We’ll be paying for a lot of stuff with credit cards on our trip. It’s not just a matter of convenience, but protection. Most credit cards nowadays offer some level of consumer and fraud protection. I’ve been told stories from honest people who have mistakenly “forgotten” about a charge, disputed it with the credit card company, and somehow was able to get those charges removed.
Some offer travel protection, concierge services, etc… all stuff I’m not quite familiar with, except the Cash Back rewards cards.
Quick List of Cards
I’ve compiled a quick list of them for the ones that make sense:
|Interest Rates||Fees||Bonuses||Cash Back|
|BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card||No||0%||12.99%||21.99%||$0.00||$35.00||$100.00||$500.00||3%||2%||1%||1%||$1500.00||3|
|American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card||No||0%||12.99%||21.99%||$75.00||$38.00||$150.00||$1000.00||3%||6%||1%||1%||$6000.00||12|
|Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard||No||24.99%||24.99%||24.99%||$0.00||$37.00||$0.00||$0.00||0%||0%||0%||0%||None||3|
|Discover It Card||Yes||0%||10.99%||22.99%||$0.00||$35.00||$0.00||$0.00||1%||1%||1%||1%||None||3|
|Citi DoubleCash Card||No||0%||12.99%||22.99%||$0.00||$35.00||$0.00||$0.00||2%||2%||2%||2%||None||?|
Lots of Options
As you can see, there’s a lot of options. But here are some things I’ve noticed as I was building up this list:
- They all have different pages for Advertising full of marketing to entice you to sign up, and another more hidden page that lists off details. I’ve included links to the more informative pages. Then, look around for “Details and Pricing” or something to that effect to see the standard rates without all the marketing.
- Some rewards cards have Categories, which rotate every so often. Gas, for example, is popular… but they typically only let you get gas rewards in months where you don’t drive as much… eg Winter months.
- Most offer 0% intro APR, with a $0 annual fee
- Rewards Categories are a drag, and should be considered a teaser. There’s not enough consistency for you to actually plan around using the reward.
And the Winner Is…
No clear winner.
First good option:The Discover It card.
Ya, hate on Discover all you want, but being not the biggest player on the field has its advantages – namely, they try harder to get you to sign up.
In this case, it’s the no hassle 1% cash back, no limit, and occasional bonuses (which in our case lines up with the first segment of our trip for gas – it’s offering a huge 5% through March 2015). No annual fee. Late fee is in line with everybody else, about $35.
But, the minimum APR is 10.99%, better than everyone else’s. This is important once the introductory APR period is over. The 0% intro APR is just a teaser to “Seal the Deal” and convince you to sign up. In reality, it locks you into a card with their regular APR. So, 10.99% variable APR means that Discover is charging less, at least 2% less.
It looks different than all the other cards. This in itself makes it easy to know that this card is for gas and travel rewards.
The other good looker is the American Express card, though it has a $75 annual fee. This means that at the 6% cash back for gas they’re offering, you’d need to buy $75/6% = $1250 in order for it to be on par with the others. Not worth it in my book because our estimates say we’ll only be needing about $250 for the segment where this qualifies.
Another great feature if you look at the details is that* there is no penalty APR. *This is a big one, as most cards give you a teaser rate of 0%, but it goes up to 24.99% (the max) if you incur any penalties. None of us intends to miss payments or go over our limits, but sometimes it just happens for one reason or another. So, this one feature will be great in helping piece of mind.
The next two are good as well, for just about the same reasons as the Discover Card. Differences are mainly with how they do rewards categories and sign up bonuses.
Second good option:The Bankofamericard
Gives you a sign up bonus of $150, pretty good! And no rewards categories either!
There is a reward limit per quarter, so keep an eye on that if you’re spendy.
Third good option:The Chase Freedom
Gives you a sign up bonus of $100, not too bad! The rewards categories stings a bit, as looking at their rewards calendar, the most useful categories are not in effect for the months that affect us the most. :(
There is a reward limit per quarter, lower than what Bankofamericard offers, but still decent.