This might be an manufactured spend (MS) bone, but that bone also may not have any meat on it, not quite sure. So I was listening to a podcast about a month ago and a commercial came on that talked about a new “cash back debit card”. I had to rewind the commercial because I thought I didn’t hear it correctly. Sure enough, I did hear that correctly. The commercial went on to say that via a trial period, users earned 1.5% cash back on select categories including health, food delivery, entertainment, and social good. There are no fees, customer support is available 7 days a week via chat, phone, and email, and you get unlimited one percent cash back on all other debit card purchases
After thinking of all of the ways I would punish this card, I nearly swerved off the road after I heard the commercial in its entirety.
So I investigated a bit when I got home. I called in to confirm the offer and the offer stood, including the 1.5% promotion (offer good from April until the end of June). There’s no hard credit pull for the card either so I bit. To make matters even more tempting, Walmart codes as grocery/food and should earn the 1.5% cash back in the trial period. Things are looking good!
Trial and Error
After I received the card I tried it out, once at a supermarket and once at Walmart, each for $500 purchases (after fees). No cash back posted for those transactions. Not good Mav. I called in to ask about it and was told there’s a 30 day window after you get there card where there’s no cash back. That seemed really odd. Also cash back didn’t post to transactions right away, it posts at the end of each statement. A pain, but I could live with it if it all worked out in the end. I was also told there was a minimum balance to the order of $1k – $2k in order to get cash back (sorry can’t remember exactly). That information was in direct contradiction to the website.
I chalked some of that customer service chat to bad intel, but even if there was some sort of minimum it wasn’t an issue as I loaded the account with $5k in advance to get things ready for a full assault. All the hoops I could live with if the card paid off in the end. Then came disappointment.
The main issue with the card is that you need to select “credit” when making a purchase. I wrote a bit about the Mall of America changing it’s gift cards from debit to credit, and that’s a similar path that this card is on. Initially hearing about the credit selection wasn’t a big deal, as terminals generally let users select debit or credit in some way or another, and I had high hopes to do so at Walmart and some supermarkets that I’ve previously bought visa and mastercard gift cards at before. However upon using the card at both stores, the option to select debit vs. credit disappeared. Basically as soon as the card was inserted into the payment terminal the user is asked for a PIN. Once a PIN is entered, the transaction goes through as debit, not credit. From all that I can tell that’s the end of the road with the card. No cash back bonus, and that magical 1.5% seem to be as possible as a democratic vote in North Korea.
Obviously you’re welcome to give it a try yourself, and possibly you can find a path that is lucrative. I’d be all ears (jeffrey at millionmileguy.com) if you do! Happy hunting.