Posted by William Charles on March 18, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on March 18th, 2015 | by William Charles


BBVA Compass Build Your Own Rewards: Choose Your Own 3x Categories (Restaurants, Groceries & Utilities) + $200 Bonus

This post is part of our series on unusual credit cards. Every Wednesday we have a look at a different card, you can view other cards in our Weird Wednesday series by clicking here.

A few days ago we looked at the new NBA card from BBVA Compass. Whenever I find a card that looks interesting, one of the first things I do is look at the other credit cards the financial institution offers as they’ll sometimes have more than one interesting card.

BBVA Compass actually has three other cards that are interesting: BBVA Compass Select℠ Credit Card, BBVA Compass Visa Signature & BBVA Compass ClearPoints. The reason that both of these cards are interesting is that they can be enrolled in BBVA Compass’ “Build Your Own Rewards” program.

Build Your Own Rewards

As mentioned previously, Build Your Own Rewards are available on the Select, Visa Signature & ClearPoints cards. Here are the basics of the build your own rewards programs:

  • You’re able to choose one 3x category and two 2x categories (only the select allows you to choose two 2x categories, other cards will only allow you to pick one 2x category)
  • Bonus categories are subject to change
  • There is no earning cap in these categories
  • You can change categories once every 90 days
  • If you do not choose your categories, you’ll default to 3x on Airfare and 2x on Dining & Hotels
  • It’s not necessary to re-enroll every quarter if you have the Select card, but it is required with other cards
  • Categories (according to this page, although there seems to be a lot of conflicting information on the BBVA Compass website):
    • 3x: Utilities, Restaurants & Groceries
    • 2x: Travel, Gas & Healthcare

bbva compass build your own rewards

Now in most cases you can get more than 3x already in these categories. I’d recommend the following pages that let you know the best credit cards for each of those categories:

This 3x bonus is really only interesting for restaurants and grocery stores where 3x without a cap is the best on offer. Now that we understand the build your own rewards program a little bit better, let’s have a look at each of the individual cards and see which is the best option.

BBVA Compass Select℠ Credit Card Review

This is BBVA Compass’ premium credit card offering. Let’s have a look at the main points:

  • Sign up bonus of 20,000 points after $2,000 in spend within 90 days of account opening
  • Annual fee of $125 is waived in the first year. It’s also possible to get the annual fee of $125 waived if you maintain Premier Personal Banking status (although this requires you to have deposits of $100,000+ with the bank).
  • Choose one 3x category and two 2x categories, all other purchases earn 1x points
  • $100 statement credit when you spend $20,000 or more in qualifying purchases in a year
  • No foreign transaction fee (no EMV chip)
  • Exclusive travel benefits (Hertz Gold Plus), this is just a standard Visa Signature benefits
  • Receive a bonus 1,000 points every month you spend $5,000 or more in qualifying purchases
  • Points don’t expire as long as the account remains active for 12 consecutive months (otherwise points expire after 36 months on a first in first out basis starting from when the account becomes inactive)

If you spent a full $5,000 every month in only the 3x category, you’d actually be earning 3.2x points. Although the bonus points in reality will not cover the annual fee.

bbva compass build your own rewards

BBVA Compass Visa Signature Credit Card Review

  • $100 bonus after $1,500 in spending within 90 days of account opening
  • No annual fee
  • Choose one 3x category and one 2x category, all other purchases earn 1x points
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for first six months
  • 0-3.99% introductory APR on balance transfers that are requested within 30 days of account opening (balance transfer fee of $10 or 4%, whichever is higher)
  • No preset spending limit
  • Visa Signature Benefits

Obviously the main benefit to this card is that there is no annual fee, you only get to choose one 2x category and the sign up bonus is lower than the select card though.

bbva compass visa signature review

BBVA Compass ClearPoints Credit Card

This card is basically the same as the Visa signature, but without the Visa signature benefits.


Unfortunately it’s not possible to apply for any of these cards online, you either need to apply via phone on 1-800-COMPASS or at any BBVA Compass branch. You also need to live in their footprint, which is restricted to the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Texas.


How Much Are Points Worth?

All of these credit cards earn CompassPoints, we’ve written about the value of these points in the past. The rewards program is fairly easy to understand though. It’s possible to redeem points for statement credit and points are worth a penny each. There is a minimum redemption of 2,500 points ($25) though.

What Credit Limit Can I Expect?

This will obviously depending on your own specific credit history and which card you apply for, but this is what people have reported receiving in the past:

Highest LimitLowest LimitAverage Limit

Keep in mind this is only based on 8 data points.

What Credit Bureau Does BBVA Pull?

BBVA pulls exclusively TransUnion, unless you have frozen credit reports in which case they’ll pull whatever is not frozen.

Final Thoughts

3x points really isn’t that exciting for me now that the Discover it miles card is offering that on all purchases for the first year (although there is some risk that you won’t get the full 3% cash back). That being said the Compass Select card is quite interesting as I’d be able to earn 3.2% cash back, get a $200 bonus and a $100 Orbitz gift card in the first year.

The cash bonus of $200 is very competitive with other cash credit card sign up bonuses and there is the upside that these cards will continue to earn 3x points after the first year. I’m still unsure what I will do, I live within the service area and a sign up bonus of ~$300 + 3.2% cash back on grocery stores (or even Restaurants) is very attractive to me. But I’d also like the NBA card which will earn 5% cash back twice a year and I’m unsure if BBVA will approve me for both cards (if they do, it will be interesting to see if they combine pulls or not).

