34: Verizon Visa Credit Card Review

ScreenHunter_447 Jun. 22 20.21

I argue why the new Verizon Visa credit card is lackluster and confusing suggesting many better alternatives.

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Show Notes:

Doctor of Credit Verizon Visa review:

Verizon Launches Credit Card With VerizonDollars 4% Back on Groceries & Gas; AutoPay Benefit; $100 Signup Bonus; Potential Of Up to $1,000 Signup Bonus

Verizon Visa card press release:

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/introducing-verizon-visa-card

Verizon Visa card website:

https://www.verizon.com/be-the-first/?CMP=SOC_CON_ACQ_11111_RG_20200622_NA_M20200109_00001

Rough Transcript:

You’re listening to the Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Vacula, here to help you travel the world at next to no cost through credit card points, miles, benefits, and rewards. Make money, save money, and take advantage of great deals!

Visit my website at HurdyGurdyTravel.com to contact me, find me on social media, and support the show with donations and use of referral links! More information at the end of the show…

Thanks for joining me for episode 34 – Verizon Visa Credit Card Review. I argue why the new Verizon Visa credit card is lackluster and confusing suggesting many better alternatives.

It’s June 22nd of 2020 and we have another new credit card following the recently released US Bank Altitude Go I discussed in podcast episodes 33 and 17. Unfortunately, the Verizon Visa card fails to impress with a signup bonus structure buried in fine print which may amount to double digits, a possible but not guaranteed $10 discount a month on one’s phone bill, and rewards in the form of Verizon Dollars instead of cashback or valuable points. The card has okay earning with 4% back on gas and groceries and 3% on dining but is lacking with 2% back on Verizon, and 1% everywhere else.

Let’s explore. The Verizon Visa credit card will be issued by Synchrony Bank who also issues various cards including the Amazon Store Card, Sam’s Club Mastercard, gas cards, and various store cards for retailers like Ashley furniture and American Eagle. Overall, Synchrony’s portfolio is unimpressive — especially for those with strong credit profiles — so getting a card like the Verizon Visa does not provide additional value in the form of bolstering or establishing a relationship to get higher-value cards like is the case with Chase, American Express, and US Bank.

Further, the Verizon Visa lacks synergy with other reward programs or credit cards and rewards are given in the form of Verizon Dollars instead of cashback or more flexible points. According to Doctor of Credit who reported on the card earlier today, find a link in the show notes, Verizon Dollars can be used to pay one’s phone or internet bill. Additionally, Verizon’s press release for this credit card notes that Verizon dollars can be used to pay monthly bills, but it’s not clear how to do this at the moment especially if one’s bill is on autopay – an odd extra step, I think, which may result in difficulty with reward redemptions.

Surely, consumers would prefer cashback instead of Verizon Dollars or even points which have more flexibility. I’m not totally averse to points-earning having many cards with American Express and cards giving airline miles, but I wouldn’t be thrilled about earning Verizon Dollars. For instance, I couldn’t imagine any scenario in which I would prefer 2% back in the form of Verizon Dollars when I could instead get 2% back in cash or even 2x points on spending. The points, too, I would earn would be worth more than 1 cent per point. A similar event occurred when, months ago, Barclay’s bank changed its Uber Visa Card from a cashback card to a card earning rewards with Uber – many consumers were dissatisfied and largely reduced spending on the Uber Visa Card. I reviewed the Uber Visa Card changes way back in episode 6. I was never a fan of the card, but surely it got worse due to the limitation in redemption or flexibility.

Let’s delve deeper into the rewards earned by everyday spending on the Verizon Visa Rewards Card. First, as usual, a disclaimer repeating my reminder than earning through everyday spending, especially for low-volume spenders, just doesn’t amount to much. I think newcomers to the credit card space, and sadly some who have been in this space for some time overvalue category earnings missing the picture of overall value a credit card provides especially when considering a large welcome bonus, benefits, and special offers. A narrow focus on categories or even looking for a ‘gas card’ or ‘dining card’ will very often lead to low overall value.

A 4% return on gas and grocery spend is not terrible putting aside gain in the form of Verizon dollars. However, many other cards offer better returns including the American Express Business Gold Card for 4x points on gas, Citi Premier for 3x points on gas, American Express personal Gold Card for 4x on groceries, and American Express Hilton Surpass now offering 6x points on grocery spend which also offers a free night certificate upon reaching $15,000 total spending in a year. A 4% return, especially for low spenders, won’t make much of a difference compared to cards offering 2x or 2% on all spending like the American Express Blue Business Plus and Blue Business Cash which offer signup bonuses of 10,000 points and $500 respectively atop many other benefits. One can often buy gas gift cards at grocery stores while, for bonus points, no pun intended, also stacking grocery and fuel reward programs, so the gas category declines in value.

Personally, I have many cards earning well on grocery spend and I spend a large amount at grocery stores. I now have two American Express Business Platinum cards which give 1.5x points on transactions of $5000 or more, a Bank of America card giving 2.4% back, MGM Mastercard for more than 2% including casino status points, Capital One Savor for 2%, Blue Business Plus for 2x points, and other cards. The 4% back in Verizon Dollars won’t make much of a difference even for me as a high spender…and will the Verizon Visa card offer high credit limits or allow larger transactions? With some of the personal cards I mentioned, I often have to split transactions because the register declines purchases of $800 or more.
The Verizon Visa card also offers 3% back on dining – not very impressive considering many cards with dining multipliers like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express personal Gold Card, and even the newly launched Altitude Go card. 3%, too, is even closer to many cards offering 2% or 2x points everywhere…We also get 2% back on all spending with Verizon, nothing special here, and 1% back everywhere else which is quite subpar.

