Anyone who checks out the prices on new cars knows how expensive they are. And so are repairs. Add maintenance. And the bill becomes staggering. But there are auto credit cards from manufacturers that help users earn points towards buying or leasing new vehicles.
These can also pay for service, parts or accessories at automobile dealerships.
Some of these cards have what you might call “sterling” reputations. A BMW Platinum Visa card, for example, can be used for a variety of purposes, including service and parts.
It may sound prestigious to have one of those or to own a Lexus Pursuits Platinum Visa card, to cite one example, but it’s got a lot of practical value.
The Lexus card offers five points per dollar on purchases (say parts or service) at Lexus dealerships. But even better: say you want to buy a new Lexus?
Points can be redeemed to buy or lease a new Lexus for up to 10% of the price.
The Toyota card may not sound so prestigious, but unlike the Lexus card, the Toyota card also lets users help a family member or friend buy a new car. The points’ cannot be given directly to someone else, but they can be issued if the user is around at the transaction.
Such stipulations are not unusual when it comes to credit cards.
Some of these cards have no annual feels, which is another lure for motorists.
Of course, there are various stipulations. And requirements don’t stay static. Constant changes are par for the course.
But one constant is users need to have good to excellent credit.
Other features, depending on the card, are varied but can include:
—The option of buying or leasing a new vehicle or redeeming rewards for cash (though that can mean reduced points.
—Some (GM Flexible Earnings Card) offers a generous 3% rebate on all purchases including those are not the dealership. These can be used towards buying or leasing a new GM vehicle. But the option here is to opt instead to redeem the rewards for cash..
—There is no limit on the amount of rewards you can earn in any given year, and rewards dollars don’t expire for seven years.
—Some cards have caps on points, while others do not.
—Available to be used for new but not used vehicles.
—Some are transferrable and can be used by other family members, while others cannot.
—Optional features for travel points, usually at a higher cost. The Lexus card, for example, has an optional travel rewards program that costs $60 a year
—Some offers are for not one but several cards. Chrysler, for example, has four different cards.
—The benefits of some cards are confusing, and some have downsides such as interest rates or other drawbacks.
Toyota, Lexus, Chrysler, and BMW are among perhaps the best known of these types of cards.
But keep in mind that last point that not all benefits are as clear as the water for a car’s radiator. Benefits can at times be somewhat confusing, even the experts acknowledge. So the best advice is to take a careful look at all the details and don’t forget to read the fine print.