Posted by William Charles on June 13, 2017
Credit Card Offers

Published on June 13th, 2017 | by William Charles


VantageWest Credit Union Connect Rewards Credit Card Review – You Pick 5% Category, 3% Gas [Update: Open To All]

The VantageWest Credit Union offers the Connect Rewards Visa Signature card. Let’s take a look at this card in our quick review.

Card Basics

  • The card earns at the following rates:
    • 5x in a category of your choice from the following list ($1,500 in spend max per quarter. Can change category each quarter if wanted):
      • Travel
      • Restaurants
      • Utilities[water, cell, electric, etc.]
      • Wholesale[Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.]
      • Department Stores
      • Hardware & Home Improvement Stores
      • Charitable Organizations
      • Pharmacies & Drug Stores
    • 3x cash back on gas purchases
    • 2x back on grocery store purchases
    • 1x back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Paper statements come with a $3 fee
  • Points are worth 1¢ each when redeeming for a statement credit. Minimum redemption is $25 (2,500 points)
  • No sign-up bonus

Becoming A Member

Seems to be restricted membership to join the credit union and that’s a requirement of applying for the card. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school or volunteers in (as well as all businesses located in1) these geographic areas…

  • Pima, Pinal, Cochise, or Maricopa Counties
  • Gila River Indian Community Reservation
  • Arizona’s “Copper Basin” Area

Update: Anybody can join and become a member by becoming a member of Greater Arizona Bicycle Association for $15. Thanks to theforerunner343 for finding this out.

Our Verdict

Wholesale clubs are probably the easiest of those to manufacture spend in. 5% back at restaurants & charity would also be pretty useful. 3x back on gas isn’t that bad, but there are other cards that earn up to 5%. Shame it has no signup bonus and restricted membership otherwise this would be an easy apply for me. If you’re able to max out the 5% categories then you’d earn $300 per year (2% card would earn you $120).

Realistically you’d need this card to stay around for awhile to get any true value from it.

Hat tip to /r/churning

65 Responses to VantageWest Credit Union Connect Rewards Credit Card Review – You Pick 5% Category, 3% Gas [Update: Open To All]

  1. Dan says:

    How easy is it to convert the points to cash? Is it basically 1 point = 1 cent?

    • Points are worth 1¢ each when redeeming for a statement credit. Minimum redemption is $25 (2,500 points)

      Not sure how hard it is to actually redeem. I suspect it won’t be difficult.

      • Jeremy says:

        @DOC You didn’t say if you recommend this or not. No sign up bonus is a bummer, but this seems like a decent card. Restricted availability is problematic.

  2. AD says:

    Given the restricted signup, do you see this card maintaining these benefits or basically used as a lure with a short life-span?

  3. Wyle says:

    This is a new product. I’m a dormant member. Took them up on a checking and CC bonus and great promo CD rate a while back. I’ve had a basic card from them in my sock drawer for years. On my April ’17 statement, the card changed from a ‘Consumer Visa Platinum’ to a ‘Connect Visa’, so hopefully the new product line and rewards will stay for a while.
    I will be looking for a product change to the rewards card pretty soon and I’ll probably do it in-branch (hopefully to increase my chances).
    I know this card has a pretty limited audience, but if anyone wants specific info, let me know and I’ll ask.

    • AC says:

      Could you please ask if there is a list of secondary ways to qualify for membership? Thanks!

    • Credit-Boy-Toy says:

      I’m new to credit unions credit card applications. Would you mind asking what is the requirement to check employment? Easy number? One number? Last check slip? Or Tax information? … And thanks for offering to ask.

      From what I’ve read, Credit Unions treat credit card just as any loan application. I try to keep all paperwork “required” to open accounts to a minimum, or none as I hate my information flowing around online or saved in some’s files. Some credit lenders, don’t like just part time jobs, income based on “other sources” or no relation to them first.

    • AC says:

      It says there’s a referral bonus ($20 for both parties) program. Would you be willing to refer me?

      • Wyle says:

        Can do. Referral page says stop in branch or print out coupon. Coupon wants existing members name and address. If you’re applying online, what info does it ask for?

    • Wyle says:

      Decided to do this quickly (end of quarter is coming soon), so I went into branch yesterday before questions posted.
      – I couldn’t product change because of interest rate difference on cards (or so I was told), so I did a new application for the Rewards card. Hard pull on Experian, not sure of others. Account showed up on my existing online banking account this morning. I did allow them the option to shift CL from other Vantage West card, which they did.
      – @AD – Didn’t ask about other membership qualifications, sorry.
      – @Credit-Boy-Toy – again, didn’t see question before I went. They only asked me standard question about monthly income and place of employment. They didn’t ask for documentation and I KNOW they didn’t verify anything with employer. Don’t know that I’ve ever had to verify income for a credit card.

  4. EW says:

    card is open to all: DP: /u/theforerunner343 reported that he was able to get CU membership by registering for Greater Arizona Bicycle Association for $15. The secondary ways to qualify for membership were told to him by the CU CS.

