The Universal Rewards credit card, issued by the First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO), earns rewards you can use during your next adventure to Universal Studios theme parks and attractions like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Unfortunately, the card’s not all magic.

Sure, cardholders can earn a sign-up bonus and receive exclusive perks and discounts at Universal parks. But the rewards are inflexible, and the redemption process is clunkier than a poorly oiled Transformer. Most Minions would do better with a general rewards credit card.

Here are five things to know about the Universal Rewards card.

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1. There are 2 versions of the card, both with mediocre rewards

The Universal Rewards Credit Card comes in two varieties:

  • The Universal Rewards Plus Visa Signature Card has a $99 annual fee and earns 4% back in rewards on qualifying Universal purchases; 2% back in rewards on travel, gas and dining purchases; and 1% back in rewards on everything else.

  • The Universal Rewards Visa Signature Card has a $0 annual fee and earns 2% back in rewards on qualifying Universal purchases and 1% back in rewards on everything else.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

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While earning elevated rewards on Universal purchases may be nice for superfans, overall those are underwhelming reward rates — especially for the $99-annual-fee version, as you can find any number of no-annual-fee credit cards that earn 2% back on all purchases, not just in a few categories. It’s also worth keeping in mind that with either Universal card, you’re earning reward points, not cash back. Those points are worth a solid 1 cent each (100 points = $1 in rewards), but your redemption options will be severely limited. More on that later.

For people with excellent credit (FICO scores of at least 720), the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card would be a better choice. For an annual fee of $95, you’ll earn an unlimited 4% cash back on entertainment (including theme parks), dining and streaming services; 3% cash back at grocery stores; and 1% cash back on all other purchases. New cardholders can also grab a big sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. And since it’s true cash back you’re earning, you can spend it on anything you like.

2. Redemption will have you exhausted before you hit the park

Redeeming your Universal credit card rewards is a horror straight out of “Stranger Things.” Consider the work it requires:

Do some math, ugh

For starters, there’s a $25 minimum redemption amount, and reward points have to be redeemed in $25 increments — so you’re very likely to find yourself stuck with “orphan points” that you can’t do anything with because they don’t meet those thresholds.

And it gets worse from there.

Request a physical prepaid card, double ugh

To redeem your reward points, you’ll have to request a physical Universal FUNds Visa Prepaid Card, either through the FNBO website or by calling the 800 number on the back of your credit card. That’s a highly unusual and inconvenient step — but wait, there’s more.

The prepaid card you’ll get isn’t reloadable, so you’ll need to request a new card for each redemption.

Wait for the mail to arrive, sigh

Prepaid cards can be used at select Universal locations and for flights and hotel stays booked directly with airlines and hotels — but you’ll want to hold off on heading immediately for the Universal Studios front gate. That’s because it can take up to 10 days to receive a prepaid card in the mail, according to FNBO.

Juggle expiration dates and terms, OMG are we there yet?

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Any unredeemed rewards will expire on or after the third anniversary from the date on which they were awarded. Prepaid cards themselves are valid for up to 24 months, and while the funds on your card never expire, a fee may apply to access those funds after 24 months. Oh, and the prepaid card can only be used to purchase park tickets online if your balance on it covers the full cost of the tickets. The only way to split a payment using the prepaid card is through purchasing tickets in-person at the park, using the prepaid card at select retailers within the park or by purchasing a vacation package online through Universal Parks and Resorts.

Those kinds of hurdles are enough to suck the fun out of any theme park, and it’s more than anyone should have to deal with in a rewards card.

A less limiting option would be the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. You’ll earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back at restaurants and drugstores and 1.5% back on everything else. You’ll have multiple redemption options, rewards never expire and there’s no minimum redemption amount. New cardholders also qualify for the following introductory offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

3. You’ll get some park perks

With the $99-annual-fee card, every year you spend $6,000 on it you’ll receive a park pass to Universal Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida or Universal Studios Hollywood. That benefit could be worthwhile if you’re committed to using the card frequently enough to earn it, especially since you’ll avoid the arduous redemption process above.

Both versions of the Universal credit card also get you 10% off merchandise, food and beverage purchases at select locations throughout Universal theme parks and Universal CityWalk in Orlando and Hollywood.

Both versions also allow Universal die-hards to show off their fandom each time they swipe their card. Cardholders can choose from one of three card designs: a Minion from “Despicable Me,” a dinosaur from “Jurassic Park” or a standard Universal logo.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The $99-annual-fee version of the Universal credit card also advertises that in-park lounge access is “coming soon.” That benefit would allow holders of the more expensive card to access the Visa lounge at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida.

4. There’s a modest sign-up bonus …

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Both versions of the Universal credit card let new customers qualify for an introductory bonus. As of this writing, the $99-annual-fee version earns a $100 statement credit after spending $100 within the first billing cycle, while the $0-annual-fee version earns a $50 statement credit after spending $100 in the first billing cycle.

While those are relatively easy spending thresholds to hit, you can do better than those bonuses.

The instance, the $0-annual-fee Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card lets new cardholders grab the following introductory bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $200 cash redemption value. You’ll also earn 3 points per $1 spent on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, streaming services and phone plans, plus 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

And if you’re willing to pay an annual fee similar to what the Universal Rewards Plus Visa Signature Card charges? In that case, you can find sign-up bonuses worth hundreds of dollars more.

5. … And a poor 0% APR offer

Both the no-annual-fee and the $99-annual-fee varieties of the Universal Rewards Credit Card let you finance your vacation with a 0% APR offer for six months on eligible purchases over $1,000 made directly with Universal. Eligible purchases include annual passes, park tickets, vacation packages and more.

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But there are better options if you’re trying to finance a Universal vacation. The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card lets new cardholders qualify for a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR. There’s no minimum transaction amount to qualify for special financing, nor is the offer limited to purchases only with Universal. You’ll also earn an unlimited 2% cash back each time you use the card.

Information related to the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

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