*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Jul 08, 2015, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Trying to decide on a cash back credit card that best fits your situation can be quite a daunting task. Some cash back cards have specified spending categories where you earn bonus cash while others simply earn a flat percentage on all of your purchases. Still others have different bonus earning categories that rotate throughout the year!
One card in particular that has some wild and crazy rewards guidelines is the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card. While this credit card may not have the simplest cash back program, it comes with an appealing frontloaded bonus period that could potentially be very lucrative if you’re planning on making some big purchases in the near future. Here we will dissect the complex cash back program and see how the BB&T Spectrum Rewards card stacks up against the industry heavy weights.
I should start by letting you know that the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card is only available to consumers who live within BB&T’s service area. Meaning you can only be approved for this card if you live in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia or D.C. If that includes you, then read on!
Cash Back Overview
What really makes the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card stand out is that new cardholders earn a hefty 3% cash back on all net qualified purchases for the first 90 days from opening the account. Although it’s only for the first 90 days, 3% cash back is certainly an attractive bonus considering there are no spending categories and no limit to how much you can earn. After the intro period is up, cardholders earn the industry-standard 1% cash back on all purchases.
There are two separate annual bonuses that cardholders can earn to multiply their rewards. Cardholders can earn a 5% annual bonus for the cash back they have earned throughout the year on their membership anniversary date. And for the really big spenders, you may be able to earn an additional 30% bonus on cash back earned when you spend $50,000 or more annually.
The Best in Short Term Rewards
To make sense of all these cash back stipulations, let’s use a real life example to see where the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card stands out.
Let’s say you’re doing some home remodeling. Assuming you’re paying off your balances in full and not accumulating debt, renovating your home can be a great time to rack up some cash back with your credit card. If you were to plan ahead for the home remodel and apply for the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card before you got started, earning 3% cash back for the first 90 days could really help you rake in some cash! Here is a hypothetical scenario to see how the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card would compare to a popular cash back credit cards:
You’re remodeling your home and putting all of your expenses on your new BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card. So for the first 3 months of being a cardholder, your average monthly spend is higher than normal and you’re putting $6,500 on the card each of those months. After that, your spending subsides to its normal $3,500 a month for the rest of the year.
Here are the calculations for how much cash back you would earn in the first year of card membership:
- First 3 months: $6,500 x 3 months x 3% = $585
- Remaining 9 months: $3,500 x 9 months x 1% = $315
- Total of $900 x 30% (for spending over $50,000) = $270
- Total of $900 x 5% (annual bonus) =$45
In this scenario, you would earn a grand total of $1,215 cash back with the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card! If you were to spend the same amount with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, you would earn a total of $1,020 ($51,000 x 2%). As you can see, with a large amount of front-loaded spending, the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card simply can’t be beat.
Falls Short in the Long Run
While it’s clear that the 3% cash back can prove to be a very lucrative up-front attraction, it’s hard to overlook the fact that it only lasts for the first 3 months. After the generous introductory period is up, cardholders will be stuck with a relatively low cash back rate. Even with the 5% annual bonus and the 30% big spender bonus (if you’re able to attain it), customers can only earn a grand total of 1.35% cash back. In the long run, it’s easy to see that the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card will fall short of competitors like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which both earn more than 1% cash back on all purchases all year long.
The Final Word
After the analysis of the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card, it is understandable why the introductory offer can be so attractive. Earning a flat 3% cash back in the first 90 days of cardmembership, consumers have an opportunity to rake in a hefty chunk of cash during their first quarter of having the card. However, the fact that customers will have a measly on-going rewards rate of 1.05% (potentially 1.35%) means that this card is not for someone who is looking for a high earning cash back card to have for years to come.
To sum it all up, if you’re looking to earn the most cash back and you’re expecting to do a lot of spending in a short period of time (like the situation described above), then the BB&T Spectrum Rewards Card is certainly a viable option worth looking in to. But if you’re on the hunt for a cash back card that will earn you the most generous ongoing rewards rate, you’ll certainly need to look elsewhere.
* Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.