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The Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® stands out among credit cards.
As a cardholder, you’re not just a passive user of the card. Instead, you’re able to take part in how the card is designed, voting on product changes periodically. That means the terms and features may change in some pretty drastic ways compared to other credit cards.
The Ring is a “social” card, designed with a unique focus on its users. It features an active forum for community feedback, and Barclays will pay attention to what’s being said there.
Barclays recently changed the terms of this card: New cardholders now get an intro APR of 0% for 12 months for balance transfers made within the first 45 days of card ownership, although transfers made at that rate will incur a 3% fee. This offer is not available for existing cardholders.
Balance transfers made after the first 45 days will be subject to the regular interest rate, but they won’t have a fee.
The Ring is a low-interest card, with one of the lowest regular APR’s you’re likely to find on a credit card (although it used to be even lower, at 8%). There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. The interest rates and fees are the real selling points of the card, rather than rewards or sign-up bonuses.
Although there are no rewards in the traditional sense, you’ll still have a chance to earn a bit of cash back with this card. Whether you do or not depends on the overall financial responsibility of the Ring community. So you’ll be casting your lot in with the other cardmembers, and you’ll profit (or not) along with them.
Is this interesting card right for you? Read on to find out.
We gave this card 4 out of 5 Stars because it’s unique, offering something that no other card does: an active community of members who can actually influence the terms and features. That’s the main attraction here, along with the very low rates.
This isn’t the most rewarding card you can get, by far. But it makes up for that with the low fees and APRs. Overall, it seems like a decent trade-off if you need a card with low rates. For some similar cards that do offer rewards, check out some alternatives below.
The Ring card doesn’t offer traditional rewards, like points or cash back. Instead, the community of cardholders has a stake in the overall profitability of the Ring card. The better the Ring card does as a business product, the better the community does.
Every six months the community may receive a reward called a Giveback. This will be some amount of cash back, different for every card member. It’s based on how responsible the community was in paying off its credit card debt over the past months. There is no guarantee of getting one.
Basically, the less credit card debt the community has overall, the higher the Giveback pool will be. When the Barclaycard Ring profits, some of that will be shared with the members. But if there is no overall profit or the profit is too low, the members get nothing.
In short, there are a few things you can do to maximize your potential Giveback:
The Giveback profit-sharing program is a relatively minor part of this card. But it’s actually quite complicated to explain. Cardholders don’t usually earn much from it, and it’s not one of the main selling points of this card. It’s a nice little bonus if you happen to get it, but it’s not a big deal if you don’t.
So you can safely skip this explanation and move on to learning about the Ring Community, if you want. Or, if you want to learn all about how the Giveback program works, continue reading.
The total Giveback amount is composed of two separate funds: the referral pool and the Giveback pool.
The referral pool is actually quite simple. Barclaycard will add a certain amount to this pool whenever a cardmember refers someone to apply for the Ring card.
They’ll add more if those applicants are approved for the card. But some amount will be added even if they’re denied.
The total amount of funds added will make up the referral pool. It will be disbursed every six months as part of the Giveback.
You can increase your portion of the referral pool by referring more people. And the more of them who are approved, the more you’ll get.
The Giveback pool is more complicated to explain. The way they calculate this has changed before, and it may change again.
Basically, this comes from the total profit Barclays makes from the Ring card. Every six months, a portion of the profits may be given back to the community: the Giveback pool. We’ll discuss how this is calculated in the next section.
Every cardholder will get a portion of the Giveback based on her own card activity. An individual cardholder’s Giveback will be based on her statement balances for the last 6 months, added together. The higher the statement balances, the higher the potential Giveback.
So, you can increase your potential Giveback by:
If you pay a bill late, that month’s Giveback reward will be donated to charity instead of given to you. And, if your account is not current at the end of a Giveback period, your entire reward will be donated to charity.
Cardholders can also choose to have their Giveback donated to a charity. The community takes a part in choosing which charities will be involved in the program. And Barclays will donate 1 dollar for every dollar donated this way.
There is no way to tell exactly how large or small your Giveback amount might be. But this reward is usually quite a small amount compared to other reward cards.
To maximize your Giveback portion, we recommend that you always pay off your balance in full every billing period. This will prevent any interest or fees from accumulating as well. We recommend this same strategy no matter which card you use. It will always be a sound plan for the health of your credit and finances.
