Sallie Mae Mastercard® From Barclaycard Review

This card is being officially discontinued and replaced by an inferior product on March 1st, 2017. You can read more about that here.

This review does not contain ANY affiliate links. We appreciate you using our links where possible.

sallie mae rewards mastercard from barclaycard review



  • APR: 13.99%, 20.99% or 22.99% depending on your credit worthiness
  • Introductory APR: 0% for the first twelve billing cycles
  • Cash advance APR: 25.24%
  • Penalty APRs: 27.24%
    • Applies if you make a late payment
    • Can apply indefinitely
  • Grace period: 23 days
  • Minimum interest charge: $2

Note all APRs may vary based on the prime market rate.


  • Annual fee: s$0
  • Balance transfer fee: $10 or 4% whichever is greater for the first twelve billing cycles, then $10 or 3% whichever is greater
  • Cash advance fee: $10 or 5% whichever is greater
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3% of all transactions in U.S dollars
  • Late payment fee: $35
  • Over the credit line: $0
  • Returned payment: $35

Card Benefits

Card Negatives

  • 5% is limited to $750 per month for bookstores, $250 for gas & $250 for grocery stores
  • Only earns 1% on all other purchases
  • Small sign up bonus of 2,500 points ($25 cash back) after first purchase, as long as it’s within 90 days of account opening

Application Information

What Credit Score Is Required

Credit BoardsCredit Karma
Lowest approved score654No information
Average approved score690No information


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Common Reasons For Denial:

  • Too many recent inquiries
  • Too many recent accounts
  • Derogatory items on credit report (e.g late or delinquent payment)
  • Bankruptcy on file
  • Not enough credit history

The SallieMae rewards MasterCard was created with students in mind, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get approved. Barclay doesn’t like to see too many new inquiries on your credit report when approving applicants, they also like to see you putting credit card spend on your existing Barclay cards before approving you for additional cards. You can read our tips on getting approved for the Arrival card here, this information is applicable for all Barclay cards.

We’d recommend having a score of 670 or above before applying for this card, we’d also recommend having at least one year of credit history. If you have any bankruptcy or other derogatory items on file with TransUnion you’ll also struggle to be approved for this card.

It’s also a good idea to check to see if you have any pre-approved offers with Barclay before applying for this credit card. You can check other pre-approval offers with different card issuers here.

What Credit Bureau Does Barclaycard Pull For The Sallie Mae Card?

Barclaycard almost exclusively pulls the TransUnion credit bureau, which is extremely helpful as it is one of the least used bureaus.

What Credit Limit Will I Receive?

Minimum Credit LimitHighest Reported Credit LimitAverage Credit Limit

Rewards Program

This card earns rewards points which can be redeemed through Upromise.

Earning Rewards

This card earns at the following rates:

  • 5x points on gas purchases for the first $250 in purchases each month
  • 5x points on grocery store purchases for the first $250 in purchases each month
  • 5x points on bookstore purchases for the first $750 in purchases each month. Amazon codes as a bookstore and as such you can get 5x points on Amazon purchases (as long as the item is sold by Amazon, for more on this read the F.A.Q section below)

Sign Up Bonus

Current Sign Up Bonus
  • 2,500 points ($25) after the first purchase

Previous Sign Up Bonuses

  • October 6th, 2011: $100 cash bonus after you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening. The cap also to be higher with $500 on groceries/gas & $1,000 on bookstores.

Redeeming Your Rewards

The points on this card are extremely easy to redeem. There are three main ways to redeem:

  • Statement credit for your credit card
  • Deposit into a Upromise account or
  • Use it to pay back your Sallie Mae student loans

Regardless of how you use these points, they are always worth 1¢ per point. This means this card is effectively a 5% cash back card. There is a minimum redemption of 2,500 points ($25)

Our Verdict

This is one of my favorite cards and something that I regularly recommend to friends & family not hunting for sign up bonuses. Most people should easily be able to max out the grocery & gas store $250 limit per month. This results in an annual spend of $6,000 and at 5% back that’s 30,000 points or $300 cash back. Add in another 5% discount on all your amazon purchases and you have a very useful cash back credit card.

I don’t recommend this card to friends & family looking for a massive sign up promotion, or those looking to do manufactured spending due to the spend limits on this card and it’s not suitable for those who spend a lot on gas due to their work (e.g truckers). It’s also not suitable for those with large grocery bills (e.g large families), but in those cases I’d recommend shopping at a discount store such as Costco or Sam’s club and in that case this card doesn’t earn 5% back unfortunately.

A lot of people think that the points that this card earns have to be used to pay back Sallie Mae student loans, which is a real shame because of it’s earning potential. It’s effectively a 5% cash back card on gas, grocery stores & bookstores (Amazon). This is a card that almost everybody should have in their arsenal.

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We Recommend This Card For:

  • People that have regular but limited gas station expenses
  • People that spend $250 or less at grocery stores per month
  • People that spend a lot on bookstores OR

We Don’t Recommend This Card For:

  • People that spend well above $250 per month on gas or supermarkets
  • People that spend well above $750 per month on bookstores or amazon purchases
  • People looking for a high sign up bonus
  • People looking for a card that earns high on every day spend

Card Alternatives

F.A.Q’s & Tips

Question: I don’t understand the earning limits on this card? Can I earn 5% on the first $250 on gas and then another 5% on the first $250 spent on groceries? Or is it combined?

