Can the GM BuyPower Card Help You Save on a New Car?

We’ve all heard of earning cash back, airfare, and hotel stays with credit card rewards, but what about a new car? The GM BuyPower card won’t let you earn new car per se, but it does let you save up rewards to make a hefty down payment. How? By rewarding you for every dollar you spend.

If you’re a GM enthusiast who is always trading up, this card probably sounds like a good deal. Like anything else, however, the devil may be in the details. Keep reading to learn how the GM BuyPower card works, who it’s good for, and why a different rewards card might work better.

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GM BuyPower Card: How it Works

The GM BuyPower card works similarly to other rewards credit cards in that it doles out points based on how much you spend. With this card, you’ll earn 5% cash back on your first $5,000 in purchases every year. After that, you earn a flat 2% cash back on everything you buy, with no limitations or earnings caps.

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    So, if you managed to spend $10,000 on your card the first year, you would rack up $350 total – $250 during the 5% phase, and another $100 thereafter. If you spent $20,000 on your card during a single year, on the other hand, you would earn $550.

    The good news is, this card lets you earn 5% back on your first $5,000 spent every year – and not just the first one. So, if you signed up for the card and spent $20,000 per year ($1,667 per month) for three years, you’d have a total of $1,650 in rewards – or about a 10% down payment on a Chevy Sonic or Cruze.

    Beyond its lucrative earning structure, another great part about the card is that it doesn’t charge an annual fee. If you were to use it for regular purchases and pay it off every month, the rewards you earn would be truly “free.”

    However, the kicker is that your rewards won’t really benefit you at all unless you’re planning on buying a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac vehicle.

    Unlike other cash back cards, the BuyPower card doesn’t let you redeem points for cash back or gift cards. You can only redeem your points for a discount off a new car, and only through a licensed GM dealer. Plus, you can’t stack BuyPower card earnings with fleet vehicle incentive programs or the GM Employee discount.

    You can, however, stack your rewards with some regular dealer incentives such as special financing deals. Is this a good deal? Well, it really depends.

    Where the GM BuyPower Card Shines

    If you’re especially loyal to Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac vehicles and expect to buy a new one in a few years, the GM BuyPower card could be an amazing addition to your wallet. In terms of cash back, I can’t think of any other card that offers 5% back on your first $5,000 spent followed by an unlimited 2% back with no limits. And since the 5% cash back “bonus” rolls back around every year, it’s almost like earning the signup bonus more than once.

    With no annual fee, the GM BuyPower card becomes even more valuable. Better yet, this card offers 0% APR on purchases for your first 12 months. So, if you needed to make a large purchase and pay it off over several months, this card is a good option for that, too.

    Where the GM BuyPower Card Breaks Down

    While the GM BuyPower card makes sense for someone who’s in the market for a new GM vehicle, it makes almost no sense for anyone else. If you need a new car but aren’t decided on an exact make and model, for example, being tied down to a GM model, and particularly a new one, could leave you with limited options.

    Speaking of that, it’s important to note that you can only use your rewards on a new vehicle. If you decide to buy used to save money, the rewards you earned would be basically useless.

    And really, that’s the biggest drawback of this card; it lacks flexibility. With most traditional cash back cards, you can redeem your points for money in your bank account, a check in the mail, gift cards, or even merchandise. With the GM BuyPower card, you’re stuck with a discount on a new car — and that’s basically it.

    Speaking of that, buying a new car may not be the smartest move anyway. According to Edmunds.com, the typical midsize sedan loses an average of $7,419 in value the first year. So, even if you build up a considerable amount in rewards, buying new means you’ll probably lose a considerable amount of money or equity in your car upfront regardless.

    Who Should Get the GM BuyPower Card:

    • Someone who definitely wants to purchase a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac vehicle in the future.

    Who Should Pass:

    • Someone who wants flexibility in how they spend their credit card rewards.
    • A person who’s interested in different car models and brands.
    • Anyone who might want to buy a used car instead of new.

    Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view our disclosures, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.

    Holly Johnson

    Contributing Writer

    Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.