Barclays calculates the overall Giveback pool available to the community every six months.
The Giveback pool comes from the community profit earned. But the actual amount of Giveback funds available is determined by the overall financial responsibility of the entire Ring community. That reward amount is a proportion of the total amount of unpaid balances for the Ring card community.
As long as the amount of unpaid balances is below 2.25% of all balances when annualized, there will be some amount of Giveback. The Giveback amount could be as high as 2% of the total profit for that period, or perhaps more.
However, if the unpaid balances reach 2.25% or higher, the Giveback amount falls to 0% or below. In that case, there will be no Giveback disbursed. Cardholders will not be charged extra if the Giveback falls below 0%.
To make this calculation Barclays is taking the following factors into account, among others:
This relationship may sound confusing at first. But overall it means that as the Ring community pays its debts, the Giveback reward goes up. As the community accumulates more debt, the Giveback reward goes down. If the unpaid balances are too high throughout the year, there may not be any Giveback awarded at all.
The Giveback profit-sharing program is very different than most reward cards, which tell you upfront how much you can earn in terms of cash back or points. With those cards there is usually no danger of losing out on your rewards, unless you’re irresponsible with it and fail to pay your bills.
This is a simple, innovative way to reward cardholders for financial responsibility. But it also means that each individual will be affected by the behavior of the entire community. Even if you are the image of perfect financial planning, you’ll still be subject to any negative effects from the rest of the Ring community. You can’t control the community’s actions. So if they’re responsible overall, you may benefit. Otherwise, you won’t.
You shouldn’t see the Giveback as a way to earn great credit card rewards. You probably won’t earn a whole lot from it. This isn’t the main selling point of the card, which is the low fees and rates. Instead, it’s probably best to think of the Giveback program as a small bonus that you may or may not get, which won’t matter much either way.
Barclays stresses full visibility and accountability, providing annualized reports of key financial statistics. These are supplemented by more frequent blog posts with updates of profits and relevant business news.
Take the 2013–2014 period, for example. Barclay’s annual financial summary reported that revenue was nearly $4.2 million. Expenses were a bit over $3 million. This led to a community profit of over $1.1 million. The report’s infographic also breaks down how the money was made and spent. Most of the revenue (81%) came from interest payments, while most of the expenses (52%) came from unpaid balances.
It’s interesting to see how much of the revenue came from interest payments. That means many people are using this card to revolve a balance from month to month, taking advantage of the low APRs.
However, they’re still spending a whole lot on interest every year. In this case, it was it was over 3.3 million dollars. With fewer than 30,000 cardmembers total, that means the average member paid over $100 in interest that year. That could be avoided if you pay your balance in full every billing period.
Cardmembers can view reports like this periodically, gaining insight into how the Ring card is being run. They can see how money is being made and spent. And they can see how the actions of the community will affect the amount of Giveback available.
There’s a perfect example of this cause-and-effect in action, too. In 2012 a pair of bankruptcies caused a fairly large reduction in the Giveback rewards. Two cardholders with high credit lines filed for bankruptcy around September 2012. That put the unpaid balances up near 5% of the total balances, much higher than the limit (it was 3% at the time). This meant a reduction of $7,930 from the total Giveback amount, money which otherwise would’ve gone to cardholders.
It might seem surprising that just two people could have such a drastic effect on the entire community. But this is a good illustration of how the Giveback program works. One bad apple, or two, can spoil the whole bunch.
On the other hand, this isn’t really designed to be a rewards credit card. So you shouldn’t expect to get a lot of cash back for your spending. In that light, the Giveback reward program seems more like a potential added benefit, rather than a negative feature.
The Barclaycard Ring is unique because the cardholders can actually influence the terms of the card. Discussions about card features take place within the forums. Members chime in with their own opinions, and can vote for ideas they like (giving them kudos). The card terms have been changed several times as a result of these discussions.
In 2014, for example, the Ring community voted on two separate issues. The first was to remove the foreign transaction fee (previously 1%) and increase the cash advance fee from $1 to $3 per transaction. This vote passed by a narrow margin, with 52.2% of the community voting for the change.
In the second vote, the community decided to keep the service call center located in the United States. The community was faced with an interesting choice: keeping the center in the U.S. would most likely keep the quality high. But moving the service to another country would reduce operating costs by about $4 per account. In this case, the overwhelming majority (84.4%) voted to keep the calls in the U.S. We think this was a smart move.
