Money at 30: Point Debit Card Review — Worth the Fee?

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Money at 30: Point Debit Card Review — Worth the Fee?

A few months back, I remember seeing an ad for a debit card called Point. With the sleek site, brightly colored cards, and attractive benefits, I was definitely interested. Well, that was until I saw that there was an annual fee — an annual fee… for a debit card?! That’s where things stayed until recently when I saw that Point raised an impressive funding round, leading me to take a closer look at them. Ultimately, I decided to give it a shot for the sake of writing a proper review (you’re welcome).

So, what does Point have to offer and how has my experience been? Let’s take a look at some of the key features and how my investment in the premium card has gone so far.

What is Point and What Does it Offer?

Signing up, funding, and annual fee

Since Point is a debit card, applying for the card feels very similar to opening a bank account… because you are. As a result, you’ll need to provide some personal info such as your name, birthdate, Social Security number, etc. You’ll also need to enter your current address so that your debit card can be mailed.

Once approved, you can fund your Point account. To do this, you can use Plaid to connect an existing bank account. Alternatively, Point also allows for card transfers from other debit cards. To use this option, you can use Apple Pay or enter your card details.

Something important to note about Point is that there is an annual fee. Currently, the card comes at a cost of $99 per year, with this fee coming out of your initial deposit. This $99 fee is actually fairly recent (as of September 2021) as the previous fee was $49 per year.

Card designs

On the Point site, you’ll currently see four card designs. Sadly, it seems that only two are actually available as the limited edition art ones are sold out (or they were when I tried). This leaves you with two options: Runway Yellow or Dam Orange. You can select which one you prefer when submitting your application, with this color choice carrying over onto the digital version found in the app and in mobile wallets like Apple Pay.

Point rewards categories

Like many rewards cards, Point includes some multipliers on specific spending categories.

In this case, cardholders can earn 5x points (5 points per dollar spent) on select subscription services, including:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • HBO Max
  • YouTube Premium
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • Feather
  • Headspace

Additionally, customers earn 3x points on delivery and rideshare purchases, including:

  • DoorDash
  • Uber Eats
  • Postmates
  • Caviar
  • GrubHub
  • Seamless
  • Instacart
  • Good Eggs
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Lime

Finally, all other purchases with the card will earn 1x points. However, as you’ll see, this isn’t where the points stop with Point.

Bonus offers and promotions

On top of these set categories, Point also has a number of what they call Access offers along with other special promotions. We’ll get into these a bit more in the “My Experience with Point” section below — but, spoiler alert: they’re pretty awesome.

Redeeming points

When you’re ready to redeem your earned points, you can easily convert them to cashback in the Point app. Each point is worth 1¢ and redemptions start at just 100 points ($1). To redeem, first navigate to the Points section of the app, tap “redeem for cash,” and enter how much you want to cash out. After this, the cashback will be instantly applied to your available spending balance.

ATM access

Another perk of Point is that customers can make up to two free ATM withdrawals per month from any ATM globally. More accurately, cardholders will be reimbursed for any fees imposed by ATM operators (up to $8). These reimbursements actually come in the form of points. For example, I incurred a $3.50 fee for pulling out money from my nearest ATM and instantly received 350 points after my transaction was completed.

Other perks

Last but not least, Point also includes a number of insurances for customers. These include:

  • Cell phone insurance (up to $1,000 per year)
  • New purchase insurance (up to $1,000 per loss/damage, maximum of $25,000 per 12 months)
  • Trip cancellation insurance (up to $1,500 for expenses due to cancelation/delay)
  • Car rental insurance covers physical damage

Obviously, each of these benefits has restrictions and requirements. Therefore, I’d recommend visiting the Point site for more information.

My Experience with Point So Far

The card itself

When my Point card arrived, I was excited to see what premium elements it would include. That’s why I was a little let down when I opened the envelope. While the presentation was nice enough, I wasn’t very impressed with the feel of the card. It may just be me but I feel like the plastic is extra soft and malleable. Of course, this is a very minor thing to complain about but, when we’re talking about a $99 annual fee product, I think it’s fair to mention.

