If I had the money, I think I could live in REI — the popular recreational equipment store brand. I’d pick out a tent, a sleeping bag, and an arm-full of backpacking meals and set up camp (literally).
That’s why I got the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard®. The $100 gift card for new users, the 5% back on REI purchases — it was all too enticing. The problem is if you don’t have ample cash to spend at REI already, the perks may not be worth the hype.
Nevertheless, the REI Mastercard does have a lot going for it, and any outdoor enthusiast should take a look before opting for an alternative.
Overview of REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard®
With perks like 5% back on REI purchases, a $100 gift card after opening your account, and discounts on REI adventure travel, the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® is an excellent credit card option…for REI addicts. If you’re not an REI lover, consider some other options before you apply.
- Best for – REI addicts.
- Intro offer/sign-up bonus – $100 REI gift card when you use your card within 60 days of account opening.
- Cash back – 5% on REI purchases, 2% on mobile wallet purchases, and 1% on everything else.
- Intro APR – None.
- Regular APR – 13.99% – 23.99% variable.
- Annual fee: None (one-time REI membership fee of $30).
- Other unique features – Attractive travel benefits, including LoungeKey airport lounge access and discounts on REI adventure travel.
What we like
- Receive 5% cash back on purchases at REI, 2% on mobile wallet purchases, and 1% everywhere else.
- $100 REI gift card when you make a purchase on your card within 60 days of opening your account.
- No foreign transaction fees.
You’ve got the highlights, so let’s dig a little deeper and discover what else the REI Mastercard has up its sleeve.
The best cash back rewards available through the REI Mastercard, obviously, are at REI.
When you use your credit card at REI — whether you’re buying an outlet item online, an REI adventure trip, or a brand new backpack at their retail store — you’ll get 5% cash back. The card also offers users 2% cash back on purchases made with your mobile wallet (Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, etc.) and 1% back on everything else you buy.
Beyond cash back, there are plenty of other fun rewards that come with this credit card, especially if you love to travel. For example, REI cardholders gain access to more than 1,100 LoungeKey airport lounges in more than 400 airports all over the world. When you show your REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard®, regardless of the airline you fly or your ticket class, you’ll get a complimentary membership status, which offers a “pay-as-you-go” rate of $32 per lounge visit.
Furthermore, when you use your Total REI Rewards for REI adventure travel, REI will reduce the cost of your trip by 50% of the rewards you use. For instance, let’s say you book an REI adventure trip with a member price of $2,500 and have $200 of Total REI Rewards to contribute to the cost. Thanks to the adventure travel benefit available through your Mastercard, REI will provide a $100 discount (50% of your $200 Total REI Rewards contributed) on the remaining trip cost. After your rewards and the discount have been applied, you’ll pay the leftover balance of $2,200 on your card.
Coupled with these perks, your REI Mastercard provides a collection of discounts on food, clothing, and more. Here is a brief list:
- Lyft – After three rides in one calendar month, you gain a $5 Lyft credit.
- Fandango – When you spend $20, you earn a $5 Fandango Reward.
- HelloFresh – Receive 5% back on future HelloFresh orders.
- DoorDash – Try DashPass for free and get $5 off your first two orders each month.
- ShopRunner – Get a complimentary membership, free two-day shipping, and free returns.
As a final plus, for every REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® purchase, REI has committed to donating $0.10, up to $1 million total, to the REI Cooperative Action Fund, which supports organizations that promote justice, equity, and belonging in the outdoors.
I won’t lie, the bonus offered by the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® was particularly compelling for me.
After you’ve applied, been approved, and received your card, all you need to do is make a purchase using your credit card in the first 60 days, and in six to eight weeks you’ll find a $100 REI gift card in your mailbox.
The REI Mastercard charges a variable APR of 13.99% – 23.99% for purchases and balance transfers, which is a pretty average rate. For cash advances, the rate is a bit steeper at 25.99%.
The annual fee for a REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® is $0.
That said, only REI members are eligible to apply, so you’ll need to pay a one-time $30 fee for a membership before you can apply for this credit card.
While the REI Mastercard doesn’t have an annual fee or foreign transaction fee, there are some other fees associated with the card.
For cash advances, you’ll be charged a 5% fee for each advance amount ($10 minimum). Balance transfers and convenience checks will cost you 3% for each transfer/check amount ($5 minimum). Additionally, penalty fees for late and returned payments could cost you as much as $41.
Other unique benefits
As previously discussed, the REI Mastercard has a wealth of fun perks to offer its cardholders. But this card also provides some practical benefits to keep your money safe.
For instance, the REI credit card includes Zero Fraud Liability, which means you won’t be liable for unauthorized charges or changes to account information and won’t have to cover costs you didn’t make. The REI Mastercard has also got your back if your card is stolen (ID Theft Resolution Services), your upcoming trip is canceled due to a covered loss (Trip Cancellation Insurance), or your recent eligible card purchase drops in price within 120 of purchase (Price Protection).