It’s possible to see in some detail how Barclays is working to reduce spending and provide better customer service. Even better, you can see how the actions of the cardmembers can affect this. The Ring 2013–2014 annual report showed that more users are choosing to get paperless account statements rather than physical letters sent to them. As a result of these choices, service costs went down by about $40,000.
Later on, in 2015, the community voted to change the card design to something more interesting. After a few initial rounds of voting, they came down to four different design options:
The community made their choice, the option at the top-right. And after a few more adjustments to the design, like changing the font, they came up with the card they use today.
Cardmembers have continued to propose improvements, voting up their favorite ideas. As a cardholder, you’ll be able to take part in the debate. If you’ve ever wanted to take a more active role in deciding the features of your credit cards, this is probably the only chance you’ll get.
Members can start their own conversations in a public forum. Talk about using the card, general finances, or the community itself.
There are currently four discussion categories:
This section provides an overview of the Ring card’s financial performance. It includes a summary of the community’s performance and activity. You can see the card’s profits and losses here, updated monthly.
Information about the Giveback rewards program can also be found here. There are estimates of the Ring card’s potential profits for the year, and what the total Giveback amount is shaping up to be. This is the place to go to see how financially responsible the community is being.
In the Ideas section, you can submit your own thoughts and opinions about the Ring card. If you have any suggestions for improvement, publish them for the rest of the community to see.
Cardmembers can vote on their favorite proposals together, which will be reviewed by the Barclaycard Ring team. The team will provide feedback and status updates. And the best ideas will be considered for inclusion the next time they revise the terms of the card.
A weekly news blog where cardmembers can find useful information. This is available to everyone, not just Ring cardholders, unlike the other Community benefits listed above.
This is where you’ll find status updates on the Ring card and insight into what Barclays is considering for the future. Financial reports on the success of the Ring card will be published here too. The posts are written by Barclays colleagues, industry experts, guest bloggers, and occasionally Ring members themselves.
Easily keep track of one version of your FICO credit score online, and get alerts if it changes. We’re pretty sure that Barclays will use the FICO Score 8 from your TransUnion credit report. If you can confirm this, let us know in the comments.
Many issuers today will offer free access to one of your FICO credit scores. But if you don’t have another way to check your TransUnion score this card is a good option for that.
This card has Chip EMV technology for added security when making purchases. That’s unlike many cards issued in the U.S., which only have Chip-and-Signature. The PIN function of this card makes it usable at terminals around the world that only accept PINs and not signatures.
Most countries around the world now use this EMV technology. Many attended checkout terminals will use Chip-and-Signature. But self-service terminals, like those at gas pumps and ticket kiosks, often take extra security measures. They will sometimes require a Chip-and-PIN card.
You will be prompted to set a 4-digit PIN when you activate your card, either online or by phone. You should choose something you will easily remember.
Take note that after you set your PIN you will need to activate it. Use your card at a Chip-and-Signature terminal with a cashier. Then sign for your purchase to activate it. This will enable the PIN function, and it will not work until you activate it in this way. If you ever change your PIN later on, you will need to activate it again like this.
If you forget your PIN you can reset it online, or you can call the number on your card and request to have it mailed to you.
Your PIN can also be used to take out cash advances at ATMs. But we do not recommend this because you’ll immediately start accruing interest. If you absolutely have to take out a cash advance, try to pay it back as soon as possible.
Remember to always let Barclays know before traveling abroad. Otherwise they could put a hold on your card for unusual and suspicious use. Read more about EMV technology to learn why this Chip-and-PIN function might be important for you.
This card will come with some other benefits as well. These include some basic shopping and travel protections, along with zero liability fraud protection. See the Guide to Benefits that came with your card for more details. Or check out the potential benefits online.
|Regular Purchase APR||Intro Balance Transfer APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|13.74% Variable||0% for 12 months, for transfers made during the first 45 days||13.74% Variable||13.74% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$0||0%||3%, $5 minimum for the first 45 days; no fee after that||$3|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|See Terms||Up to $27||Up to $27|
The Ring card is famous for its low APR of only 13.74% Variable (it used to be even lower, at 8%). The Ring community loves this low APR, it has always been one of their favorite card features. But on the other hand, these extremely low rates are also the reason why the Ring card doesn’t offer rewards. Barclays simply can’t afford to do both at the same time.