Using the app

Before I segue to the good of Point, I want to also mention that I don’t necessarily love their app. Specifically, while I like the idea of having a Today screen, I find it kind of annoying that I need to swipe this screen every time in order to get to the other tabs. That said, although I can’t find a way around the Today screen, I do like that you can set a default tab to open once you get past it. I also like the app’s four-tab design is easy to navigate. But, if you’ll allow me to point out one more minor flaw, I don’t understand why the “Benefits” link found at the top of the Cards tab leads to the website instead of a dedicated and interactive app section — just an idea.

Streaks

Let me start by saying I have found the Point card’s superpower and star feature: Streak bonuses. With these offers, you’ll be rewarded for making daily purchases during a set period of time. For example, the two Streaks I’ve participated in so far required cardholders to make at least one purchase per day for five days — and the total of those purchases needed to add up to at least $200. The rewards? 3,000 points, which translates to $30.

Clearly, this is a pretty good deal. Of course, it also takes a bit of strategy on your part. Adding to that, online purchases can be a bit dicey since your card might not be charged until the product ships instead of at the time you hit “buy.” This happened to me with an Amazon purchase (the one that made up the bulk of my $200 minimum), but luckily it all still worked out. On that note, if you need to keep your streak alive and time is running out, I found that reloading my Starbucks card was a good way to get my daily purchase in without buying something I wouldn’t use.

I should note that I’m not exactly sure how often these Streaks pop up. So far, I encountered one at the beginning of September and another at the end (rolling into early October). If this frequency keeps up, Point could well be finding a larger role in my wallet going forward.

Access offers

When it comes to Point’s standard multipliers, they really don’t do much for me. That’s partially because I have credit cards that I either need to use services for (thanks to monthly credits and the like) or reward dining purchases in general. However, I’ve found that Point’s Access offers are a bit more interesting. While these tend to be brand specific, some also happen to be for retailers I actually visit. Currently, there’s a 15x offer on Uber Eats, a 5x offer for Amazon, 5x for Chipotle and more. There are also current 5x deals for stores I don’t have the ability to shop at but I know a lot of other people do including Trader Joe’s and Costco. Plus, I feel like new offers have popped up often since I’ve received my card. In fact, as I was writing this, I got an email from Point informing me of a 10x offer at coffee shops to celebrate National Coffee Day.

Something to note is that, with these Access offers, you’ll earn the regular point amount when the transaction is made, with the bonus points arriving once the deal has concluded. There are also limits to how many points you can earn with certain offers. Still, I’ve found the Access section to be a fruitful resource as I look for the best deals on my purchases.

Transfer options

While I’m mentioning positive things about Point, I also want to give a shout-out to their instant funding option. With this, you can add money to your Point card by charging a different debit card. As you can imagine, this is super helpful when you’re trying to maximize a Streak and need to move money.

Final Thoughts on Point Premium Debit Card

I’ll admit that, when I first looked into the Point card and saw that it was $49 a year, it stopped me dead in my tracks. So, imagine my surprise when I see that it moved up to $99 a year just a couple of weeks after I caved and applied. On the surface, the card definitely doesn’t seem like it’s worth that amount, but I’d argue that some hidden perks actually do help offset that fee and potentially make it a moneymaker. Namely, the streak bonuses that I’ve been able to participate in so far have more than covered my fee (albeit the $49 one) and my tenure as a cardholder has barely begun.

As for the other perks of the Point card, while I’m glad they included features such as new purchase insurance and trip cancelation insurance, I’m not exactly sure how much value to assign to these benefits. Elsewhere, I think the two ATM reimbursements per month perk could prove to be useful in a pinch and highlights one of the few instances where a debit card can trump a credit card.

Overall, while it does sometimes feel strange to be using a debit card again, I think credit card enthusiasts will find something to like in Point. That said, in order to get the most from it along with the other cards you may have in your wallet, you will need to be strategic. Meanwhile, if you’re anti-credit card and have been looking for a rewarding debit option, it may well have just arrived. If nothing else, I recommend giving Point a closer look and deciding for yourself whether it’s worth the annual fee.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at https://moneyat30.com/

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