The PayPal Cashback Mastercard is for PayPal users with good credit who want low-maintenance cash-back rewards on everything they buy. The card, issued by Synchrony Bank, offers 2% cash back across the board—a flat rate as high as you’re likely to find from any competitor without an annual fee.
Just keep in mind this card is designed to encourage PayPal use, so less active users of the person-to-person payment system will have a trickier time accessing their rewards.
High cash rewards rate on everything
No foreign transaction fee
Any amount is redeemable
No signup bonus
Must have a PayPal account
No promotional APR
- High cash rewards rate on everything: Most other flat-rate cash-back cards without an annual fee offer 1.5% or less, so 2% is more than competitive. Even the Citi Double Cash Card awards 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.
- No foreign transaction fee: Some competitors charge as much as 3% of each international purchase. If you’re an avid online shopper, it’s nice to know you won’t get hit with a fee, regardless of where the merchant is based.
- Any amount is redeemable: Unlike the Citi Double Cash Card, you don’t have to accrue a certain amount of cash back before you can use it. While you do have to wait until your next billing period, any cash back you’ve earned is usable (once you transfer it to your PayPal account).
- No sign-up bonus: Unlike many comparable cash-back cards, there’s no sign-up bonus to give you a jumpstart on your rewards stash.
- Must have a PayPal account: You can’t start the application without having a PayPal account, though it’s free to start one. Likewise, you’ll need an open, active PayPal account to redeem your cash rewards.
- High APR: The high end of the variable APR range is steep by any measure. Even the rate for the most creditworthy applicants exceeds the average for cash-back cards.
- No promotional APR: To make the high APR hurt even more, you won’t get a break on finance charges when you first get the card. Many competitors offer at least your first 12 months interest-free.
Earning Points & Rewards
If you want to keep things simple, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard is a good option with a generous rewards scheme. You’ll earn cash back equal to 2% on all of your purchases, whether they’re in a store or online. There are no rotating categories to keep up with, you don’t have to enroll or activate anything to earn rewards, and there’s no limit to how much you can earn.
The PayPal Extras Mastercard is an another option with a tiered rewards scheme that favors gas and restaurant charges. Synchrony won’t issue you both cards.
Redeeming rewards is not quite as simple as earning them. The cash back you earn is available for use in the billing period after you earn it, and you must transfer the funds to your PayPal account in order to use them.
This isn’t as low maintenance as the Apple Card, which offers daily cash back that’s redeemable instantly. On the other hand, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard doesn’t require a minimum redemption amount, unlike competitors including the Citi Double Cash Card.
Once you’ve transferred your credit to your PayPal account, your options for using your PayPal balance depend on the type of PayPal account you have. If you have a PayPal Cash or PayPal Cash Plus account, where you can hold a balance, you can use the funds just as you already do—to send someone money or make purchases. Otherwise, you have much less flexibility; you must transfer the funds to a linked bank account or debit card.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Upgrade your PayPal account (if you haven’t already) to the Cash or Cash Plus version for more flexibility in using your rewards.
You must keep your PayPal account open and in good standing for as long as you have the PayPal Cash Back Mastercard. If your PayPal account is closed, your card will also be closed and you’ll lose any unredeemed rewards.
You may also want to consider a companion card that rewards spending at specific merchants at higher than 2%. For example, if you’re out on the town a lot, pair this card with one that gives you 4% cash back on dining and entertainment.
Synchrony ranked below average on J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, scoring 780 on a scale of 1,000. On the plus side, you can reach a customer service representative 24/7 or use live chat from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time 7 days a week.
Once you’ve redeemed your rewards, you can use the PayPal app to make purchases, send money, or transfer funds to your bank.
The PayPal Cashback Mastercard comes with identity theft protection if you enroll in the service. The protection monitors the dark web to assess if your personal information is being sold or used fraudulently. You can even request that specific URLs or domain names be checked regularly.
PayPal Cash Back Mastercard’s Fees
Other than the steep APR and the absence of a foreign transaction fee, fees for this card fall within industry standards. Like most cards in the category, there is no annual fee.