New Sallie Mae Accelerate review: Here's what we know |

Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card review

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Sallie Mae Accelerate℠

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.
Product NameSallie Mae Accelerate℠
Card TypeMastercard
Annual FeeSee terms
Standard Purchase APR15.24% to 25.24% variable
Intro Purchase APR0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24% to 25.24% variable)
Standard Balance Transfer APR15.24% to 25.24% variable
Intro Balance Transfer APR


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
Minimum Age18 years of age
Base Rewards1.25% cash back

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. The Citi® Double Cash Card, for example, 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 15.24% to 25.24%.
  • 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 1.5%. This is the industry average. Your rate is even lower if you’re not redeeming on student loans.

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Bottom line

While it’s not the strongest flat cashback card available, the Sallie Mae Accelerate could be a good choice – and more easy 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.

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