Verizon’s advertisement for the card, breaking down return from category spend, is unconvincing with an average return of $36.76 a month for a family of four spending about $1200 a month. However, this average $37 return a month is far less of a return even compared with a card earning 2% everywhere – only really about $13 more a month in comparison for a difference of only $150 a year…and of course one can still do better by getting multiple cards especially for large signup bonuses.

Let’s examine the card’s signup bonus. According to the Verizon press release, “Starting today through June 25 at 9 PM ET, we’re giving qualifying customers early access to apply for the card with a chance to get up to $1,000 Verizon Dollars if approved. Customers can visit verizon.com/bethefirst to see full eligibility rules and learn how to qualify to apply to become one of the first cardholders before the official launch on June 26.”

I find this to be a lackluster gimmick which ultimately will likely amount to only double-digit returns for a signup bonus…and that’s if you apply within what seems to be a 24-hour window if they happen to be eligible and qualify. Why can’t Verizon instead offer a flat signup bonus like most issuers – even $100 back in Verizon Dollars? If 20,000 people sign up for the Verizon card, the signup bonus is a mere $50 which pales in comparison to so many other cards on the market.

Looking at the popularity of the supremely overrated Apple credit card, it may be the case that people will sign up for the Verizon credit card because they aren’t aware of the great options in the credit card space, see advertisements, and figure that because they are Verizon customers they should get a Verizon credit card perhaps to be lucky and hit the jackpot with the signup bonus in this bizarre marketing scheme which may will likely fall for. Worse yet, according to Doctor of Credit, the signup bonus is split into disbursements across 24 months, so those canceling a Verizon plan will not actualize their return.

What about the $10/month phone bill auto-pay discount? I’m really confused by the fine print, the terms and conditions, which state, when talking about auto pay, “Offer is for first-time enrollees. Verizon customers currently enrolled in auto-pay and paper-free billing via other methods will not receive additional autopay discounts for re-enrolling using this card.” At best, customers would get the $10 discount, but then lose the monthly auto-pay discount — separate from the $10 a month discount — and at worst not get the $10 discount if they’ve already enrolled in auto pay.
This is a really sleazy and confusing move from Verizon in my opinion – why deny customers an existing auto-pay discount and have ambiguous language which may possibly disqualify someone from receiving the $10 a month discount?

…and more reflections on whether you’d be able to actualize the signup bonus. Are you confident that you’ll commit to the next 24 months with Verizon? I used to be a Verizon customer but found a much better deal with Google Fi having no contract whatsoever, payments of about $25 a month for unlimited talk and text, and a new phone each year for only about $200 when capitalizing on Cyber Monday or Black Friday deals. With Fi’s unlimited data plan, also allowing for international calls and data at no extra cost, one I currently don’t have enabled during this time of shelter-in-place, I pay about $75 a month. Verizon bills can be more expensive, come with contracts, and have far more expensive phones. Those unwilling to commit to Verizon have even less incentive and loyalty may not have rewards when presented with better options.

Overall, the Verizon credit card is underwhelming especially for those early to the credit card space with not many credit cards. For those who can still get credit cards with Chase, as usual, I’m bullish about getting more Chase cards rather than being locked out of valuable cards like World of Hyatt and Chase Sapphire Preferred. For those outside 5/24: do you have four credit cards with American Express, multiple charge cards? How about US Bank, Citi, and even Barclay’s?

I currently have 21 active cards and I could not imagine signing up for the Verizon credit card even if I were a Verizon Wireless customer. At the moment, I plan on getting the US Bank Altitude Reserve, UBS Business Card, and the Barclay’s Aviator card in the coming weeks. If I already had the Altitude Reserve and could get the US Bank Connect card, I’d aim for Connect. If I had many inquiries in the past six months, I’d wait longer for Connect or even better new offers. I also recently got the American Express Plum Card mainly for the $600 signup bonus and to keep my personal credit report cleaner while waiting for inquiries to fade. I aim to always work on a signup bonus.

Maybe this card can be okay for those later in the game who have multiple lines with Verizon, perhaps part of a family plan, but that’s only if the $10 a month discount applies and multiple lines qualify and rewards can be redeemed for phone bill discounts in conjunction with autopay. Indeed, this is many ‘ifs’ and I can’t recall a time in the past year and a half when I was so confused about a card especially surrounding its main features.

For those not willing to get multiple credit cards for some reason, have strong credit profiles, and travel occasionally, Altitude Reserve has been atop my list. Those who don’t travel often may favor the Blue Business Cash with American Express. Even a Chase Sapphire Preferred downgraded to Freedom Unlimited in year two can be a good option. I hope, though, that you won’t limit yourself with only one or even five or ten credit cards because there’s so much value to be had for little effort! Be responsible, be organized, and experience great gains! As always, I’m here to help guide you towards your next card for free just asking that you use my referral links if applicable. Visit my website at hurdygurdytravel.com to complete the free credit card questionnaire!

Wrapping up, here is another reminder of a common podcast theme: just because a card is a no annual fee card does not mean it is a good card. Look at the overall value a card provides rather than whether it has an annual fee especially because cards with annual fee offer great value. For more on annual fees, listen to episode two of this podcast. Just because you happen to be a customer in a specific space (or already bank at a specific bank) does not mean that you should just opt-in to offers. Verizon Visa does not get a thumbs-up from me.

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