Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® Review – Low APR & Minimal Fees
The Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is a low APR credit card with very favorable interest rate terms (one of the lowest regular APRs of any U.S. credit card) and an innovative social community component not widely seen in the low APR category.
Ring cardholders have the opportunity to voice their opinions and vote on changes to card terms and conditions through an online social community. They also have closer access to staff members – including the product head in charge of Ring and the card’s community managers – than just about any other credit card community. Though Ring doesn’t have a traditional rewards program, its Giveback profit-sharing program does offer the possibility of financial rewards for cardholders.
Ring is unusual, even unique, in many ways. However, it can be compared with other low APR credit cards, such as Chase Slate, Citi Simplicity, Citi Diamond Preferred, and BankAmericard Credit Card. Since it does have a rewards program of sorts, it’s also comparable to entry-level cash back credit cards such as Chase Freedom and Discover it. It’s worth noting that Ring lacks many of the fringe benefits common to most rewards cards, such as trip cancellation insurance.
There is currently no sign-up bonus.
Barclaycard Ring’s Giveback program is the only means by which Ring cardholders can potentially earn cash rewards. Unlike most traditional credit card rewards schemes, it’s structured as a profit-sharing program, similar to what many co-ops use to reward their members.
However, Ring’s terms and conditions state that “this profit sharing feature is not based on the actual profits of the program… Instead, the Giveback program contains a transparent calculation that is used to determine what will be shared with the community members and which may or may not approximate actual profits.” Ring’s cardholder population is eligible to receive payouts from the Giveback pool. The Giveback pool is a set portion of the funds left over after the deduction of marketing costs, taxes, and shareholder returns. In part, individual cardholders’ Giveback pool share is proportional to their spending during each six-month allocation period.
Cardholders can also increase their Giveback shares by referring new customers to Ring, though this aspect is subject to change, and referrals’ contribution to Giveback shares is unclear. Cardholders have the option to donate their Giveback payouts to charity, instead of receiving them as cash.
It’s worth noting that Giveback does not guarantee payouts, so it’s not a good idea to bank on any sort of return from this program. Even when the Giveback pool has funds to pay out, heavy spenders should not expect their earning potential to exceed what they’d achieve with a traditional cash back rewards program.
The Ring Community has some innovative, practical features for current cardholders. These include:
Ring does actually listen to its community’s ideas from time to time – for instance, Ring had a foreign transaction fee until a majority of cardholders voted to do away with it.
Ring cardholders have access to a complimentary FICO score through their account dashboards.
Ring’s fees are minimal. The card does not have an annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost a flat $3, regardless of advance size. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 2% during the promotional period. Thereafter, there’s no balance transfer fee. Late and returned payments cost up to $27. See terms and conditions for a complete list of rates and fees.
This card has a 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months from account opening. Qualifying balance transfers must be made within 45 days of account opening. After the promotional period ends, variable regular APR applies.
Ring’s regular APR is 13.99% variable. This rate applies to purchases, balance transfers (following the conclusion of the 0% APR promotional period), and cash advances.
This card requires excellent credit. If you have any significant dings on your credit, you’re unlikely to qualify. A minor blemish here or there won’t necessarily disqualify you.
The Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is undoubtedly an unusual credit card. After all, it’s one of the first major cards with democratic governance written into its DNA, and certainly the first to incorporate social media in any form.
Ring is also known for its relatively low regular APR, which is highly attractive for people who want to carry balances from month to month or make sizable cash advances on their credit lines.
So, if you need to carry a balance after either making a large, essential purchase or shelling out for an unanticipated emergency, Ring is a great card for that purpose. However, it’s still better (if you can help it) to avoid carrying a balance and pay off your charges in full each statement period.
The Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is an unusual, community-minded credit card that’s great for people who feel beaten down by strict, inflexible terms imposed by faceless, impersonal credit card issuers. Thanks to a very low regular APR, it’s also great for people who plan to carry balances from month to month. On the other hand, Ring isn’t ideal for cardholders who prioritize steady rewards.
This card’s super-low regular APR, introductory APR promotion for balance transfers, ability to vote on card changes, social community, minimal fees, and lack of an annual fee are all great. Its poor (perhaps nonexistent) rewards and its stringent credit requirements hurt its prospects. Overall, it’s an excellent, if unusual, card for people who prefer to carry balances from month to month.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.
Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® Review – Low APR & Minimal Fees
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