Another benefit of the REI Mastercard is their extended warranty policy. For eligible card purchases, perhaps a new sectional or a stainless steel fridge with all the bells and whistles, the credit card doubles the manufacturer’s warranty (up to two years).
Pros & cons
- 5% cash back on purchases made at REI – In need of a new tent? On the hunt for hiking boots? Pick it up at REI and get 5% cash back.
- $100 REI gift card – As long as you use your card within the first 60 days of opening your account, you’ll receive a $100 REI gift card in the mail just a few weeks later.
- No annual fee – If you’re not already a member at REI, you will need to pay a one-time $30 membership fee. But it’s a small price to pay (literally), especially considering the perks that come with your membership (free standard shipping, 20% off shop services, etc.).
- Only members can apply – It is true that the REI Mastercard does not require an annual fee…but only REI members are eligible. Non-members will need to pay the $30 membership charge before applying.
- No introductory APR offer – Some credit cards provide a special interest rate up front, like 0% APR for the first 15 months. With the REI Mastercard, no such luck.
- Best perks are at REI – If you don’t already shop at REI, walk away now.
REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® compared
Now that we’ve covered the REI Mastercard in-depth, let’s see how it measures up next to competitors.
|REI Co-Op World Elite Mastercard®||Citi Custom Cash℠ Card||Chase Freedom Unlimited®|
|APR||13.99% - 23.99% Variable||17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)||18.74% - 27.49% Variable|
|Intro APR||N/A||0% for 15 months on purchases||0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months|
|Annual fee||$0 ($30 one-time REI membership charge)||$0||$0
|Sign-up bonus||$100 REI gift card after using your card within 60 days of account opening||Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||Earn an additional 1.5% on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – that’s a value of up to $300 cash back.|
|Cash back rewards||5% back on REI purchases, 2% on mobile wallet purchases, and 1% on everything else||5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, plus 1% cash back thereafter and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases||5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases|
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
If you like the REI credit card’s cash back rewards, APR offer, and sign-up bonus, you’ll love the perks that come with a Citi Custom Cash℠ Card.
Instead of 5% cash back from REI purchases, you’ll get 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle. Like the REI Mastercard, you’ll also earn 1% on all other purchases.
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card also offers a comparable APR of 17.74% - 27.74% (Variable) plus 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months. If all this doesn’t compel you, the welcome offer might: earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card have a lot in common, including no annual fee and a comparable variable APR.
Additionally, both cards offer excellent cash back rewards. Chase Freedom cardholders earn 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% back on all other purchases.
However, unlike REI cardholders, those who opt for Chase’s credit card get an additional 1.5% on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – that’s a value of up to $300 cash back. On top of that, you can earn 5% back on travel, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% back on all other purchases.
Should you get the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard®?
First things first, if you don’t love REI, this isn’t the card for you. It’s certainly a niche card and not for everyone. Sure, you’ll get 2% back on mobile wallet purchases and 1% everywhere else, but the best benefits this card has to offer are for the folks who want to shop at REI.
That said, even if you are a lover of this outdoorsy chain, don’t jump on the bandwagon just yet.
There are dozens of credit cards out there, all designed for unique types of cardholders. Spend some time thinking about how and where you like to spend your money, and find the card best suited to your spending habits.
However, if you love shopping at REI, if you’ve always dreamed of booking one of their trips, and if you would really love that $100 gift card, I can say from personal experience that this credit card is a good one.
How to apply for the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard®
Remember that the REI credit card is only available for REI members, so if you’re not already a member, you’ll want to start there. Sign up online for just $30 and enjoy perks like free standard shipping and 20% off shop services.
Once you’ve purchased your membership, you’re ready to apply. Visit the REI Mastercard site and click “Apply now.” You’ll need to input some basic information, such as housing and income details, and spend some time reviewing the terms and conditions, but the online application is fairly straightforward.
If you have specific questions along the way, you can call their customer service line at 877-734-6060, or for general information on applying for a credit card, check out our guide on how to apply for a credit card (and approval requirements).
I love REI. I want all of the Patagonia down jackets, Merrell hiking boots, and brightly colored dog treats and toys. So when I found out REI had a credit card designed uniquely for fans like myself, I couldn’t help but bite.
I’ve had this credit card for a few years now, and it certainly has a lot going for it. Attractive cash back rewards, like 5% back on REI purchases, 2% on mobile wallet purchases, and 1% everywhere else. It also rewards new users with a $100 REI gift card just for using their card within the first 60 days of opening their account.
Nevertheless, outside of the benefits you gain at REI, the REI Mastercard is an average credit card at best, so I’d encourage those interested to consider a couple alternatives before applying.
Featured image: Tada Images/Shutterstock.com