Sallie Mae Expands Into the Credit Card Market
Many people think of Sallie Mae as their student loan provider, which may not bring up some good connotations if you're buried in student debt. But now Sallie Mae is offering a way to give you cash back--on purchases that is, if you use one of their new credit cards.
Sallie Mae has expanded its product line and is now offering a portfolio of three cash back credit cards. The cards, named Ignite, Accelerate and Evolve are Mastercard-branded cards that are geared toward college students, those paying down their student loans and other young professionals.
All three cards have no annual fees. There's also no cap on the limit of rewards you can earn with them, and rewards don't expire. All cards also have unspecified instant rewards that you can unlock if you use the card responsibly and make payments on time.
The lowest-tier card in the group is the Ignite card, which is aimed at current students who are trying to establish their credit history. It offers one percent cash back on all purchases, and if you make six consecutive payments on time you can get a 25 percent bonus on your cash back rewards. Once you accumulate $25 in rewards and your account is current, you can redeem them as a statement credit or have them deposited into a checking or savings account.
The Ignite card has an introductory zero percent APR on purchases for six months from the date you open the account, and after that, the APR will be a variable 15.24 to 25.24 percent, based on your creditworthiness. Cash advances have an APR of 27.24 percent, and the card has fees for balance transfers, cash advances, foreign transactions, late payments and returned payments.
The mid-tier Accelerate card has rewards geared toward those trying to pay down student loans. You get 1.25 percent cash back on all purchases, and if you use your rewards to pay down your student loans, you get a 25 percent bonus on those earmarked rewards. Accelerate has a zero percent introductory APR for 12 months, but otherwise, its terms are the same as the Ignite cards with regards to APR, cash advance APR and fees.
The top-tier Evolve card isn't much different than the other two cards, but it's geared toward people with established credit who don't have student loans to pay off. It has the same APR, cash advance APR and fees as the two other cards, and like the Accelerate card, its zero percent introductory APR also lasts 12 months. You can also earn 1.25 percent cash back on your purchases, but the 25 percent bonus on your cash back comes from your top two purchase categories for each month.
Sallie Mae has a mobile app for the cards, where you can pay bills, view transactions and dispute fraudulent transactions. You can also set up customized alerts within the app to track your spending and help you stay within your budget.
If you lose or misplace your card, you can put a pause on it from the app so that someone else doesn't rack up charges on your card. That said, cards come with a zero liability clause so that if there are unauthorized purchases on your account, you aren't responsible for paying them.
Other perks of the cards include cell phone protection if you pay your cell phone bill with your card, and free FICO credit scores.
Currently, these three credit cards are only available to people who have special offer codes, but Sallie Mae does have a waitlist for anyone who's interested in applying for one.