Review of the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Feb 28, 2016 | Updated Feb 09, 2017

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The Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® stands out among credit cards.

Instead of being passive users of the card, cardmembers are able to take a part in how the card is designed, voting on product changes periodically. It’s a “social” card, designed with a unique focus on its users and featuring an active forum for community feedback.

The Ring card also has one of the lowest APR’s you’re likely to find on a credit card, no annual fee, and very low additional fees.

Is this interesting card right for you? Read on to find out.

Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 13.74% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 13.74%
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score

The Rewards

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, and may receive a reward called a Giveback™. Currently, there are almost 30,000 active cardmembers, this number having almost doubled since December 2013.

Barclaycard 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.

In the 2013-2014 period, for example, Barclaycard reported that revenue was nearly $4.2 million, while expenses were a bit over $3 million, leading to a “community profit” of over $1.1 million. The report’s infographic also breaks down how the money was made and spent: most (81%) of the revenue came from interest payments, while most (52%) of the expenses came from unpaid balances.

The amount of the Giveback that each cardholder gets back in rewards is determined by the overall financial responsibility of the entire Ring community. The reward amount is a proportion of the total amount of unpaid balances for the Ring card community: if the unpaid balances make up at least 3% of all balances when annualized, the Giveback will be less than 0%. As the amount of unpaid balances falls farther below 3%, the Giveback will increase by a certain proportion. When the unpaid balances are around 1%, for example, the Giveback will be around 1.5%.

This relationship may sound confusing at first, but it means that as the Ring community accumulates more unpaid debt, their Giveback rewards go down. As they pay their debts, their rewards go up.

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.

As an example of this cause-and-effect in action, 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 2013, and this put the unpaid balances up near 5% of the total balances, much higher than the 3% limit. This meant a reduction of $7,930 from the total Giveback period, and shows the effect that a small number of people can have on this rewards system.

Cardholders can also choose to have their Giveback donated to a charity, and Barclaycard will donate 1 dollar for every dollar donated this way. The community also takes a part in choosing which charities will be involved in the program.

The Benefits

Perks

  • Free FICO® Credit Score

    Keep track of your credit score easily, and get alerts if it changes.

  • Giveback Program

    Get a share of community profits.

  • Vote on Product Changes

    Card members vote on card benefits.

  • Share Ideas w/ the Barclaycard Ring Community

    Contribute in the forum and propose changes to the card terms.

Security

  • Fraud Protection

    You will not be held responsible for unauthorized use of your card.

  • Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-Pin Technology

    This card has EMV technology for added security when making purchases. You can find more information on EMV technology here.

The Ring Community

In 2014, the Ring community voted on two separate issues. The first was to remove the foreign exchange 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.

It’s also possible to see in some detail how Barclaycard is working to reduce spending and provide better customer service, as well as how the actions of the cardmembers can affect this. The report mentioned above 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.

The Costs & Fees

Annual Fee Regular Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
$0 13.74% Variable See Terms See Terms
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
See Terms See Terms See Terms
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
See Terms See Terms Up to $26

The Bottom Line: 4 out of 5 Stars

The Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® is an innovation, an experiment in giving cardholders a stake in the success or failure of the card they use. If you’re willing to throw in your lot with the other cardholders, you can apply to be part of this new 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 your card if you want to earn rewards like points or cash back every time you shop. It would be a good idea t0 check out how the Ring community has been doing recently before applying for this card.

The Ring card is 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.

If you get this card you’ll enjoy a very low APR of 13.74% Variable, not just for purchases and balance transfers but cash advances as well, which are usually around 25% APR. The additional fees are also very low or nonexistent.

Want to apply for this card or learn more? Just click the name below.

Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 13.74% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 13.74%
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score
If you’d like to see some other highly rewarding cards, check out the Best Rewards Credit Cards.

How do you like your Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®? Leave your own review of the card, we’d love to hear from you!

Was this helpful?
  • Sean

    Best write up I’ve seen about the card.

    • Brendan Harkness

      Thanks very much, Sean!

  • Joe Randle

    I have a Ring Mastercard, and am very pleased with the low apr. The member discussion community has added value, with interesting discussions and comments.

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