There are so many credit cards to choose from nowadays that some of the options with less impressive names or features might get lost in the shuffle. This is somewhat the case with the Walmart Rewards Mastercard, an unassuming little credit card that is available to almost anyone. At first, it looks like a sub-par choice due to surface-level restrictions it places on your rewards and how you can earn them. When you give it a closer look, you’ll discover that its weaknesses are much more mild than they seem and that its greatest strength (its openness to less impressive applicants) is valuable enough to overshadow that.
A Few Points About the Walmart Rewards Credit Card
The Walmart Rewards Mastercard is a specific type of credit card known as a store card. This type of card is growing less and less common as large stores selling many different types of products continue to dwindle in number, but there are still a few of them around. Seeing as how Walmart is one of the few remaining retail chains that fits that description, it makes sense that they are offering one of those cards to their customers.
Technically, you don’t have to shop at Walmart in order to use this card, but for reasons having to do with the structure of the reward system and the type of rewards it gives, you will almost certainly want to be a regular shopper there if you choose to use it. When you charge any purchases you make to it, you’ll accrue Walmart rewards dollars at a particular rate. For purchases made at a Walmart store, you’ll get 1.25% back; for shopping you do anywhere else, you’ll get just 1% back instead. This obviously creates an incentive to shop at Walmart as much as possible, so if you rarely go there in your routine shopping right now, this card might not the one for you.
This card comes with no ancillary benefits for you to enjoy, so there’s no other incentive to get it if the reward structure doesn’t work for you. It does, however, still get you the extended warranties and purchase protection that almost all cards come with now, so you can still get some use out of those if this will be your only card. Even these basic bonuses can be extremely helpful if you happen to buy some electronics or an appliance that breaks down, or if you buy something on sale and later see it heavily discounted. This card will help you save money in both of those cases, and that’s still a good thing.
Earn and Spend Rewards in the Form of Walmart Rewards Dollars
When you use the Walmart Rewards Mastercard, the rewards you get are somewhere between standard reward points and regular cash back rewards. Like cash back, they accrue based on percentages of your spending and can be used to purchase goods at a dollar-for-dollar ratio. Like rewards points, though, they are limited in their use. You can only spend these dollars at Walmart stores, and only in the store itself (not in any of their partner retail locations that are sometimes located in the same building). You can, however, also use them to purchase things from Walmart’s online storefront, so they get slightly more utility there. If you’re ever too far from a Walmart to do your shopping easily or you want to buy something that your local store just doesn’t have in stock, that’s another option you can turn to.
You don’t have to hoard your reward dollars for months on end to get some use out of them, either. Most rewards programs don’t allow you to redeem their points until you’ve hit a substantial threshold, one that very light spenders may well give up on ever actually hitting. This one only asks that you have at least $5 in rewards built up before you cash them out. That’s just $500 in spending at the regular rate or $400 at the boosted Walmart rate. You could easily hit either one of those marks in just one month’s time even with a relatively modest budget, so if you really wanted to, you could get some kind of reward from this card every single month. When you go to claim your reward each time, it couldn’t be easier to do so – you’ll have the chance to apply that $5+ to your bill right at the Walmart checkout counter or on the online checkout interface. It couldn’t be any simpler to do.
So Easy To Get, It’s Practically Guaranteed
Possibly the most attractive aspect of the Walmart credit card is its very forgiving application requirements. You don’t have to be a high earner or have excellent credit to get this card. While you do need to have money coming in regularly, just a little bit will do, and your credit doesn’t even necessarily have to exist yet – you can get this card with no established credit history at all. This stands in stark contrast to most cards, many of which require more of a track record when it comes to credit in order to be approved. The better ones also ask for a relatively high income on top of that. Obviously, these other options will be out of reach for many people regardless of how badly they need credit. Barring very bad credit that will get you turned away from any lender, though, the Walmart card should still be in reach.
