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The Barnes & Noble Mastercard offers rewards for those who spend a lot at the store, and a decent balance transfer opportunity. However, there are limited benefits, and the best one is locked behind a substantial spending requirement.
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Our Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars
We give the Barnes & Noble Mastercard® 3 out of 5 Stars. It offers decent rewards at Barnes & Noble, but has limited redemption options for its other categories and sparse benefits.
Why We Like It
5% cash back for Barnes & Noble purchases
2X points per dollar at restaurants and gas stations
$25 Barnes & Noble gift card after making your first purchase
0% balance transfer APR for 15 months, then 13.99%–24.99% Variable
Why It Could Be Better
$7,500 spending requirement for 12-month Barnes & Noble membership
Points only redeemable for $25 or $50 Barnes & Noble gift cards
The Barnes & Noble Mastercard has good rewards for all of your book purchases, whether you’re shopping in a Barnes & Noble store or on bn.com, but it’s pretty limited when it comes to other features. Redemption options are limited, and there’s a high spending requirement for the 12-month Barnes & Noble membership. You can expect the other benefits to be lacking, too.
The card does come equipped with a decent balance transfer offer, however. You can transfer a balance from another card that’s accruing interest, and pay it down at no interest. But keep in mind there’s a balance transfer fee, and the offer is only valid for the first 45 days you have the card.
Consider a flat-rate card first, like the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card (Learn More) (Review), and perhaps bring it to your local bookshop instead!
Make your first purchase: If you’ve been waiting to buy the latest Stephen King or Neil Gaiman novel, you’ll find it even more rewarding if it’s your first purchase with the card. Upon your first purchase, you’ll receive a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. You aren’t restricted to merely buying books with the gift card — you can pay for your lunch date at the café with it too.
Access greater perks, with a catch: The card includes access to a 12-month Barnes & Noble membership, but you’ll need to spend $7,500 with the card in a year before you can get all the perks. The perks it unlocks aren’t overly impressive either. They include a 40% discount for bestsellers, free shipping, and a 10% store discount.
Swap your redemption preference: By default, each time you earn 2,500 points you’ll be mailed a Barnes & Noble gift card. But you can change the delivery method to electronic in order to avoid waiting a week for the gift card to arrive.
Check your credit card statement: The 5% cash back you earn for Barnes & Noble purchases will show up on your credit card statement as a rebate. Unless you’re actively keeping track, you’ll need to look at your statement to see your account rewards.
Watch the balance transfer time limits: In two senses here: You’ll have 45 days to initiate a transfer to take advantage of the offer, and you’ll have 15 months to pay it down.
5% cash back at Barnes & Noble, in-store and online
2X points per dollar spent at Restaurants
1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases
$25 Barnes & Noble gift card after making your first purchase
The cash back for Barnes & Noble purchases will show up on your credit card statement as a rebate each month.
The other rewards will automatically be redeemed for Barnes & Noble gift cards each time you reach either 2,500 points or 5,000 points, depending on your set preference. The points are worth 1 cent each, so 2,500 points equates to a $25 gift card.
You can choose to either receive the gift card in the mail within 7–14 business days, or electronically within 24 hours.
The Barnes & Noble Mastercard likely doesn’t have very good perks. It’s issued as a Mastercard, so it might come equipped with a few shopping protections. But Barnes & Noble doesn’t list exactly what those will be, so cardholders should check the Guide to Benefits that comes with the card to find out.
12-month Barnes & Noble membership: Spend $7,500 in a year to unlock a Barnes & Noble membership. It gives you free shipping, 40% off hardcover bestsellers, early access to sales, a 10% store discount, and more.
Free FICO credit score: Check your FICO Score 8 for free, based on your TransUnion credit report.
Zero Fraud Liability: Cardholders won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges (contact customer support immediately if you suspect fraud).
The Terms & Fees
Balance Transfer APR
Cash Advance APR
0% for 15 months, then 13.99%–24.99% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Cash Advance Fee
3%, $5 minimum
5%, $10 minimum
Returned Payment Fee
Up to $37
Up to $37
If you plan to use a balance transfer, just keep in mind you’ll need to do so within the first 45 days with the card to qualify for the introductory APR.
The Bottom Line
The Barnes & Noble Mastercard® isn’t the best choice for a credit card. The rewards aren’t terrible, but you’re locked in to redeeming for gift cards and the spending requirement for the membership requires a bit of a commitment.
