Chase Enhances AARP Card Benefits: Worth It?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Chase just launched a new enhanced version of its AARP Visa Signature card that includes 3% cash back on gas and restaurant purchases with no caps and no annual fee.
The card comes with an introductory offer of $100 cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening and 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (after that a variable APR rate of 16.99% to 23.74% applies). The card carries no annual fee, but it does charge 3% foreign transaction fees, so it's not the optimal choice for purchases abroad.
In terms of the bonus categories of dining and gas, 3% cash back with no caps is a good deal, but personally, I'd rather maximize my gas purchases by earning 2X Amex Membership Rewards points with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express or Business Gold Rewards cards, or 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Ink Bold or Ink Plus. For restaurant and dining purchases, I would use my Sapphire Preferred since it earns 2.14 points per dollar at restaurants. I value transferable points more highly than fixed-value cash-back points and would peg Amex points at about 1.8 cents each at least - more with transfer bonuses like the current 35% one to British Airways - and I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at about 2 cents each, especially when transferred to United, Hyatt and Southwest specifically.
This card used to be super lucrative when it offered a whopping 5% cash back for the first 6 months, but many people abused it (and I even know some people who have been banned from Chase for their "leveraging" of that promo). If you're in the market for a no-annual-fee card that gives cash back and you spend a lot in these particular categories, this card might make sense. However, the low sign-up bonus and lack of travel rewards means I wouldn't be in a rush to hop on this.
For a no-annual-fee card, I'd rather use the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and maximize its 5X earning on quarterly rotating categories and then transfer those points into my Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold Ultimate Rewards accounts and then transfer on to the program's travel partners. In my opinion, 5 United/Hyatt points in rotating categories is more appealing than 3% back in categories I'm already getting solid rewards in!