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Bravo For New Santander Credit Card

image of the Santander Bravo MasterCardA couple of months back I profiled what I consider to be the best credit card for everyday use, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card.

I haven’t changed my mind, but the new Bravo card from Santander Bank is nearly as good.

Bravo is the first credit card offering from Spain-based Santander, which operates more than 700 bank branches in nine East Coast states; it’s the old Sovereign Bank franchise. All U.S. residents can qualify for this card.

Depending on how much you spend and what you spend it on – and if you’re a Santander banking customer – you may come out ahead with Bravo.

The rewards are fantastic – much better, in fact, than on Discover and other cash back cards. There is a $49 annual fee, which is avoidable, but it’s still worth the price even if you are required to pay it.

The annual fee is waived the first year if you apply for the card by March 31. You can also avoid the fee in subsequent years if you maintain a Santander Select checking account.

The card offers triple rewards points at gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants. So you’ll earn three points for every dollar spent.

There is a cap of 15,000 points per quarter on those purchases, but that cap is really generous – it works out to $5,000 of spending each quarter.

If you exceed that cap, you still earn one point per dollar, as you do on all other purchases.

Points are worth a penny each, so 10,000 points are worth a $100 prepaid MasterCard. You can also redeem your points for airline tickets with no blackout dates, as well as for merchant gift cards. Points don’t expire.

According to a calculator on Bravo’s website (www.santanderbank.com), you can earn nearly as much or more with this card compared with Amex Blue Cash, either the no-fee Everyday version or the Preferred version, which has a $75 annual fee.

Let’s say you spend $500 a month on groceries, $300 on gasoline, $200 at restaurants and another $500 on miscellaneous spending. You’d earn 42,000 points a year on Bravo, or $420 in rewards, while still being below the 15,000 quarterly cap.

Compare that to Amex Blue Cash Preferred, the one with the $75 annual fee.

The Amex Preferred card pays 6% cash back on your first $6,000 of grocery purchases a year, or $500 a month. That works out to $360 in rewards each year. After that, you earn 1% on groceries.

You also get an unlimited 3% back at gas stations and select department stores. If you spend $300 a month on gas, that works out to an additional $108 a year in rewards.

You also earn 1% on everything else. Figuring another $6,000 in spending a year, that’s another $60 in rewards a year.

Grand total: $528. However, if you subtract the $75 annual fee, that brings your rewards down to $435, or just $15 more than Bravo, given the same amount of spending.

The no-fee Blue Cash Everyday card pays 3% back at supermarkets, up to the first $6,000 of spending, 2% at gas stations and department stores, and 1% on everything else. Assuming you spend as much as in our examples, you’d earn $312 a year, way less than Bravo.

Bravo doesn’t beat Blue in all respects:

  • Both Blue cards pay big introductory cash bonuses, while Bravo does not.
  • APRs on Bravo are a little higher than on Amex Blue, ranging from 15.99% to 24.99%.
  • Redeeming rewards on the two Amex cards is a little easier than Bravo. You get the cash back automatically in the form of a statement credit as soon as you’ve earned $25. Bravo has a sliding scale on redemption values. You can redeem as little as 2,800 points, worth $25, which works out to 2.6% of spending. If you wait until you earn 10,000 points, that’s worth $100, or a full 3% of spending.

Overall, I’d say if you’re a Santander customer, or live near one of its branches, Bravo is definitely the way to go.

Compare Bravo with all the cash back credit cards in our database.

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  1. Leonard @ The Wallet Doctor said:
    on February 25th at 06:44 pm

    Thanks for such a detailed comparison. This process of comparing deals and considering the rewards on cards is too often overlooked. Even for those looking at cards other than the specifics you’ve mentioned, this is a great outline for how to ensure you are getting the best deal on your card.