This card was recently made better for balance transfers, but only for new cardholders. You’ll get a 12-month 0% intro rate for balance transfers made within the first 45 days, although you’ll end up paying a fee if you transfer durning this period.
Or, if you wait longer than 45 days to make a transfer, you won’t have to pay a fee but the balance will be subject to the regular interest rate.
It’s pretty rare to have a choice like this, and you’ll have to do the math to figure out which deal would be better for you. Would you rather pay a fee to get 12 months at 0% APR, or pay no fee to get a regular balance transfer rate? Most of the time, we suspect the first case would be the more cost-effective option.
Many cardholders use the Ring card to revolve a balance from month to month, paying interest on it as they go. That’s why many people get this card in the first place. However, we recommend always paying your balance in full each billing period. This will prevent interest from accruing on purchases, and it will be better for your credit.
The low cash advance rate may be tempting as well. Most cards have a rate that’s much higher, at least 25%. But we advise never taking out cash advances unless you have an emergency and truly need the money immediately. If you do get a cash advance pay it back as soon as possible. Interest will start accruing as soon as you get the money, which can make this a very expensive option.
People like the fact that the APR is the same for all cardholders, no matter what your credit history is like. Many other cards will offer a range, with a low end and a high end. But with the Ring card, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting if you’re approved.
There are no foreign transaction fees with this card. And this is a great feature when combined with the Chip-and-PIN EMV technology. Together, they let you use this card for no extra charge practically anywhere that accepts credit cards, both inside the U.S. and around the world.
|Barclays Customer Support||
Ring cardholders will have access to Barclays regular customer support, which is typically rated fairly well compared to most of the major credit card issuers.
Every year J.D. Power conducts its Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, ranking all the most popular card issuers. Barclays came in fourth out of 11 credit card issuers in 2017, which is about where they usually place. This was just above the industry average.
|Barclaycard Ring Community|
As a member of the Ring community you’ll have access to the Ring Community Discussion and Blog, where you can chat with other cardholders and discuss smart financial strategies. You can also contact the Ring team at Barclays with your comments and concerns, and suggest changes to the card terms.
In addition to that, cardholders can contact Barclays customer support by logging in and sending a secure message. Barclays customer service tends to respond quickly, in many cases on the same day.
The Barclaycard Ring Mastercard is an innovation, an experiment in giving cardholders a stake in their own success or failure. If you’re willing to throw in your lot with the other cardmembers, you can apply to be part of this adventure.
This means that you’ll benefit when the community does well, but you’ll also lose out on rewards when people are less responsible. This won’t be the right card for you if you want to earn rewards when shopping.
But, if you’re looking for a card with very low APRs and fees, this one might fit the bill. Many people use this card for balance transfers. Or, to carry a balance from month to month at the low interest rate.
Keep in mind that you’ll only get the 12-month 0% rate for balance transfers made within the first 45 days of card ownership. And there will be a 3% fee for that transfer.
Or, if you wait more than 45 days to make the transfer you’ll end up getting a higher interest rate but no transfer fee. You’ll have to figure out which deal would be better for you.
The Ring card is quite interesting. It’s all about two-way communication between the cardholders and the card issuer. If the idea of taking an active stance in this relationship sounds exciting to you, this might be a card to strongly consider.
It won’t be right for everyone, but if you want to take part in a very different kind of credit card experience you can give it a try. For no annual fee, there’s no harm as long as you always avoid incurring interest charges. Or, take a look at some alternatives to the Barclaycard Ring Mastercard below.
Want to apply for this card or learn more? Just click the Apply Now button below.
You’ll be taken to the Barclaycard Ring website to apply. Input your personal information, and you should usually get a response back quickly.
The Barclaycard Ring is a pretty basic credit card that people often use to pay off balances at a low rate. So here are some other options that let you do that as well. Plus you’ll find comparisons with some simple cards that offer cash back when you shop.
For the most part the Simplicity just comes with a few basic protections, some of which are similar to what the Ring card comes with.
The main attraction of the Simplicity card is the 0% introductory APR for 21 months for balance transfers. That’s one of the better intro APR offers available on any card, but there’s a fee for balance transfers as well. After the intro period ends you’ll have a rate of 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable).
Purchases will get a 0% intro APR for 12 months, before the regular rate of 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable).
