If you and your family are loyal owners of Chryslers (or any brand in the FCA family) and you’re planning to trade up in the next year or two, the DrivePlus Mastercard is worth serious consideration for anyone with good credit. For one, if you charge $7,500 on your card in your first year, you’ll earn a certificate good for $1,000 off the purchase or lease of new eligible models. Plus, you’ll earn 5% back—a competitive rewards rate—on all purchases at participating dealerships. For perspective, if you spent $1,000 per vehicle each year, you’d get $50 back.
On the flip side, if you’re not contemplating a new car any time soon, or your car is rarely in the shop, you’re probably better off with another credit card that pays bigger rewards, and on a broader swath of purchases. The rewards rates outside the dealership are pretty lackluster: 2% back on gas and travel and 1% back on everything else you charge to your card.
Good rewards on vehicle-related purchases
Generous new cardholder bonus for prospective buyers
Six months interest-free for big dealership purchases
Mediocre rewards on non-vehicle purchases
Your local dealership may not participate
- Good rewards on vehicle-related purchases: Any parts or service charged at participating U.S. dealerships will earn 5% back in rewards points. (This even applies if you use your card to make the down payment on a car purchase or lease.) This earning rate is as good or better than what we found on several of the credit cards affiliated with major automakers, though the GM BuyPower Card pays 5% back on all your spending (up to $5,000 a year,) so you’d rack up rewards much faster with that card, as long as you’re open to the GM brand.
- Generous new cardholder bonus for prospective buyers: If you charge $7,500 to your card in your first year—on anything—you’ll earn a $1,000 certificate good toward the purchase of an eligible vehicle. Plus, if you spend at least $499 at participating dealerships during your first billing cycle, you’ll earn a $100 statement credit. Given that some cards of this type don’t have any new cardholder incentive, this is nothing to scoff at. (Though if your budget is modest, you may be better off with a card offering a smaller bonus that requires less spending.)
- Six months interest-free for big dealership purchases: It’s nice to get a few months to pay off a major repair, pricey new tires, or even a down payment on a new car. And with this card, the 0% APR applies every time you spend $499 or more at the dealership, not just when you first get the card. That said, the cards that have a more traditional introductory period waive the interest on all purchases, not just automotive purchases.
- Mediocre rewards on non-vehicle purchases: If you’ve got a relatively new or leased Chrysler or Jeep, you may not need to spend much on your vehicle (or the repairs and parts you need may be under warranty.) With this credit card, the most you can earn outside of the dealership is 2% cash back, and that’s only when you’re at the gas pump or booking travel. (More on this below.)
- Your local dealership may not participate: Not all dealerships participate in the rewards program, so you’ll want to check with your local dealer before applying for the card. After all, physical location is pretty important, especially since you must redeem your rewards in person.
Bonus for New Cardholders
There are essentially two bonuses. First, if you spend at least $499 at a participating FCA dealership during your first billing cycle, you’ll earn a $100 credit on your card statement.
Second, if you spend at least $7,500—anywhere—during your first year, you’ll earn a $1,000 bonus certificate toward the purchase or lease of a qualifying new Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or Fiat. But, there are some limitations. Once you get the certificate, you only have one year from the date it is issued to use it. In addition, not all car models are eligible, and the fine print—“FCA reserves the right to determine vehicle model eligibility in its sole discretion at any time”—suggests that it may be difficult to plan ahead. On the plus side, the certificate is transferable to an immediate family member living in your home.
Earning Points and Rewards
You’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent (the equivalent of 5% back) at participating U.S. dealerships; 2 points per $1 (2% back) spent on eligible travel or gas purchases; and 1 point per $1 spent (1% back) on all other purchases. There are no caps on how much you can earn.
For an automotive credit card with no annual fee, these rates are pretty good—others offer 4 or 5 points at their dealerships, if they even have rewards—but not the best. For one, the GM BuyPower Card offers 5% back on all purchases up to $5,000 and then an unlimited 2% back on every purchase thereafter. And other automotive cards offer 2 points or 2% back on restaurant spending, gas and entertainment.
What’s more, you can find general rewards cards with 5% bonus categories that rotate each quarter or offer a steady 3% back on gas, travel, dining out, and other regular spending. You may even be able to get a card that pays 2% cash back on everything.
In other words, if you don’t spend a lot at your local FCA dealership, or you’re open to other car manufacturers, a different card may make more sense.
If you’re going to buy or lease a new car, use the card to make your down payment. Not only will you have six months without interest to pay it back, but the 5 points per $1 will add up quickly. For instance, if you put $3,000 down, you’d get 15,000 points worth $150.
This card used to have a more complicated redemption scheme, but for new applicants, it’s very straightforward: points are worth 1 cent no matter how you redeem them, including for cash back, according to a bank spokesperson. This means you don’t have to use them toward purchases at participating FCA dealerships to get the best value. In fact, theoretically, you could use the card strictly for gas and travel and routinely earn 2% cash back on those purchases.
Points can be redeemed for cash back either through a credit on your statement, an ACH deposit to any checking or savings account or as a check sent by mail. They must be redeemed in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $250, and $1,000. You can also redeem them for:
- Parts (including Mopar parts and accessories) and vehicle services or toward the purchase or lease of a new or used Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, or FIAT vehicle at participating FCA dealerships in the U.S.
- Travel (airfare, hotel stays and car rentals)
- Gift cards
Rewards expire seven years after they are awarded.
How to Make the Most of the Card
The big question to ask yourself is: Do you spend enough at the dealership to really unlock the value of this card? If you have a newer Chrysler or Jeep, you may not even have to go into the dealership other than for an oil change, and if something does go wrong, your warranty may cover many parts and repairs. In that case, a card that pays bigger rewards on more types of spending is a better choice. However, if you have multiple FCA cars in your household or are getting ready for a new one, then this card is likely worthwhile. Think about how much you typically spend at your car dealership each year.
Once you’ve earned the $1,000 certificate (if that’s your goal,) consider using one of the top cash-back credit cards for all purchases outside the dealership. That may provide you with bigger rewards and more flexible redemption options.
Customer service is available 24/7 by phone, and First Bankcard, the First National Bank of Omaha division that issues the card, has a mobile app that allows cardholders to manage their accounts, pay bills, and more. Cardholders can also access their credit score for free.
The DrivePlus Mastercard offers the option to enroll in Mastercard ID Theft Protection and fraud monitoring for free.
The Chrysler DrivePlus Mastercard credit card has the typical fees you’d find among similar cards. It should be noted that you will pay a 3% foreign transaction fee if you make purchases in foreign currencies.