When a Credit Card Looks Good But Really Is a Dog


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credit card dog

The GM Buy Power Card Is a Dog

The other day I received a mailer for the GM Buy Power Card. Here is how to card is advertised in the mailer:

credit card dog

Wow! 5% earning on my first $5k in purchases and 2% after that. That is great! Wait. Why do they use the term “earnings” and not cash back?

If you go to their website it is even more misleading. One of the titles on the page says this:

Earn on everything you buy. Redeem everything you earn.

Of course those words mean nothing. It doesn’t say what you can redeem the “earnings” on. As you may have guessed given the branding of the card, you can only redeem your earnings for a GM vehicle. They even restrict which vehicles are eligible.

To be fair they do make this clear on the website in smaller print and even at one place on the mailer. Here is the wording they use:

There is no limit to the amount of Earnings you can earn or redeem on a new vehicle. Your Earnings don’t expire. And there is no annual fee.

Not the most direct language, but good enough to avoid a lawsuit. I can definitely see where people would glance over that part though. Hopefully most people see the automobile redemption scheme before applying, since the ad is clearly designed to draw you in with the earnings.

Why Is This Card a Dog

credit card dog

This card stinks for a few reasons. First off, you can get either the Fidelity Amex or Citi Double Cash card and earn 2% in cash with no annual fee. So this card’s earnings end up being an extra 3% on your first $5k in purchases or $150. But those $150 aren’t real, they are GM play money and lock you into purchasing one of their vehicles.

The GM Buy Power card is also issued by Capital One. While Capital One in and of itself isn’t any better or worse than most other banks, they check all three credit bureaus for credit card applications. This very consumer unfriendly strategy means that you are taking 3x the hit to get a card.


Even if you only ever buy GM vehicles, I don’t see this card as being any good because of the restrictive nature of the rewards. My post of course is less about the GM Buy Power Card and more about quickly spotting when something looks too good to be true so you don’t waste your time.

Companies are always going to want to grab your attention, but it rarely is as good as it seems. Do you have this card? Can you name another card that looks similarly good on the surface, but isn’t quite what it seems? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. I get this mailer almost monthly. It took me a few minutes to review the first time I received it and as soon as I saw that redeeming points was only good for a car I trashed the mailer. If I had a really solid MS method, like max out the card monthly while maxing out all others at the same time, I would get it. Getting a car for free via MS would look good on the MS resume. Yes, I know there are better opportunities blah blah blah.

  2. I remember getting that. I thought “Wow, only for a car, and no signup bonus…..”
    Do they really think this is a big deal????????

  3. That’s the FIRST thing I noticed when I received the offer in the mail yesterday. The first thing.

    It’s a GM card.
    Earn towards your next vehicle purchase.

    Like I said I just got the offer yesterday but I didn’t find the terms confusing or misleading at all.

  4. It says in clear print that the earnings are to go towards the purchase of a new car. Why the hell do you think they have the car logos on the damn cards. Who created this page is an idiot!

  5. This is actually a really great card for those that might be planning to purchase or lease a new vehicle in the future. You failed to mention all of the other benefits that also come along with it; like the World Elite Mastercard status, which can be expensive and hard to obtain with most cards, and the fact that Capital One offers 0% APR for 12 Months on All Purchases, Free Balance Transfer, No Foreign Transaction Fee, and lets not forget that No Annual Fee you mentioned in the article.

    • I disagree. First off, a lot of cards have a 0% APR but I advocate never carrying any debt at all. Second, you can get a straight 2% cashback card which earns the same in cold hard cash and not GM money. Yes you do earn an extra 3% on up to $5K in purchases ($150), but that is locked into forcing you to buy a GM vehicle.

      As for balance transfers, there isn’t a fee but the rates on this card are quite high and that intro APR doesn’t apply. Yes the BuyPower does have World Elite Mastercard benefits, but most people will never use them. Finally, this card has no sign-up bonus which is a problem in my view. Capital One pulls credit from all three credit bureaus meaning you will get 3 credit hits to open up this card.

      I suppose if you know you will always buy a GM car and you don’t mind getting 3 credit inquiries for no sign-up bonus and you value no foreign transaction fees and Elite Mastercard benefits on a no annual fee card then perhaps this would make sense. But it is a dog of a card for most people.

