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Our quick take: The recently refreshed REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® from Capital One offers so-so rewards on purchases not made at the outdoor equipment store, but its 5% rewards rate on REI purchases helps set it apart. This card is also made of 85% recycled materials, and it comes with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.


  • Earn 5% back at REI on both full-price and discounted items, along with REI gift cards, services, fees, REI Experiences and REI adventure travel-invoiced trip payments
  • Earn 1.5% back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Rewards earned with the card are on top of the normal 10% REI Co-op Member Reward
  • $50 annual credit toward REI Co-op Experiences
  • The card comes with World Elite Mastercard benefits


  • Less than optimal earning rate on purchases outside the bonus categories
  • You must be a REI Co-op member, which has a one-time $30 lifetime membership fee
  • Rewards can only be redeemed for REI merchandise

Current sign-up bonus: Earn a $100 REI gift card when you make a purchase outside of REI within the first 60 days after opening the account.

Best for: Enthusiasts who shop at REI often and those who are already REI Co-op members, or intend to become one, since you must be an REI Co-op member to get this card.

Introducing the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard

The REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard isn’t going to be the right credit card for most people, but it does have some added benefits for nature lovers and adventure seekers who shop at REI often. The rewards rate is also great for REI enthusiasts, and the regular earning rate for non-REI purchases isn’t half bad, though there are other credit cards that earn more on everyday purchases.

You’ll earn 5% back on all REI purchases with the REI Mastercard, and that’s on top of the rewards you get for being an REI Co-op member. Card holders also earn 1.5% back on purchases they make elsewhere with the card.

The REI Mastercard also comes with some added benefits for those who like to make charitable donations. For example, card holders earn 5% back in rewards for donations to the REI Cooperative Action Fund, which “directly supports organizations promoting justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors,” according to a press release from REI. Plus, Capital One — the new issuer of the REI Mastercard — has also pledged to make an annual donation to the fund as part of their new partnership with REI.

Advantages of the REI Mastercard

The biggest upside of the REI Mastercard is its 5% back rewards rate on REI purchases, as well as the fact that it has no annual fee. And, the card’s 1.5% back rate on regular purchases can help card holders rack up rewards faster. While there are cash back credit cards that offer 2% back on all regular purchases, earning 1.5% back is better than the standard 1% rewards rate of many other cards.

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You can also currently earn a sign-up bonus with the REI Mastercard, and while it isn’t huge, new card holders can receive a $100 REI gift card when you make a purchase outside of REI within 60 days of opening the account. That’s not market-leading, but it’s better than receiving no sign-up bonus at all.

Separately, you can earn a $50 REI Co-op annual statement credit when you use the REI Mastercard to book various REI Co-op Experiences. Options include multi-day guided tours, outings with outdoor experts and more.

The REI Mastercard also comes with Mastercard World Elite benefits, such as credits for DoorDash, Hello Fresh and Lyft, along with a free ShopRunner membership that comes with free two-day shipping at select retailers. Other notable World Elite perks include access to a 24/7 World Elite concierge, Mastercard ID theft protection and a lowest hotel rate guarantee (terms apply).

In addition, the REI Mastercard has no foreign transaction fees, which is fairly unusual for a credit card with no annual fee. That means you’re safe using it on international purchases whenever you’re traveling or when you’re buying online from an overseas vendor. And since it’s a Mastercard, you can use this card to shop anywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world.

Disadvantages of the REI Mastercard

Aside from the great rate on REI purchases and the lack of foreign transaction and annual fees, the REI Mastercard is just average all around. This is especially true since several top cash back credit cards offer 2% back on all purchases with no annual fee, meaning you could be putting yourself at a major rewards disadvantage if you use this card for all your regular spending.

In addition, you have to be an REI Co-op member to apply for the REI Mastercard, which has a one-time $30 lifetime membership fee. Now, if you’re already an REI Co-op member or plan to become one, that isn’t an added cost, but if you’re looking at just getting the card, it effectively means you’ll be paying an additional $30 for it, albeit just once up front.

Finally, it’s worth noting that rewards earned with the REI Mastercard are only redeemable for REI merchandise or REI adventure travel. That makes the rewards a lot less flexible than cash back, or than even flexible travel points or miles such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards or Capital One’s own regular miles program, which can all be redeemed for travel across a variety of airlines and hotels.

Stacking up the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard against our benchmark

CNN Underscored uses the Citi® Double Cash Card as our “benchmark” credit card. That doesn’t mean it’s the best credit card on the market — rather, it means we use it as a basic standard to compare other credit cards and see where they score better and where they’re worse.

Here’s how the REI Mastercard scores against our benchmark. The features of each card in the below chart are colored in green, red or white. Green indicates a card feature that’s better than our benchmark, red indicates the feature is worse than our benchmark and white indicates the feature is either equivalent or cannot be directly compared to our benchmark.

Citi Double Cash Card REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard
Card type Mastercard Mastercard
Welcome bonus None $100 REI gift card when you make a purchase outside of REI within 60 days of opening the account
Earning rate 2% on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay it off) 5% back on REI purchases and 1.5% back on all other purchases
Redemption value 1 cent (cash back) 1 cent (toward REI purchases)
Ease of basic redemptions Easy Fair
Advanced redemption options Can convert cash back to ThankYou points that transfer to 16 airline and hotel partners if you also have the Citi Premier℠ Card None
Quality of advanced redemptions Good N/A
Annual fee $0 $0
Foreign transaction fee 3% None
Travel perks None None
Purchase protections None None
Travel protections None None
Other perks None $50 annual credit toward REI Co-Op Experiences
Introductory APR on purchases None None
Length of introductory APR on purchases N/A N/A
Introductory APR on balance transfers 0% None
Length of Introductory APR on balance transfers 18 months N/A
Introductory balance transfer fee 3% or $5, whichever is greater N/A
APR after intro period ends/standard APR 18.74%-28.74% variable 18.24%-29.24% variable

As you can see from our comparison, the Citi Double Cash Card may be a better option for your needs if you’re seeking simple cash back rewards with no annual fee, and it would certainly be a better choice if you wanted to use it to consolidate debt from other cards. The only real advantages of the REI Mastercard are its high earning rate at REI, its sign-up bonus, its annual credit toward REI Co-op Experiences and its lack of foreign transaction fees.

Strategies for the REI Elite Mastercard

If you do decide to get the REI Mastercard for its 5% back on REI purchases, you should probably pair it with a different rewards card for regular spending and bills, ideally one that earns at least 2% cash back. Our benchmark card, the Citi Double Cash Card, would be a good option to consider since you can earn 2% back for each purchase you make — 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay it off — with no annual fee.

Or, if you’re interested in travel, you could pair the REI Mastercard with an option like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Points earned with the Sapphire Preferred can be redeemed for cash back, but are better utilized for travel since you’ll get 1.25 cents per point when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and pay with your points.

In addition, you can transfer points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred to 14 different airline and hotel partners, making them extremely flexible and potentially much more valuable than just cash back.

Should you get the REI Mastercard?

If you’re constantly stocking up on expensive gear at REI, such as camping equipment, hiking accessories or other purchases made for the outdoors, picking up the REI Mastercard could make sense, particularly if you’re already an REI Co-Op member. Still, you would almost certainly be better off pairing this card with a general rewards credit card that offers a better rewards rate on regular purchases. We suggest looking at the best cash back credit cards to find options you may want to pair it with, then using a few cards strategically in order to maximize your rewards.

Learn more and apply now for the REI Mastercard.

Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best credit cards currently available.

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