Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® Review: A Low-Interest Card With Minimal Fees
With a low APR and no annual fee, the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is a money-saving credit card. Get the full scoop on it in our review.
Great for: Low interest rate Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®
- Enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 13.99% APR will apply
- Low 13.99% variable APR on purchases and cash advances
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- International Chip and PIN
Despite so many different credit cards that you can choose from, it’s not easy to find one with a reasonable interest rate. There are plenty of cards with big rewards, sign-up bonuses, and intro APR offers, but precious few that won’t charge you an arm and a leg if you carry a balance.
If low interest is what you need, then you’ll find it in the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®. That’s not its only unique feature, either. The card has perhaps the most interesting type of loyalty program I’ve seen in the Giveback™ program, which it offers in lieu of a rewards program, and Barclaycard even lets cardholders vote on changes regarding features and fees. To help you learn more about the card, I’m taking an in-depth look at it.
What I like
Low APR -- The highlight of the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is its APR, which is one of the lowest you’ll find. And unlike other credit cards that have a wide APR range, this card has one flat rate. Even though it’s better to pay your credit card bill in full to avoid interest charges, that may not always be feasible. If you need to carry a balance, a low APR is a must.
0% intro APR for balance transfers -- This is a 15-month intro rate that applies to any balance transfers you make within the first 45 days.
2% balance transfer fee -- Balances transferred within 45 days receive a low transfer fee of 2% ($5 min.). This is lower than the typical 3% fee many cards charge.
No annual fee -- This card keeps unnecessary fees to a minimum, and you won’t need to pay anything yearly to keep it.
No foreign transaction fee -- Many popular no-annual-fee cards will charge you 3% every time you buy something internationally, but not this card
Why you can trust me
I believe that credit cards are one of the most valuable financial tools for consumers, no matter the situation, and I’m always looking for ways that they can help people earn big rewards or save some money. My goal is travel rewards, and I’ve built up hundreds of thousands of points that I use to take trips for free. Along the way, I’ve reached and maintained an excellent credit score while avoiding any credit card debt.
What could be improved
Rewards or cash back -- By far the biggest disadvantage is that you don’t earn any rewards points or cash back on your spending. In fairness, you could earn money back through the Barclaycard Ring Giveback™ program, which I’ve gone over in detail below (see “How the Barclaycard Ring Giveback™ program works”).
$0 balance transfer fee offer -- While I applaud inclusion of a $0 balance transfer fee promo, it's too difficult to take advantage of, given it only applies on balances transferred after 15 months. This makes the 0% intro APR offer less competitive than others on the market, since some cards offer both a 0% intro APR and a $0 balance transfer fee at the same time.
How the Giveback™ program works
The official word from Barclaycard is that because of this card’s low APR, it wouldn’t be profitable if it also earned cash back or rewards. Instead, the card issuer has created the Barclaycard Ring Giveback™ program, a unique profit-sharing arrangement.
Here’s how it works -- once Barclaycard clears a set revenue return percentage on the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®, it will distribute a portion of any further profits to the cardholders. There are separate profit pools, one for referrals and one for use of the card. You’re eligible to receive a payout from the referral pool if you have at least one referral during the designated time period, and you’re eligible for a payout from the other pool if you’ve used the card at all.
If you want, you can also have Barclaycard donate your Giveback™ payout to a charitable cause.
A crowdsourced credit card
Another innovation of the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is the Barclays Ring Community. Barclays has created this forum for all cardholders to share their opinions on the card, suggest improvements, and even vote on changes.
This isn’t just a meaningless gesture, as the community has made several decisions that affected the card. There was originally a 1% foreign transaction fee and a $1 cash advance fee, until the community voted on a switch to no foreign transaction fee and a $3 cash advance fee.
What to look for in a low interest credit card
As you could probably already guess, the most important part of a low-interest credit card is its interest rate. A lower interest rate means it will cost you less to carry a balance.
If you know that you’ll need to carry a balance or transfer any balances as soon as you get the card, then you should also look for a 0% intro APR.
Last but not least, make sure you go over a card’s other fees before you apply. You don’t want to save on interest only to pay more in other areas, such as annual fees and foreign transaction fees.
Suggested credit score
To have the best shot at the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®, your FICO® Score should be at least 670. Annual income is another important factor that impacts both your approval chances and your credit limit. If you have any balance transfers to do, then you’ll need to get a credit limit high enough to cover them.
Other cards to consider
Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® has some unique benefits that are worth comparing with other leading low interest credit cards, including Discover it® Balance Transfer and Chase Freedom®. Both cards include long 0% intro APR offers, plus earn more rewards than what Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard offers.
Discover it® Balance Transfer offers a 0% intro APR for balance transfers for 18 months, making it a solid option for cardholders needing longer than 15 months to pay off debt by avoiding interest charges.
Chase Freedom® has a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months, plus earns up to 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 of quarterly spending) in rotating categories you activate each quarter.
|Discover it® Balance Transfer||Chase Freedom®|
On Discover's Secure WebsiteRead Full Review Rates & Fees
On Chase's Secure WebsiteRead Full Review
|Bonus: Double cash back in the first year||Bonus: $150 After Spending $500 Within Three Months|
|Rewards Program: 5% Cash Back At Different Places Each Quarter Like Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Restaurants Or Amazon.com Up To The Quarterly Maximum Each Time You Activate, 1% Cash Back On All Other Purchases||Rewards Program: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate, 1% on all else|
|Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 6 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months||Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months|
|Regular APR: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable||Regular APR: 16.74% - 25.49%, variable|
|Annual Fee: $0||Annual Fee: $0|
On Discover's Secure Website
On Chase's Secure Website
This card is right for you if...
While this card has its good points, I hesitate to recommend it for any particular situation. It’s most useful for balance transfers, but several other cards trump it with significantly longer 0% APR intro periods and lower balance transfer fees.
The low interest rate can help you out if you often find yourself with credit card debt. Combined with the card’s $0 balance transfer fee after the first 15 months, you may find the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® useful for shifting over balances from other cards and lowering the amount of interest you pay, assuming the rate beats what you can secure with a personal loan.
If you think you’ll need a credit card with a low interest rate, the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® is a great choice. But in the long run, your best bet is to avoid credit card debt and use a card that will earn you cash back or rewards instead as you pay off bills each month and avoid interest charges altogether.