There are tons of store credit cards out there, but the Walmart Rewards Mastercard stands well apart from that crowd. It’s nothing extravagant, but what’s exceptional about it is the way it breaks down barriers for you. It’s even easier to get than most basic cards and offers rewards that are almost unlimited in their potential uses, making it a great starter card for almost anyone that needs one.
The Finer Points of the Walmart Rewards Mastercard
The Walmart Rewards Mastercard is technically a rewards card, but in practice it functions much more like a cash back card. Any time you make a purchase with this card, you’ll get 1% of the total amount of that purchase back in Walmart Reward Dollars, which are essentially just store credit to be used at any Walmart locations. If that wasn’t enough for you, you can also get 1.25% back instead when you’re shopping specifically at Walmart, either in person or online through their website. This gives you an incentive to shop at Walmart stores as frequently as possible in order to maximize your rewards.
None of this is too far off from how a cash back card might work, but there are two major differences that come into play at this point. The first is that you can obviously only spend these reward dollars at Walmart. The second is that there is no waiting period in between earning the points and being able to use them. When you earn rewards, those credit amounts are tallied up immediately and applied right to the running balance you carry on your card. You can then use them on the spot if you like, although you’ll need to have at least $5 in rewards saved up to do so. You can use that credit to cover the entirety of a purchase or apply it to a larger bill to have the total balance reduced. No matter which of these options you intend to choose, you can take these actions right at the cash register without needing to take any special steps or make any preparations in advance. It can be a spur-of-the-moment decision to cash in your points if you want, which is great for times when you’ve suddenly remembered that you have them after allowing them to accumulate for a long while.
In addition to the reward rates and these guidelines for use, there are a few more things about the Walmart Rewards Mastercard that you should also be aware of. The first is the small set of goodies you will get by signing up. When you get this card for the first time, you’ll become eligible to get $15 in reward dollars as a welcome bonus for making your first purchase and another $10 if you sign up for paperless statements in the immediate future. This is nothing huge, but it’s a fun bonus addition that will let you make a small purchase with your reward dollars immediately if you want to. That’s a great time to get yourself familiar with how the process of redeeming rewards at the point of sale actually works, too.
This card also comes with wireless tap payment technology embedded into it, allowing you to use without even needing to enter your PIN number if the retailer where you are making a purchase is set up to support that. You can also get several free supplementary cards to give to your partner or family members so that they can also use the line of credit attached to your main card. You will earn reward dollars on any purchases they make with their cards at the same rate you would if you had made those purchases yourself, so this can be a good way to get some extra reward cash to spend on top of the flexibility it gives. There are no other benefits besides these, though, which is one defintie downside of this card. There are many out there that offer a little insurance or something as a bonus, even at this level. If you’d prefer a card like that, know that they’re out there.
Why the Walmart Brand Sets This Card Apart
Generally, store cards like the Walmart Rewards Mastercard are not advisable for consumers to get except in cases where they are a last resort option to access credit at all. This one is a little different, and that’s entirely because of the company under which it operates. There are a few unique aspects to its operations that make it a particularly good choice for this kind of card.
Walmart is a massively popular and widespread retailer for a reason; their prices are often lower than what most of their competitors can offer for the same items. No matter how little you have to spend, you can usually make a purchase there, and you can come away with quite a lot for only a little bit of money. This makes it a nice choice for a rewards card because you don’t necessarily need to have a lot of money to put your card to good use. Since you can redeem your rewards with as little as $5.00 in credit stored on your card, this makes it highly appealing to redeem in small increments, which is great for low spenders and people scraping together every penny to make it through each month.
That’s not even getting into the fact that this store often has the honour of being the only store around for miles in areas without much retail presence. If you have just one large store present in a small town, it will usually be a Walmart. This means that even people way up north in remote communities and in the less populated cities in Canada will usually be Walmart shoppers, even though you couldn’t necessarily say that about most other brands. If there’s one store-specific rewards card that you could say has universal appeal, this would be it. Almost no one is going to find themselves in a position where they will never want to or be able to use it. As far as value goes, these reward dollars might just be the next best thing to cash.
No Credit? No Problem!
One of the best things about the Walmart Rewards Mastercard is that almost anyone can get it. Like most store credit cards, this one is easy to get even if it’s going to be the very first you’ve ever had. You don’t need a credit history to be approved, although as always, it does help. Walmart takes on minimal risk by giving these out because they are rewarding you with some of their own products, not cash money or anything they have to pay out to purchase on your behalf. At the same time, they have so many different items to offer that it doesn’t feel like a loss or a compromise on your part either. You can get just about anything you could want even if you don’t have any control over the retailer you choose to purchase it from. That’s an acceptable compromise for many people who would otherwise not consider a card like this. That also makes it a good credit building solution for the masses if anyone finds themselves struggling to be approved by most traditional lenders. Walmart Canada Bank may be small in comparison to them, but that means that they will be a lot less choosy with who they do business with, giving you even better chances to succeed with this card than you would have with a basic card from an established bank or other provider.
If you prove yourself with this card first, there’s no telling how high of a credit score you could reach or what great financial products you could qualify for as a result. That’s why it may be worth applying for this card even if you had no real interest in getting a credit card at all initially. Doing so allows you to have some sort of credit on your file, and that (provided you handle it responsibly and do not fail to make your payments or do other things that reflect badly on you) can only benefit you in the years to come. You never know when you might need a loan, a mortgage refinancing, or even just another credit card.
The Court of Public Opinion
For all its good points, the Walmart Rewards Mastercard is not necessarily very well-liked overall – at least if you judge it by what people say about it, that is. There are some very vocal people out there with definite complaints about this card. However, if you look at what they’re actually saying instead of just focusing on the fact that they have critiques at all, you’ll find that their problems with it focus on some very specific points that may not be an issue for everyone. It’s not necessarily that the card itself is bad, but that it is a poor fit for some users who expected something different when they signed up for it.
For example, the breakdown of the three components that go into its current poor rating on Insureye (less than 2 stars) is particularly instructive. The ratings are significantly higher for the ‘product features’ category than for the ‘value for money’ or particularly the ‘customer service’ categories. This indicates that while people enjoy this card in principle, some have trouble making it pay off for them or getting into contact with the staff when they need to. If you don’t anticipate needing much support from the customer service team and are okay with not necessarily producing massive amounts of rewards, you shouldn’t worry too much about this. You’ll probably be able to enjoy the strong points of this card without falling victim to the problematic aspects of it.
The Final Decision: Yes or No?
The Walmart Rewards Mastercard is held back a little by its one-store limitations, but it still succeeds at being a solid card in spite of that. For obvious reasons, a cash back card with the same reward rates would still be preferable to this one, since the currency would be truly unlimited in its uses. This one makes a good substitute if you can’t get your hands on one of those, though, since they are nearly equivalent in that aspect. If you like, you can use it as a starter card to work up to one of those – however, you may just find that this card on its own is more than enough to meet your needs.