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Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card review

Last updated:  

A decent cashback card that rewards paying down your student loans

finder.com’s rating: 3.4 / 5

★★★★★

  • 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 2.5%

Cash back

$0

Annual fee

0%

Intro purchase APR

for the first 15 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% variable)

0%

Intro balance transfer

for the first 15 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% variable)

Details

Product NameSallie Mae Accelerate℠
Card typeMastercard
Annual fee$0
Purchase APR0% intro for the first 15 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR0% intro for the first 15 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% 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

Expert review

Steven Dashiell

Review by


Steven Dashiell is a credit cards writer at Finder. He's worked on 250 Finder articles and counting, helping readers embrace and maximize credit cards. Backed by nearly a decade of research and reporting experience, Steve's work can be seen on Debt.com, CreditCards.com and Lifehacker.

Expert review

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.

Best of 2020
Finder experts pick Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ as a 2020 best product for credit cards.

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.

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 15 months after account opening. After the intro period expires, your rate will revert to 12.99% to 22.99% variable.
  • 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 12.99% to 22.99% variable.
  • Transaction fees. You’ll pay $5 or 3% in balance transfer fees (whichever is greater), $10 or 5% in cash advance fees (whichever is greater) and 3% in foreign transaction fees.
  • Penalty fees. Late payments and returned payments will run you up to $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

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Jasper Mastercard®
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$0
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Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
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22.99% variable
$0
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Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or get 1.25% cash back for months you pay on time.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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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