This card might be worth it for Barnes & Noble regulars, who are already spending a decent amount of money with B&N. But if you’re looking for a card that earns on everyday purchases such as gas and groceries, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review), or a flat-rate card that earns a good rate for everything.
The balance transfer offer is actually pretty good. It gives you a respectable amount of time to pay down the balance, but there is a transfer fee to keep in mind. However, if you’re dealing with high-interest debt you’d be better off choosing a card that’s more suited to balance transfers, like the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card (Review).
How Do I Apply for the Barnes & Noble Mastercard?
Just follow the link below. You’ll be directed to the Barnes & Noble site where you can follow prompts to reach a secure application. The credit card issuer, Barclays, will typically get back to you instantly with its decision.
What Credit Scores Do I Need to Qualify for the Barnes & Noble Mastercard?
Good credit means your FICO scores are at least 670, or your VantageScores are at least 700.
But keep in mind credit card issuers look at more than just credit scores. Additional information such as income and monthly rent or mortgage payments factor into your creditworthiness. So even if your scores aren’t quite there, you still have a chance at approval. However, that also means even if they are high enough, you could still be denied.
The Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card (Learn More) (Review) is one of the best flat-rate cards available. It offers 2% cash back for no annual fee, plus a decent selection of perks.
Use it for every purchase to earn an impressive rate. That includes books and coffee, and everything else you might find at Barnes & Noble. The Active Cash offers a better selection of benefits too, including Cell Phone Protection and a Visa Signature concierge.
Free FICO credit score: Check your FICO Score 9 online whenever you’d like, based on your Experian credit report.
Visa Signature Concierge: Get 24/7 assistance with non-emergency tasks like travel planning, restaurant reservations, and gift hunting.
Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection: Pay with your card to get perks at select hotels around the world, like a $25 food/beverage credit, complimentary WiFi and breakfast for two, automatic room upgrades when available, VIP Guest status, and more.
Cellular Telephone Protection: Provides reimbursement for damage or theft of cell phones, up to $600 per claim and two claims per 12 month period, with a $25 deductible. You must pay your phone bill with the card to be eligible.
Roadside Dispatch: Call 1-800-847-2869 if you need help on the road, with some services at set prices like towing, tire changing, jump starting, and lockout service.
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Includes help with medical and legal referrals, emergency transportation, ticket replacement, lost luggage location, emergency translation, and more.
Purchase APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening, then 14.99%-24.99% Variable APR Variable
Balance Transfer APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then 14.99%-24.99% Variable APR Variable
Balance Transfer fee: 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5
In addition to earning 2% cash back for every purchase, the Double Cash comes with one of the longest balance transfer offers around. You’ll have 18 months on Balance Transfers to pay down a transferred balance at 0% interest, a better deal than the B&N card provides. It may be wise to use this card for the transfer offer first, then for earning rewards after the balance is paid off.
The benefits aren’t the best, however. You can monitor one of your credit scores and get protected by a handful of Citi’s programs, but that’s about it.
Amazon has one of the largest collections of books from authors of both great and modest renown. If Barnes & Noble has it, it’s safe to assume Amazon will as well. Amazon also houses a massive collection of other goods, meaning you can earn plenty of cash back for more than just book purchases.
There isn’t a balance transfer offer, but you will get a better selection of shopping and travel protections.
Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a monthly plan fee up to 1.33% of each purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
1% Cash Back on other purchases.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
So if you’re in the market for a card that earns on everyday purchases, you could do far worse than the Blue Cash Preferred. It does carry an annual fee, but you’ll hardly notice it with the high cash back rates.
And, there’s a way to earn even better rewards at Barnes & Noble than you would with the Barnes & Noble Mastercard. Use the Blue Cash Preferred to buy Barnes & Noble gift cards at the supermarket to earn 6% cash back for the purchase. This also works with any other gift card the store carries.
The benefits are better, too. The Blue Cash Preferred comes with a few shopping and travel protections as well as special deals with select retailers through Amex Offers. The card pretty much has the Barnes & Noble Mastercard beat in every way, except it doesn’t have a balance transfer offer.
Evan graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in journalism and creative writing. In his professional writing career, he strives for precision and comprehension in his work. He’s written news articles, blog posts, and copy, working across a slew of different mediums. With in-depth research and great care for accuracy and detail, he now works to bring you the most up-to-date credit information.
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