Archives for April 10, 2017

Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard Review: 1.5% Cash Back + $200 Bonus

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

OCB_card_rRGB_CashForward_WM (1)Update – This offer is now EXPIRED.

Barclaycard has improved this offer by increasing the sign-up bonus to $200 after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days. The $200 flat bonus makes this card work out better for those folks that don’t put a lot of purchases on their cards. For example, if you were to compare this card’s 1.5% cash back with a 2% cashback card with no sign-up bonus, you would have to spend $40,000 for the 2% card to catch up and break even. That could take years for some users. This offer now also has a 0% intro APR interest on purchases for the first 15 months.

Full Review:

Barclaycard has introduced a new cash back rewards card called the Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard® which earns a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no earnings cap. There is also no annual fee and an upfront sign-up bonus. Here are the highlights:

  • Get a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase
  • Every time you redeem, get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption
  • Redeem your cash rewards for a deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account, a statement credit or gift cards. Redemptions start at $50
  • Cash rewards do not expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you’ll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers for each balance transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that a variable APR will apply, 15.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers
  • No annual fee

I suppose the 5% cash rewards redemption bonus could be used to think of this card as a 1.575% cash back card (1.5% times 105%), but keep in mind that it is structured as an incentive to keep you using the card. For example, if you redeem $100 in cash rewards, you will get $5 added to your rewards balance good towards your next redemption. You have to reach $50 to cash out again. As noted in the comments, you could maximize your redemptions by leaving $50 in rewards so that you can cash everything out next time easily. Keep that in mind as your $200 bonus will also get that 5% bonus to become $210.

The competition. Chase and Capital One also have their own versions of 1.5% flat cash back:

These competitors have higher effective cash back rates. Some have a few additional requirements which you may or may not find too much trouble.

If you put a lot of purchases on your credit cards, the gap between a 1.5% and 2% card widens. However, if you are a relatively light spender, it can pay to focus more on the upfront bonus than the cash back rate. For example, if you were to compare a card with 1.5% cashback + $200 upfront bonus with a 2% cashback card + no sign-up bonus, you would have to spend $40,000 to earn an additional $200 in cashback (and thus breakeven with the bonus). If you only charge $500 a month, that would take nearly 7 years. If you charge $1,000 a month, that would take over 3 years.

Bottom line. The CashForward World MasterCard is Barclaycard’s entry into the “simple, no hassle cash back rewards” category. The 1.5% cash back is competitive with similar no-annual-fee offerings from Capital One and Chase (with this card offering an additional small redemption bonus on top), but I would also compare it with the offerings from Citibank and other issuers listed above (especially if you are a big spender). Keep in mind that Barclaycard is currently offering the largest sign-up bonus in this category. You also receive a free FICO score updates from Barclaycard.

How is Lemonade Different Than Mutual Insurance?

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

lemon_logoAfter my initial post about Lemonade insurance, there was a discussion in the comments about how Lemonade’s business model compares with existing mutual insurance companies. Lemonade reached out to me and wanted to clarify some things, and I suggested that they write a guest post about the topic. Lemonade agreed and below is their response:

A Deeper Dive Into the Lemonade Business Model

Not all insurance companies work the same way. Beyond the technology and AI, behind its slick app and website, Lemonade’s different because its business model is different.

As opposed to traditional insurers, Lemonade takes a fixed 20% fee out of your monthly payments, pays reinsurance and other unavoidable expenses, and uses the rest for paying claims. If there’s money leftover, Lemonade returns it in the annual Giveback. Giveback is a unique feature of Lemonade, where each year leftover money is donated to causes our policyholders care about. Policyholders who care about the same causes are virtual groups of ‘peers.’ Lemonade uses the premiums collected from each peer group to pay the group’s claims, giving back any leftover money to their common cause. And, if the group’s claims exceed what’s left in the pool, reinsurance covers it! (Reinsurance = insurance for insurance companies!)

That changes everything.

Insurers typically make money by investing your premiums (“float”) and by paying out less in claims and expenses than they took in premiums (“underwriting profit”).

Lemonade relies on neither. We collect premiums monthly, so the money earns interest in your bank account, not ours, and we return unclaimed money to the causes customers care about at year’s end.

So what does Lemonade do with the remaining 80%?

In a nutshell: pays claims.

Lemonade spends approximately 20% buying ‘reinsurance’ from folks such as Lloyd’s of London, to ensure there will be enough money for claims even in ‘bad’ years. This kind of reinsurance buys peace of mind, but it is costly.

So our data scientists have modeled an optimal mix of internal and external ‘reinsurance’, and set aside another ~20% as the ‘Lemonade Reinsurance’. Think of it as a ‘rainy day fund.’ The costs of reinsurance fluctuate over time, and there are other smaller expenses (transactional fees, premium taxes and others) that are also paid out from this combined 40%.

The final 40% goes towards the Giveback to the cause selected each year, if none of the people who selected that cause make a claim.

Most years, there will be some claims, so the amount available for Giveback will average less than 40%. But our number crunchers tell us there should be a nice amount left for most causes most years.

What about the ‘bad’ years? Fear not. That’s what the reinsurance is for, and Lemonade Reinsurance as well as the reinsurance partners have set aside funds for exactly such a situation.

In short, job #1 is to make sure your claim is paid, job #2 is to Giveback what’s left.

Wait, so how is that different from mutual insurance, you may ask?

Lemonade is the oldest new idea in insurance. And whether you view its tech and user experience as being radically new, or its business model as centuries-old infrastructure, Lemonade is using technology to reconstitute a business model which was once prevalent.

Look at Uber or AirBnB: Neither have created spanking new markets. It’s their technology packaged with a sharing economy-esque business model that is novel. Similarly, there’s nothing new about renters and homeowners insurance, but the technology, together with the behavioral economics and unique business model, differentiate Lemonade from the rest. Lemonade writes policies on your phone in seconds, pays claims in minutes, gives back money to nonprofits, all using AI and other tech that incumbents have not used.

The mutual companies started with the notion that pooling people into meaningful communities, instead of meaningless masses, is better for consumers. But the mutuals of today have wandered off into a different direction from that sense of community that started hundreds of years ago.

What made mutuals stray this way? Well, if you take any community and you enlarge it with millions of anonymous people, the social bonds between the people break down. Insurance companies have tried to cope with the challenge of pursuing growth, but it came at the expense of group affinity.

Yet with technology, you don’t have to trade off affinity for growth. Specifically, affinity in Lemonade has spurred growth, and has not been an obstacle of growth. Think of Lemonade as having thousands of mutuals under one company, rather than being one giant mutual.

Lemonade is a Public Benefit Corporation, a certified B-Corp and our team genuinely wants to do the right thing. Lemonade takes a flat 20% fee so as to never be in conflict with our customers, and never make money by denying claims. By placing ‘unclaimed money’ beyond reach, we removed temptation, and changed the game.

That’s a first for insurance.

Get a free online quote from Lemonade and compare with what you have now if you live in California, New York, and Illinois.

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