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Sprint Credit Card Delivers Meager Value, at Best

Sprint's Credit Card Offers Meager Value, at Best
 If you’re a Sprint wireless customer  then applying for the cellular provider’s credit card could make sense. But as rewards credit cards go, the Sprint Credit Card is just phoning it in.

Sprint launched the card in 2015 in partnership with Netherlands-based lender Home Credit, and it appears Sprint is expanding its marketing for the product. It earns 2 points per dollar spent on  purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Points are worth a penny each, and there’s no annual fee.

But the good news pretty much ends there, because the Credit Card suffers from all kinds of hangups:

  • Invitation required: For starters, you have to be invited to apply, either via email or snail mail, or while inside a store.
  • Poor redemption options: You can redeem your rewards only for Sprint services and products purchased directly from the carrier. That includes your monthly  bill, as well as phones or accessories. In-store, online and “telesale” purchases qualify, but purchases of Sprint merchandise at other retailers, such as Walmart, do not.
  • Restrictive redemption rules: You’ll need to have at least 2,000 points, or $20 worth, before you can start redeeming. You’ll also need to download the My Home Credit mobile app. And you have only 30 days from the time a qualifying purchase posts to your account to use points to pay for it.
  • Limited 0% period, and a sky-high ongoing APR: The Sprint Credit Card does offer a 12-month introductory 0% interest period — but it applies only to Sprint purchases. Otherwise, as of Jan. 4, 2018, the card’s ongoing interest rate was 19.99% to 35.99%. That’s much higher than average. (In 2016, according to the Federal Reserve, the average APR charged on credit card accounts that incurred interest was 13.56%.)

For Sprint, the benefit of offering a credit card is clear. High-end smartphones and data plans aren’t cheap, but they can be financed via credit cards — and Sprint can pitch its own.

The benefit to consumers is minimal. The card does offer features like roadside assistance and car rental insurance coverage, but those are common perks in the competitive credit card market. Moreover, you can find any number of rewards cards from major issuers that offer higher rewards rates and far wider redemption options, not to mention generous sign-up bonuses and longer introductory APR offers.

Consider, for example, the Chase Freedom® credit card, which hits all of the above: It offers 5% cash back in bonus categories that change every quarter, on up to $1,500 spent quarterly, and 1% on everything else. Among the card’s bonus categories in the first quarter of 2018: internet, cable TV and phone service merchants.

The Sprint Credit Card offers a financing option for a phone or a way to trim your monthly bill, but you’re better off shopping around for other options.