What are the cards everyone is ignoring?

The past few days and weeks, there is no doubt that the newly revamped Citi Prestige Card and Amex Gold Card and their effect or lack thereof on the Chase Sapphire Reserve have been top-of-mind and front-and-center in discussion for miles and points enthusiasts (and for good reason: benefits are strong and apply to a wide range of customers). However, at the Chicago Seminars last weekend, a question came up during the closing panel that seemed pretty intriguing: what are the best cards that nobody is talking about?

We should probably start by qualifying “best”. That’s obviously a highly subjective term to begin with, and the waters only become muddier when you factor in personal circumstance. Further, I’d argue that some of the highly popular cards are indeed the “best” in many instances. For example, I’d first focus on getting Chase cards before eclipsing 5/24.

Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.

To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. An even easier option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.

Similarly, I think there is more wisdom in transferable currencies for most folks than chasing obscure credit cards. That said, we list more than 150 cards on our Best Offers page — and I do think there are some gems in there that aren’t often discussed but are intriguing. Here are the ones mentioned in response to the title question and the ones I should have added.

Asiana Credit Card

Asiana Airlines Visa Signature
30K miles
30K after $3K spend in 90 days

$99 Annual Fee


Card Type: Visa Signature

Earning rate: ⚬ 2X gas and grocery ⚬ 3X Asiana.

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ 10,000 points awarded annually ⚬ $100 annual rebate on Asiana ticket purchases ⚬ 2 lounge invitations every year on card anniversary

Asiana’s award chart has some great sweet spots: Star Alliance business class to Europe for 40K each way (or first class for 50K), Africa or the Middle East in business class for 60K each way, South America zone 2 in business class for 35K each way, and more. If you’re originating in other parts of the world, there are some other strong sweet spots. Fuel surcharges vary from none to substantial, but it’s certainly not hard to find excellent value in Asiana’s chart. Those traveling with a lap infant make out particularly well, with the little one requiring just 10% of the adult mileage ticket.

While the card usually offers what looks like a weak welcome bonus, two miles per dollar at the grocery store can add up pretty quickly. While I’d generally rather earn 4 transferable points per dollar at the grocery store, the 2x on this card can look pretty good with the right plan in mind, especially if you would otherwise max out the grocery store caps on other cards. Further, the annual $100 rebate on Asiana ticket purchases includes Asiana award tickets, so you can probably offset the fee with one redemption a year.

Ducks Unlimited Visa

Ducks Unlimited Visa from First Bankcard

Currently there is no signup bonus for this card, but the bonus categories might make it attractive nonetheless.

$0 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: None

FM Mini Review: Regular 5% categories with no annual fee can be great for those who spend a lot in those categories, but bear in mind that cash back can only be redeemed in $25, $50, $100, and $250 increments.


Card Type: Visa Signature or Platinum

Earning rate: 5% back at gas stations & sporting goods stores

This card is an oddity on our Best Offers page for a number of reasons. First, it offers no intro bonus. Second, it’s issued by First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha (not a major player in the rewards card space).

However, it offers intriguing 5% bonus categories. I certainly know some folks who spend plenty at Sporting Goods stores each year to make that a worthwhile bonus category (no hidden MS opportunity there – I just know people who spend a lot on sporting goods). Those who drive often, especially for work, could do really well with 5% back at gas stations. Living in rural America, I know plenty of people who fill up more than once a week who could easily net a couple hundred bucks a year in cash back. While gas stations often make the rounds on rotating 5x category cards, a card that offers an ongoing 5% can be appealing.

That said, note the weird redemption levels. You can’t redeem odd amounts of cash back, but rather must redeem in $25, $50, $100, and $250 increments. With no maximum stated and no annual fee, that may still be worth the hassle for some.

