The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 review: invest, spend, repeat
Get 2.5%, 5%, or even 10% cash back from purchases with companies you’re invested in through M1 Finance.
Free with an M1 Plus membership, which itself is free for the first year.
Visa Signature® benefits.
Watching neobanks, fintech startups, and robo-advisors come up with their own rewards cards is like watching a good baking show. Each contestant offers their own “spin” on a popular dish, and sometimes, they blow our minds.
Sometimes, however, a recipe that sounded delicious, made by a beloved chef, doesn’t quite dazzle the judges as we’d hoped.
That’s what I think happened here with The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1. It should have been a sensational hit:
- The chef, M1 Finance, was a crowd favorite with rave reviews on the App Store and Play Store.
- The recipe sounded amazing: a rewards card that generates up to 10% cash back for spending at companies that you’re personally invested in.
It was all set up to win, but I think M1 Finance just pulled it out of the oven too quickly. Not only are there a few ingredients missing – but the base of the card leaves a bitter aftertaste.
That being said, I do think there’s a certain type of investor that will still find The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 “delicious.”
Overview of The Owner's Rewards Card by M1
- Best for – M1 users who invest in individual assets.
- Intro offer/sign-up bonus – None.
- Cash back – 1.5% on all purchases plus 2.5%, 5%, or 10% on 75 various large retailers, airlines, and other name brands.
- Intro APR – None.
- Regular APR – 15.74% to 25.74% variable.
- Other notable features – Visa Signature® benefits including hotel discounts and ID theft protection.
Let’s break down the individual pieces of The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1, starting with its incredibly unique rewards structure.
I’ve been reviewing credit cards for years, and I can say with absolute confidence that The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 has the most unique and complex rewards structure I’ve seen.
Ok, so to even begin unpacking this card’s reward system, I have to explain how M1 Finance works.
M1 Finance is built for passive, long-term investing. The whole purpose of the app is to build “lazy portfolios” that you design once, fund, and otherwise let sit so they can mature and grow your money without intervention.
(If you’re interested in building a high-yield passive portfolio, check out my full feature on Lazy Portfolios – What Are They And How To Build One).
M1 Finance helps you build “Pies,” which are like lazy portfolios made up of individual assets, ETFs, and even other Pies. M1 Finance themselves curates over 80 Pies with various themes like the 60/40 Pie (60% stocks and 40% bonds) and the Moderately Aggressive Pie.
There’s also a social, dare I say, collaborative element to M1 Finance since you can chat Pies on the M1 Finance subreddit. If you like another user’s Pies, you can search for it, add it to your Pie, and share in the spoils.
The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 is M1 Finance’s first credit card. It’s a premium rewards card clearly trying to peel M1 users away from their big bank cards.
So how does it all work, and how can you score some 10% cash back rewards?
The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 offers four tiers of rewards:
- 10% cash back on purchases from 14 major companies including Chewy, Tesla, and Netflix.
- 5% cash back on 20 more companies including Starbucks, Southwest, and UPS.
- 2.5% cash back on 39 more companies including Apple, Amazon, and AT&T.
- 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
You can see the complete list of companies and rewards tiers here. In total, you’ll get 2.5% cash back or higher on purchases from 75 very big, very recognizable companies.
Is there a catch? Of course. Two of them, in fact.
- Maximum $200 per month earn rate. Sadly, no, you can’t save 10% or $4,000 on a new Tesla Model 3. It’s also a bummer that the 1.5% cash back category isn’t unlimited like it is with most rewards cards – even those with no annual fee.
- You need to be invested in the companies to qualify. You can only get 2.5%, 5%, or 10% cash back from companies that you’re personally invested in through M1 Finance. That means that in order to get 10% back on Spotify, or 5% back on Delta, you need to own shares of these companies through one of your Pies.
Catch #2 is a doozy, to say the least.
Look; I like M1 Finance. I’ve been nurturing a healthy Pie for years. I also like the idea of getting extra cash back when you patronize companies you’re invested in – there’s a pleasing circularity to that.
In short, M1 Finance needs a better system for showing which companies you currently qualify for 2.5%, 5%, or 10% cash back in at any given time.
The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 charges 15.74% to 25.74% variable APR based on the prime rate.
