Any BMW owner who expects to spend a fair amount of money at a BMW Center should be able to get value out of the BMW credit card. BMWs—which are marketed as luxurious and innovative cars for affluent drivers—have a reputation for being expensive to own. New cardholders who are getting ready to service their BMWs will not only benefit from a substantial rewards bonus on their expenses, but they will also get access to a lengthy interest-free promotion, allowing them to spread out their car repair payments without having to pay interest.
Car and motorcycle enthusiasts who dream of racing on a track will also benefit from the card’s healthy rewards-earning rate on BMW purchases and the introductory interest-free promotion. BMW offers a wide selection of driving classes and experiences that cardholders can pay for with their BMW Card.
Good rewards-earning rate on BMW purchases with a high rewards cap
Good sign-up bonus
Long introductory interest rate
Limited reward-redemption options
Modest rewards-earning rate on everyday purchases
- Good rewards-earning rate on BMW purchases with a high rewards cap: If you charge $4,300 worth of BMW expenses, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent, or 12,900 points, worth $129. Rewards points are capped annually at 240,000, which might seem disappointing, but to reach it, you’d have to spend $80,000 on BMW purchases (and a lot more on non-BMW purchases that earn just 1 point per $1).
- Good sign-up bonus: If you can afford to charge at least $667 a month during the first three months you have the card, you’ll qualify for a large enough sign-up bonus to shave roughly $300 off your BMW expenses. That’s a good bonus for a no-annual-fee card and is especially competitive when you compare it with bonuses from other auto cards.
- Long introductory interest rate: One of the highlights of the BMW Card is its lengthy introductory interest rate promotion. Other auto rewards credit cards give cardholders just six to 12 months to spread out payments without incurring any interest—if they offer a 0% interest rate promotion at all.
- Limited reward-redemption options: If you aren’t sure you’ll stick with your BMW for much longer or don’t plan on taking your car into a BMW dealership for service, you may not get much value from this card. Since you’re locked into redeeming your rewards for BMW purchases, you risk forfeiting your rewards if you decide to look at another kind of luxury car.
- Modest rewards-earning rate on everyday purchases: You’ll earn just 1 point per $1 spent on non-BMW purchases. Some auto rewards credit cards offer better earnings rates at gas stations or restaurants, for example. As a result, it can be tough to rack up points if you don’t visit your local BMW Center frequently.
BMW Card’s Sign-Up Bonus
If you charge $2,000 within 90 days of opening your account, you’ll receive 30,000 bonus points that you can use for a variety of BMW purchases. You won’t get your points immediately, though, so you may want to wait to schedule any purchases that you’d like to pay for with points. It could take up to two months for your points to post to your account.
The wait may be worth it if you’re looking at an expensive service or repair, however: 30,000 points will cut your bill by $300. Many no-annual-fee cash-back cards, by contrast, award just $150 to $200 as a sign-up bonus. Some auto rewards cards offer as little as $50.
Earning Points & Rewards
Collecting points on the BMW credit card is simple. You’ll get 3 points for every $1 you spend on BMW goods and services and 1 point per $1 on every other purchase. You’ll have up to five years to spend them.
BMW caps the number of points you can earn at 240,000 points a year, allowing you to earn a maximum of $2,400 back. However, you’d need to spend at least $80,000 a year before hitting that ceiling. For most budgets, that effectively makes the card’s points earning unlimited—which is generous for a rewards category that can easily add up. Some BMW experiences, for example, cost more than $1,000. However, heavy spenders may want to supplement with other cards that offer better points earning on everyday purchases.
The biggest downside to the BMW Card’s rewards program is that the 3 points per $1 rewards-earning rate is reserved for BMW purchases, making it tough to justify using this card for everyday expenses. A number of auto credit cards, by contrast, award more points on common purchases, such as gas and dining.
You won’t be able to redeem your BMW rewards points for cash, travel, or other rewards. However, you will be able to choose from a variety of BMW purchases, including a credit for leasing or purchasing a BMW, car repairs, and BMW accessories.
Currently BMW is transitioning its credit card operations to US Bank, and BMW isn’t sharing specific details about the current rewards program, nor what it may look like under US Bank.
The focus on BMW products and services can help shave the cost of owning and maintaining your BMW. The downside, though, is that it sharply limits your options. If you aren’t strongly attached to the BMW brand, the card’s limited redemption options may feel restricting.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Wait to set up your next service appointment until you’ve been approved for the card and have received it in the mail. That way, you can use the card’s lengthy introductory zero-interest period to spread out your payments on any service charges or unexpected repairs.
Rather than wait for a service appointment to come up, you could use your points to help fund a BMW experience instead. BMW offers a variety of classes and experiences for car and motorcycle enthusiasts. For example, you could use your points to help pay for a drive in a MINI John Cooper Works or a course on performance driving at a racetrack.
The BMW Card is currently issued by BMW Bank, which does not offer any special customer service perks. However, US Bank will soon take over BMW’s line of credit cards, which could affect customers’ experiences. US Bank ranks relatively low in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, finishing eighth out of 11 major banks.
The BMW Card does not offer any of the enhanced security features provided by major card issuers such as fraud monitoring or zero fraud liability. In fact, you could be liable for up to $50 of fraudulent charges on your card, the legal limit.
Fees to Watch Out For
The BMW Card’s fees are standard for a rewards card. However, its penalty APR is notably high.