Fifth Third Preferred Credit Card Review: Unlimited 2% Cash Back

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Are you looking for a steady, dependable cash back credit card for your everyday purchases? Fifth Third may have just what you’re looking for.

The Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back Credit Card is one of the latest straightforward cash back credit cards to hit the market. With the promise of 2% cash back on every purchase you make, this card fits the bill exactly for money expert Clark Howard recommendation to most consumers who are looking for their first rewards credit card.

The 2% is really nice, but does the Fifth Third card stand out when compared to cards like the Citi Double Cash or the Paypal Cashback Mastercard?

In this article, Team Clark will take a deeper dive into the Fifth Third offering and compare it to the top competitors in the category.


Table of Contents

Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back Card to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that it’s a viable choice — thanks to its steady cash back rewards and the fact that it doesn’t have an annual fee.

As you’re deciding whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.


What Is the Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back Credit Card?

The Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back Credit Card is a no annual fee card that offers unlimited 2% cash back on all transactions.

It’s similar to popular fixed-rate cash back cards like the Citi Double Cash and Paypal Cashback Mastercard, and it also carries a useful cell phone protection plan.

To apply for this card, you must have an active checking or savings account with Fifth Third Bank.


Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back: Specs and Perks

Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks.

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Cash Back Rewards

This cash back rewards program is one of the simplest on the market: You get 2% cash back on everything you purchase with the card. There are no spending categories or rewards limits.

So if you spend $2,000 in one billing period, you should expect to receive $40 in cash back rewards.

This rate of return is among the industry’s best for cash back cards that don’t carry an annual fee, impose a spending limit or require that you spend within a certain category.

Cash Back Redemption

Here are a few things you’ll want to note about this card’s redemption protocols:

  • The cash back is rewarded as “rewards points.” You’ll earn two rewards points for each dollar spent.
  • These points can be redeemed in a variety of different ways, including: check, statement credit, credit to a connected bank account or credit to an existing Fifth Third mortgage, auto or personal loan.
  • You forfeit the balance of your rewards points if your account is closed for any reason. The fine print also reserves the right for Fifth Third to cancel your participation in the program if it suspects that you’re committing fraud or manipulating the rewards program.

Other Cardholder Benefits

  • Cell Phone Protection Plan: You’ll get coverage for a lost or damaged cell phone as long as you pay your wireless bill with this credit card each month. You can receive up to $800 per claim, but there is a $50 deductible and a $1,000 yearly limit to the benefit.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: This card will not charge you any extra fees for purchases made outside of the United States. It’s ideal to have at least one card like this in your wallet if you’re planning to travel abroad.
  • Identity Theft Protection: Mastercard offers resolution service assistance for this card. If your identity gets stolen, this program will help you restore your credit into good standing.
  • Zero Liability Fraud Protection: If your card is lost or stolen, Fifth Third will not hold you responsible for unauthorized charges.
  • Access to Mastercard’s Global, Travel and Airport Services: This card has access to three travel-related Mastercard programs. The Global Service grants you access to an emergency Mastercard contact in the United States at any time, from anywhere in the world, by calling 1-800-307-7309. The Travel and Lifestyle benefit gives you access to a personal travel advisor, and Airport Services can connect you with a concierge to help with travel while in the airport.

Cardholder Fees

Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may encounter with the Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back Credit Card:

  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 4% of the amount of the transfer with a $5 minimum.
  • Cash Advance Fee: 5% of the amount of each advance with a $10 minimum.
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None.
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $40.

Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back vs. Other 2% Cash Back Cards

If you are considering adding the Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back card to your wallet, it’s probably because of the 2% cash back reward.

You have the right idea. Money expert Clark Howard has two 2% cash back cards in his wallet right now: the Citi Double Cash and the Navy Federal cashRewards card (Clark earns 2% through a special promotion for this card. It is only 1.5% cash back to new customers).

“It means everything you buy is essentially discounted by two percent,” Clark says.

So is this card better than the Double Cash? What about the PayPal Cashback Mastercard and Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature?

Let’s take a look at all of them with this side-by-side comparison:

Card CharacteristicFifth Third PreferredCiti Double CashPayPal Cashback MastercardFidelity Rewards Visa Signature
Annual FeeNoneNoneNoneNone
Standard Cash Back Rate2%2% (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay your bill)2%2%
Cash Back Redemption OptionsCheck, statement credit, credit for a connected Fifth Third account or loanCheck, statement credit or credit for linked Citi bank accountPayPal balance creditInvestment account credit, travel, merchandise, gift cards, statement credit
Welcome BonusNoneNoneNoneNone
Intro APR Offer for New PurchasesNone NoneNoneNone
Intro APR Offer for Balance TransfersNone0% for 18 monthsNoneNone
Foreign Transaction FeeNone3% in U.S. dollars per transactionNone1%
Cell Phone ProtectionYesNoNoNo
Auto Rental Collision Damage WaiverNoNoNoYes

The Big Takeaways

Here are some things to consider coming out of that comparison:

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  • As you can see, flashy welcome bonuses and APR offers are hard to find in this card category. If you’re looking for that type of reward, you should read our roundups of the best credit card welcome bonuses or best 0% credit cards.
  • If cell phone protection is important to you, this Fifth Third card is the only of the 2% cash back cards that offers it. Clark says this is a better way to protect your cell phone rather than paying for insurance through your wireless provider, so this factor may make this card worth considering.
  • Likewise, if you consider the auto rental damage waiver insurance a priority, you have only one option between these four cash back cards. The Fidelity card carries it, but you won’t find it on the Fifth Third card.
  • If you’re planning to use your cash back card abroad, only the Fifth Third and PayPal cards will allow you to make purchases without dinging you for a foreign transaction fee.
  • Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this chart is that these cards are more alike than they are different. That means there’s not much incentive to carry more than one or two of them in your wallet. Instead of duplicates from this chart, you may want to consider carrying one of the 2% cards and one other rewards card that gives you more than 2% in categories in which you frequently spend.

Final Thoughts

Are you considering adding the Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back Credit Card to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:

Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases No welcome bonus offer
Cell phone protection program included No introductory 0% APR offers
No annual fee or foreign transaction fees Must have a Fifth Third checking or savings account to apply

Bottom Line: This is a serious contender for those of you in the market for an everyday cash back credit card.

It’s not going to wow you with welcome offers, but the unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases matches the rate of the top cards on the market.

Money expert Clark Howard believes that an unlimited 2% cash back card is the top choice for most consumers because there is no limit to the rewards you earn and you can spend them however you choose. So if you don’t already have the Citi Double Cash or Paypal Cashback Mastercard in your wallet, you may want to consider this one as an opportunity to follow that advice.

The requirement of a Fifth Third checking or savings account is a minor inconvenience, but it’s not much different than a credit union requiring you become a member before issuing you a loan.

All in all, this card appears to be a strong option based on the steady cash back returns and cell phone protection.

Do you have experience with the Fifth Third Preferred Cash Back Credit Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!

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