  5. John555 says:

    Tempting but sorta risky considering the payoff is a long term thing without a bonus. I give it a week before they get more restrictive about approvals

  6. z-nut says:

    So this the only way to get 5% on Restaurants year round? I don’t really want to open a checking and savings account just to apply for the card (especially with no guaranteed approval).

  7. Kasey says:

    Just applied for this card- got approved, but was unable to join the credit union (at least, for now), since I’m not in the area served by them. I even brought up the Greater Arizona Bicycle Association, but was told I still had to be in the area for that to work…

    • Kasey says:

      UPDATE** – Got a call back from the CSR, apparently you CAN actually become a member of the credit union if you have a GABA membership number. My question is, how did you get the joining fee down to $15? I’m only seeing $25 as an option

      • Kasey says:

        Nevermind, found it, make sure you select the Individual membership

      • Eric says:

        Isn’t being a member required to get the credit card? If so, how did you get approved?

        • Kasey says:

          I think I did it backwards, but it still will work out. In hindsight, becoming a member probably would have been easier and saved me a bunch of phone calls. You DO have to be a member to actually GET the card, but I was able to get approved for it prior just by filling out the app.

          • AndrewChickentendi says:

            I did this as well — applied for the card first. I have a GABA membership. How long did it take for them to contact you? It’s been about 30 hours since I applied. I did it this way for the Fort Knox card, and was contacted within a day or two and told to get a savings account as others have suggested. It ended up being perfectly alright and I was approved. Hoping I can replicate that case here.

          • Kasey says:

            They contacted me the same morning I applied for the card to ask some questions regarding my credit report. Later on that afternoon was when the back and forth started to get the actual account set up so I could get the card. It took about a day from start to end

  8. Devin G says:

    I’m applying for membership first. I applied for a regular share savings account with deposit of $5.00, and I submitted both my membership welcome email from GABA as well as payment confirmation from GABA as ‘Other’ documents. It’s currently under review. I’ll respond to this comment when there are any updates.

    • Devin G says:

      I was able to gain membership with the documents that I had. I applied for the CC with a EX FICO score of 742 with 6 inquiries and was denied. No reason yet for the denial.

      • EW says:

        denial is probably for the high number of inquiries. lay low for a few months and re-apply and you should be approved. many getting approved despite being out of state.

  9. Dave says:

    How is drugstores not the easiest category to MS in? Am I missing something?

    • Deb says:

      Probably depends on what’s available in your location. A while ago drugstores were easiest for me. Then the chain with the most locations stopped taking cc for gc and the next in line has a low max allowed.

  10. EW says:

    You are also eligible by enrolling in a few conduit groups. These include Greater Arizona Bicycling Association (15$), Pima Council on Aging (25$) and Tucson Zoological Society (37$).

    • themanwhocan says:

      I don’t suppose the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance qualifies one for membership?

      Hmm, this bank sure has bad Yelp reviews. The ‘fees for everything’ comment seems troubling…

  11. joh says:

    So if you 5x cap at $1500 per quarter, that’s $75 back in redemption? x 4 for $300 per year? And the 3x gas?


  12. ES says:

    I was initially interested in this card, but two things made me rethink and decide to forego this one:
    1) Their Yelp reviews are unbelievably bad. It is not like I make my decisions solely based on Yelp reviews and I have seen several businesses that did not have very good Yelp reviews but were decent when I dealt with them. Yet Yelp reviews for this credit union are so bad that it is unwise to ignore them.
    2) Second reason and the more compelling one is the Card Agreement. Its language is frightening and basically stripes several rights of consumer in a way no other credit card that I have does. Language in the Card Agreement basically means consumer are hardly protected against fraudulent charges and should jump through several hoops to file a disputes. Conditions to file a dispute are these “1) You must have paid with your credit card.” 2)You must not yet have fully paid for the purchase., 3) The purchase must have been made in your state or within 100 miles of your mailing address, and be more than $50.” Specifically second requirement is hard to met. Also based on Yelp reviews they charge $25 to file disputes which is disclosed in Card Agreement as “Account Research Fee”! Also Card Agreement about fraudulent charges is confusing. First it says “You may be liable for unauthorized use of your credit card.” Then it says under specific conditions you are not liable…
    I will definitely pass this one.

    • kon says:

      Great finds, thanks

    • z-nut says:

      It’s worth noting that those 3 conditions are not for fraud, but for a chargeback due to dissatisfaction with a product or service.

      I’ll agree that the fraudulent section is not worded well, but doesn’t seem to screw you over (charge you $50) unless they can prove gross negligence.

      • ES says:

        That’s true. As I explained those three absurd conditions are for a disputing a charge.

        I also agree that the fraudulent section does not leave a lot of room for screwing, but as you said it is badly worded and still $50 to be screwed is $50.

