UPDATE: Doc pointed out that the NBA card uses a different reward scheme called TripleDouble Rewards, which is apparently different from the other BBVA rewards. The website for that rewards scheme doesn’t let you see what’s going on, so we’re all in the dark on this one. That 5X may yet actually turn out to be 5%.
Doctor of Credit recently brought news of an interesting new card from BBVA Compass. I was absolutely thrilled to see this, in part because the card (the app is live here) is interesting but mostly because I wrote about a different product from this bank a over a year ago and just last week I was racking my brains trying to remember what bank it was. My memory kept saying “CSFB! CSFB!” and I was unable to convince it that Credit Suisse First Boston does not have any interesting credit card deals. So thanks, Doc, for helping an old man having a senior moment. And if anybody from BBVA Compass is reading this, can you please lobby for a name change? Four letters is a lot to remember.
Getting back to the point: the new card offers 5X points on all spending during the NBA finals. One lingering question from the review was, how much are BBVA Compass’s points worth? Does 5X really mean 5%? After digging around a bit, I found a rewards catalog here. And the answer to the big question is that unless you go big, 5X will not mean 5%.
Take a look at the Visa gift card selection and this is what you see:
So to reach one cent per point, you’ll have to redeem 100,000 points at a time. 50,000 points gets you pretty close at $.0091 per point. 20,000 points will get you only $.008 per point, which means that 5X on all spending would equate to 4% back on all spending if that’s the amount of points you’re redeeming.
It’s the same story for other areas. Here’s travel–you can get one point per cent at 75,000 points, but only if you buy a ticket that costs at least $750:
“But wait,” you say, “Maybe there are some good deals to be had with retailer gift cards?” No, there are not:
I’ll be damned if I’m going to get a half cent per point redeeming for Arby’s gift cards, especially after Meat Mountain turned out to be such a disappointment.
In conclusion, there is no sweet spot to this rewards program that I can see since almost all categories have the same value per point. So if you were thinking about jumping on that NBA card offer, make sure you’re going to do enough purchasing to make the effort worthwhile.