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Verdict: Barnes & Noble has revamped its rewards card program slightly to better compete with the Borders Gold rewards program, including giving out $50 worth of coupons to new members. The price, $25, is still $5 higher than Borders, but the benefits are very similar. If you’re a frequent B&N shopper online or in the store, it may be worth looking into, especially with the offerings available on Barnes & Noble’s eReader, the Nook.
Overview: Barnes & Noble has had a membership rewards program for a long time now. It was actually one of the earlier retailers to promote a rewards card and employees always pushed the card because it was a fee-based program. For customers who purchase more than $250 in books a year, the card was a no-brainer, even with the $25 annual fee.
During the holiday season, a customer making a $300 purchase (it happens!) would come out ahead immediately, even if they never shopped at Barnes & Noble for the next 12 months. Still, I’ve always been skeptical of fee-based cards, because things change and where I shop today may not be where I shop tomorrow. However, the Barnes & Noble card now, with $50 worth of coupons when you first sign up, could be a card worth considering for avid readers.
How this Card Works: This is a rewards membership card, not a credit card. Barnes & Noble does also offer a Barnes & Noble Mastercard and is currently offering a $25 gift card with your first purchase on the card.
With the membership card, however, there is a $25 fee and you get $50 worth of coupons (new members only) when you first sign up. The card entitles you to discounts on most purchases, free Express shipping at BN.com, and other deals and discounts throughout the year. As with most cards, if you ever forget your card, a store associate can look up your account using your phone number or email address, so you never have to miss a discount on a purchase.
Rewards: Similar to the Borders Gold rewards program, the Barnes & Noble membership card gives you:
40% off all bestseller hardcovers
20% off all other adult hardcovers (Borders only offers a 20% discount on “select” hardcovers)
10% off most other purchases, including cafe purchases but excluding magazines
$50 worth of coupons for new members
These discounts do not apply online, but you will get free Express Shipping (1 to 3 days) on all BN.com purchases with your membership card.
Barnes & Noble also has, but doesn’t openly promote, a free 2-month membership. When you pay with a credit card, and have never been a member before or gotten a free trial membership with Barnes & Noble, you are eligible for two free months as a Barnes & Noble member. You will get all the same discounts as a paid member, minus the $50 coupon book.
If you do not cancel your membership within two months, your credit card will be charged $25 plus applicable state tax, you will become a full-fledged Barnes & Noble member, and you will receive your coupon book in the mail. You can cancel by calling 866-238-READ or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Generous rewards off nearly everything in the store
$50 in coupons for signing up
2-month free trial membership
Free Express Shipping at BN.com
Automatic renewal with your credit card number if you don’t remember to cancel
$25 annual fee
Not worth it if you buy less than $250 at Barnes & Noble or BN.com in a year
Discounts do not apply at BN.com
Credit Shout is a community of personal finance experts dedicated to helping you save money and make smart financial decisions. Learn how to master your credit card rewards, improve your credit score and start eliminating your debt.