5 Things to Know About the RCI Credit Card

Resorts Condominiums International (RCI) is a multinational timeshare exchange company with over 4,300 affiliated resorts across 100 countries. RCI doesn’t sell timeshares; rather, it allows timeshare owners to exchange stays at their home property with an owner at another property.

The company’s co-branded credit card, the $0-annual-fee RCI Elite Rewards Mastercard, offers a modest sign-up bonus and elevated rewards on travel and purchases with RCI. There are no foreign transaction fees, and cardholders can also spend their way to a $250 RCI vacation credit.

While that may sound lucrative, the card’s overall rewards rates are poor, and point redemptions are riddled with limitations. Even the most seasoned timeshare traveler will do better with a general rewards credit card.

Here are five things to know about the RCI credit card.

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1. There’s a modest sign-up bonus

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As of this writing, new cardholders can earn a sign-up bonus of 2,500 reward points after their first purchase. Points are worth 1 cent each, making this offer worth $25 in cash back or as an RCI Rewards credit, among other redemption options (see No. 3 below).

While a small sign-up bonus is better than no bonus, you can do better. If cash back is what you’re after, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers new cardholders the following introductory offer: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. That card also lets you earn 2% cash back on eligible purchases, with no bonus categories to track, making it a better choice for most people. You’d likely come out ahead simply by earning 2% cash back on your purchases, then redeeming your rewards toward your RCI vacation.

2. You’ll earn bonus rewards on RCI purchases, general travel

The RCI credit card is built for people who spend a lot of money with RCI. Cardholders will earn:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on eligible RCI purchases.

  • 2 points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

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Qualifying purchases for the RCI bonus category include the RCI Subscribing Membership renewal fee, exchange fees and RCI guest certificates. Exclusions include purchases through RCI Travel, RCI Points Partners, RCI Cruise, Lifestyle Benefits and experiential vacation purchases — those purchases will earn just one point per $1.

The RCI Subscribing Membership fee is required to transfer points from your card to RCI (see No. 3 below). As of this writing, that’s a whopping $134 per year for one year. That membership is required to complete a timeshare exchange, which as you can probably guess also has a fee. Each exchange you complete starts at $299 per booking and increases based on a tier system that ranks the quality of the property you book.

Depending on how much you spend with RCI, getting this credit card could make sense. But most travelers would do better with a card where the highest-tier bonus category isn’t exclusive to one brand. The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card fits that bill and lets cardholders earn an unlimited 3 points per $1 spent on travel, restaurants, gas stations, transit, streaming services and cell phone plans, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases. There are no minimum redemption amounts, and new cardholders can also grab a big introductory bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $200 cash redemption value.

3. Redemption options are plentiful, but there are caveats

There’s no shortage of redemption options with the rewards you earn from the RCI Credit Card. Unfortunately, similar to timeshare contracts, those options are riddled with limitations and restrictions. You’ll receive 1 cent in value per reward point (2,500 points equals $25) regardless of which redemption option you choose.

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  • Transfer to RCI Member Rewards: You’ll need an existing RCI points subscription to transfer rewards from your card to your RCI loyalty account. Reward transfers are available in increments of $25, $50, $75, $100, $200, $300 and $400. Once those points are transferred to your RCI subscription account, they can’t be used for RCI Travel, RCI Points Partners, RCI Cruises, lifestyle benefits, experiential vacations or timeshare resort maintenance fees.

  • Cash back (direct deposit) or statement credit: Minimum redemption amount of 2,500 points ($25). There’s a $500 daily limit for direct deposit redemptions. 

  • Gift cards: Minimum redemption amount of 2,500 points ($25). Electronic gift cards are available for 12 months from the date of redemption.

  • Merchandise: Available through the shopping mall in your card’s online portal. There is no apparent minimum redemption amount for merchandise.

  • Travel: Minimum redemption amount of 2,500 points ($25). Points can be redeemed for airfare, hotel and car rentals through your online portal, or by calling the phone number on the back of your card. 

The minimum 2,500-point redemption amount can be a real hurdle and may cause points to sit in your account unused. Since these “orphan points” can’t be used until you break that threshold, they can lead to unnecessary spending, particularly because the card’s rewards rates are so poor.

If you’re looking for a rewards card with no redemption restrictions, consider the $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited®. You can redeem any amount of points at any time while earning 3% cash back on drug store and dining purchases and 1.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases. New cardholders can also qualify for the following sign-up bonus: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

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RCI cardholders will also receive 5% of any redemption amount back as bonus rewards each time they use their points.

4. You can spend your way to a $250 RCI vacation credit

Cardholders will receive a $250 vacation credit by spending $10,000 on the card in a calendar year. The vacation credit can be used toward one vacation stay with a maximum of seven nights at select RCI properties, subject to availability.

According to RCI, you’ll receive an email from the company with a link to a website where you can redeem the credit within six to eight weeks after meeting the threshold. The credit is valid for 13 months from the date of issuance.

5. There’s an introductory 0% APR offer on balance transfers

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If you’re looking to consolidate debt, the RCI credit card comes with an introductory 15-month 0% APR period on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening (as of this writing). There’s a balance transfer fee of 5% of the transfer amount.

That’s not bad, but you can find better balance transfer options, such as the Citi Simplicity® Card. It gives you a 0% Intro APR for 21 months on Balance Transfers and 12 months on Purchases, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-29.99% Variable APR. You’ll also pay a fee of only 3% of the amount transferred.

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