Marvel Mastercard

Marvel MasterCard from Synchrony
$25 Cash Back
$25 after first purchase

$0 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: None

FM Mini Review: Good option if used only in 3% categories (e.g. dining and entertainment)


Card Type: Mastercard

Earning rate: ⚬ 3% cash back for dining, select entertainment, and Marvel purchases
(Select entertainment = Movie Theatres, Video Rental and Game Stores, Theatrical and Concert Promoters, Amusement Parks, Digital Entertainment, Games and Software, Music, Books and Newsstands, Toys and Hobby Stores)

Noteworthy perks: 10% off and other discounts at Marvel.com

To be fair, this card isn’t very exciting at the moment. Greg has written about it before, but unfortunately its value proposition mostly died with Toys R Us. That said, with Gift of College being revived, this card might become relevant again depending on the expansion of $500 Gift of College gift cards. That’s because this card has no annual fee and offers an ongoing 3% back on “select entertainment”, which covers a broader range of stores than one might anticipate. It’s a stretch including this card in a “best” list right now, but it’s one that you’ll almost surely never hear floated in points-and-miles circles — yet it could become solid for college savers soon.

Wells Fargo Visas

Wells Fargo Rewards Visa® card
Up to 50K bonus points
5x rewards points on up to $12,500 in gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for 6 months (that's 1x normal earnings plus 4x bonus)

$0 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: Combine points with the Wells Fargo Visa Signature to get 1.5 cents per point in value towards travel (or 1.75 cents per point if you spend $50K per year on the Visa Signature and combine your points).


Card Type: Visa

Earning rate: 5X gas, grocery, drugstore for 6 months

Note: You may be able to get a 10K sign-up bonus if you are targeted or by applying in-branch.

Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card
Up to 50K bonus points
5X rewards points on up to $12,500 in gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for 6 months. (that's 1x normal earnings plus 4x bonus)

$0 Annual Fee


Card Type: Visa Signature

Earning rate: 5X gas, grocery, drugstore for 6 months

Big spend bonus: With $50K spend, points become worth 1.75 cents each towards airfare

Noteworthy perks: ⚬Points worth 1.5 cents each towards airfare ⚬ Points worth 1 cent each for most other redemption

See also: A card I wrongly ignored

Speaking of college savers, Gift of College cards are available in Fred’s Pharmacy locations in the Southeast of the US. I’ve read mixed reports of Fred’s stores allowing the purchase of Gift of College cards with a credit card, but for those that do, earning 5x on up to $12.5K spend in the first 6 months might be a good way to cap out that bonus category on one of the above Wells Fargo cards if you’ve got the money ready to set aside for college.

Also noteworthy is the fact that points can be combined between the two cards in order to use them all for 1.5c in value towards flights. Furthermore, Wells Fargo customers have been getting targeted for some incredible spending offers — like as much as 40% back at Kohl’s.

Banana Republic Visa

Similarly to the Wells Fargo spending bonuses, the Banana Republic Visa has offered terrific spending bonuses over time. We do not currently have a page for this card, but it’s one that could be well worth it for its targeted spending offers if you’re interested in outfitting your family via Banana Republic / Old Navy / Gap. Miles to Memories has written extensively about this card, so it’s worth checking out their archives on this one if you’re interested.

Business Cards

Business cards may seem like they are hardly an overlooked category, but I’d argue that many newcomers wrongly pass on these cards assuming that having a business means owning a multinational conglomerate. While newcomers to this space should probably continue to ignore all of the cards above, business cards deserve a newbie’s attention.

Applying for Business Credit Cards

Yes, you have a business: In order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it's common for people to have businesses without realizing it. If you sell items at a yard sale, or on eBay, for example, then you have a business. Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. In any of these cases, your business is considered a Sole Proprietorship unless you form a corporation of some sort.

When you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as your business name, use your own address and phone as the business' address and phone, and your social security number as the business' Tax ID / EIN. Alternatively, you can get a proper Tax ID / EIN from the IRS for free, in about a minute, through this website.