      • This card only checks one and that EX, so there is a flaw there. You can check all of the other blogs of people who actually have the card, like myself to verify. The benefits outweigh the disadvantages for most people.

        • Thanks. It still isn’t a good card unless you are 100% sure you will buy a GM car. Even then you only get benefit on the first $5K in spending since you can get 2% real cashback that isn’t tied to GM from many other cards.

      • 3 credit inquires is hard but this card is perfect for people needing it and those that would get denied by other companies. I’m sorry but Wells Fargo Barclay chase. Terrible comparisons. Good points in article but all credit cards are really what they are credit and if you wanna really sum it up then they are all DOGS woof woof!

  6. Author is mad cause GM card only lets you redeem earnings towards GM car….

    Another great perk about this card that isn’t mentioned here is that there are many cases of GM topping your earnings up to the nearest thousand or even rounding your earnings up to $2000 to get you to buy or lease a car. Here is thread discussing the 2016 top off bonus.


    • No one is mad, but I review credit cards for a living and try to point out the good and bad. This card can be rewarding for those who are absolutely sure they want to buy a GM vehicle and who want to lock their rewards into that ecosystem, but unfortunately this card simply isn’t for most people.

      Thanks for sharing the link. That is good info to know!

  7. They are running a promo where if you spend $750 in 2 months, you get $3,000 extra bonus for 3 months and it expires if it goes unused (it would take me about 8-9 years to rack up $3K under the normal terms). Have about $1,000, and I already spent more than $750, so I will have over $4,000 I can use toward a new car (down for lease or outright purchase) for about 3 months. This $4,000 can also be combined with most other offers. Have a 8 year old used car, so this is a bit enticing, but I may very well pass on it because they will run these types of promos again. GM can do this because they are 4 brands and many cars to choose from. Other car companies usually have 1 or 2 brands in their lineup (Honda/Acura, Toyota/Lexus, etc.), so they may be too limited in their offerings to get much attraction…

  8. In my experience the program does not work. I have had the GM Card for over 20 years. The only reason i keep it is because the length of time i have had it helps my credit score. The promo i have the card with lets you bank $500.00 per year for 7 years. That means you can bank 3500.00. Sounds awesome, right. Try again. Each time I’ve purchase a car i found a promotion running that i was unable to use with the points on the card. So if a promo was running for a $2000.00 discount and i had $2500.00 i could pick one or the other but not both. Seems deceptive to me. A rebate is a rebate, the money should be going from the card company to the dealer. But apparently that is not the case, the dealer probably has to eat the rebate, the card’s value to the dealer i suppose is that it will bring traffic into the store.

    • Sorry GMG, I also have had the GM card for a while, since 2001, I have the unlimited 5% accrual but with limited redemption allowances per vehicle. I have used this card on a 5 cars and have saved 12K. Each time you negotiate a fair price and then the GM card comes out and the value is treated as additional down payment. You should be walking out if they are not letting you redeem your earnings.

  9. Shawn, if I have far less than perfect credit and I receive this offer approving me, for even a small credit line that allows me to rebuild my credit, why would I care about GM points or not? With a small credit line it is unlikely that I would ever rack up enough points to purchase a GM vehicle but I would use it to rebuild my credit where every other card may have denied me based on my credit….so the other benefits and most importantly having the opportunity to rebuild my credit, makes this card offer a very pretty dawg! Thanks GM and Mastercard!

  10. The GM card is a RIPOFF DO not waste your TIME or MONEY!
    Get a card the gives cash back instantly or timely so you do NOT lose it…you can lose points with the GM card…what a scam!
    ANY card by C(r)apital one is the worst! The worst customer service in the biz! customer service less!

    • I find that this card offers more additional promotional rebates than other cards. For example, at the end of last year I got $100 extra in rewards for spending a modest amount in a 3 month period. Now they are offering $300 in extra rewards for opening 3 new bill pay streams through them. Of course, one should limit the spending on this card to the 5% portion and use another card beyond that, but if you are seriously considering buying a GM car, this adds a significant amount to the deal.

