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2021 Review: Barnes and Noble Mastercard – Better Left on the Shelf

Published Oct 26, 20216 min read

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Barnes & Noble Mastercard®

Min Credit Level Good
Annual Fee $0
Regular APR 13.99%–24.99% Variable
At a glance

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
  • Balance transfer fee
  • Few benefits
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Barnes & Noble Mastercard®
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99%–24.99% Variable

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!

Insider tip

Check out our page on the best balance transfer credit cards. There are cards better suited for balance transfers, some with no fees, and some with longer windows to pay off the balance.

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • 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.

The Rewards

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 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
Introductory Bonus
  • $25 Barnes & Noble gift card after making your first purchase

Redeeming

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 Benefits

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

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
13.99%–24.99% Variable 0% for 15 months, then 13.99%–24.99% Variable 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$0 3%
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
3%, $5 minimum 5%, $10 minimum
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None 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?

It’s recommended you have good credit before applying.

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.

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Barnes & Noble Mastercard®
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99%–24.99% Variable

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Barnes & Noble Mastercard’s customer service phone number?

Since the Barnes & Noble card is issued by Barclays, you can call 1-877-523-0478 to reach its credit card customer service.

If you need help reaching other credit card issuers’ customer service numbers, check out our page.

Can you use the Barnes & Noble Mastercard everywhere?

You can use the Barnes & Noble Mastercard anywhere that Mastercard credit cards are accepted, but you’ll earn the most rewards with Barnes & Noble.

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Alternatives to the Barnes & Noble Mastercard

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

Our rating:
  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening, then 14.99%-24.99% Variable APR Variable
Why We Picked It

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.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back on all purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Key Features
  • 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
  • Annual fee: $0
Apply Now

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Apply Now

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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion
Why We Picked It

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) is another great choice for an inexpensive and rewarding credit card.

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.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back for every purchase (must pay at least the minimum due on time):
    • 1% back when you make a purchase
    • 1% back when you pay for that purchase
Key Features
  • Citi Concierge: Call for non-emergency help whenever you need it, like assistance making travel reservations.
  • ShopRunner membership: Use ShopRunner to get free two-day shipping and returns at participating retailers.
  • Free credit score: Check your FICO Bankcard Score 8 for free, based on your Equifax credit report.
  • Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers, then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Balance Transfer fee: Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 min) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 min).
  • Annual fee: $0

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

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  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR14.24% to 22.24% Variable
  • Requires active Prime membership
  • Cash back can be redeemed for statement credits or at Amazon.com checkout
  • Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
  • Earn 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores
  • Earn 1% back on all other purchases
  • $100 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon approval
  • $0 annual fee
Why We Picked It

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card (Review) provides impressive rewards for Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, and comes along with some useful perks. You’ll need an Amazon Prime membership to qualify, but there is a non-Prime version, the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card (Review).

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.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back at:
    • Amazon.com
    • Whole Foods Market
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Gas Stations
    • Restaurants
    • Drugstores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • $100 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon approval
Key Features
  • Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection: Perks at eligible hotels, including complimentary WiFi, room upgrades when available, a $25 food and beverage credit, and more
  • Visa Signature Concierge: Call any time for non-emergency assistance.
  • Shopping and travel protections: Including Purchase Protection, Extended Warranties, Baggage Delay Insurance, and more
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Purchase APR0% on purchases for 12 months, then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Rates & Fees

  • 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.
  • Terms Apply.
Why We Picked It

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review) is one of, if not the, most rewarding cards when it comes to U.S. supermarkets and U.S. streaming services. Plus, it has a strong rate at U.S. gas stations too.

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.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 6% cash back:
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%)
    • Select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back:
    • U.S. gas stations
    • Transit
  • 1% cash back on other eligible purchases
Introductory Bonus
  • $300 statement credit for spending $3,000 in the first 6 months
Key Features
  • Amex Offers: Find offers for extra cash back at a changing selection of merchants.
  • $120 Equinox+ Credit: Get up to $10 per month for a stand-alone monthly membership to the Equinox+ app. Will not apply if you purchase the membership through the Equinox app or a third party.
  • ShopRunner membership: ShopRunner provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
  • Shopping protections: Return Protection, Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection
  • Travel protections: Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance, Global Assist Hotline
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months, then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Apply Now

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Barnes & Noble Mastercard®
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99%–24.99% Variable

Do you use the Barnes & Noble Mastercard? Has it made your book shopping more lucrative or enjoyable? Let us know what you’ve gotten out of the card in the comments below!

If Barnes & Noble isn't your store, take a look at our page for the best store cards. You might find one you like more. Best Retail Store Credit Cards of December 2021

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

Written by

Evan Zimmer

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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The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts are accurate and/or questions are answered.

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