Merlin Credit Card Review: Is It Worth It? [READ THIS before applying]

by Last updated in May of 2022Credit Cards

credMerlin Credit Card Review: Introduction

Merlin credit card used for card breakdown

While there is no Merlin credit card specifically, the Merlin credit card is co-branded on the Driven Brands Credit Card, which is offered through Synchrony Bank. We will use the terms interchangeably in this review. Also, the Merlin Credit Card / Driven Brands credit card is just the co-branded version of the Synchrony car care card. One credit card adding many co-branded names is fairly common among retail credit cards

So to be clear, Merlin Complete Auto Care is not itself one of the finance companies that offers the card, but instead has a partnership with the driven brands credit card to co-brand.

The Merlin Credit Card is a credit card that helps you make purchases and manage your finances. It offers a variety of features and benefits, as well as some drawbacks including:

Features, benefits, and drawbacks

Merlin credit card features and benefits

Some Limited Features and Benefits

✅  0% APR on purchases over $199 for the first 6 months

✅  No annual fee

✅  Earn rewards points for every purchase you make

✅  $0 fraud liability

✅  Likely easy credit approval (we have not tested this)

There are likely two types of people interested in the Merlin Credit Card:

  1. People who spend a lot of money on auto-related expenses
  2. Folks who need a card to charge a large, unexpected auto-related expense to

If you’re in the first category, you should likely find another card. Particularly look for one that has rewards for spending, which this card does not.

The merlin credit card may work for people in the second category. If this is you, be sure to payoff the charges in full before the 6-month 0% APR promo period is up, otherwise the interest rate on this card of ~30% will make your expense much higher in the end. You may want to find other ways to finance the purchase, given the drawbacks below.

Major Drawbacks to Consider

🚨  APR of 29.99% is very, very high

🚨  There are no rewards – meaning no points and no cash back

🚨  Late payment fees of up to $39 and a returned payment fee of $28

🚨  May not be accepted as widely as most credit cards. Potentially only accepted at “auto parts and services businesses”

Another major drawback is that the 0% APR can only be applied to one large purchase. According to the terms and conditions, the 0% financing only applies to purchases made on one receipt. Therefore, you will NOT be getting 0% financing on everything you purchase within the first 6 months, but just one large purchase over $199. It’s also not clear how that large purchase is designated if you have multiple. For example, if you’re first purchase on the card is $250 and your next purchase is $5,000, it’s not clear how it will be determined if the 0% financing applies to the $250 purchase or the $5,000 one.

Why you might want the merlin credit card

Why you might want the merlin credit card

The merlin credit card is best used for unexpected car repairs that you cannot pay right now, but could pay back within 6 months. You can pay your auto-repair company, like merlin complete auto care, now in full using the card, then payoff the card in increments over 6 months before the 0% APR promo period expires.

If you use this method, be sure to carefully ensure that only that major purchase goes on this card, since it’s not clear how they decide which SINGLE purchase qualifies for the 0% APR promotional period.

If you want to apply for this card, or the driven brands credit card, you can do so on their website.

Why you probably want a different card

Why you probably want a different card

Most people will likely qualify for a more desirable card than the Merlin Credit Card. You should only obtain this card if you’re desperate with no other options. See the next section for some additional ideas for way to payoff a major unexpected auto-related expense. Like a card that has a lower interest rate, a longer promotional period, or a rewards system. There are many other cards that have longer 0% APR promo periods. 6 months is actually quite short in the industry. 12-18 months is more typical. This would give you more time to payoff a major expense in increments.

Is the Merlin Credit card the only way to pay for a large, unexpected automotive expense?

Options for paying for expenses

No. Depending on your particular financial situation you may have several other options. Including:

  • Using a different credit card with a longer 0% interest promo period
  • Using savings or selling investments to cover the cost. If you sell investments, be sure to first consider the tax consequences of doing so
  • Asking the auto repair provider for a payment plan – if they agree, watch out that they don’t increase the price, or, if they do, only a reasonable amount
  • Asking friends or a family member for a loan (make sure to pay them back!)
  • Taking out a personal loan

Hopefully, you have flexible lending solutions built into your personal finance plan, like an SBLOC. There are many better ways to meet your consumer banking needs and you should be able to find a better lending partner, than one who wants to charge you a ~30% interest rate. Setting these lines up ahead of time gives you flexible payment options, so you don’t have to rely on products like the driven brands credit card. If you’re unsure, you can start by contacting your bank or brokerage about how to setup other financing options, or by visiting their banking website.

Conclusion

Overall, the Merlin Credit Card can be a useful tool in certain extremely limited situations for those who need to cover unexpected car repairs. Maybe you need your car to go to work and the only shop you could get to after the brakes went out in your car or vehicle was a merlin complete auto care, for example With its 0% APR promo period and wide acceptance at auto parts and services businesses, it can help you make large purchases more manageable. However, the high-interest rate of 29.99%, as well as other drawbacks like late payment fees and lack of rewards, make this card less desirable than many other options on the market. If you are looking for a credit card that offers better terms and conditions, there are many other options available to suit your needs. Remember you have power as a customer!

Also, remember that you’re really applying for the driven brands credit card, so consider if that’s the card you want.

At writing, there is no business or small business version of the card available for small businesses.

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Editor's Note:

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