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Sallie Mae is well known as a private student loan lender. Recently the company began offering credit cards tailored to the needs of college students, recent graduates, and all other consumers.
Student loan debt is a growing issue for many Americans. In fact, according to Experian, it reached another all-time high of $1.4 trillion in 2019, an increase of 116% in the last 10 years.
Sallie Mae now provides three different credit cards, and one helps with paying off student loans a bit more quickly. The cards offer similar benefits and vary mostly by the reward bonuses and introductory APRs; they’re intended to help consumers at different stages in their lives, from young student to working professional.
|Sallie Mae Ignite Student Card||Sallie Mae Accelerate Card||Sallie Mae Evolve Card|
|Best For||Students||Recent graduates or anyone with a student loan||Any consumer|
|Cash Back||1% on all purchases||1.25% on all purchases||1.25% on all purchases|
|Cash Back Bonus||25% bonus on all cash back earned after making six consecutive on-time monthly payments||25% bonus on any cash back used to pay down student loans||25% bonus on any cash back earned in your top two spending categories each month|
|Introductory Purchase APR||0% for 6 months||0% for 6 months||0% for 12 months|
Sallie Mae Bank is the credit card issuer for each of these Mastercards.
In addition to the perks outlined below, all three cards come with:
Sallie Mae is also working on rolling out instant access to accounts, so you can instantly access your new card account after you’re approved and begin earning cash back on purchases immediately. It’s introduced the cards with a mobile-first cardholder experience to address that many students, millennials, and consumers want to easily manage their finances and cards on the go.
Using this cash back card for your cell phone bill means if you lose your phone, you’ve got some coverage. It can help you get started with a credit card relatively easily, form healthy credit card spending habits, and build credit while keeping an eye on one of your FICO credit scores.
Sallie Mae’s Swipe Away $10K Sweepstakes, running through September 2020, also means you can enter to win $10,000 each month towards paying down student loans. Here are the details on the promotion:
If you’re a recent graduate and have student loan payments, using this Sallie Mae Mastercard to get cash back for paying down student loans gets you added rewards. It could be a good move if you’re having trouble qualifying for other credit cards.
Paying your cell phone bill with the Accelerate card can help you replace your phone for less money if it’s lost or stolen, an outsized benefit on a no annual fee card. You’ll also qualify for the sweepstakes mentioned above, for the chance to win $10,000 to pay down student loans.
If you have two main categories you spend a substantial amount on over other purchases, this Sallie Mae card could be a way to rack up more rewards — but you should also consider other cards with specific bonus categories for those purchase types.
You’ll enjoy cell phone protection if you pay your phone bill with the card (a benefit not many cards offer). If you’re clumsy this might be nothing to sneeze at. The low introductory interest rate is also helpful if you know you have some bigger expenses coming up, like with a move.
You might be wondering why Sallie Mae got into the credit card game. Donna Vieira, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Sallie Mae, explains: “For our customers, it’s not just about getting to, and graduating from college, but also reaching milestones after college.”
“We are creating products that empower them to accomplish what’s next with confidence while fueling their own financial independence. Our new credit cards, co-created and developed with students, parents, and recent graduates, offer simplicity and provide the right benefits at the right time, both during and after college,” adds Vieira.
Sallie Mae conducted a study called Majoring in Money with Ipsos, a global research firm, which found that nearly 6 in 10 college students have at least one credit card. Additionally, the study shows that the biggest reason given for getting a first credit card is to build credit. Sallie Mae’s Ignite card was designed with that in mind, allowing students to get a credit card and rewarding financial responsibility.
The 2019 Majoring in Money study points out that roughly 6 in 10 students would be interested in a credit card that offers loan repayment rewards (thus the Accelerate card, which Sallie Mae notes is the only card to offer a cash back bonus when you use rewards to pay down a student loan).
Sallie Mae credit cards were made available to existing Sallie Mae customers first, so if you have a Sallie Mae student loan or savings account, you may have been able to snag one early. As of October 9, 2019, the cards are open to all U.S. consumers.
You should know that you can only have one of the Sallie Mae cards at a time. The cards follow along the path many consumers take in life. So, you may have the Ignite card to establish credit, move on to the Accelerate card when you graduate, and then get the Evolve as you enter that next phase of “adulting.” You just contact Sallie Mae’s credit card customer service to request moving to another card.
The Sallie Mae cards offer students and anyone with student loans some unique value to help pay off those loans more quickly. Though these cards don’t offer sign up bonuses, the Evolve card provides some pretty solid cash back rewards in your top two monthly categories.
Not satisfied with Sallie Mae? There are some other great credit cards you can check out to fit those same niches, including:
Best Student Credit Cards
Best Rewards Credit Cards
Best 0% APR Credit CardsSee them here!
Sallie Mae offers three credit cards with various rewards and benefits, intended to help students and consumers as they progress through life. One is the first ever credit card to offer a special bonus for paying off student loans, and the others provide interesting bonuses of their own.
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