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Sallie Mae Accelerate Credit Card Review

Sallie Mae Accelerate Credit Card Review

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It 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 Dec 10, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

If you’re a college graduate who’s in the process of paying down student loan debt, Sallie Mae has a credit card for you. In addition to offering cash back on every purchase, the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card offers a bonus on those rewards when you use them to pay down your federal or private student loans.

The card offers the following: Unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase, and a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans.

Along with applying your cashback rewards toward student loan payments, you can redeem cash back for statement credits or electronic deposits into a checking or savings account. Note, you will not earn the 25% bonus on rewards if you redeem them for a statement credit or deposit.

In this review, we’ll break down the pros and cons of the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ credit card, as well as show how it compares to a similar flat-rate cashback card: the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card.

In this post:

Where the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card stands out

Rewards rate. Unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase, and a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans. There is no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards do not expire as long as the card account remains open.

0% introductory APR offer. If you plan to finance a large purchase, the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card can let you to do so without paying interest on those transactions for a year. The card offers a 0% Introductory APR for purchases for 12 months, then a regular APR of 14.74% to 24.74% variable applies.

Annual fee. The Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card comes with a $0 annual fee.

Additional Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ Card benefits

  • Ability to instantly pause your card if it is lost or stolen
  • Free access to your FICO® credit scores
  • Cell phone protection (up to $600 per claim)
  • $0 fraud liability

Where the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ Card falls short

No sign-up bonus. If you’re hoping to earn an influx of cash back in a short period of time from a sign-up bonus, the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card is not the card for you, since it does not offer a sign-up bonus.

Modest rewards rate on general purchases. While the opportunity to earn unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase, and a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans is a decent offer, there are several cards that offer unlimited 1.5% cash back simply for making a purchase.

For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card comes with a earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

Read SallieMae credit cards: Which is best for you?

Compare it with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

  • 14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Highlights
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open

See additional details for Chase Freedom Unlimited®

More Info

If you prefer a flat-rate cashback credit card that also offers a sign-up bonus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is a great alternative to the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card. The card offers the following: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

See how the cards compare side-by-side in the table below.

Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Annual fee $0 $0
Sign-up bonus N/A Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Rewards rate Unlimited 1.25% cash back on every purchase, and a 25% bonus on your cash back rewards used to pay down your student loans Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
Intro APR on purchases 0% Introductory APR for purchases for 12 months, then 14.74% to 24.74% variable 0% Intro APR for 15 months, then a 14.99% - 23.74% variable APR applies
Intro APR on balance transfers N/A N/A, then a 14.99 - 23.74% variable APR applies
Foreign transaction fee 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Like the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card comes with a $0 annual fee. Both cards also offer an introductory APR on purchases; however, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card also offers an intro APR on balance transfers. The card comes with a 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then a 14.99% - 23.74% variable APR applies), as well as an intro APR on balance transfers of N/A (then a 14.99 - 23.74% variable APR applies).

Additionally, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card gives more flexibility in how you can use your rewards. Rewards can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, travel and products or services.

The bottom line

Although the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card doesn’t offer the highest rewards rate among flat-rate cashback cards, it does offer a unique opportunity to earn a bonus when you use your rewards to pay down your student debt. But if you want to earn a slightly higher rewards rate on every purchase you make, as well as have more redemption options, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card will be a better choice.


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