The vast majority of people will be better off with other cards, but I still thought this was an interesting opportunity. What are your thoughts on these cards?


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Good find Will. I wouldn’t put those 3% on groceries away too fast. Everybody who’s been stripped from his/her Amex OBC could benefit from this. Actually I’m thinking about getting the Select for one year and then PC it down to the Signature before the AF hits (any idea if that’s possible with BBVA?). I’d use it to replace the 2 percenter I’m currently using to close the gap between the new Amex OBC spending cap and what a Redbird can eat each year.


JB, you mirrored my thoughts exactly. Redbird, plus AFT may be worth it at 3% (at 2% it’s not worth my time). And all for a TU pull.

Even if I just did $5k per month on grocery, it would be an additional $50 per month. I think I may pull the trigger on this one. Wish they accepted online applications, calling in is a pain.


Drat, I missed the part about living in their footprint. Oh well, I’m out.

Odd that they differentiate between the NBA card which is available to almost everyone and these cards which isn’t.


Bam! One day later and (fore me) the gap between the OBC cap and the Redbird has closed itself by 66% with Evolve no longer accepting fee-free USB GC.


I’ve never done a phone application before. What’s it like? Do I have to repeat myself a lot because the customer service rep is slow or hard of hearing?


Yeah, it’s usually a lot of “N as in Nancy” “T as in Tom” etc.


How about in branch applications? I’ve never done those either, but I’m assuming a banker types in all your info or are we given a paper application to fill out and then a banker transcribes that into a computer?


I’ve never done in-branch. Dunno.

Justin H.
Justin H.

Unfortunately I’m not in the their target area.

A few notes:
– TU pull is great. It’ll fill the churning void once US Airways is gone.
– If given a choice between this and DiM for purely MS purposes, this seems to be the winner. For everyday purposes, having DiM is better, although at that point I’d rather have the Arrival+ instead.
– Assuming maxing out at 3.2%, $3906.25 will cover the AF.
– This seems better than the NBA card, at least for the first year. Better signup bonus, unlimited earning cap, and you’ll have more time to MS (and less likely of a shutdown).


Can anyone here confirm if Target purchases are codes as groceries for these cards please. My whole setup just got whacked (in a good way) and I’m free to use credit cards @ TGT again…


[…] special thank you goes out to Doctor Of Credit for posting about this BBVA Compass Select Credit Card offer for a $200 […]


I just applied for a BBVA Compass card in-branch in Colorado and they pulled Experian.

Bill M
Bill M

The Orbitz gift card bonus has been replaced with a $100 account credit on the Select card. Here is the wording: Bonus (2) Earn a $100 Account Credit after making $20,000 in qualifying purchases with your credit card (only available during the first year)


I received offer for BBVA Compass ClearPoints Credit Card in the mail to apply online. Same as the signature card above but no signature benefits and intro is 0% for 13 months. I live in Massachusetts. Either they are trying to go national or its somehow linked to the fact I work for a Company in Colorado


The link leads to the page that shows the categories. They have a huge list of options. In fact, I think they might be the only ones offering 3% on health care.


Current list of all categories available (3x and 2x choices now both come from the same list, unlike when this post originally went up) according to that link:

Maintenance, Dining, Gas, Grocery, Utilities, Travel, Business, Retail, Health Care, Entertainment

Sure would be nice to have some more details about what each category includes, for some of these more unusual ones.

Dining, gas, grocery, and travel are pretty obvious.

I’m guessing healthcare includes businesses in the MCC codes 8011 through 8099, which includes regular doctors, dentists, eye doctors, medical imaging, massage and chiropractors, audiologists (hearing aids)… but not health insurance – all the different types of insurance (health, home, auto, etc) seem to be lumped together in one MCC, which is why health insurance reportedly counts for the State Farm Reward Visa card’s 3% back on insurance spend.

If Compass defines ‘entertainment’ the same way the Marvel card does, it would include: amusement parks (including zoos and aquariums), movie theaters, video rental and game stores, theater and concert tickets, digital entertainment, toy and hobby stores, and bookstores and newsstands (including comic books).

I’m not sure what the intent or extent of ‘maintenance’ is, and the front-desk-bell icon for it seems like a poor choice if it’s supposed to mean home-repair type of stuff.

Particularly wondering about ‘business’ too.


Examples by BYOR purchase category:
Business Services – Office Equipment and Supplies, Advertising Services, Courier Services, etc…
Dining – Restaurants, Caterers, Bars, etc…
Entertainment – Theaters, Tourist Attractions, Athletic Clubs, etc…
Gas – Service Stations, etc…
Grocery – Grocery Stores, Bakeries, Specialty Markets, etc…
Healthcare – Hospitals, Doctors, Dentists, Pharmacies, etc…
Maintenance – Automotive repair, General Contractors, Specialized Contractors, etc…
Retail – Department Stores, Automotive Dealers, Book Stores, etc…
Travel – Airfare, Car Rentals, Hotels, Tolls and Transit Fees, etc…
Utilities – Cable and Phone Carriers, Electric, Gas, and Water Utilities, etc…


Just a heads up that the Select card is running a promo SUB of 30k points ($300) until Oct 4 after spending $2,000 in 3 months. They are old style, app is in branch only. I might do it!

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