  11. Like so many before me in this and other forums, I consider the GM card a SCAM. Since the inception
    of the program I have purchased 5 brand new GM vehicles – because I like the vehicles. Definitely not
    because of the redeeming of GM points. Only once, and with great persistence was I able to apply the
    GM Card points to a purchase. Every possible negative interpretation of the redemption rules was used
    by GM to prevent their use, including premature “expiration”, nonqualifying vehicles, reduced maximums.
    In frustration and disgust I simply stopped using the card and bought a new Dodge Ram. The disappointment of years of collecting “points” just to be turned down in their use, was compounded by the recent attempts by the promoters of the program to ” redeem on a new vehicle” under new rules before
    my miserably depleted points expire! Restore my faith and let us convert the points to some more openly
    usable alternative such as giving to a charity.

  12. It’s pretty frustrating to see people in the comments trying to claim that points expire? Stupid.

    Another thing, you keep claiming that the first $5k in purchases is going to yeild “$150” in rewards. Incorrect. Simple math would tell you that it is $250 in rewards for those purchases.

    I’ve held onto this card for going on 2 years and I love it. Especially after Cap One took over and gave me access to the card through the app. Simple to use and I keep it paid off every month. I’ve grown my rewards to over $700 in less than 2 years and I am pumped that when I go to the rewards website, they show all varying types of vehicles that are available. I did NOT see any cars that were not available for redemption. Even their electric options which I plan on going with once I get ready to move on from my Volt.

    I am going to buy a GM vehicle and if I did have a 2% cash back on other cards, it wouldn’t matter as much to me because I would redeem my dollars ever time it got to $25 or so. Not so exciting when that barely pays for a meal out with my wife. I would MUCH rather say my dollars towards putting a Bose sound system in my new purchase than barely being able to knock out a few cups of coffee with a few months worth of purchases.

    Just like every other credit card out there, everyone has their own needs with cards and to have this poorly written article knocking a perfectly good card is beyond frustrating. Especially with misleading numbers and misinformation.

    To anyone considering this card, yes, you get a generous $250 intro reward bonus every year you keep this card after your first $5k in purchases for that anniversary year. After you meet the $5000 mark, you get 2% back on EVERYTHING until your anniversary. NO expiration of rewards and NO annual fee.

    • Hey Brady. Thanks for commenting and for the insults. No one said the card would yield $150 in rewards on the first $5K. In fact I said, “First off, you can get either the Fidelity Amex or Citi Double Cash card and earn 2% in cash with no annual fee. So this card’s earnings end up being an extra 3% on your first $5k in purchases or $150.” I clearly use the word extra. I am proud that the average reader of this site has a fairly decent understanding of money and thus I don’t need to talk down to them.

      Now for the meat of it. I am illustrating that you could have the first $100 in cash in your pocket. Also understand once you spend the $5K then you are earning 2% in rewards when you could be earning 2% in actual cash on another card. That cash could be used to buy your car or for anything else. I don’t know about you, but I will take cash and the option to spend it however I want over rewards that are locked in and have no true value. (They can be changed or devalued at any time.)

      I study credit cards for a living and this card honestly doesn’t even crack the top 25 as far as rewards cards go. You could get a card like the Discover it Miles or Alliant Visa and earn 3% cash back the first year. Depending on how much you spend you would come out way ahead. You could also get a card like the Capital One Venture from the same bank with a $500 cash bonus for signing up plus the same 2% cashback everyday. There are so many options, but for 99.9% of people getting this card and spending on it is not going to be the best decision. I’m glad it works for you.

  13. I’m an original GM card holder with all purchases 5% towards a GM car/truck. I got it like that because I buy GM(as of right now). I was at the dealer, made a deal, then he stated I can’t use all my earnings like I have in the past? I left! They stated that If I had the newer buypower card I could have used all of it. Because I have an original GM card at the full 5% earnings that was restricted to $2,000.00. I called capital one, I would have to switch my card to the buypower card, 5%/2%, lose my full 5%, then I can redeem all my earnings. Talk about forcing you out of an original contract to use your earnings! I went online and looked for more information on my original GM card, almost all of that info is gone. I’ll find a way to use it one more time , then I’m done with GM and capitol one.


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