The new 5x kid on the Block: The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard
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ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard Review
While there are several major credit card issuers that offer cards that feature 5x rewards, perhaps you haven’t heard of the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard®. It offers a rewards program that’s similar to the Chase Freedom® and Discover it® Cash Back, which are two of the most popular rewards credit card in the US. Like those cards, it offers up to 5x reward points on categories of purchases that change each quarter. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
For credit card rewards enthusiasts, nothing gets your attention as quickly as the chance to earn 5x rewards, which is available in cards from several of the largest credit card issuers. At the same time, there are hundreds of credit card issuers in the United States, and some people might prefer to consider using a card from a smaller, regional bank rather than get yet another card from a multi-national conglomerate.
Who Is This Card For?
The ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card is designed for those who want to earn a very large bonus from select categories of purchases that change each quarter. But since there are much larger credit card issuers that offer cards with a similar rewards structure, this card appeals to those who would prefer to work with a smaller bank. ABOC is the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, which dates back nearly 100 years, but it’s committed to becoming a larger player in the US credit card market.
Their Platinum Rewards Credit Card offers 5x points per dollar on up to $1,500 spent each quarter on purchases from select merchant categories, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. It has it’s own proprietary rewards program that allows you to redeem points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise or travel reservations. But since you can’t transfer your rewards to airline miles or hotel points, this card appeals to award travelers who don’t have the time or patience to deal with the complexity of those options, which describes a lot of people that I know.
Sign-Up Bonus: $150 Statement Credit
With the ABOC Platinum Rewards card, you can earn a $150 statement credit after using your card to spend $1,200 within 90 days of account opening. It’s interesting that this card offers a sign-up bonus in the form of a statement credit, while it offers reward points for spending. In contrast, most cards that offer a sign-up bonus use the same points, miles or cash back that it offers as rewards for spending.
Just remember that your account is considered open the day that it’s approved, not when your card is mailed, received, activated or first used.
Main Benefits and Perks
This card has a decent amount of benefits. The biggest one is the 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5). After the promotional financing terms expire, you’re standard APR will be a variable rate (based on the Prime Rate). Those rates are currently 14.40% to 24.40% based on your credit worthiness when you applied.
You also receive 60-day price protection coverage, and a hose of Mastercard services including Lost and Stolen Card Reporting, Emergency Card Replacement, and Emergency Cash Advance. Another benefit is Mastercard ID Theft Protection services, which is probably needed now more than ever.
This card has no annual fee, and unlike many other no fee cards, there are no foreign transaction fees imposed on charges processed outside of the United States.
How to Earn Points
You earn 5x points per dollar on up to $1,500 spent each quarter on purchases from select merchant categories, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. For example, in the fourth quarter of 2019 (October, November and December), automotive purchases are being featured including automotive parts, service and repair purchases. Previous quarters featured bonuses on travel, home improvement and dining & grocery purchases.
As with similar offers from other card issuers, you must register your account to receive rewards, which you can do at ABOCRewards.com. Interestingly, ABOC actually gives you the Merchant Category Codes (MCC) for eligible purchases, which most card issuers don’t. Using tools like the Visa Supplier Locator, you can check to see if a merchant qualifies for the bonus points.
There’s no limit to the amount of points that you can earn, and your rewards will never expire.
You can also earn extra points by shopping at specific online merchants through links from ABOCRewards.com
How to Redeem Points
When it comes time to redeem the points you’ve earned, you have your choice of statement credits, gift cards, merchandise and travel reservations.
Your points are worth 0.75 cents each towards statement credits and between 0.77 and 0.93 cents each towards gift cards, depending on the denomination. But you’ll receive the most value from your rewards when you redeem them for travel in the form of flights, hotels, car rental and vacation packages including cruises and experiences. I’ve verified that you get one cent in value per point redeemed on flights, but I’ve found the points are less valuable for hotel reservations.
These travel items can be booked completely with rewards points, by using a combination of rewards points and charges to the user’s ABOC card, or directly purchased using the ABOC Card. However, a minimum of 15,000 points for flights and 5,000 points for all other travel must be used if combining points and card charges.
Little Known Facts About the ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card
- ABOC is a smaller credit card issuer, but it’s a bank with a long history. Amalgamated Bank of Chicago opened its doors in 1922 to meet the banking and financial needs of organized labor. Back in 1987, it’s groundbreaking Union Strong card was praised by Fortune magazine as one of the best credit cards in the market.
- Though there are other credit cards programs that periodically offer 5x rewards on travel, the ABOC Platinum Rewards card is the only one in the industry that gives you accelerated rewards no matter where you go or how you get there. For example, during July 1-September 30, 2019, ABOC cardmembers could earn 5x points on their first $1,500 in purchases for airlines, bus lines, cruises, and even gasoline. This 5x benefit was also extended to hotels, campgrounds, car rentals, and even entertainment activities such as amusement parks and museums.
- Unlike other similar credit card programs, ABOC doesn’t require you to sign up every quarter to get 5x points in the new featured categories. Once you have registered the first time for the ABOC rewards program, and provided a valid email address, you’ll automatically get 5x on your first $1,500 in purchases in the selected categories for each quarter.
- The ABOC Rewards loyalty program is extremely flexible. Your points never expire, and can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, merchandise, and even cash (in the form of a statement credit). You can even gift points to other members of the ABOC Rewards program.
There’s no denying the appeal of earning 5x rewards on select purchases, and the ABOC Platinum Rewards card delivers. And while this is a crowded field, there are some credit card rewards enthusiasts who prefer root for the underdog over the big players. In fact, this card can compare favorably with its competitors when you consider that the reward categories are broader, you don’t have to “activate” your reward categories every month and it has no foreign transaction fees. If you prefer these qualities and are the kind of person who likes to support the little guy, then you should consider the ABOC Platinum Rewards card.
- 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months and Balance Transfers for 18 months; after that the variable APR will be 14.40% - 24.40%, based on your creditworthiness
- Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
- Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
- No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
- Earn Points on Every Purchase! It's simple: $1 = 1 Point
- No Annual Fee or Foreign Transaction Fee
- Select Your Rewards Your Way