Is the Force With the New Star Wars Credit Card?
As fans all over the world eagerly await the December release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," we are continuously reminded that the global Star Wars phenomenon isn't just about movies.
Sure, it all starts with the movies, which have earned billions of dollars at the box office. However, it extends far beyond the movie theater. There are novels, comic books, video games, lunchboxes, clothing of all shapes and sizes, breakfast cereals, action figures, bobbleheads and even a Darth Vader refrigerator -- all of which you can buy with a Star Wars Visa credit card. But is this card something that Star Wars fans should add to their collection or something they should avoid like a confrontation with Darth Vader? Let's break it down ...
The card is part of Chase's Disney Visa card program and is available in three different Star Wars-themed designs: one featuring Darth Vader, another with Yoda and another with R2-D2 and C-3PO. It also comes with rewards aimed toward fans of the films, including:
- 10 percent off purchases $50 or more when you use the card at the Disney Store or DisneyStore.com. (Reminder: In 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm, the company that created the Star Wars franchise under founder George Lucas.)
- 10 percent off select Star Wars merchandise purchases $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California.
- An "Imperial Meet 'N' Greet" at Disneyland or Disney World with Darth Vader himself. (Just make sure you don't make him mad while you're there.)
- The premier card comes with a $100 statement credit after you spend $500 in the first three months. The rewards card offers a $50 statement after your first purchase.
- The premier card has a $49 annual fee, while the rewards card has no fee.
But is it worth applying for?
No credit card is a great fit for everyone. It's all about finding a card that matches your lifestyle, and the Star Wars card is no different.
If you're a huge Star Wars fan, and you've got a trip to Disney World or Disneyland in your immediate future, the card might work for you. It'd be fun to have the Dark Lord of the Sith on your card. The APR is reasonable. The discounts can help you save when you're buying your new Kylo Ren lightsaber or your Lego Millennium Falcon. Plus, an Imperial Meet 'N' Greet sounds like good geeky fun. However, I would suggest getting the rewards card rather than the premier card. Even though the sign-up bonus is bigger with the premier card, the $49 annual fee makes that bonus a little less powerful.
For everyone else, I'd say you'd be better off shopping around. Today's credit card marketplace is so crazy competitive that -- if you have good credit -- you should be able to find cards that can give you more bang for your buck. Here are some that I'd recommend:
- Discover it: Discover will double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. That means if you've earned $200, they'll double it to $400. They also offer 5 percent cash back on purchases in rotating categories (including Amazon.com through the end of the year) and 1 percent cash back on everything else. Unlike the Star Wars card, there's no annual fee. In addition, there are no late fees for your first late payment, and they promise that paying late won't raise your APR. Other perks of the card include free monthly FICO scores and zero percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. The card's standard APR is 10.99 to 22.99, depending on your credit score.
- Chase Freedom: From the same bank that brought you the Star Wars card comes this cash back card. It offers a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months and doesn't come with an annual fee. As with the Discover it card, you earn 5 percent cash back on purchases in rotating categories (including Amazon.com through the end of the year) and 1 percent cash back on everything else. Plus, you pay zero percent interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. Once that introductory period is over, APRs range from 13.99 to 22.99, depending on creditworthiness.
- Citi Double Cash: This card gives you 1 percent cash back when you buy and 1 percent cash back when you pay -- meaning you're basically getting 2 percent cash back on every purchase. That's one of the higher rates on the market and can help compensate for the fact that there's no sign-up bonus with the card. However, there's also no annual fee, no categories to opt-in for and no caps. Its APR range (12.99 to 22.99) is comparable to the Chase Freedom card, and its 15-month zero percent offer is identical to that card.
Matt Schulz is the senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, a site dedicated to helping people make smart decisions about obtaining and using credit. You can follow him on Twitter at @matthewschulz.