Answer: It’s separate. You can earn 5% on gas for the first $250 and then you can earn another 5% on the first $250 in grocery purchases. This is on top of the $750 limit for book store purchases

Question: What counts as a bookstore purchase?

Answer: This is dependent on what the merchant category code (MCC) is. Different stores have different MCC’s to tell the card processor what type of store they are. Most regular bookshops should code correctly as a bookstore, you can lookup the Visa MCC codes online before shopping but this is not possible for Mastercard.

One great thing about this card is purchases will generally code as a bookstore. This is true for products sold directly by Amazon, items that are fulfilled by Amazon won’t necessarily code correctly and as such you won’t earn 5% back on these purchases.

Amazon payments will not count as a bookstore purchase and as such you will not get 5% back.

Question: What counts as a gas/grocery store purchase

Answer: Again this all depends on the merchant category code. Usually discount supermarkets (e.g Sam’s club, Costco & Walmart) do not code as a grocery store. This is the same with gas pumped at Sam’s club.

Question: What’s the reconsideration number for Barclay’s?

Answer: This regularly changes, we kept this page updated with all reconsideration numbers. It’s also worth reading our tips for reconsideration phone calls before calling.

Question: How can I check to see if I was approved or denied?

Answer: Click here for our walk through

Question: Is there any forum discussion on this card?

Answer: Yes:



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Has anyone had any luck getting the Sallie Mae Mastercard with less than one year credit history?

I have a short but clean history of payments for 4 accounts every month. Oldest account 12/2013 (BofA), newest account 3/2014 (Discover). Lending club, FICO score was 722.


I read somewhere that this card is only approved for U.S Citizens and green card holders ? Can anyone verify or confirm ?! Please !


I am not sure about that but I think most cards do not care and do not ask about the status. I think all US residents should be able to apply for it as long as you have the 9 digit SSN or ITIN. I could be wrong about that but at least I have not seen this question being asked at the application time. I remember BoA card application asks which country you are a citizen of. Even that doesn’t say that you must have a green card.


“To be approved for this card you must be a US citizen or permanent resident. If you’re not one of these two you will not be approved for this card.”
Either this is new or it is simply not true. Yours truly has one of these and is definitely NOT a perm…


I was auto approved for $4000 and went to the account creation screen.
With regards to the CItizenship / Permenant Resident requirement, I selected Citizen of Canada.

12/29/2014 TU FICO SCORE from Discover 741, 2 INQ’s
Oldest Account 12/2013

Hope this info helps anyone else thinking about applying.


[…] post with the transaction that causes you to meet the minimum spend requirement (this includes the Sallie Mae credit card). Co-branded partner cards will have their points post after the statement closes. Unsure if […]


Data point:
AmazonPrime Membership don’t trigger 5%

Transaction Date, Description, Purchases, Rewards Earned
05/23/15, AmazonPrime Membership, 52.92, 53


Buying Amazon gift cards through Amazon gives 5% cash back. This guarantees 5% on Amazon purchases regardless of how they code it. Additionally, I believe you can use the gift card balance to “gift” yourself Prime whereas normally you must use a debit/credit card to purchase Prime yourself.

My transaction:

06/15/15 50.00 250


I forgot that I had frozen my credit reports when I applied for this, but I was approved with a $450 credit line. I have $9k on my Arrival+ and $5k on my Aviator from Barclays. Just thought I’d add a data point to your minimum credit limit.


The link to sign up for the Sallie Mae Rewards Mastercard has been removed from

Only the Upromise card is available, and the rewards structure for Upromise Mastercard was changed a few weeks back.

However, there is still this link to apply for the Sallie Mae Rewards Mastercard, but who knows how long this will still be around:


The 99 cents only store codes as Grocery Store as well, but Dollar Tree does not. FYI


This card has been quietly changed by Barclays. The program is different now. The 5% in gas/Amazon is no longer available for this card now. Very unfortunate.


[…] Sallie Mae card from Barclay offers 5% back (capped) on gas, grocery, and bookstore purchases. Amazon has been coding as a […]


I just got notified by Barclaycard (via mail) that my card is being replaced as of 3/1/17. The new card is a Commence Mastercard and only pays 2% on grocery and utilities, 1% on everything else. If you redeem to pay a student loan you get a 25% bonus. This makes the card pretty much useless for most who signed up for it. Disappointing.


I wonder if this is for everyone? I have not yet received a letter.


I’m sure it is. Maybe you just didn’t notice the letter? The envelope didn’t say “WE’RE RUINING YOUR SALLIE MAE CARD” on the outside.

Joshy Q.
Joshy Q.

There might be one positive side to this for a few people – if you have a large bonus saved up and a student loan that is NOT through sallie mae. On the mailed notice, it says that with the new card, you will be able to apply your rewards to ANY (their emphasis) student loan and enjoy a a 25% bonus on your payment. So, if you have a large reward saved up, keep adding to it until March. Then use that reward to make a payment on your student loan and enjoy a free 25% bonus on your payment. Am I right????


Sounds right.

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