This card offer has no annual fee, no penalty APR, and no late fees. Foreign transactions have a 3%
That’s about all there is to the Simplicity, other than the benefits above. You won’t get any rewards at all, so anything you get from the Ring will be more than this card offers.
The Ring card currently has a 0% APR balance transfer offer as well, in this case for 12 months. That applies to transfers made during the first 45 days, and a fee of 3% will be applied. If you wait longer than 45 days you’ll get an APR of 13.74% Variable for transfers, but there will be no fee.
If you need to transfer a balance away from an account with a high APR, the Simplicity card is a great choice. But remember that the terms of the Ring card can change depending on the will of the cardholders, so it may one day offer a 0% balance transfer rate along with no transfer fee, which would be quite a good deal.
Read more in our Review of the Citi Simplicity Mastercard
The Slate card provides a 15-month 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, which is pretty good. But the excellent thing about this card is there are no balance transfer fees for transfers made within the first 60 days. After that there’s a fee of 5%, $5 minimum.
This 0% intro offer isn’t limited to transfers made within a certain time period, like the Ring card. Instead you’ll get 0% APR for your first 15 months with the card, although transfers made after the first 60 days will have a fee.
There’s no annual fee, and no penalty APR. Foreign transactions will be subject to a 3% fee.
Most cards will charge a fee for balance transfers, even if they offer an intro rate for them. But the Slate card lets you transfer a balance of any size for free, and pay it off at no interest for over a year.
The Ring currently has no balance transfer fees after the first 45 days, which is even more rare. So you can move a balance to your Ring account after that time for no charge. However, you’ll still be accruing interest on that balance at the 13.74% Variable rate. If you transfer a balance to the Ring card within the first 45 days you’ll get the 0% rate but you’ll need to pay a fee.
The lack of balance transfer fees with the Ring card may one day be voted away by the cardholders. It could be replaced with something you would like more, or less. This might work for you, but with the Slate card you’ll know what you’re getting. The offer may change a bit depending on the card issuer’s decisions, but it probably won’t change too drastically.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Slate Credit Card
That’s about as long as you’re likely to find on a reward card, and this makes it a great option if you want to earn rewards while carrying a balance over time.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
So, in addition to a nice intro period you’ll also be able to earn some cash back. Most people have expenses like these fairly often, and the low rate will give you over a year to pay those purchases off without extra interest charges.
After that you’ll end up with a higher APR than the Ring card, however, so be sure to pay your balance in full to avoid accruing interest.
The Blue Cash Everyday has a few extra perks that the Ring card can’t match. Its benefits include:
The Blue Cash Everyday has no annual fee, though foreign transactions will have a 2.7% fee .
Cardholders get a 15-month 0% intro APR for both purchases and balance transfers. This rate applies to transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening. After that you’ll get an APR of 14.49–25.49% Variable. Transfers will have a fee of 3%, $5 minimum .
Read more in our Review of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
There’s an upgraded version of the Blue Cash card, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review). This card has an annual fee of 0% (Rates & Fees), but it has a much higher earning potential:
The Preferred version of the card only provides 12 months at 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers, before the regular rate of 14.49–25.49% Variable. So you’ll be paying an annual fee , but getting a bit less time compared to the Everyday version. Other than that, these cards are pretty much the same.
Unlike the cards mentioned above, the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer (Review) is a general-purpose reward credit card. At no annual fee, this deal is one of the best you’ll find for non-category purchases.
So you’ll be earning some rewards every time you shop with the card, unlike the Ring. And this 2% back for every purchase is excellent compared to other reward cards.
Some cards have bonus categories where you can earn more cash back, like the Blue Cash Everyday above. But this card simplifies everything by providing the same decent amount for every type of purchase.
The Double Cash has a few benefits that you might find more useful than what you’d get with the Ring card. Some of its benefits include:
The Citi Double Cash comes with a 0% introductory APR for 18 months on Balance Transfers, one of the better offers available. There will be a transfer fee, however, of 3% with a minimum of $5. After that you’ll get a regular rate of 15.49% – 25.49% (Variable).
There’s no annual fee, and foreign transactions have a fee of 3%.
Are you considering a balance transfer with the Double Cash or Ring card? If so, you need to weigh the cost of the transfer fees compared to how much you’ll save by avoiding interest.
Read more in our Review of the Citi Double Cash Card
How do you like your Barclaycard Ring Mastercard? Leave your own review of the Barclaycard Ring, we’d love to hear from you!
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