianMiles)
  • Iberia Plus (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Avios)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (250 Membership Rewards points = 200 TrueBlue points)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer (500 Membership Rewards points = 500 Qantas Points)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 KrisFlyer Miles)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Flying Club miles)

And you can transfer your points to the following hotel loyalty programs:

  • Choice Privileges (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Choice Privileges)
  • Hilton Honors (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 2,000 Hilton Honors Points)
  • Marriott Bonvoy (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points)

Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. You can get a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or a credit of up to $85 for TSA Precheck when you use this card to pay. If you purchase both, you’ll only get a credit for the one that’s charged to your card first.

You can get the Global Entry credit once in a four-year period or the TSA Precheck credit once in a 4 ½-year period.

Additional benefits

Fine Hotels & Resorts Program. Receive complimentary benefits at more than 1,000 properties, such as daily breakfast for two, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout and a room upgrade when available.

Where The Platinum Card® from American Express falls short

Annual fee. At $550, the annual fee for The Platinum Card® from American Express is in the top tier for what it charges you as well as for the perks it offers. If you’re only a casual traveler, you may be better off with a mid-tier travel card charging an annual fee in the $95 range.

Compare it with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Another big name among premium travel cards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Here’s how it stacks up against The Platinum Card® from American Express:

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Welcome offer

60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Credits

Up to $200 in statement credits per year to cover incidental airline fees. Up to $200 in Uber Cash each year.

Up to $300 in statement credits each account anniversary year as reimbursement for travel purchases.

Rewards

5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.

3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Annual fee

$550

$450

Annual fee for additional cards/authorized users

$175 for up to three additional cards. $175 per card for each card after that.

$75 for each authorized user.

Both of these cards offer significant value for frequent travelers who have the funds to cover a high annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is slightly less expensive than The Platinum Card® from American Express, but when you factor in the value of the annual credits offered by both cards, the two annual fees are relatively similar.

We also like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® better for ongoing rewards, as it offers 3X points on a wide variety of travel purchases, whereas The Platinum Card® from American Express has a more limited category for earning a higher rewards rate — airline tickets (booked either directly with the airline or via American Express Travel) and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. Plus, you get 50% more value when you redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

When it comes to airport lounge access, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a Priority Pass Select membership (you’ll need to complete a one-time enrollment), which can get you into more than 1,300 lounges around the world. But this is territory where The Platinum Card® from American Express truly excels. The American Express Global Lounge Collection® allows you access to the following:

  • Air Space
  • Delta Sky Club®
  • Escape Lounges
  • Plaza Premium
  • The Centurion Lounge
  • The International American Express Lounges

In short, if wide-ranging lounge access is what you’re looking for, The Platinum Card® from American Express is probably the card for you.

The bottom line

If you’re looking to travel in luxury, you’ll find a lot to like about The Platinum Card® from American Express. It stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to airport lounge access. And if you make use of the annual airline fee statement credit (up to $200) and the annual Uber statement credit (also up to $200), that knocks the effective annual fee down to a more reasonable $150.

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Glen Luke Flanagan
Glen Luke Flanagan |

Glen Luke Flanagan is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Glen Luke here

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Earning Cashback, Reviews

Sallie Mae Accelerate Credit Card Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

If you’re looking for a cashback credit card, the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM offers an OK flat APR along with an interesting incentive — bonus cash back when you use your rewards to make a payment on a student loan. At a time when American college students and graduates are facing daunting levels of debt, this could be another weapon in your arsenal to apply toward paying down student loans. Let’s take a look at the details of what this card offers, where it falls short and how it stands up against other cashback cards.

Where the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM stands out

Chance to earn bonus cash back. Unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase. Earn a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans. You can earn the bonus toward both federal and private student loans.

No annual fee. This card’s annual fee is $0, and since it’s targeted at recent college grads who are often on a tight budget, that’s important.

Additional benefits

Intro APR. Get a 0% Introductory APR for purchases for 12 months. After that, a 14.74% to 24.74% variable applies. The intro purchase APR is a decent amount of time to purchase a big-ticket item and pay it off without accruing interest charges, but there are cards with longer intro periods listed on our site.

Cellphone protection. When you pay your cellphone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 per claim in cellphone protection. Note that this is secondary coverage only (meaning it kicks in after any other insurance) and each claim is subject to a $50 copay. Terms apply.

Free FICO Score. The FICO® Score is one of the most common credit score models around. If you apply for a credit card, car loan or other credit product, it’s likely the bank will check your FICO Score before approving or declining you. Your FICO Score will influence the interest rate that you can get approved for – it’s smart to keep an eye on it.

Read: View Your Free FICO Score for all 3 Credit Bureaus

Where the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM falls short

Low cashback rate. It’s pretty easy to find a credit card that offers 1.5% cash back, and some offer up to 2% — and that’s just for flat-rate cards. You can earn up to 5% cash back with cards such as the Discover it® Cash Back, which offers a 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate, then the rate drops to 1% cash back).

Earning 1.25% on the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM doesn’t cut it. And while it’s true that you can earn a 25% bonus on your cash back when applied toward a student loan, that’s likely not a big enough bonus to make up for getting a subpar cashback rate on all your purchases.

The minimum amount of cash back to redeem is $25.

Discover it® Cash Back

APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® Cash Back

Annual fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 14 months
Regular APR
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Foreign transaction fee. If you use the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM outside the United States, there’s a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. It’s better to leave this card at home and travel with a card that charges no foreign transaction fee.

Compare it with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

One of the best cards around for earning flat-rate cash back is the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. Let’s take a look at how the two cards compare:

 

Sallie Mae AccelerateSM

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Rewards

Unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase. Earn a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans.

Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.

Purchase APR

0% Introductory APR for purchases for 12 months. After that, a 14.74% to 24.74% variable APR applies.

15.49% - 25.49% (variable)

Balance transfer APR

14.74% to 24.74% variable

Intro 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. After that, a 15.49% - 25.49% (variable) APR applies.

Annual fee

$0

$0

Foreign transaction fee

3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

3%

The clear winner is the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, with a cashback rate that’s 0.75% higher than the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM. Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. (We recommend paying your card in full each month if possible.)

Another strong choice for flat-rate cash back is the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

APPLY NOW Secured

on Capital One’s website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Intro BT APR
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer Fee
3%
Regular Purchase APR
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
Rewards Rate
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The bottom line

Earning bonus cash back when you use your rewards toward student loan payments is an interesting feature offered by the Sallie Mae AccelerateSM. However, the card’s cashback rate is subpar, and a card such as the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer or the Discover it® Cash Back can put more rewards back in your pocket.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Glen Luke Flanagan
Glen Luke Flanagan |

Glen Luke Flanagan is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Glen Luke here

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