Sallie Mae Evolve Card Review
Why trust us? Investor.com has no financial relationship with any of the credit card providers whose products we analyze and review. Our opinions are based solely on data and our own extensive independent research — that means unbiased guidance for consumers. Rewards cards in our cashback credit card calculator are listed in descending order according to how much money they pay out annually based on the inputs.
Impressive menu of rewards categories, Sallie. Impressive.
What makes a pricey car repair less painful? Earning an unlimited 2% cash back when you put the tab on plastic. That also goes for chargeable expenses that fall under any of Sallie Mae’s broad — and very real-world — spending categories, whether it’s a fender bender, vet bill, divorce lawyer fees, property taxes. (Fun spending also counts. We’re just in a mood rn.)
The basics: Earn 2% cash back on your two highest spending categories per month and 1.5% unlimited cash back on everything else.
Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card
Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card pros and cons
- 2% cash back on your two biggest spending categories each month
- No caps on rewards spending
- Broad list of spending categories
- $200 sign-up bonus
- No annual fee
- 15-month 0% APR on purchases and transfers
- Short-ish window (3 months) to earn sign-up bonus
- 3% foreign transaction fee is le yuck
- $25 minimum redemption requirement
- Higher cashback rates available elsewhere if you’re a planner
Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card cashback rewards spending categories
The following table shows the cashback rewards rate per $1 spent in the six most common spending categories. The “Bonus Rate” refers to the amount you can earn in excess of the card’s standard rewards rate.
Some cashback cards limit the spending amount eligible for the bonus rate (a.k.a. the “Spend Cap”). Once you hit that cap (e.g. $1,500 spending in a particular category during a defined time period), the rewards rate on future purchases in that category reverts to the lower “Default Rate.”
|Category||Default Rate||Bonus Rate||Bonus Spend Cap||Bonus Spend Period (Months)|
Note: The table above illustrates the base cashback rate for this credit card, which is what we use in our rewards calculator. Additionally, the Sallie Mae Evolve card pays an unlimited 2% cash back on your two biggest spending categories per month.
What we like
There are no rotating bonus categories, unlike most tiered cashback cards. The 2% rate is automatically (thankyouverymuch) applied to your two largest spending categories each month.
And you can earn an unlimited 2% cash back on those purchases.
We’re cool with the 1.5% base cashback rate — also unlimited — on everything that doesn’t qualify for the bonus rate, especially since it’s a card without an annual fee.
2%-eligible categories include healthcare, personal services (landscaping, beauty shops), professional services (lawyers, real estate agents), schools and government (property taxes, tuition), utilities and wholesale clubs in addition to the the traditional cashback card spending categories (dining, gas, entertainment, groceries, etc.).
A nice extra if you’re prone to phone fumbles: Up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection on up to three phones if you pay your bill with the card. (Fine print: There’s a $50 copay per claim and a $1,000 max claim benefit per year.)
What we don't like
If you’re a planner and know you’ve got a big expense in a traditional rewards category on the horizon, you can probably score a cashback rate that’s higher than 2% with another card.
Patience required: Rewards are redeemable only after you’ve accumulated $25 worth. (Let’s math that: It’ll require $1,250 in spending at the 2% cashback rate, or $1,666 at the 1.5% rate.)
We’re revoking Sallie’s passport: The 3% foreign transaction fee isn’t a good travel look.
Speaking of fees, back away from the ATM: There’s a 5% (or $10, whichever is higher) cash advance fee.
The bottom line
Is the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card the best rewards card for your wallet? The answer depends entirely on your spending patterns. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Use the investor.com Cashback Credit Card Calculator to see which credit card pays back the highest rewards based on how much you spend each month.
Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card fine print
Take a tour of the Sallie Mae Evolve card terms and other key disclosures.
Does the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card charge an annual fee?
No, there is no annual fee for the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card.
Roughly 14% of the consumer cashback cards we track in our database charge an annual fee. The average annual fee is $72.60, while the median is $95.
Does the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card offer a welcome bonus?
No, the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card card does not currently offer a welcome bonus.
Of the more than 60 cashback credit cards in our database, 66% offer a welcome bonus. Currently, the average sign-up bonus on a new cashback card is $210.71, with the median being $200.
How much cash back can I earn with the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card?
The average American that spends $1000 per month will earn $180.00 in cash back per year using the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the investor.com database is $191.26, and $180 is the median.
These calculations are based on average consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the reward payout rates from the providers we track. Of course, you’re so much more than an average data point (aka “consumer unit,” in BLS parlance). The amount you can earn in cashback rewards using the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card depends entirely on your unique spending habits.
Find out exactly how much you’ll rake in with the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card by tailoring the spending inputs in the calculator above.
The results of the investor.com Credit Card Rewards Calculator are based on the monthly spending amounts you enter and the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. Credit card companies often express this payout amount as a percentage (e.g., 1.5% of every dollar spent) or on a points basis (e.g. ,1.5 points for every dollar spent). We converted all of them to a dollar amount (“Cash Back Per Year”) to make comparing offers easier.
To calculate the amount of cash back you could earn per year, we factored in:
- Spend category inputs: The default dollar values for each “Spend Category” in the Best Cashback Credit Cards tool — gas, groceries, travel, restaurant, entertainment, pharmacy, other — are based on average American spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also include additional spend categories (such as streaming services, online shopping, utilities, transit, Amazon and more) to help you see which rewards cards are most closely aligned with your actual spending patterns. We encourage you to customize the monthly spend inputs for the most accurate results.
- Tiered rewards rates: If a rewards credit card pays higher cashback rates on certain spending categories (also called “Bonus Rewards”), that difference is reflected in the total “Cash Back Per Year” tally.
- Rewards spending caps: Some cards impose category- or time-based limits (monthly, quarterly, annually) that affect the amount of rewards you can earn. For example, a card may pay 3% cash back on groceries on up to $1,000 of spending each quarter, then revert to the base/default rewards rate until the following quarter. We accounted for bonus spending caps and timeframe in the calculations.
- Default rewards rates: Purchases that exceed a spending cap are usually subject to a lower default rewards rate (e.g., 1% or 1.5%). We mathed that out too.
- Annual fees: If a rewards card charges an annual fee, we deducted that amount from the “Cash Back Per Year” total to provide a true accounting of a card’s annual rewards payout.
What’s not included in the “Cash Back Per Year” total is the cash value of any sign-up/introductory bonus. We highlight any Welcome Bonus separately. While sign-up bonuses can be the most lucrative part of getting a new cashback rewards credit card, not everyone will want or be able to do what it takes to earn the extra cash. (It usually requires spending a certain amount in a specified time period after the card is activated.)
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