Santander Bank, one of the largest U.S. regional banks serving the Northeast, introduced a new credit card that is capable of providing a large amount of rewards to nearly any American consumer.
The new Santander Bravo MasterCard offers 3 points per dollar spent at gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants, up to the first combined 15,000 points earned in these categories per quarter. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar spent. Points do not expire.
The points can be redeemed for airfare, prepaid cash back cards and merchant gift cards at a rate of 100 points per $1.
While many rewards credit cards don’t have annual fees, this card carries a $49 annual fee. However, Santander will waive the fee for those who apply for the card by March 31, 2014 and for cardholders who also have a Santander checking account.
Getting the most rewards possible
To maximize the rewards on the Santander Bravo MasterCard, one would have to spend a combined $5,000 in the three categories per quarter, which breaks down to roughly $1,667 on these categories per month.
There’s the potential to earn $600 in cash back per year on the bonus categories, in addition to the cash back earned at the 1-point-per-dollar rate for everything else.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here’s what the average American spent on such categories in 2012 (most recent data):
- Food, at home: $3,921 ($327/month)
- Food, away from home: $2,678 ($223/month)
- Gasoline: $2,549 ($212/month)
- Total: $9,148 ($762/month)
Anyone interested in applying for the card should review their past spending history to project how much they’ll spend on the bonus categories and, therefore, get a good idea of how much they’ll reap in rewards.
For non-Santander checking customers and anyone who applies during the promotional period, the $49 fee may not be worth the cost since there are similar rewards credit cards that do not have an annual fee.
The BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card has no annual fee and offers 3% cash back on gas and 2% at grocery stores on the first $1,500 combined grocery store and gas purchases each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
The American Express Blue Cash Everyday card has no annual fee and offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on the first $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
For Santander customers, the Bravo card offers a generous rewards program for no annual fee.