That’s honestly lower than I thought it would be – premium rewards cards, especially those with high qualification requirements, tend to charge the maximum possible interest rates (because why not?).
Even still, you want to avoid missing a payment with this card at all costs since there’s no late payment forgiveness – your missed payment will start accruing interest (and be reported to Experian to lower your credit score) right away.
Even in the mundane realm of annual fees, The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 still manages to throw a curveball.
OK, so the card does have an annual fee of $95.
However, the annual fee is waived for active M1 Plus members. That membership costs $125/year.
However x2, your first year of M1 Plus is free – and, as long as you’re enrolled in M1 Plus, your annual fee for The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 is waived.
So, basically, after your first year of both M1 Plus and The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 being free, your choices are to:
- Keep M1 Plus for $125 to waive the card’s fee, or
- Revert back to the free edition of M1 Finance, M1 Basic, and pay the card’s $95 annual fee.
So is it worth just keeping M1 Plus for the extra $30? Well, let’s see whatcha get:
To me, the most valuable perks to an M1 Plus membership are:
- The addition of a PM trading window (which lets you rebalance your Pies more often).
- The 1% APY checking and cash back on M1 Spend Visa® Debit Card.
- The ability to send paper checks (pretty handy if you only need to send one or two checks a year)
- The lower borrowing rate.
- Of course, the waiving of The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1’s annual fee.
So, is this all worth paying $125 a year, versus paying just $95 for an M1 Basic membership plus The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1’s annual fee?
In the grand scheme, the extra $30 for M1 Plus will likely be worth it. It’ll be handy to have those extra features like the PM trading window to maximize your Pies and make withdrawals easier.
Start combing through The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1’s terms & conditions, and you’ll soon run into the card’s other fees.
First thing’s first, The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 charges no foreign transaction fees. It also charges zero balance transfer or cash advance fees because – get this – it doesn’t allow balance transfers or cash advances.
The last of The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1’s fees worth mentioning are the penalty fees:
- Late Payment – $25.
- Over-the-Credit Limit – None.
- Returned Payment – Up to $37.
Not much to unpack here, aside from the fact that these fees are surprisingly low for a premium, paid rewards card. Late payment fees are typically $40 at least.
Perks and benefits
The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 is a Visa Signature® card, meaning it includes a nice assortment of money-saving, stress-reducing, and downright bougie perks.
Not all Visa Signature® cards are exactly the same, but The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 includes these perks and more:
- ID Navigator powered by NortonLifeLife – High-caliber ID theft protection.
- Roadside Dispatch – Pay-per-use roadside assistance.
- Travel & emergency assistance services – 24/7, multilingual reps you can call for help rebooking travel, seeking medical care overseas, etc.
- Visa’s Zero Liability Policy – Basically super-duper fraud protection.
- Emergency Card Replacement – They’ll ship you another card within 24 to 72 hours globally.
- Cardholder inquiry service – “Personalized support” from Visa Signature® card experts.
I mentioned that some of the Visa Signature® perks are downright bougie, and here are the prime examples:
- Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection – Didn’t I promise bougie? With The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 you’ll get instant higher status at over 900 Visa Signature Luxury Hotel partners.
- Silvercar by Audi – Get a discount on Audi rentals from this unique service.
- Sonoma Wine Country – The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 grants you unique perks and discounts at various participating Sonoma-area wineries.
- Troon Rewards – Grab your clubs, since The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 will help you save at over 95 golf courses worldwide.
Pros & cons
- Up to 10% cash back on popular brands — As long as you’re invested in the company through M1, you can earn up to 10% cash back on 75 big, name-brand companies.
- Earn cash back on companies you’re invested in — Rewarding you for patronizing companies you own stock in is a unique and clever approach to credit card rewards.
- Automatically reinvest your rewards — You can withdraw your rewards as cash back or automatically reinvest them in your M1 Pies for maximum long-term returns.
- Visa Signature® benefits — The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 includes a bevy of Visa Signature® benefits like hotel status, emergency card replacement, and more.
- Free first year — You can get a year of M1 Plus for free, which then waives the $95 annual fee of The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1.
- Metal card — Who doesn’t like a sleek, metal credit card?
