Few credit cards offer unlimited cash back of 2% or more on any purchase you make, but PayPal offers one of the few: the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®, issued by Synchrony Bank.
High fixed-rate cash-back cards are appealing because of their ideal combination of simplicity and rewards. No more worrying about different purchases or activating bonus tiers every quarter. And this is free to carry, with an annual fee of $0.
You can use the card anywhere Mastercard is accepted, but one small catch is that you need a free PayPal account to apply.
PayPal Cashback Mastercard®: Basics and Benefits
- Card Type: Cash Back.
- Annual fee: $0.
- Bonus: Unlimited 2% cash back on purchases.
- Sign-up bonus: none.
- Foreign transaction fee: 3%.
- APR: APR runs are 14.99% – 26.99% variable APR.
Highlights of the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®:
Getting unlimited 2% cash back is easy and valuable, especially when the industry standard for flat-rate cards is 1.5% back. Other cards offer higher rates on certain types of purchases, but few have higher rates on all purchases, especially with a $0 annual fee. Not having to dedicate headroom to the reward category of a credit card is beneficial. It’s a good plan to just use this card for everything.
No redemption threshold
Redeem any amount for cash back. Some other cards require you to collect $25 or more before redeeming any money.
Can be used almost anywhere
To be clear, you can use this card to pay through your PayPal account, but you don’t have to make any purchases this way. It’s a regular credit card; it can be used in stores and online – anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
In most cases, once your card is approved, the temporary line of credit is added to your account and you can start using it with PayPal right away—no need to wait for the physical card to be mailed to you. (This takes seven to ten working days.)
PayPal Cashback Mastercard®: Disadvantages and Alternatives
Exchange is slightly limited
You have two options to get your money back:
- Redeem it as a deposit to your PayPal Cash or PayPal Cash Plus account.
- Redeem on your bank account or the debit card linked to your PayPal account.
That might not be a big deal for some, but it’s more limited than other cash back cards, and it lets you put cash back as a statement credit or get a paper check in the mail.
As an alternative, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 Months BT Offer is a major contender for a flat-rate cashback card with a $0 annual fee. It gives you 2% cash back: 1% cash back for every dollar you spend, then an additional 1% cash back for every dollar you withdraw.
Among the cards that offer at least a 2% return, you also have:
The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card is a 2% cash back card, but to receive this rate, you must convert your earnings as a deposit into an eligible Fidelity account.
Credit union cards include the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card, which gets you 2.5% back—but with an annual fee.
No sign-up bonus or introductory APR rate
While the progressive rewards rate is better than most flat-rate cards, this card doesn’t give you an advantage in collecting cash rewards like other options. It also doesn’t lure you with introductory prices for balance transfers or purchases. Larger cash back bonuses are often associated with cards that offer lower bonus rates. You can choose cards that offer 1.5% cash back and come with great bonuses.
An introductory offer of 0% APR is uncommon for a 2% cash back card. But again, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 Months BT Offer has: 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by an ongoing APR of 14.24% to 24.24% variable APR.
“Only” reimbursed for 2% of fees
A 2% rebate on all fees is a great return on a flat rate card. However, other cards offer higher cash back rates on purchases at certain types of merchants. Here are some options.
Another PayPal Credit Card: The older of the two PayPal cards is the PayPal Extras Mastercard®. It has tiered rewards. You earn 3 points per $1 on gas and restaurant purchases, 2 points per $1 on PayPal and eBay purchases, and $1 on everything else 1 point. The disadvantage of this card is that the redemption threshold is high and the points are low. For example, you need 6,000 points to redeem them for $50, which is the minimum requirement for cash back redemption. This means that one pip is worth 0.83 cents. The industry standard is 1 cent for 1 cent. Overall, it’s a mediocre card, but it does have better rewards rates for gas and restaurant purchases.
Rotating Categories: Some cards offer 5% back in bonus categories that change quarterly. Historically, categories have included useful consumer areas such as gas stations, restaurants, and supermarkets. Good examples are the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back. Both offer a 5% refund on the category you activate, up to $1,500 in quarterly spend (equivalent to $75 in cash back) and 1% on all other spend.
Permanent Category: The reward category of other reward cards will not change. Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a great example. Earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase; 3% back at restaurants and pharmacies; and 1.5% on other purchases.
Is the PayPal Cashback Mastercard® right for you?
If you already have a PayPal account and don’t mind redeeming cash rewards on it – or a linked bank account – then you’ve completed the small steps to get and use the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®. The benefit is a simple and valuable 2% unlimited cash back on all purchases that all other cards can offer. If you’re still undecided, check out this list to find the best credit card for you.
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