Sallie Mae 2% Cash Back Credit Card & $100 Sign Up Bonus

Posted by Madison on October 27, 2011

A reader, Tim, is searching for a new cash rewards credit card. He used the Schwab card for the last three years, but since it was discontinued, he’s looking for a replacement.

My replacements for the Schwab card are primarily the American Express 6% Cash Back Card and the Fidelity 2% Cash Back Credit Card.

However, Tim isn’t liking those alternatives, and he’s not a fan of rotating cards quarterly either:

I’ve had the Schwab card for about 3 years but it’s going away on 10/31. It was great while it lasted but I have to move on.

My concern with the AmEx is it’s not as accepted as Visa or Mastercard. I only carry one card so I need something that’s accepted everywhere.

The Fidelity card requires a Fidelity account, and I already have accounts at Vanguard. I don’t have a problem with Fidelity, but don’t really want to open a new after-tax account that pays no interest (money market) or an account that may lose money (short term bond fund) just to get their credit card.

I’m not interested in the revolving 5% because it has limits ($1500 groceries in 3 months) or it is for stuff I don’t buy. I use the credit card for normal purchases, groceries, gas, clothes, monthly bills such as phone, TV etc. I charge around $40k/year. I’m not interested in airline miles or home improvement stores.

Tim also considered a Capital One card, but I’m not a fan of Capial One at all, so I promised Tim I’d search for something better!

After reviewing every credit card and issuer I could think of, I finally found a card for Tim! A non fidelity, non American Express, non quarterly rotating, non airline mile, and non home improvement card! I think that covers all the requirements, right Tim?

Sallie Mae 2% Credit Card

The Sallie Mae Visa card earns 2% cash back rewards that you can redeem for cash, merchandise, or an interesting twist – principal payments on a Sallie Mae student loan.

And it comes with a favorite feature of mine, the $100 sign up bonus.

How to Get Your $100 Sign Up Bonus

  • Open a new Sallie Mae card.
  • Spend $500 in the first 90 days.
  • Get a 10,000 point bonus to redeem for $100 (once you have other points, see my notes below).

Sallie Mae Terms and Conditions

  • Annual Fee: None
  • Cash Back Rewards – Earn 2 points for every $1 you spend on everyday purchases.
  • There are no caps and your points don’t expire.
  • Redeem for merchandise, travel, or to help pay down your Sallie Mae student loan principal.

More on Sallie Mae Credit Card

Redeeming Points. You can redeem points for a check, statement credit or merchandise on the Sallie Mae Rewards web site.

Point Values. You’ll want to wait until you have 25,000 points to cash out your points for $250. If you cash out points less than that, you don’t get the full 2%. When you get your 10,000 bonus points on the sign up bonus, wait until you get more to cash out to get the full 2% cash back.

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Comments to Sallie Mae 2% Cash Back Credit Card & $100 Sign Up Bonus

  1. I think this card changed. Sallie Mae’s website is showing a completely different card.


  2. I am curious as to why you are not a fan of Capital One “…at all”. I’ve got their card and have had no problems, but perhaps you know more than I. Anything specific you do not like about them?

    Don Richmond

    • Hi Don,

      My specific dislike for Capital Once came from the way they reported to the credit bureaus.

      They used to report high balances without credit limits, which raised the utilization percentage and hurt people’s credit scores.

      Essentially, they punished people for having a Capital One card. Ever since then, I’ve steered clear, primarily based on that.

      However, since my Sony card recently converted to Cap One, I actually have a card with them now.

      Maybe it’s time I give them a second chance and see if they’ve improved their practices?

      Which card do you have? I’d be interested in checking it out.


  3. Hi, the SallieMae Visa looks great, but the online application just hangs on the secondary screen called “Identity Verification…..”. You’re supposed to be able to hit next to continue. I tried Chrome, Firefox and even IE and all failed. You seem to have a special offer code. Can you tell us so we can try an enroll through their 888 number? thanks.


    • Hi Jon,

      I don’t believe there’s a special code to get this card. I would just give them a call at 888-516-3490 and tell them you’re trying to apply online. The exact name of the card is: Sallie Mae Visa Signature Card. Just verify that it earns 2 points per $1 spent and you should be good!


  4. I had the same difficulty as Jon…

    Baba Ghanoush

  5. It would be a great replacement for the Schwab card except for the fact that it has a Foreign Transaction fee of 3%.


  6. Wow, I got a call from Sallie Mae this morning asking me why I submitted so many applications! I explained the difficulty I had and they will cancel the duplicates and process the info I gave online.

    From my experience, I’d suggest:

    1) keep trying to get through the errors on the first screen. For example, I had to enter a secondary phone number or it kept claiming there was an unspecified error.

    2) If you hang on the second screen. Don’t try again. Just give them a call at the number posted in a day or so. They will ask you for a confirmation number (which you don’t have), but can find your application based on SS# and birthday.

    They told me that they’d contact me with further questions, but that if the application was accepted I’d just get a welcome package within a couple of weeks.

    One other thing I like about this card is that it’s listed as supported by my 2011 Quicken for PC. I really like getting my transactions automatically entered (when the Quicken online protocol doesn’t experience problems….:(

    Thanks again for the tip on this card!


  7. This happened to me as well when I applied online. When I tried a different web browser I had the same issue. As a result of trying to apply online twice I submitted two applications. Make sure you let the customer service representative know you tried multiple times online……you may have placed multiple applications as well.


  8. I had the same issue with the online application “freezing” after submission, but apparently they got it. I got a phone call about a week later to verify the application details.

    Does anyone have specifics on the 2% cash back? Is there a minimum spend you have to redeem at to get the 2%? For example, do I have to spend $15k before I can receive the 2% cash back? What options do I have to receive the rewards? Statement credit? Check? Gift card? etc.


    • Sallie Mae. Bottom line, you need $12,500 of spend to get 25,000 points which will convert to $250 dollar.

      Point Value to Cash Rewards Value
      2,500 = $16.25 ($0.65 per point)
      5,000 = $32.50
      7,500 = $48.75

      10,000 = $85.00 ($0.85 per point)
      15,000 = $127.50
      20,000 = $170.00

      25,000 = $250.00 ($1.00 per point)
      35,000 = $350
      50,000 = $500


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