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A card for those into cars: Review of the General Motors BuyPower Card

May 20, 2020
12 min read
GM Buypower Card Capital One_CCSL_new
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GM BuyPower Card from Capital One® Overview

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

With a 5% earning rate on the first $5,000 in spending each year and 2% thereafter, the no-annual-fee GM BuyPower Card® has an impressive bonus on everyday purchases. However, there's one big catch -- you can only redeem your earnings on General Motors cars, services, and parts. If you're an avid GM customer or plan to be in the market for a GM vehicle in the years to come, then this card may be for you. For anyone else, steer clear. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

At TPG, we generally recommend bypassing store credit cards, but there are certainly exceptions to the rule. If you are someone with high brand loyalty and are certain to purchase from that retailer, there may be instances where having a store card could actually make sense.

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The BuyPower Card from General Motors is one such card. It's certainly a niche product, but if you plan to shop for a new car in the years to come or identify as an existing GM car owner who wants to reduce maintenance costs, this could be a card to consider.

While there are other cash-back cards that are a better fit for most people, let's take a deeper dive into the GM BuyPower Card to see if it could align with your goals.

The information for the BuyPower Card from Capital One has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Who is this card for?

While there are a handful of now-defunct General Motors car brands, the current ones include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. The BuyPower Card from Capital One is a card for GM car enthusiasts. If you're reading this review, you're likely either a current General Motors car owner or lessee, or have your sights set on owning or leasing a GM vehicle in the coming years.

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With the coronavirus pandemic, many individuals are prioritizing essential purchases instead of splurges on things like vacations and entertainment. An imminent car purchase may not be in your sights given the current environment, but the BuyPower card is more of a long-term play, since the earnings from the card can be accumulated over time to discount the price of a vehicle.

GM offers this handy earning calculator on their website. (Photo courtesy of General Motors)
GM offers this handy earning calculator on its website. (Photo courtesy of General Motors)

For current GM car owners, your rewards can be used toward services, parts, and labor to minimize maintenance costs on your vehicle from everyday wear-and-tear.

At the end of the day, this card is for those who prioritize their means of transportation above all else. By spending on this card, you'll be foregoing any other cash-back cards or rewards cards that may offer more in the way of perks and benefits. A 5% return is impressive (even if it is capped), no matter how you slice it, but just know that you're locked into the GM ecosystem.

Welcome offer

The GM BuyPower Card offers an introductory 0% APR for 12 months after opening an account. After that, your variable APR will be between 15.24% to 24.24%. Unfortunately, unlike some cash-back earning cards such as the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) -- which offers $200 back after you spend $500 in the first three months -- the BuyPower Card has no such welcome offer.

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

However, the 0% APR offer does give you the opportunity to make major purchases and pay them off within a year of account opening without accruing any interest charges. Of course, we don't recommend spending beyond your means, and as always, use your card responsibly.

Earning, perks and benefits

Obviously, the biggest draw here is the 5% earnings on up to $5,000 in purchases annually, for any purchases where this Mastercard is accepted. If you hit the $5,000 cap, you'll start earning 2% back with no limits. The simplicity of this card is fantastic since you don't have to think about bonus categories. All of these funds are pooled together and can be used toward GM vehicle purchases, upgrades, services and more.

Since this is technically a World Elite Mastercard issued by Capital One®, you not only can use this card anywhere Mastercard is accepted, but also can take advantage of a host of standard World Elite benefits:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection
  • Cell phone protection
  • Mastercard Zero Liability Protection‎
  • Global Emergency ServicesWorld Elite Concierge
  • Lyft -- Take five rides in a month and get a $10 Lyft credit once per month.
  • ShopRunnerUnlimited free two-day shipping and return shipping on purchases from 100+ stores
  • Postmates — Get $5 off every purchase of $25 or more (not including delivery fees, tips and taxes)
  • Boxed -- Earn 5% in cash rewards on orders.

This no-annual-fee card also has no foreign transaction fees.

