Many of the listings in this piece are from companies that may compensate me for card sign-ups. I do not review all companies or available products.
Over the past few years we’ve had the opportunity to try a few different credit cards. Some I’d recommend; others not so much. So I thought some reviews might help any of you out there thinking about getting a new card.
We’ve had this card for close to a decade now and have been very happy with it. It has no annual fee and offers a $150 signup bonus when you spend at least $500 in the first three months. That’s a threshold most people can meet pretty easily.
Another benefit is that it has quarterly bonus categories that offer 5% cash back. These tend to be things like gas, groceries, department stores, etc. But it has also been specific stores (once it was Lowe’s) or even payment methods like PayPal and ChasePay.
Citi Double Cash
This is the most recent card we’ve decided to try, and we love it! There’s no annual fee, and you get two points per dollar: one when you charge it, one when you pay it off.
The only downside of this card is that there’s no sign-up bonus. Most rewards cards have at least a small bonus these days, but the double cash back could easily make up for it.
We’ve already accrued more than $185 in cash back in just three months. It’s hard to beat that!
There’s also a pretty good offer of an 18-month, 0% APR for balance transfers, though transfers don’t earn cash back. We’re not using that particular facet of the card, but it could come in handy for some folks.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
We got this one when we were ready to get Tim’s teeth done. We figured that if we had to pay that ridiculous amount, it only made sense to get some rewards — and a mega signup bonus — out of it.
I suggest comparing this card to other travel rewards cards by clicking here.
- It gave us 50,000 points after we spent $4,000 in the first three months.
- You also get at 25% boost on every point redeemed for travel. So those 50,000 points were actually worth $750.
- It earns double points on food and travel.
- You can choose to redeem for cash back rather than travel (though you don’t get the 25% boost).
- A customer service representative always answered immediately. I never had to deal with an automated system or be put on hold.
- Travel reservations have to be made through Chase’s system.
- Travel reservations have to be made at least 24 hours in advance.
- Travel reservations are generally non-refundable.
- The annual fee (waived for the first year) is $95.
We were actually quite happy with this Chase card. But ultimately we weren’t using it enough to justify the $95 fee. I kept it a second year because I was offered a $60 credit to keep the card. That brought the fee down to $35, which I thought was very reasonable.
We did cancel before the third year began because at that point we had decided to focus on the Barclay card more, which meant we weren’t using Sapphire enough for even a $35 fee. But the signup bonus alone makes this card worth considering — especially if it would be your main card, you could get the $60 credit and you travel/dine out a lot.
We loved our Barclay Arrival Plus card.
Unlike the Chase Sapphire, we got double miles on every purchase, and we didn’t have to use those miles through a special booking system. We just made travel reservations normally — or in one case just sauntered into the hotel and slapped down the card — then applied miles to the charges to erase them.
Simple. Easy. Flexible. What’s not to love?
Well, the $85 annual fee. It was waived for our first year, but I couldn’t get it waived (or even get it lowered) for the second year. Around the time the fee was due, we had decided to focus more on our hotel card for an upcoming trip. This meant that we just weren’t using the card enough to justify the fee. But honestly there are times that I really regret that decision.
Alas, there’s no going back because the Arrival Plus is no longer being offered. The closest match is the Barclay Arrival Premium World Elite Mastercard.
Like our old card, you get double miles on every dollar spent. Also like our old card, you can book travel directly.
Now for the downsides to this Arrival Premium card.
First, it doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. It does offer a yearly 25,000-point bonus, but — here’s the catch — you have to spend $25,000 to qualify. A lot of people won’t meet that threshold, making the bonus moot.
Also, there’s the heinous $150 annual fee. The only argument here is that it’s more than covered if you can qualify for the 25,000-point bonus every year, since that’s $250 worth of travel. If you can repeatedly meet that point goal, then the card might be worth your time.
So this card is really just for people who travel a lot — a lot — and have a lot — a lot — of expenses. If that’s the case, this could be a great card for you. Otherwise, skip it.
Depending on where you travel, your hotel bill can easily be the biggest trip expense. That’s why we got the Starwood Preferred card by American Express.
At the time, the welcome bonus was the equivalent of four free nights if you chose one of Starwood’s affordable properties, or two to three nights at higher-end hotels. That made it far better than Hilton and IHG, which worked out to just under two free nights each.
Unfortunately, the signup offer has gone down significantly since when we had the card. You now get only $100, though admittedly you only have to spend $1,000 (rather than $3,000). You can get another $100 bonus when you make your first purchase at an SPG property, but that’s still no longer as good as other hotels’ cards.
In short, it’s no longer worth recommending. Check out Hilton, IHG or other hotel rewards cards for better deals.
Chase Ink Business Cash
After far too long, I’m using a business credit card for my company’s expenses, and I chose the Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) I don’t spend enough to qualify for the $500 sign-up bonus, which requires you to spend $3,000 in the first three months. Still, I get 5% cash back at office supply stores and on my Internet. If I had phone or cable, I’d get 5% cash back on those as well. Five percent might not sound like much, but since I need a business line — the cheapest of which is $99 — I’m earning $4.95 a month on Internet alone.
I also get 2% back at gas stations and restaurants. All other purchases will net me 1% back.
The card has no annual fee, which is integral since my business spending is so modest. And so far the card has treated me well. I already have about $27 worth of rewards after just four months, so clearly the rewards are going to add up surprisingly quickly.
You can compare small business credit cards by clicking here.
Have you tried any of these credit cards? What was your experience?
Responses to this post are not provided, commissioned or reviewed by the card companies.