With a new issuer and a major upgrade, Walmart's card offers higher and better rewards.

If you have a Walmart credit card, it’s about to get a major upgrade, thanks to a new partnership between Capital One and Walmart.

The revamp, which includes more generous and flexible rewards, comes as Capital One replaces Synchrony as Walmart’s credit card partner. Cards will be available to new applicants starting Sept. 24, 2019. For existing Synchrony cardholders, the rewards changeover takes effect Oct. 11.

Better rewards

There are two new credit cards. The Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard will be an “open-loop” card, meaning it can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted. The Walmart Rewards Card will be a “closed-loop” card that can be used at Walmart and Walmart.com.

New Walmart Mastercard: 5% Back at Walmart.com, Rewards Everywhere Else

Card image courtesy of Capital One

Both will have $0 annual fees, and they’ll earn rewards at the following rates:

  • 5% back on Walmart.com purchases and on items purchased through the Walmart app (including items you buy online for in-store pickup as well as for Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery).
  • 2% back on in-store purchases at Walmart (including at both Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations).
  • 2% back on travel and restaurants (for the Walmart Mastercard only).
  • 1% back on everything else (for the Walmart Mastercard only).

That’s an improvement over the two soon-to-be-defunct Synchrony Bank-issued versions of the card, which offer 3% cash back on Walmart.com purchases, 2% cash back on Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations, and 1% cash back on other purchases, including in-store Walmart purchases.

The new rewards structure is also on par with other retailer co-branded credit cards: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases; 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores; and 1% back everywhere else. The Target REDcard™ Credit Card, which can be used only at Target, offers a 5% discount on eligible Target purchases.

“Within a Walmart context, 5% and 2% back has a whole different meaning,” says Wilbert Noronha, vice president of financial services and innovation architecture at Walmart. “We are a price leader. You get extraordinary value every day.”

The cards don’t come with a sign-up bonus, but for the first 12 months you get 5% back on in-store purchases if you use the cards with Walmart Pay, a mobile wallet that you access via the Walmart app.

“We don’t do bonuses. Walmart is about everyday value,” Noronha says.

Neither card will charge foreign transaction fees.

More flexible redemption

With the new Capital One Walmart cards, all rewards points are worth one cent apiece, although they may be redeemed in multiple ways, including:

  • As a statement credit.
  • At Walmart.com during checkout.
  • For gift cards.
  • For booking travel (must redeem via Capital One portal).

There is no minimum redemption requirement, and rewards don’t expire.

With the Synchrony versions of the cards, cash back is available only as a credit on your next statement, and rewards are automatically turned into statement credit the next month — meaning you can’t “bank” rewards for a big purchase.

Access to digital tools

As with other Capital One credit cards, cardholders will be able to lock or unlock the card easily if it’s lost or misplaced, receive alerts about things like potential fraud or purchasing errors, and track spending through text alerts.

What to know about the rollout

It’s important to know what to expect when your credit card moves to a different issuer. Here’s a brief timeline for this switch:

  • Oct. 11, 2019: The new Capital One Walmart Rewards program begins, and existing Synchrony cardholders can start earning the new rewards rates. Any debt balances will eventually be forwarded, and any rewards balances will ultimately be applied as a credit on the final statement of the Synchrony card. Note that if you have set up monthly autopay or other scheduled payments for after Oct. 10, they will be canceled; you should set up new ones with your subscriptions or other recurring services.
  • Oct. 14: Existing customers can download the Capital One mobile app and set up their new online accounts. (You’ll be able to reschedule any affected payments starting then.)
  • Through early 2020: New physical Capital One cards will be mailed out on a rolling basis. Primary cardholders will retain their same card numbers, but cards will have new expiration dates and security codes.

If you don’t already have a Walmart credit card, you’ll be able to apply online or in Walmart stores starting Sept. 24. Applicants who don’t qualify for the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard will be considered for the Walmart Rewards Card instead.

“We want to serve the full spectrum of Americans,” Noronha says.