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Sallie Mae Evolve℠ review

A straightforward, all-around cashback card with a $0 annual fee.

  • Get this card if you want a straightforward cashback card with an intro APR period.
  • Pick something else if you’re looking for bigger cash back returns.
  • Apply if you have a good to an excellent credit score of 670 or higher.
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Up to 1.5%

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

Annual fee$0
Welcome Offer25% bonus on cash back in your top two purchase categories each month
Rewards1.25% cash back on all purchases and 25% bonus on your top two categories each month for up to 1.5% back
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)
Recommended minimum credit score670
IssuerMastercard

Review by


Steven Dashiell is a writer 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, Time, CBS, Fox Business, Lifehacker, Martha Stewart Living and more.

Expert review

The Sallie Mae Evolve℠ is one of three new cards Sallie Mae has unveiled, along with the Sallie Mae Ignite℠ and Sallie Mae Accelerate℠. While the Ignite and Accelerate are designed to directly help cash-strapped students, the Evolve serves as a straightforward cashback rewards card.

The card offers a flat cashback rate on all purchases and a bonus cashback rate on your top two earning categories for the month. This makes the card fairly easy to use — you’ll have no need to activate bonus categories or check in on your spending cap. Just spend and earn.

Though the Sallie Mae Evolve℠ has a $0 annual fee, it lacks the raw earning potential and perks that some of its competitors feature. So, if you’re chasing the best flat cashback potential in a credit card, you might want to compare your options.

How to apply for the Sallie Mae Evolve℠

Applying for the Sallie Mae Evolve℠ is quite simple:

  1. At the Sallie Mae Evolve℠ 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. In the two categories you spend the most in each month, you’ll get a 25% bonus for up to 1.5% cash back.
  • $0 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 opening your account. After the intro period is up, your purchase APR will revert to 12.99% to 22.99% variable.
  • Rewards for good financial habits. Sallie Mae promises additional reward opportunities when you demonstrate 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%.
  • 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, though you’ll only get this rate on your top two earning categories, unlike some other cashback cards available.

Compare cash back credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Up to $350: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $200 back, plus $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn up to $350. In your first 6 months, you can earn a $150 statement credit when you spend $3,000, and earn 20% back on Amazon purchases made with your card, up to $200 total. Having 6 months to earn a welcome offer is a rare benefit as most cards give you only 3. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Up to $250: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $150 back, plus $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 within the first 6 months
3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
$0
Earn up to $250. You'll get 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first six months for up to $150 back, and $100 after you spend $2,000 in the first six months. This is a higher-than-average welcome offer for a card with no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
$200 cash back after spending $750 in the first 3 months. Fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back
5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle on up to the first $500 spent, then 1% cash back thereafter and on all other purchases
$0
A new cashback card that automatically awards 5% to your highest eligible spending category each billing cycle, on up to $500 (then 1%).
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Bottom line

The Sallie Mae Evolve℠ is an all-around solid flat cashback card, though it lacks a standout feature to set it apart from the competition. Nonetheless, college students could stand to benefit from such a straightforward cashback card.

If you’re looking for something different, compare other cashback credit cards to find one that suits your needs.

Frequently asked questions

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