For GM aficionados, an added benefit is that you can combine your "My GM Rewards" points as well as any current offers with your BuyPower earnings. However, you cannot use any employee or supplier discount pricing in conjunction with the BuyPower Card. If you sign up for My GM Rewards and are not currently a BuyPower Cardmember, when you apply and get approved for a new BuyPower Card or GM Extended Family Card, you’ll earn 5,000 points from My GM Rewards.

How to redeem

First, whatever you earn does not expire in an open account. There are two ways to redeem your BuyPower earnings -- when you purchase or lease a new car, or towards vehicle care and GM extras. Keep in mind earnings can only be used on a new vehicle, not a pre-owned one.

Redeeming towards a new car

Use your BuyPower earnings at any US GM dealership. (Photo by RiverNorthPhotography / Getty Images)
Use your BuyPower earnings at any US GM dealership. (Photo by RiverNorthPhotography / Getty Images)

If you're acquiring a new vehicle, first log in to your account and any earnings will appear in the "Earnings Summary" box.

  1. Visit a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac dealership anywhere in the U.S.
  2. Negotiate and take advantage of available offers and incentives.
  3. Identify yourself as a BuyPower cardmember and make the dealer representative aware that you want to redeem eligible earnings.

Your earnings should then be deducted from the final price of the vehicle.

Redeeming towards vehicle care and GM extras

If you already have a GM vehicle, you can use your BuyPower earnings towards maintaining it or upgrading certain features.

  1. Use your BuyPower card to make qualifying purchases (this includes at the dealer, connected services plans, etc.).
  2. Log in to your account and click the "Vehicle Care and GM Extras" tab on the redeem page.
  3. Redeem up to $250 in statement credits each year.

You have 90 days from the time of purchase to retroactively use your earnings towards a statement credit. Again, this only applies to GM purchases and extras.

Other cards to consider

There are other no-annual-fee, cash-back card options to consider. Although none of these cards will earn a flat 5% return like the BuyPower Card, they are more flexible in that you can use that cash-back toward non-GM spending, or even combine it with a more lucrative transferable currency such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Citi® Double Cash Card

(Photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy)

One simple and rewarding cash-back card is the Citi Double Cash Card. This card earns you 2% cash back (1% when you buy and then another 1% as you pay). There's no limit and you can even turn your cash back into Citi ThankYou points when combined with a card like the Citi Premier® Card.

Read the full Citi Double Cash review.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

The Wells Fargo Propel technically earns points, but they’re redeemable at a fixed value, so this essentially is a cash-back card. There's no annual fee, and you will earn 3x on a number of common spending categories, including dining (eating out and ordering in), gas stations, transit, travel and select streaming services.

Read our full Wells Fargo Propel review.

The Wells Fargo Propel card is no longer available for new applicants. The information for this card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase Freedom

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

If you don’t mind keeping track of quarterly categories and spending caps, you can get a lot out of the Chase Freedom's rotating quarterly 5x bonuses (up to the first $1,500 spent each quarter you activate). The bonus categories are typically valuable for that season and easy to maximize. Plus, if you have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points (such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card), you can combine points and maximize earnings even further.

Read the full Chase Freedom card review.

Related reading: Best cash-back cards of 2020


Can you earn on purchases made by BuyPower Card authorized users?

Yes, as long as the authorized users are tied to the same BuyPower Card account number, you will earn on these purchases.

Do my BuyPower Card earnings expire?

No, BuyPower Card earnings never expire as long as you have an open account.

Bottom line

The BuyPower Card is intended for a very specific audience -- GM car fans or those that are certain to be in the market for a new vehicle and want to save towards that specific goal. However, when compared to a card like the Citi Double Cash, which earns an unlimited, flat 2% cash back (1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay), the BuyPower's 3% difference in earnings (5% vs 2%) on the first $5,000 in purchases is $150 -- which isn’t much in the grand scheme of buying a new car.

For most people, I wouldn't recommend this card since it makes more sense to have the flexibility to earn cash back or points towards other options. But if you fit the criteria and don't mind forgoing other rewards, this GM card could be for you.

Featured photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy.

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.