    • V says:

      Thank you for your comment. I had referred this to a family member who has started the application process but after reading the Yelp reviews I will ask for the application to be withdrawn. One hard inquiry wasted is less trouble than having to deal with them. One Yelp review said that transaction DISPUTES can only be done IN THE BRANCH (on top of the ugly fact that it costs $25 to dispute a transaction). That SHOULD BE a deal breaker for anyone who is outside of their physical region.

  13. ENOTTY says:

    Confirming hard pull on Experian.

  14. onlyfocusonthemeta says:

    Does anyone know if “utilities” would include isp? Looking specifically at Comcast.

  15. Tri22 says:

    Hard denial for “escalating debts”. FICO 820ish. Lots of HPs which probably did me in. CSR wouldn’t elaborate and was quite rude. Oh well I’m a member of their stupid CU now, maybe I’ll wait and reapply in a few months

  16. JASON says:

    Declined. Received a letter today, noted they pull Experian but I froze it already. Also declined due to the reason of “length of employment” and “You are not eligible for membership in this credit union”

  17. dave says:

    So in order to become a member and get the credit card, you have to open up a checking account? I’m having trouble seeing another way.

  18. Matt K says:

    I’m from MSP and just finished getting set up…. I applied for cc first on 7/19. Hit on Experian. Hadn’t heard anything except got my credit score disclosure in mail (767) so called yesterday. First rep said I was approved but then needed to talk to loan processor if any outstanding items (I never tried this but could probably have just emailed Got a call back shortly later and they said needed the membership info. Paid the $15 to join GABA and applied on savings. nice to be able to fund savings with $2k (used Arrival). Went pending but was told that’s because out of service area automatically flags manual review. Uploaded DL and GABA membership card right away and by end of day was approved on the savings. First time login is membership ID and password last 4 SSN but can’t do until business day following savings account approved. This morning I logged in and saw the savings account showing. Called the loan processor to make sure we’re good on CC and shortly after I saw my $10k limit CC showing. 6 mos basically 0% everything – purchases, balance transfers, BT fees, even cash advances. Not really a need right now myself on the BT or cash advance (especially on a personal card) but might be useful for some if a big enough line approved.

  19. Matt K. says:

    Anybody know when the bonus points post when spending on the chosen 5x category? I see the 1x points post mid cycle but I’m guessing when the statement cuts the rest of the points show up? Hoping so.

  20. Dan says:

    Purchased $1500 of gift cards at a drug store last week, only 1x points posted. Opened up a support ticket and they are going to investigate where the rest of my points are.

    • Wyle says:

      I did similar near end of June. 2 of 3 5x bonuses posted. 1 of 3 this quarter (so far). I started an inquiry at the bank on the first 2 missing bonus points 3 weeks ago. Haven’t heard anything. Was about to call soon on the last one, which was for an odd amount ~$485.
      Seems hit or miss on the 5x, always posts for 2x.
      Update if you hear back.

      • Dan says:

        Got a response from customer service, seems there is an issue when transactions exceed $1500:

        Our processor has informed us that there is an issue with your purchase summary recognizing your 5x transaction payee. It appears the issue is with the transaction being over the cap amount of $1500, they are doing some testing and working to correct the issue.

        Your points (6,000) will be manually added shortly. Since this is a new product, we would like to ask that you monitor your account next quarter, especially if you have one large transaction like this quarter to ensure the points go through as they should. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, the issue should be corrected soon but do want to ensure it does not happen again.

        Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.

        • Wyle says:

          Mine were separate transactions for ~$500.
          Did you call the Rewards phone number to report the problem or message them? I take it they replied by email or SM.
          Definitely time for me to contact them again. Nice that you heard back so quickly.

        • Wyle says:

          I’ve had three purchases of ~$500 since late June that didn’t get bonus points. I emailed them recently about one of the purchases. I figured work through one, then go after the others.
          “We are working through an issue with the 5X bonus points.” No mention of $1500 issue. They added the points for the purchase I mentioned AND noticed and added points for the other two purchases. Yay … except I’m now maxed out on 5X bonus points for Q4!? It seems like adding the missing points from Q2 and Q3 counted against the bonus points cap in Q4. I asked them to confirm.

          • Wyle says:

            Quick email reply. CS was mistaken. Corrected points were properly capped for prior quarters and 0 applied toward Q4 (so far). Kudos for making it right; now just make it automatic.

  21. Dave says:

    Anybody else finding their paying the credit card off amount very unuser friendly? The only way I see to directly pay the credit card off is to go to the pay off loan feature. Then it appeared to sneakily insert as the default the minimum payment with no direct option to pay off the entire bill… I had to memorize what the bill was from a previous screen and manually insert it in.

    • Eric says:

      Yes, probably the worst I’ve encountered. I’ve been paying the bills through my personal bank’s bill pay. I suggested to them to provide an full statement balance auto pay feature and they said they’ve submitted the suggestion to their processor. I would encourage you to contact them about this issue too.

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