The 5 Most Underrated Credit Cards

Sep 1, 2019

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Credit cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve have many fans and are popular choices for travel rewards, but they aren’t the only cards in the world.

Today we’ll take a look at five of the most underrated credit cards, all of which offer cash back or points. To use these cards well, you won’t have to devote a lot of thought and time to how you redeem your points.

Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 points (worth $500) after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days

Annual fee: $95

Why you’ll love it: The Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card is a standout for its strong perks, incredible freedom when it comes to redemptions and bonus opportunities that reward customer loyalty. You’ll get a $100 annual airline credit and a credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fees up to $100, which more than makes up for the card’s modest $95 annual fee.

Points earned with the Premium Rewards card are worth 1 cent each and you’ll earn bonuses on travel and dining, but your bonus categories will be amplified if you qualify for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, which is open to customers who have a Bank of America personal checking account and a three-month average combined balance of $20,000 or more in BoA and/or Merrill investment accounts. If you qualify, your bonus categories will be as follows:

Spend Categories Regular card holder Tier 1 – Gold ($20,000 – $50,000) Tier 2 – Platinum ($50,000 – $100,000) Tier 3 – Platinum Honors ($100,000+)
Travel/Dining Earnings 2x points 2.5x points 3x points 3.5x points
Other Earnings 1.5x points 1.875x points 2.25x points  2.62x points

The ability to earn up to 2.62x points (equivalent to 2.62%) on everyday spend makes this card highly competitive, as does the lack of foreign transaction fees and a sign-up bonus worth $500. Add in the ability to redeem your rewards for cash back, travel purchases or gift cards, and this card should be on the radar of every Bank of America customer. Read our full review of the card.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

 

Sign-up bonus: $300 after spending $3,000 in the first three months

Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)

Why you’ll love it: The recently refreshed Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has a few things going for it. Not only is the $300 sign-up bonus among the highest of any personal cash-back card on the market, but the Savor offers strong long-term earning potential. You’ll get an unlimited 4% back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% everywhere else. This 4% back on dining and entertainment focuses on a strong pair of bonus categories. With Americans spending a record $61 billion dining out last July, this card is going to be rewarding for many people.

You’ll also enjoy all the flexibility of a cash-back card, including no redemption minimums and rewards that never expire as long as your account stays open. As long as you can earn enough rewards to offset the $95 annual fee, the Capital One Savor card can be a great addition to your wallet. Read our full review of the card.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 30,000 points (worth $300) after spending $3,000 in the first three months

Annual fee: $0

Why you’ll love it: There are plenty of things to like about the revamped Wells Fargo Propel American Express card. It combines a simple cash-back rewards structure with strong bonus categories that include 3x points back on travel, dining, gas stations and select streaming services, with 1x back on everything else — and no annual fee. Huge props go out to Wells Fargo for going after millennials with the bonus for spending on popular streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Spotify Premium, Apple Music and more. As a 23-year old, I wish more card issuers would move in this direction.

The 3x bonus categories are solid on their own, but you can potentially get 50% more value if you also hold the Wells Fargo Visa Signature® card. Points with the Visa Signature card are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for airfare instead of 1 cent apiece on other redemptions, and you can combine points between the two cards. You can even get as much as 1.75 cents per point in value for airfare if you spend $50,000 a year or more on the Visa Signature, turning the Propel’s 3x bonus categories into an effective 5.25% return. Read our full review of the card.

Discover It® Cash Back

Sign-up bonus: Discover will match the cash back on all purchases (including bonus categories) for your first year of card membership

Annual fee: $0

Why you’ll love it: Although the Discover It bears a striking resemblance to the Chase Freedom, it doesn’t get nearly as much press. This is largely because it doesn’t have the same option to maximize your rewards that Chase’s Freedom family offers. Still, the Discover It is seriously worth considering. Like the Freedom, it offers 5% back on up to $1,500 when you enroll in rotating quarterly categories every three months, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Categories in 2019 include gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, Uber/Lyft and Amazon and wholesale clubs.

The real kicker on the Discover it Cash Back is the unique bonus. Instead of earning a fixed amount of points or cash after you spend a certain amount, Discover will match your first year’s cash back. This means the bonus categories are worth 10% for the first 12 months, and your non-bonus spending will earn a respectable 2%. The Discover it Cash Back has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, making the card ideal both at home and on the road.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Sign-up bonus: None

Annual fee: $0

Why you’ll love it: If the management of points and miles and credit cards all seems too complicated, then the Citi® Double Cash Card is perfect for you. It does one thing, and it does it quite well: simple, rewarding cash back. You’ll earn 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay your bill, but you should always remember to pay your bill in full each month to avoid accruing expensive interest. Once your rewards balance reaches $25, you can cash out by requesting a check, a statement credit or a gift card, or you can use your rewards to make a charitable donation.

While the card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus or any bonus categories to speak of, it does a great job of letting you earn rewards without any effort. Just remember that there’s a hefty 3% foreign transaction fee on the Citi® Double Cash Card, so you should leave this card at home when you travel overseas.

Bonus: The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express

This list is focused on personal credit cards, as not everyone is eligible to apply for a business card. But if you’re in the market for a great and highly underrated business card, The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is a terrific choice. The card earns 2 points per dollar on all purchases up to $50,000 each calendar year, and 1 point per dollar thereafter. Even better, you’ll earn full-fledged Amex Membership Rewards points with the Blue Business Plus that can be transferred to all of American Express’ airline and hotel partners without having to own any other Amex credit card. Best of all, the card has no annual fee (see rates and fees), which is why it’s the top business credit card we recommend for everyday spending.

Bottom Line

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. So broaden your horizons with some of the cards that don’t get as much attention but which could very well be worth your time and consideration.

For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.