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Sallie Mae Ignite℠ review

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.

1% cash back on all purchases, 1.25% after you make six consecutive on-time payments



Annual fee

0% intro for the first 6 months (then 12.99% to 22.99% variable)

Purchase APR


Minimum Credit Score


Annual fee$0
Welcome offer25% bonus on cash back after making six consecutive on-time payments
Rewards1% cash back on all purchases, 1.25% after you make six consecutive on-time payments
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)
Minimum Credit Score670

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

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.

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.

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.

Compare credit cards for those new to credit

Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Minimum Credit Score
Cleo Credit Builder card
A card made with your credit score in mind
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
26.99% variable
Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
26.99% variable
A no-annual-fee card for average credit. Earn a higher credit line after five on-time payments.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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