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Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card review

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A decent cashback card that rewards paying down your student loans

  • Get this card if you want a cashback card and you have student loans.
  • Pick something else if you want a higher overall cashback rate on your purchases.
  • Apply if you have a good to an excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

Up to 1.25%

Cash back


Intro Purchase APR

for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)


Recommended credit score


Product NameSallie Mae Accelerate℠
Card typeMastercard
Annual feeSee terms
Purchase APR0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR14.99% to 24.99% variable
Balance transfer fee$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
Cash advance fee$10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Foreign transaction fee3% of the transaction value
Interest free periodUp to 23 days
Late payment feeUp to $39
Returned payment feeUp to $39

The basics

The Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ is best for college students or recent graduates still paying off their student loans. The card offers a unique draw: It gives students the opportunity to earn 25% more cash back when rewards are applied to those loans.

Unfortunately, this bonus isn’t quite enough to make it a better raw value pick than some other flat cashback credit cards. For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card is a no-annual-fee card that pulls in 1% cash back on initial purchases and another 1% cash back when you make your payment on time.

While you can earn cash back on purchases made with Sallie Mae Accelerate℠, the rate and additional student loan reward bonus still aren’t enough to pull ahead of competitor cash back cards.

Card benefits

  • Flat cash back. You’ll earn an unlimited 1.25% cash back on all purchases with no limit. Your reward cash is worth 25% more when redeemed on your student loan payments.
  • No annual fee. You won’t need to pay an annual fee to use this card.
  • Introductory APR. You’ll enjoy a 0% introductory purchase APR for the first 12 months after account opening.
  • Rewards for good financial habits. While details are sparse, Sallie Mae promises additional reward opportunities when you exhibit responsible financial behavior.

What to watch out for

  • Average APR. Once your introductory purchase APR is finished, your APR will revert to an average 14.99% to 24.99%.
  • Transaction fees. You’ll pay $5 or 3% in balance transfer fees, $10 or 5% in cash advance fees and 3% in foreign transaction fees.
  • Penalty fees. Late payments and returned payments will run you $39 each.
  • Average cashback rate. The best cashback rate you’ll get on this card is 1.25%. This is the industry average. Your rate is even lower if you’re not redeeming on student loans.

Compare Student credit cards

Name Product Filter values Purchase APR Annual fee Recommended minimum credit score
26.46% variable
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or get 1.25% cash back for months you pay on time.
14.74% to 25.74% variable
Build your credit with no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score.
20.49% variable
Designed for college students to build credit history and earn rewards.
24.74% variable
Designed to help build credit history with no deposit required. Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score over 650.
17.24% variable
Credit card for professionals relocating to America without a US credit history.

Compare up to 4 providers

How to apply for the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠

Applying for the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ is quite simple:

  1. At the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ site, click on the Apply now button.
  2. At the new screen, you’ll be instructed to fill in your personal information. You’ll need to include:
    • Personal details, including your name, date of birth, Social Security Number and address.
    • Your citizenship status.
    • Financial information, including housing expenses, housing status, monthly income and available assets.
    • Employment status and student status.
  3. Once complete, you can click on the Continue button to submit your application.

Bottom line

While it’s not the strongest flat cashback card available, the Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ could be a good choice — and easier to qualify for — if you’re a college student or recent graduate with student loans. If this card doesn’t seem right for you, compare your cashback credit card options to find something that best suits your financial needs.

Frequently asked questions:

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