The MINI, a small car known for its 1960s nostalgia and Hollywood appearances, packs a lot of power in a tiny package. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the MINI Card.
Issued by BMW Bank, it looks like a typical co-branded card at first glance: Cardholders earn double points for purchases at MINI dealerships as well as for motoring-related expenses like gas, tolls and car washes. (All other purchases earn one point per dollar.) The annual fee is $0.
But even if you’re a hardcore MINI lover (and a big spender at dealerships), other cash-back cards give you richer and easier-to-redeem rewards.
Here are five things to know about the card:
1. Your redemption options are all about the MINI
When you earn points in the MINI Motoring Rewards program, your redemption choices revolve around more MINI spending. Most significantly, you can put points toward a MINI lease or payment credit. When you lease or finance a new MINI through MINI Financial Services, you can redeem points for a statement credit of up to $10,000.
It’s hard to estimate how much points are worth given the publicly available data on the MINI Motoring Rewards program. (Multiple efforts to reach BMW Bank were not successful.) But when the card was initially released in 2006, points were worth about 1 cent each.
You can also use points for MINI protection products, for an excess wear and use credit to apply toward charges at the end of a MINI lease, or toward extra mileage charges on a MINI lease.
In addition, you can use your points to pay for service and repair charges at MINI dealerships or toward MINI lifestyle purchases, where options include things like MINI-branded jackets to mugs. You also have the option of putting points toward a handful of select charities.
2. Other cards offer richer, more flexible rewards
Earning double points on MINI and motoring-related purchases isn’t that impressive considering that you can find a cash-back card that gives you 2% back on all purchases. With the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, for example, you earn 1% back for every purchase and an additional 1% back when you pay it off. You also have much greater flexibility in your redemption options since you can put your cash back toward anything. The card’s annual fee is $0.
If you want a card with richer gas rewards that can also serve as a more general everyday card, you could look to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card. It earns triple points on gas, but also on categories such as dining, travel and streaming services. Points can be redeemed for things like cash back, travel or gift cards. This card has a generous welcome offer, which the issuer phrases this way: “New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months that's a $300 cash redemption value.” The annual fee is $0.
3. There’s no annual fee — but there are other fees
If you’re looking for a credit card to travel the world with, or for a no-fee balance transfer card, you’ll want to keep looking.
The MINI Visa card charges a 3% fee on foreign transactions. That would make every purchase on an international trip cost 3% more than it needs to, considering there are plenty of cards with no foreign transaction fees available.
The card does offer an intro 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.24% - 26.24% Variable. That could make it decent if you’re looking to finance a big purchase. But when it comes to balance transfers, the card also charges $5 or 4% (whichever is higher) for each one. You can find cards with fees of 3% or lower.
4. You can customize your card and access perks
If you love your MINI so much that you want to show it off every time you pull out your credit card, then you’re in luck: Your specific model and color MINI can be emblazoned directly onto your card.
The card’s website also says it grants you access to “MINI experiences,” or chances to go to exclusive brand events.
5. There’s a hefty sign-up bonus
The MINI Card has a Limited Time Offer: Spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening and receive 30,000 bonus MINI Motoring Rewards Points.
Those bonus points will show up in your account within two billing cycles.
If the original valuation of around a penny a point still holds, that makes the sign-up bonus worth about $300. Not bad — but again, you’ll be limited as to where you can redeem that bonus.