- Requires M1 Plus membership or an annual fee — Once your complimentary year of M1 Plus runs out, you’ll either have to stay enrolled ($125) or pay The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1’s annual fee ($95).
- It may be difficult to track which companies you’re invested in — M1 Finance doesn’t make it easy to see which individual companies you’re invested in at a given time. Plus, with automatic portfolio rebalancing toggled on, that list of companies may change overnight.
- Encourages risky stock purchases — The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 encourages users to buy and hold individual stocks to achieve/preserve top-tier rewards - but that’s not the right move for everyone on a passive investing app.
The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 compared
The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Investing perks Receive big cash back on purchases made with companies you’re invested in Auto deposit cash back rewards into your Fidelity investment account(s) None
Cash back rewards 2.5%, 5%, or 10% cash back on purchases made with companies you’re invested in through M1 Finance, plus 1.5% cash back on all other purchases Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases 5% cash back on gas (for the first year) and travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining, restaurants, and drug stores, 1.5% on all other purchases
Signup bonus $300 None $200
Annual fee $95, waived with M1 Plus membership (free for one year, then $125) None None
APR 15.74% to 25.74% variable 13.99% variable 15.74% - 24.49% Variable
Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card certainly takes the cake as the simplest investor rewards card. You’ll get an unlimited 2% back on all purchases, which you can either redeem as cash back or invest it into your Fidelity investment account.
Naturally, the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card is exclusive to Fidelity customers – but if that’s you, and you’d like a card that automatically invests for you, it’s a strong choice.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is not an investing credit card, but it is one of the best overall rewards cards on the market.
To start, you’ll get a $200 signup bonus, 5% back on gas for your first year, 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back on dining, restaurants, and drugstores, and an unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything else.
Will it automatically invest your cash back? No, but you can always cash it out and invest it manually 🙂
Who should get The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1?
In its current state, The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 is really only a fit for one specific type of investor:
Investors who plan to buy individual stocks through M1 Finance.
The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 only really makes sense if you:
- Already shop at the companies in the 5% and 10% categories.
- Already planned to invest in them long-term.
I’ll admit, that’s a narrow group of folks.
It might be tempting to build a Pie that includes all of the companies where you shop, but that’s a lot of stock to buy and hold long-term. And frankly speaking, it’s just not advisable to build an investment portfolio around your credit card cash back rewards.
Instead, you’ll end up making more money in the long run if you work with a human- or robo-advisor to build a portfolio that fits your risk tolerance – and then choose a credit card that maximizes your cash back based on your existing spending habits.
How to apply for The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1
If you decide to move forward with The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1, here are the steps involved.
First, you’ll need to sign-up – again, The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 is free to sign-up. And if your considering becoming a M1 Plus member, membership is free for the first year and the annual fee is waived.
For help with registration, opening an account, and with building your first Pie, I’ll refer you to our full review of M1 Finance.
Now, once you’re a bonafide M1 Finance member with your first Pie, you can apply for the Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 by heading to their homepage.
I appreciate how M1 does a thorough job of prepping you for the application – from auto-filling your info to reminding you to lift any manual freezes you have on your credit.
Now, I can’t show you the rest of the screenshots because it has my sensitive M1 info all over it, but the process will look pretty similar to applying for any ol’ credit card.
For tips, check out How To Apply For A Credit Card (And Approval Requirements).
Once you’re approved, your sexy metal card should arrive within seven to ten business days. After that, the key to maximizing your cash back (or invested) rewards is to keep an eye on your holdings – ensure that you’re invested in a company before making a big purchase, since you don’t want to find out later that M1 Finance sold your holdings during rebalancing!
As a fan of M1 Finance’s other “dishes,” I was excited to dip my spoon into The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1. Good chef, good recipe. My first bite tasted decent, but I’d hoped for better.
Clearly, there are a few ingredients missing – a competitive bonus, unlimited rewards, etc. – but it’s the base that left a bitter aftertaste. I’m just not sure that a passive investing app should be encouraging the buying and holding of individual stocks over ETFs to score credit card rewards.
Even still, I’m sure The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 will become the preferred dish of certain higher-risk passive investors, who will certainly love the taste of 10% off certain holdings.The Owner's Rewards Card by M1 Disclosure - M1 Owner's Rewards Card by M1 Powered by Deserve and issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC.