5 of the most underrated travel rewards cards
Premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve have many users and are popular choices for travel rewards — and for good reason. However, they aren’t the only cards in the world.
We surveyed TPG staff and came up with a list of five of the most underrated credit cards, all of which offer cash back or points. Here's why we think they should find a way to sneak into your wallet.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Welcome offer: 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership.
Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees).
Why it's here: The Aspire deserves mention among the bevy of top-tier travel cards.
For starters, it comes with Hilton Diamond status for as long as you hold the card, and you’ll earn 14 points per dollar at participating Hilton hotels. It also comes with up to $250 in airline fee credits and up to $250 in Hilton resort credits every calendar year.
The Aspire offers a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, which gets you (and two guests) unlimited access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world. On top of that, every year, you’ll get a free night certificate valid at nearly any Hilton property.
This card is a great choice for those loyal to Hilton who want to receive elite status perks.
Read our review of the Hilton Amex Aspire.
The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
American Express® Green Card
Welcome offer: 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first six months of cardmembership. You'll also get 20% back on eligible travel and transit purchases in your first six months to earn up to $200 back.
Annual fee: $150 (see rates and fees).
Why it's here: The Amex Green often gets a bit lost in the mix amongst the company's other offerings, but it makes for a strong offering in the mid-tier travel card category.
It offers 3 points per dollar on broader travel, restaurants and transit, as well as annual statement credits for Clear Plus and Lounge Buddy that more than cover its annual fee.
The normal rate for Clear Plus membership is $189 per year, and the credit covers the full annual cost. You'll also get up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year when you use the American Express Green Card to purchase lounge access directly from LoungeBuddy.
The card is a simple and viable option for those who spend a lot on travel, dining and commuting.
Read our review of the Amex Green.
Chase Ink Business Preferred
Welcome offer: 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first three months from account opening.
Annual fee: $95.
Why it's here: The Ink Business Preferred has unique perks among business card offerings, offering 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases each year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.
You'll enjoy an array of business tools like account insights, bookkeeping integration and account alerts, along with cellphone and purchase protections, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and more.
Lastly, you can pair the Ink Business Preferred with other Chase offerings to maximize value.
At just $95 a year, it's hard to beat.
Read our review of the Ink Business Preferred.
Citi Premier® Card
Welcome offer: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees).
Why it's here: Our review pegs the Citi Premier as an "under-the-radar gem with a phenomenal range of bonus categories," which pretty much sums it up.
The Premier earns a healthy 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets, excellent rates for its mid-range annual fee. Citi Premier points are also extremely versatile, worth 1.8 cents each per TPG valuations. That means you're earning over 5% back in these categories.
You'll also get a $100 annual hotel credit for single-stay hotel bookings of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) made through the Citi travel portal, along with a number of protections and no foreign transaction fees.
Put simply, it's a heavy hitter in the mid-tier annual fee card category.
Read our review of the Citi Premier.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
Welcome offer: 60,000 online bonus points -(a $600 value) after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual fee: $95.
Why it's here: An unsung product from one of the major banks, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card includes an up-to-$100 annual airline incidental statement credit and an up-to-$100 statement credit every four years toward Global Entry that more than neutralize its $95 annual fee.
This card offers an impressive return on everyday spending, with 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and an elevated 1.5 points per dollar on all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for travel, cash back or gift cards at a rate of 1 cent per point.
But where the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card truly shines is when you become a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member. You can enroll in its Preferred Rewards program by opening an eligible checking account or investment account. Those holding assets in eligible Bank of America or Merrill accounts can earn 25-75% more points on everyday purchases with the Premium Rewards Credit Card.
If you’re lucky enough to qualify for the top-tier Platinum Honors level in the Preferred Rewards program with the Premium Rewards Credit Card, you can amass a hefty return of 3.5 points per dollar on dining and travel and a solid 2.62 points per dollar on non-bonus spending.
Pretty impressive for a $95 annual fee card.
Read our review of the Bank of America Premium Rewards.
The major issuers like Chase and Amex offer some incredibly popular credit cards, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other cards on the market worth considering. Broaden your horizons with some cards that don’t get as much attention but could very well be worth your time and consideration.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Amex Aspire, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green, click here.
Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg.