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Credit One Bank® Wander™ Card with No Annual Fee review

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Card Overview

Unless you’re hunting for an unsecured credit card with bad credit or fair credit, it’s hard to recommend Credit One cards due to their convoluted terms. But the issuer’s newest rewards card is a remarkable step forward. The Credit One Bank® Wander™ Card with No Annual Fee is the essence of “solid” rewards credit card, featuring a great mix of bonus categories and more reward redemption options than the typical Credit One card. However, the no annual fee Wander card doesn’t totally free itself from the odd drawbacks that often come with Credit One cards.

Despite being one of the best Credit One cards available, the no annual fee Wander card’s stumbling blocks make other entertainment-based cards like Capital One’s Savor suite more appealing choices.

Want more details? Jump to the following sections:

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Advantages
  • No annual fee
  • Solid 3X-point rate on recreational and amusement park purchases—categories not often covered by rewards cards
  • Comes with basic Visa benefits and additional Credit One merchant offers
  • Better reward redemption choices than most Credit One credit cards
Disadvantages
  • Doesn’t reward common entertainment category merchants like concerts, movie theaters, tourist attractions and streaming services
  • Requires a higher credit level (excellent) than the premium version of the Credit One Wander card (requires fair to good credit) but comes with weaker rewards and no welcome offer
  • No welcome offer or intro APR offers
  • High ongoing 23.99 percent (variable) APR

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards Rate: 3X points on eligible recreational and amusement park purchases, 2X points on restaurant and lodging purchases plus 1X points on all other purchases (terms apply)
  • Welcome Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $0 (terms apply)
  • Purchase Intro APR: N/A
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 23.99 percent (variable)

No intro offers make a disappointing welcome

Considering the Credit One Bank® Wander™ Card, the annual fee version of this card, offers a bonus perk for an $80 statement credit to cover a National Park Pass bought during your first year, it’s disappointing that the no annual fee Wander card doesn’t carry a similar offer—especially since it requires an excellent credit score (a higher bar than the premium Wander card poses).

Other no annual fee credit cards that reward entertainment spending deliver sign-up bonuses that hover around a standard $200 value. For instance, this version of the Wander card’s biggest rival, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card awards a $200 cash bonus for spending $500 within your first three months.

An intro bonus shouldn’t be the end-all in your credit card decision, but it’s normal to expect a first-year offer of some sort from a rewards card at this credit level.

Rewards rate

Credit One’s Wander cards utilize a different rewards program than the issuer’s other credit cards but it works just like any other point-based tiered bonus category rewards card. Purchases within your designated bonus categories will earn two to three Wander Rewards Program points per dollar and all other spending will earn one Wander Rewards point per dollar spent. Your rewards won’t expire for the life of your account while it’s in good standing.

Also like other rewards cards, only cash-like transactions (foreign currency exchanges, money orders, wire transfers, etc.), account activity expenses (interest and account fees, cash advances, balance transfers, etc.) and unauthorized purchases won’t earn rewards.

How you earn

The no annual fee Credit One Wander card earns 3X points on qualifying recreational and amusement park spending, 2X points for eligible restaurant and lodging purchases along with 1X points on other purchases.

Defining types of purchases as “recreational” or “lodging” can be very interpretive, and Credit One has made this difficult to judge in the past since Visa rewards cards in their “Platinum” series — like the Credit One Bank® Visa® Cash Back Rewards card — didn’t actually use Visa’s database of merchant category codes (MCCs) to classify reward spending. Instead, they used the “Standard Industrial Classification Code” database to categorize merchants. Luckily, the Wander cards seem to use Visa’s MCC list and supplier locator website, and Credit One does a great job explaining which merchants may fall within your bonus categories.

Here’s how the card’s terms and conditions explicitly define these purchases, plus a few other non-qualifying merchants we’ve discovered:

  • Recreation and amusement park purchasesEligible merchants: National parks, amusement parks, professional live sporting events, theatrical productions, aquariums and zoos.
    Ineligible merchants include: collect sporting events, golf courses, casinos, movie theatres, gyms, streaming services, concerts, museums and more.
  • RestaurantsEligible merchants: Dine-in restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, lounges and fast food chains.
    Ineligible merchants include: Grocery stores, superstores like Wal-Mart and Target, wholesale clubs like Costco, specialty stores like bakeries and more.
  • LodgingEligible merchants: Hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts, campgrounds, motor home/RV rentals, Airbnb bookings (according to MCC reports).
    Ineligible merchants include: Cruise lines, timeshares, hostels, various rental properties and property booking companies like HomeAway and Vrbo (according to MCC reports).

As you can see, the Wander card’s entertainment category omits a few staple expenses, including concerts, movie theaters, streaming services and tourist attractions (a separate MCC from amusement parks). It’s strange that the Credit One Wander cards ignore those key merchants and food establishments like bakeries and specialty merchants since they’re covered by the Capital One SavorOne’s bonus categories. But unlike Capital One’s entertainment coverage, Credit One’s entertainment category rewards purchases beyond the entry ticket.

Plus, combining traditional hotel credit card and dining credit card categories into one convenient rewards card may eliminate the need for you to apply for separate cards for either of those two expenses—and even a general-purpose travel credit card if you don’t fly often. In fact, the no annual fee Credit One Wander is a handy credit card for road trips.

How to redeem

Both Wander credit cards provide a more robust selection of reward redemption options than typical Credit One cards, which only allow you to receive rewards as an automatic monthly statement credit. The card’s terms and conditions only state that you can redeem points for cash back, gift cards “and other consumer goods and services,” which aren’t fully clarified without logging into your card account. But by digging into the rewards program agreement, we can infer that this is the full list of redemption options:

  • Cash back—in the form of statement credits
  • Gift cards
  • Travel—in the form of air travel, hotel stay, car rental, cruise line, railway or tour operator experience/”activity” bookings through Aspire Travel Solutions
  • Merchandise—including entertainment media (books, DVDs and videos, electronics, music and video games), TVs and computers, outdoor living and kitchen products (like tools and hardware), apparel (plus jewelry and accessories), gourmet food (like candy and gift baskets) and health and personal care products

However, Wander reward program points come with much more red tape compared to loyalty programs like Chase Ultimate Reward points or Capital One Miles. You must redeem your points for cash back in 1,000-point increments—equivalent to $10 back — and you can then expect your statement credit to appear in your account within three business days of redemption.

Travel redemptions are also cumbersome. Your travel plans are subject to blackout dates, minimum/maximum stays, eligibility requirements, wait-list restrictions reservation validation limitations of up to a year and a myriad of other restrictions. Once you can book your trip, you usually must reserve at least 72 hours in advance, but no more than 11 months in advance, and how long you book is limited by your type of travel (hotel stays cap out at 21 days, for example). Your reward points may also not cover travel upgrades and you can’t use them for won’t travel incidentals or other fees (like baggage fees or service) whatsoever.

How much are the rewards worth?

Credit One keeps it cut-and-dry when it comes to your points’ monetary value: all points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed toward cash back.

Just keep in mind that, as always, the actual value you’ll get from using your points for travel or gift cards may fluctuate compared to putting 1:1 cash back toward store-specific or travel purchases through other means, such as third-party travel booking sites.

Other cardholder perks

Despite the progress the no annual fee Wander card has made in other facets, it still carries the exact same barebones benefits as other Credit One cards. You’ll have access to a few card-linked cash back and discount offer programs and basic Visa network perks, but you may want to avoid the issuer’s optional Credit Protection Program since it may act as more foe than friend in the worst-case scenario.

Credit One More Rewards and Visa Offers + Perks

Card-linked programs like Credit One More Rewards and Visa Offers + Perks put a bit more cash in your pocket by activating regularly rotating deals in their online portal—similar to how features like Shop Through Chase and Amex Offers work. However, while the More Rewards program uses limited-time offers to earn 10 percent cash back with participating merchants, Visa Offers + Perks focuses on providing discounts. Some of these merchant offers come from recreation-oriented brands like Maverick and RVshare, but you may also find exclusive offers for apparel retailers, restaurants and more.

Traditional Visa benefits

All Visa credit cards carry network benefits associated with one of three tiers, which are determined by various factors such as the issuer and card characteristics like your credit limit. The no annual fee Credit One Wander card qualifies as a “Visa Traditional” card, which means it comes with basic perks most credit cards offer. These include $0 liability for fraudulent purchases, 24/7 pay-per-use Roadside Dispatch and emergency card services like card replacement and cash disbursement.

Credit Protection Program

All Credit One’s credit cards come with the option to enroll in the issuer’s Credit Protection Program, but you may want a more cost-effective debt management plan instead, considering the potential risks versus the limited payoff.

In exchange for paying 96 cents per $100 of your new balance each month, Credit One will waive your minimum payment for up to six months if you’re involuntarily unemployed or disabled. The catch is you’ll have to wait 30 days for your policy to take effect, and while your protection is active, your account is frozen and still accruing compound interest you’ll need to pay off—which may over-extend and even close your account.

Rates and Fees

Credit One cards have a reputation for being riddled with hidden fees, and this version of the Wander credit card is no exception. Thankfully, you won’t have an annual fee eating into your minimum $300 initial credit limit, but until you hopefully qualify for an automatic credit line increase down the road, your potentially meager starting limit may invite a slew of fees since lodging and other vacation-related purchases can quickly pile up to that low ceiling.

There’s no apparent overlimit fee to worry about, but a small credit limit on a card like this could be risky because Credit One can close your account if you’re 20 percent over the limit. Carrying a balance could also spell danger considering the 23.99 percent variable APR is much higher than the average current credit card interest rate, and there are no 0 percent intro APRs to shield your balance. Stacking an up to $39 late fee (terms apply) or 3 percent (or $1, whichever is great) foreign transaction fee (If you’re vacationing abroad) can slicken that slope further.

Make sure to read your card terms very carefully, or you might be blindsided by additional costs like a credit limit request fee or customer service fee (depending on your creditworthiness and the context) if you need to contact the issuer to get ahead of these pitfalls.

How the Credit One Wander with No Annual Fee compares to other rewards cards

Annual fee $95 $0 $0
Rewards rate
  • 5X points on eligible recreation and amusement park purchases
  • 3X points on eligible restaurant and lodging purchases
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target)
  • 8% cash back on Vivid Seats purchases (through January 2023)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 5% cash back (on up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent) on your top spending category each billing cycle, which could be restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs or live entertainment
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Valuable benefits $80 statement credit
(after purchasing a qualifying National Park Pass [an $80 value] in the first year)
$200 cash bonus
(after spending $500 on qualifying purchases within the first three months)
200,000 ThankYou points (worth $200 in cash back)
(after spending $750 on purchases within the first three months)

The Credit One Bank Wander Card

The most obvious card to compare with the Credit One Wander with No Annual Fee is the premium Credit One Bank Wander Card. That card comes with a $95 annual fee, features slightly different card art, provides a perk valued at $80, equivalent to a free National Park Pass. Plus, this card improves the no annual fee variant’s rewards rates with an extra 2X points on eligible recreational and amusement park purchases and extra 1X points on eligible restaurant and lodging purchases. It’s also more accessible since you only need fair to good credit to qualify, rather than the excellent credit score requested by the no annual fee version.

Which Credit One Wander is the better option depends on your credit history and how often you make recreation purchases and overnight vacation trips. All things considered, many cardholders’ budgets may find the no annual fee card easier to justify.

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One SavorOne cash back card would probably be more useful day-to-day for many cardholders than the no annual fee Wander card. It earns 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores purchases (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target). Plus, you’ll get 8 percent cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats (through January 2023) and 1 percent back on all other purchases.

Even outside the wider category coverage for more common expenses, its entertainment category covers all the no annual fee Wander card’s recreation category’s merchants and builds upon them by also covering movie theaters, concerts (with the Vivid Seats category), other tourist attractions (like museums and landmarks), bowling alleys, record stores, dance halls and pool halls. Both cards’ dining categories are about on par, except the SavorOne earns more rewards on these purchases and covers specialty food stores like bakeries while the Wander card earns dining rewards at nightclubs. The biggest leg up the no annual fee Credit One Wander has on the SavorOne card is that Capital One only rewards the initial ticket purchases in its entertainment category while the Credit One card implies it earns purchases at these locations beyond the entry cost.

The Citi Custom Cash Card

If you want a rewards rate similar to the premium Wander card’s 5X rewards on some entertainment purchases but for no annual fee, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card may be a solid option. It earns 5 percent cash back (on up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent) on your biggest spending category each billing cycle, which can be one of ten categories that include live entertainment and select travel. This option allows you some flexibility to earn exceptional rewards on either everyday expenses or more niche categories like the Wander cards cover. However, both options don’t operate at their fullest potential when used as your primary credit card. Of the three, the SavorOne is best suited for that job since its rewards cover a wider scope of needs and its rates and benefits are richer all around.

Best cards to pair with this card

Because the no annual fee Wander card uses a different rewards system than other Credit One cards, it doesn’t necessarily pair well with another card from the issuer. Instead, look at your biggest expenses outside of entertainment and get a card that covers those categories.

For instance, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express covers everyday expenses like U.S. supermarket (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent) and U.S. gas station purchases, but it also adds unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services — a category neglected by the no annual fee Wander card—to your arsenal.

A travel card to cover other expenses on your vacation could be good, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (which now rewards select streaming services), or a flat-rate cash back card like the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card to reward all your other purchases at the same rewards rate as the no annual fee Wander card’s restaurant and lodging categories.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Credit One Wander with No Annual Fee worth it?

Ultimately, the Credit One Bank Wander Card with No Annual Fee stands as one of the issuer’s best cards, as well as one of the better rewards cards for recreational purchases like amusement parks. Its extra restaurant and lodging purchases make an interesting complement by covering several key travel-related purchases, but these categories don’t foster as much day-to-day value as some competing cash back or general-purpose travel cards.

That said, its relatively niche categories, sky-high 23.99 percent variable APR, barebones benefits and other Credit One trappings make this version of the Wander better as a supplementary card than a primary rewards card.

about the author

Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit …

about the editor

Nouri Zarrugh is a writer and editor for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com, focusing on product news, guides and reviews. His areas of expertise include credit card strategy, rewards programs, point valuation and credit scores, and his stories on building credit have been cited by Mic.com, LifeHacker, People.com and more. Through his thorough card reviews and…

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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