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Sallie Mae Ignite℠ review

Last updated:  

A solid contender for college students and others looking to build their credit

  • Get this card if you want to build credit and earn rewards at the same time.
  • Pick something else if you’re looking for a more lucrative cashback card.
  • Apply if you’re new to credit or have a good to an excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

Up to 1.25%

Cash back


Annual fee


Intro purchase APR

for the first 6 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% variable)


Intro balance transfer

for the first 6 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% variable)


Product NameSallie Mae Ignite℠
Card typeMastercard
Annual fee$0
Purchase APR0% intro for the first 6 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR0% intro for the first 6 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% variable)
Balance transfer fee$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
Cash advance rate24.99% variable
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, and Lifehacker.

Expert review

Of Sallie Mae’s three new credit cards, the Sallie Mae Ignite℠ best suits college students who have no credit history and want to start building credit.

Cardholders will get cash back on all purchases, and they will be rewarded with a bonus cashback rate after six consecutive on-time payments. The Sallie Mae Ignite℠ is a fairly generous credit card for new credit users as it also has a $0 annual fee and a 6 months introductory APR period.

Card benefits

  • Flat cash back. You’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases with no limit. Sallie Mae will increase your cashback rate to 1.25% after you make six consecutive on-time payments on your account.
  • $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 6 months after account opening, reverting to a variable 12.99% to 22.99%.
  • Rewards for good financial habits. 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, $10 or 5% in cash advance fees and 3% in foreign transaction fees.
  • Penalty fees. Late payments and returned payments will run you up to $39 each.
  • Lower than average cashback rate. The maximum cashback rate you can earn with this card is 1.25%. This is lower than the market average of 1.5% and lower than the rate you can earn on Sallie Mae’s other credit cards.

How to apply for the Sallie Mae Ignite℠

Applying for the Sallie Mae Ignite℠ is quite simple:

  1. At the Sallie Mae Ignite℠ 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.

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Bottom line

The Sallie Mae Ignite℠ is a solid option for college students — or anyone without a credit history — who want to start building credit. The “carrot and stick” design of the cash back rewards means that this card could prove helpful even if you’re not a college student but you have a history of no credit.

If you’re looking for the best cashback credit cards on the market, compare your options to find one that suits your needs. And if you’re looking for other cards that can help you build credit, check out your secured credit card options.

Frequently asked questions

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