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Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ card review

A decent cashback card that rewards paying down your student loans’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%

Cash back


Annual fee


Intro purchase APR

for the first 15 months (then 13.24% to 25.24% variable)


Intro balance transfer

for the first 15 months (then 13.24% to 25.24% variable)


Annual fee$0
Welcome offercash back reward after spending in the first 12 months
Rewards2 cash back to help pay down any student loan, or 1.5% for everything else
Purchase APR0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.24% to 25.24% variable)
Balance transfer APR0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.24% to 25.24% variable)
Minimum Credit Score670

Review by

Steven Dashiell is Senior Writer, Personal Finance at Finder specializing in all things credit cards. With more than 300 articles under his belt, he aims to help readers embrace credit cards and maximize their rewards. Steve is studying to become a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, and is a frequent face on Finder’s YouTube channel, offering the latest in credit card hacks and advice. His expertise has been featured on numerous outlets, including U.S. News & World Report, NASDAQ, Time, CBS, Fox Business, Lifehacker, Martha Stewart Living and more.

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 2021
Finder experts pick Sallie Mae Accelerate℠ as a 2021 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 1.5% 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 13.24% to 25.24% 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 13.24% to 25.24% 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 1.5%. This is the industry average. Your rate is even lower if you’re not redeeming on student loans.

Compare Student credit cards

1 - 3 of 9
Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Minimum Credit Score
Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
16.49% to 26.49% variable
New to credit
Limited Time Offer: Earn $100 when you spend $100 in the first three months with this student card.
Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
16.49% to 26.49% variable
New to credit
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day with this student card.
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
26.99% variable
A student credit card that boosts your cash back for the month when you pay on time.

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:

Credit card ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.

We rank card types — travel, cash back, business — on a set of factors that are most relevant to that type of card. We create these rankings to help you narrow down a credit card that best suits your spending and budget.

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

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