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Last updated on December 1st, 2021
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At a Glance
The First Citizens Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings rewards cardholders with 1.5 points for every dollar they spend. Cardholders can earn unlimited points, and points never expire. This card also rewards new cardholders with 2,500 bonus points when they sign up. Additionally, new cardholders can take advantage of 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months.
Ideal for Those Who:
- Don’t mind paying an annual fee in exchange for earning more rewards points
- Want to earn unlimited points that don’t expire
- Like the option of redeeming points for cash back, travel, gift cards, or merchandise
- Need to transfer a balance they intend to pay off in 12 months
First Citizens Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings Review
The Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings credit card from First Citizens Bank is this financial institution’s most rewarding card. It charges an annual fee, but in return you earn more points for your purchases.
As opposed to other First Citizens cards, the points you earn with this card don’t expire, and you can earn an unlimited number of points. This card also gives the flexibility to redeem your points in several ways, and you’re never locked into a single redemption method.
You can also benefit from an introductory 0% interest rate when you transfer an existing balance from another credit card. Keep reading to learn more about how this card really can accelerate your earnings.
First Citizens Bank’s Highest Points Payout
The First Citizens Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings credit card offers cardholders the most points for their purchases However, don’t get too excited, because you’ll only earn 50% more than you will with this bank’s other cards.
Nevertheless, this small increase can add up over time, especially when you make larger purchases (more on that in the section below). You also get a 2,500-point bonus when you sign up, and you don’t have to purchase anything to receive these points.
Perhaps the greatest feature of this rewards card’s points system is that your points do not expire. You might think, “Darn straight! I earned those points!” However, a lot of credit card issuers may not share your views.
Many rewards cards place expiration dates on the points you earn, and First Citizens is no different. The points you earn with this bank’s other rewards cards expire three years after you earn them.
You might not feel the impact so much with the cash back card, since you can redeem your points at any time. However, this time limit can make it hard to rack up enough points to redeem for big-ticket items from the First Citizens Rewards Center.
The Value of Paying an Annual Fee
In exchange for all these unique (to First Citizen’s Bank, at least) features, the First Citizens Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings charges cardholders an annual fee. This is the only First Citizens card that requires you to pay a fee, although this fee is less than what many other similar rewards cards charge.
Nevertheless, it’s important to know whether the rewards that this card offers outweigh the fee. If you spend $5,000 with this credit card, you will earn 7,500 points. Compare that to the 5,000 points you’d earn on the regular Rewards® Visa®.
Each point has a cash value of one cent ($0.01). That being said, you will earn $25 more on your purchase with this card than you will with the regular rewards card (which doesn’t charge a fee).
You would have to spend $8750 to earn $50 worth of points and break even on the annual fee for this card. However, if you spend the same amount with the regular rewards card or the cash back card you’ll have already earned around $87 in rewards.
Even if you factor in the 2,500 bonus points you earn when you sign up, you’ll still only be earning $25 worth of rewards when you spend $8750 with this card. You won’t really start to see the benefits of paying an annual fee until you spend more.
The More You Spend the More You Earn
When you spend $10,000 after applying for this credit card, you’ll be earning about $125 in net rewards points. This figure already deducts the $50 you have to pay as an annual fee.
By contrast, spending the same amount on the other First Citizens rewards cards will only earn you $100 worth of points. You can already see a 25% increase in your rewards between this card and the other credit cards from this bank.
Of course, you’ll see greater proportional earnings the more you spend. If you spend $20,000 on this card, for instance, you’ll be earning over 37% more than you would with the other First Citizens cards.
Freedom to Redeem Your Points Your Way
The extra half a point you earn on your purchase is certainly one of the main perks of the First Citizens Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings. However, the real benefits of this card come into play when it comes time to redeem your points.
Compared to the regular rewards card, the Accelerate Your Earnings card gives cardholders almost complete freedom. This isn’t to say that this card’s redemption terms are exceptional. Rather, the First Citizens regular rewards card places a lot of restrictions on cardholders.
The regular rewards card caps your earnings at 10,000 a month. Additionally, your rewards points expire after three years. Considering that you can’t redeem your points at the First Citizens Rewards Center until you’ve spent $10,000, you can feel pressured to spend a lot and spend it fast. This can be a sure recipe for free falling into big-time debt.
The Accelerate Your Earnings card, on the other hand, places no limits on how many points you earn in a month, a year, or even a lifetime. Furthermore, your points never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
If you spend $30,000 in a month to furnish a new home, you can earn points on those purchases. If you decide to rack up points over 5 years and cash them in for a big vacation, you can do that, too.
Redeeming All Those Points
The First Citizens Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings card gives you quite a bit of flexibility when it comes time redeem your points. You can opt for cash back or using your points to obtain merchandise, gift cards, and travel vouchers from the rewards catalog.
Unfortunately, First Citizens Bank doesn’t let anyone browse through the catalog until they have been approved for a credit card. This frustrating detail can make it hard to determine how many points you need to get something you want…if there even is anything you want in the catalog.
You can, however, redeem 50,000 points for a free continental flight valued at $1,000 or less. You would have to spend over $33,000 to earn that reward, though. But because your points don’t expire, you can take your time to earn those points.
Additionally, you can convert your points to cash back as a cash deposit into a First Citizens checking or savings account or as a statement credit. One of the great features of this bank is that it lets you apply a statement credit not only to your card balance but to a First Citizens loan or mortgage, as well.
0% APR on Balance Transfers
Another fantastic feature of the First Citizens Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings is its introductory zero-interest offer on balance transfers. New cardholders have 90 days from the time they open an account to transfer a balance and pay no interest for 12 months.
You do have to pay a small transfer fee, however. Nevertheless, this is a drop in the bucket compared to what any bank will charge you in interest.
If you’d finally like to pay off an existing credit card balance (especially one on a high-interest card), this deal may be particularly attractive to you. Just keep in mind that you won’t earn any points on balance transfers, as well as cash advances and similar financial transactions.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t take this deal as an opportunity to take a break from paying off credit card debt. If you let your transferred balance roll over past the 12-month promotional period, it will automatically accrue interest, and you can end up where you started.
Should You Apply for the First Citizens Rewards® Visa® Accelerate Your Earnings?
The Accelerate Your Earnings credit card from First Citizens Bank is an ideal option if you want to maximize the rewards you earn while using your credit card. However, the additional half point you earn on purchases compared to the other First Citizens cards is not going to be of any value if you don’t plan on spending a lot with it.
If you feel tied to opening a credit card account with First Citizens and want to earn rewards, the annual fee is a small price to pay for the redemption flexibility you get with this card. That being said, First Citizens other rewards card (not the cash back card) has such restrictive terms that it can feel as if you are paying a fee to avoid those restrictions rather than to receive additional benefits.
Nonetheless, this can be a good card to have in the long term. Unlimited earning potential and the immortality of the points you earn mean you don’t feel pressured to spend and can rack up lots of points to redeem as you see fit.