Is it OK to use business cards for personal expenses? Legally, it's fine. And, anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: don't use the card for personal expenses if you're not comfortable doing so.

Bottom line

While I definitely wouldn’t say that any of these cards is a contender for best on the market, these are all cards that fly under the radar while having some specific use cases that make them shine. Further, while the Wells Fargo cards have picked up more press again lately, these are mostly cards that aren’t often discussed. That makes sense; with pretty focused use cases, they don’t belong in discussion of general “best of” lists. But if you’ve tapped out most of the rest of the 5,000,000 points and miles available via new cardmember bonuses found on our Best Offers page, these might be a few cards worth a look.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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RKToledo
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RKToledo

“Ignoring” or “Not in the Limelight” = code for cards that do not have affiliate links and therefore and not pumped over & over by bloggers to newbies. LOL.

Sam
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Sam

One great ignored card is the Alliant Credit Union Visa that has an easy-to-claim 3% cash back for one year, then 2.5% cash back. On everything, and no forex fee.

Why is no one talking about it? No affiliate link so none of the writers and bloggers get paid.

I’m waiting for a post somewhere titled “Great Cards That Don’t Pay Me a Cent’. Ha ha ha.

Busy
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Busy

Penfed Pathfinder AMEX – DOD and military – 0 AF, $100 Global Entry credit, $100 airline fee credit

toomanybooks
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toomanybooks

Speedway gasoline CC if you live near one of their stations.

Minimum equivalent of 7% back in free gas for all expenditures there, including GCs. Frequent bonuses can bring that as high as 25%. Not too useful for any other spend.

EastsideBK
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EastsideBK

TooManyBooks, how are you coming up with 7% cashback/free gas? Are you factoring in the Speedy Rewards you earn for any gas purchase (4pts per dollar) along with what you get back on the credit card? (50 pts per dollar)? If so, you should only use the 50 pts per dollar number as any credit card gets the 4 pts per dollar reward regardless. A $10 gift card is 10,450 points; isn’t that slightly less than 5% cashback/free gas? Or am I missing something?

Robert
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Robert

5% back on gas is intriguing. Up to this point I’ve used my Costco Citi card for 4% back on gas at any gas station.

Zach
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Zach

5% on gas all the time seems great. I get my gas at grocery stores and it looks like the King Soopers MCC code by my house is included on the ones that get 5% back in the Ducks terms. Many other gas reward cards exclude those stores so if this one includes those that’s awesome. Thanks!

5150d
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5150d

US Bank Cash Plus Visa gives 5% back on HOME UTILITIES. Only card to do it and it works.

PoorChurner
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PoorChurner

I applied for the Citi Mileup card. How long should I keep this card as I only opened it for the bonus?

Marc Elliott Levy
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Marc Elliott Levy

I was looking at HSBC credit cards the other day. They’re really only a good deal if you have a high-end checking account with them, at least Advance though preferably Premier. They WAIVE the annual fee on their high-end credit cards if you are Premier. It’s nothing to get worked up over, but for anybody already highly invested in HSBC, it’s basically a free $50 Uber/Lyft credit as well as insurance against hotel room theft, which no other card I’ve seen offers. Most fascinatingly, it gives 10% back at Expedia or Agoda!!!!

Marc Elliott Levy
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Marc Elliott Levy

I will also note the GM BuyPower card or whatever it’s called gives you 5% towards buying/leasing a car regardless of spend category. That’s another hidden gem.

Marc Elliott Levy
Guest
Marc Elliott Levy

A third card worth mentioning if you have occasional, non-bonused-category, foreign-transaction spend is the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard. AFAIK, this is the highest return in that category without an annual fee, since Freedom Unlimited has foreign transaction fees and Alliant has a $59 fee. You essentially earn 1.65% cash back. I haven’t found a better option for that specific niche, although obviously 1 CSR point or one AmEx point CAN be worth more than 1.65 cpp depending on redemption strategy but not outright as cash.

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