Because of this incredibly low bar for applicants, the Walmart Rewards credit card makes a great card for first-timers and people who are still just getting started at recovering their credit from a major disruption. There is almost no chance that you won’t be approved for it, and once you have it, it will work to build your credit score as well as any other credit card might. All that matters for those purposes is that you use your card continuously and make your payments on time, not how flashy your credit card is. For that reason, even if it isn’t the most exciting card around, the Walmart Rewards Mastercard is serving an invaluable role for Canadian credit card holders and deserves recognition for that. It’s not the only card like this, but for reasons we will get into later on, it’s probably one of the best in the whole country’s lineup.
Why Choose the Walmart Rewards Card?
We’ve already told you that Walmart rewards dollars can be used just like a regular currency in Walmart stores, but that doesn’t sound very exciting all on its own. That makes it sound like cash that you can only use in certain specific ways, which automatically makes it less valuable than real cash would be (since you could spend that on anything you wanted to). This is technically true, actually. So why would you want to choose this card over a standard cash back card?
In many cases, you wouldn’t. It isn’t too difficult to find cash back cards that will match that 1.25% reward rate on at least some purchases, which would make them equal to this one in terms of on-paper value and superior in terms of real-world value. That doesn’t necessarily make them better prospects for everyone, though. For one thing, many of the better cards on the market require a bit more of a credit history to get than this one does, locking many of this card’s potential applicants out of the running for those ones right away. Further, that 1.25% rate is usually locked to a specific product category on other cards, meaning that you will only earn at that rate when you make certain niche purchases.
In contrast, the Walmart Rewards Mastercard lets you earn at that rate anytime you shop at a Walmart store, no matter what you might choose to purchase there. The beauty of this is that you could be buying anything from groceries (you can even get them delivered now) and personal care items to gardening supplies and automotive parts – as long as you can find it behind the doors of a Walmart store, you could earn rewards at the bonus rate by purchasing it there. That means that if you’re smart about it, you could potentially funnel most of your spending through Walmart and earn at that high rate for almost all of the spending you do. Whether you’re buying necessities or just things you want, you probably don’t have to leave Walmart to do it if you don’t want to, so, in theory, you would rarely have to give up that opportunity unless you chose to. You could also buy just about any of those things with your reward dollars, making them infinitely more useful than credit at a smaller and less wide-ranging store would be. All told, this card abandons many of the limits that hold back most store cards, which is what makes it one of the very best cards of that type that you can get.
Some Ideas for Your Walmart Rewards Spending
Just because you have nearly unlimited freedom in how you spend your rewards dollars doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily find it easy to figure out how you want to use them. You can always just apply them to your balance the next time you check out at a Walmart store, but many will find it hard to remember to use them unless they have a specific purpose for them. Since you can’t just stick them in a savings account or put them toward your rent or mortgage, you’re forced to be a little more active when determining how you want to cash them out. One of the more practical ways to use them is to put them toward groceries, but if you don’t want to do that, here are a few other ideas you might consider:
- Use them to fund a new hobby you were interested in.
- Splurge with them on a holiday feast with all the trimmings.
- Use them to buy books to keep up with your reading.
- Put them toward the supplies you need to do your spring cleaning.
- Spend them on your kids as a special treat – you could buy them toys, a DVD, or some candy, for example.
Will You Be Happy With the Walmart Rewards Mastercard?
There are certainly better credit cards out there than the Walmart Rewards Mastercard. In spite of this fact, though, this remains one of the easiest Canadian credit cards to get and also one of the most universally useful cards with technical restrictions. The earning rate is decent and the rewards dollars you’ll get back are second only to cash in terms of what they can buy you. If you can’t convince a provider to give you a cash back card, this is the next best thing, and it makes an excellent starting point for people who need to build up their credit. You definitely don’t want to stick with this card forever, though; look into getting a better one when your credit is a little higher and you’re more likely to be taken seriously by other providers.