The revamp resulted in two very competitive rewards cards:
The higher-end American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, which has a $75 annual fee, entitles cardholders to 6% at supermarkets, 3% at gas stations & department stores and 1% everywhere else, with no limits or caps.
“The card favors folks with above average spending habits,” says Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com. He points out that its counterpart, the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card, isn’t a shabby offering either.
Amex’s no-fee version of the Blue Cash card entitles cardholders to 3% back at supermarkets, 2% back at gas stations and department stores and 1% back on other purchases made during the year. The card currently features a 0% introductory APR for the first six months. After that, the APR will be 17.24%, 20.24% and 22.24%, depending on creditworthiness.
United Mileage Explorer Card from Visa Signature
2011 was a rebirth of sorts for exclusive airline cards. Both American Airlines (Stock Quote: AMR) and United Airlines (Stock Quote: UAL) debuted new cards this year, while Continental and Delta (Stock Quote:DAL) beefed up the rewards associated with their existing offerings.
Chase’s United MileagePlus Explorer, launched in July, stands out from the other offerings because, unlike most elite airline cards, it’s one that the average consumer who just happens to travel a lot can afford. The card entitles users to priority boarding and lets the cardholder and a travel companion check their first bags for free (a savings of up to $50 per passenger per round trip).
Admittedly, the elite perks are scaled back a bit: Cardholders only get two passes per year to the United Club and the card does carry a 3% foreign transaction fee – but this is in exchange for a much lower $95 annual fee (waived the first year) and a pretty swanky sign-on bonus. Chase (Stock Quote: JPM) is currently offering cardholders 25,000 bonus miles the first time they use the card.
“You buy a cup of coffee and you get your bonus points,” Harzog says.