Cash back credit cards are a pretty good deal. The more you spend on your credit card, you get back 1% of all purchases. If you always pay off your monthly balance and do not need the fancy benefits of other credit cards such as extended warranties, a little cash back is nice to get. For such purchases as groceries and gas this is ideal. Walmart Canada Bank has come out with a rewards Mastercard, a variant of the cash back. You get 1.25% in rewards from Walmart purchases and 1% from purchases from other retailers. When your cash back amount exceeds $5 you can redeem them at the Walmart cash register. Did you know Walmart now has a financial group and call themselves a bank?
Walmart Canada rewards Mastercard offers 1.25% points on Walmart purchases and 1% on purchases from other stores. I hope the lady does not come with the card. As colour coordinated as she is, she would be difficult to fit into my wallet.
It sounds all nice, so off I went to sign up. I’ve not applied for a credit card many years so did not know what to expect. Firstly there is no dedicated person which to sign up. The whole signup process is done at the cash register. While this is convenient for me, it was aggravating for those that were behind me in the line. The signup process takes about 5 minutes, which means those behind you will need to wait while you do your thing. Thankfully I happen to opt for the express line, which has a couple of cash registers, and I still felt uncomfortable inconveniencing the shoppers behind me.
My cashier had never done a credit card signup before, so she called a supervisor, who walked her through. I had to ask for the terms of agreement as she did not offer it to me. There is a $15 rewards signup bonus, which she was unaware. I saw it as a flyer near her cash register. The standard credit card agreement form was done on the debit console and simply says that I understand the terms and conditions, yes or no. This is an agreement to a 12 page document that would take me at least 15 minutes to read. A couple of questions later a printout was given to me stating more information was needed, I was to call a 1-888 number within 48 hrs to further the application process. There would be no card today. My purchase today would have to be on my other credit card. The $15 signup bonus is only paid when you get a card and after you make 2 initial purchases on the card, of which one must be at Walmart and one must be some other store. There were more hoops to jump through than I thought.
Walmart is using the cash register and debit console to ask questions and get signatures, a good and newer use of technology. No longer is the cash register just for cash.
Questions at the debit console were private and could not be seen by the cashier. They consisted of the typical date of birth, home phone number and other typical questions. There were no surprises, other than that they needed more information and a card was not forthcoming today.
Once I got home I read the cardholder booklet. This Mastercard has no annual fee and a 21 day grace period. The interest rate is 18.99% per year if you are not late with your payment. If you are late more than 2 times per year the interest rate increases 5% to 23.99% a year. Maybe this is financial encouragement to pay at least your minimum balance. The usual cardholder benefits are missing such as extended warranties and travel benefits. While there is no annual fee there are a slew of other fees to worry about. No credit limit is mentioned.
I called their 1-888 number and talked to a nice lady. She confirmed my application number printed on the application receipt as well as some personal information. She actually did not ask for any more information than I gave at the cash register. I was told that the credit department would need to speak to me but they were backlogged and would call me. Did I want their direct phone number so I could call them? I said I would wait for their call, so declined their number.
Two days later, with no call from the credit department I again called the 1-888 number, confirmed my application number and personal information, and again did not provide any additional personal information. This time I opted to wait online for the credit department. Ten minutes later, with Muzak annoyingly blaring into my ear, a lady answered, pulled up my record and asked me some personal information of the multiple choice “Choose the best answer of these 5 answers” variety. Do they really need to dumb down the answer by giving you 5 options to choose? Maybe it’s all for increased security, I don’t know. In conclusion the lady said that I will receive either a credit card with instructions or a letter stating I was denied. This made me feel unsure of the whole process.
It’s been two more days since I talked to the credit department and 4 days since the initial application, and neither credit card nor letter of denial has arrived. It’s been a long time, as in years, since I have applied for a credit card. Credit has tightened up since last year’s banking crisis, so I did not know what to expect. I will hold off on all my crappy “Made in China” plastic purchases until I hear back about my card.
One thing is for sure: Your pet dog or parakeet will not be getting a Walmart Rewards Mastercard. At least not before me.
June 30 2010 Update
I received my Walmart Rewards Mastercard today in the mail, 9 days after my signup on June 21, 2010. Everything looks as expected. I called their toll free number for activation and found it was out of service. In fact I called all three their numbers and they were all out of service. Odd, and a little unnerving for a credit card.
Card activation 1-888-779-XXXX (This is an unpublished number, maybe for security purposes, so I won’t reveal it)
Customer Service 1-888-331-6133
Lost/Stolen Cards 1-888-925-6218
I thought I misdialed, but on my 4th try to their Lost/Stolen card number I got a message saying they were having technical difficulties. Ok, I’ll call later.
So I called the next day and successfully confirmed my card and changed the pin. I then tried it at a local Food for Less, all without issue. A couple of days later I received a call from someone at Mastercard apologizing for their loss of service and rewarding me with an additional $5 to my account. This was a nice gesture. On Saturday I went to a local Walmart to make a purchase, and the $5 was on my card. The cashier was a little flustered as I told her to leave the $5 on the card, but she said she must deduct it from my purchase. Ok, I’ll redeem it. Obviously this card is so new that it gives most cashiers some trouble. Overall, it was a non-issue, as purchases went through without any problems. The Walmart card works as expected.