Barclaycard Ring Mastercard: 1% Cash Back on Balance Transfers

The Barclaycard® Ring MasterCard® is a newer card that promotes “community” along with simple terms like no annual fee, no balance transfer fee, and only a $1 fee for cash advances. Usually, balance transfer and cash advance fees are around 3% (i.e. $300 on $10,000). In addition, the card had an 8% APR that applies to everything – purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. Sadly, this is half the current average APR of ~16% on balance transfer cards. The variable APR is 4.75% + WSJ Prime Rate (currently 3.25%).

However, all these things are pretty much only interesting for people that either carry a balance month-to-month or take cash advances occasionally. That’s not me, and hopefully not you (at least for long).

But then the Barclaycard Ring Mastercard added a new feature: 1% back on balance transfers. On top of having no balance transfer fee, they’ll actually pay you 1% of the balance to move your debt over to them. Quoted from the application:

Balance Transfer 1% Statement Credit Offer: For all Balance Transfers performed within the first 60 days of account opening a statement credit for 1% of the value of the Balance Transfer will be awarded at the end of the close of the cardmember’s billing statement after the qualifying balance transfer is made.

This got me excited at first, but then I remembered the 8% APR on balance transfers. You’d be ahead at first, but after 1.5 months you’d rack up 1% in interest that would offset your 1% cash back. Effectively, it’s an upfront rate reduction. If I had good-to-excellent credit and wanted to save some long-term interest on a balance transfer, I’d check out the Slate Card from Chase with 0% APR For 15 Months + no balance transfer fee.

Was there some other way to take advantage of this unique feature? If you repeatedly cycled balance transfer within the allowed 60-day window, you might be able to rack up some decent rewards. But in practical terms that’s very difficult as balance transfers take time to process and post to your old card. Balance transfer checks would make things much easier, but I’m not sure if they’ll send you any. Also get Complimentary FICO Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO Scores from your Barclaycard online account.

One way that I can see this card being useful is as a middleman that would allow you to transfer balances between the same issuer. For example, you can’t transfer a balance directly from one Chase-issued card to another Chase card. However, you can transfer your Chase balance to this Barclaycard Ring Mastercard, get the 1% back, wait a while, and then later transfer the balance again to a Chase card with a 0% APR offer (like the new Slate one mentioned above). This would also work from Discover to Discover, Citibank to Citibank, and so on. Overall, this would also let you carry your balance for a little longer at a low interest rate.

Comments

  1. Why not buy a gift card at the grocery store on a cash rewards card, get something like 2% cash back, then transfer that balance to this card, and get another 1%, and pay off that balance transfer in advance, i.e. make a payment to the Barclays card before doing the balance transfer, so that credit balance on the Barclays card immediately offsets the transfer amount so you don’t incur any interest charges.
    You could buy a year’s worth of groceries in advance by buying gift cards and a 3% yield on your grocery money. Instead of allowing your savings to earn you nothing in a savings account you would effectively be earning 3%.

  2. @Andy: You could just buy your groceries as you need them and not pay upfront for the entire year while still getting 2%. You’ll lose interest income by paying for the entire year upfront which is offset by the 1% balance transfer bonus.

    Is it worth it? I don’t think so. Even if you spend 4k per year on groceries, that plan only nets you an extra $40 assuming you would earn no interest on your 4k over the course of the year. (But you would earn something on your 4k, maybe around $20, so your real benefit is only $20).

    With so many cards offering basically $500+ value (southwest rapid rewards, for example), this one is not worth the effort.

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