With so many credit card options, it's only natural that some cards don't get the attention they deserve. Some cards even get plenty of attention, but for the wrong reasons. Some recent discussion in our Facebook group prompted us to think through some of the more underrated credit cards available right now, so here it is!
What makes a card “underrated”?
To state the obvious, we are not saying these cards are necessarily better than any other card out there. The cards listed below are all great cards in their own right. Most of the ToP team has some if not all of these cards in our wallets.
Generally, cards can be underrated because folks either aren't aware of or don't realize the value of a card's benefit or a card's earning potential. Also, a card can be underrated because folks simply don't prioritize having that card as much as they should.
The Citi Premier (review) is the main card of the Citi ThankYou Points program. We consider this card the most underrated credit card on the market. The Citi Premier earns uncapped 3x per dollar across five categories: grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, airlines, and hotels. The card's $95 annual fee is on par with that of its main competitor, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (review). Although the American Express Gold Card (review) earns 4x at U.S. supermarkets, the bonus earn is limited to the first $25,000 spent per calendar year. No other credit card earns more uncapped points per dollar at grocery stores than the Citi Premier.
Many of us tend to focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. But Citi ThankYou Points can be just as valuable. In fact, Citi shares a lot of transfer partners in common with Chase, Amex, and Capital One. This means that with the Premier's superior earning structure, you can earn points for the same transfer partners that you would otherwise earn from another credit card.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card & Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
We're sneaking two very similar cards in for this one: the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. The Hilton Surpass card is the mid-tier credit card from the Amex line-up of co-branded Hilton cards, and the Hilton Business card is the business-equivalent of the Surpass. While the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card receives a lot of attention for offering complimentary top tier Hilton Diamond status and other great benefits, we think the Hilton Surpass and Hilton Business cards are also excellent credit cards worthy of a spot in many wallets.
The Hilton Surpass and Hilton Business cards offer two excellent perks that more than justify their modest $95 annual fees. First, you can earn a free night certificate (FNC) after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. You can redeem these for rooms that cost well over $1,000 per night, such as the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal. Even better: the cards offer great bonus categories for earning even more Hilton points with your $15,000 spend. Specifically, the Hilton Surpass earns 6x at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. And the Hilton Business earns 6x at U.S. gas stations, U.S. restaurants, on U.S. purchases for shipping, and other categories. If you spend $15,000 across these categories to earn your FNC, you'll end up with another 90,000 points. This is enough for a free night at some amazing hotels.
Remember that Amex business cards do not count towards 5/24. So we give the Hilton Business card a slight edge over the Hilton Surpass for this reason alone.
Chase World of Hyatt Business Card
Plenty of folks get the Chase World of Hyatt Business Card (review) for the sign-up bonus. But for heavy spenders, this card is very rewarding. First, it offers a more efficient way to spend towards Hyatt status. For every $10,000 in spend, the Hyatt Business card gives you 5 elite night credits towards status. In contrast, the Chase World of Hyatt Card offers 2 elite night credits for every $5,000 in spend.
Second, when you hit $50,000 in spend during a calendar year, the Hyatt Business card offers a rebate on 10% of your redeemed points back for the rest of the year, on up to 200,000 points redeemed. This means you can get up to 20,000 points back every year that you spend $50,000 on the card. And of course, you'll be getting 25 elite night credits for that $50,000 spend (on top of the elite nights earned through your redemptions). Hyatt loyalists would do well to seriously consider this credit card.
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash (review) is an excellent companion to the Citi Premier. The Double Cash earns 2x on every purchase, uncapped. The card does not have an annual fee. No other card on the market offers uncapped 2x on every purchase without an annual fee.
The Double Cash blows the competition out of the water. With Chase, your best bet with non-bonused spend is earning 1.5x with the Chase Freedom Unlimited (review) or the Chase Ink Unlimited (review), neither of which have an annual fee. With Amex, you have the Blue Business Plus Credit Card (review), which offers 2x per dollar on every purchase, but only up to $50,000 per calendar year. Meanwhile, Capital One offers two credit cards that earn uncapped 2x points per dollar on every purchase (the Capital One Venture Rewards and the Capital One Venture X (review)), but they both have a $95 annual fee, unlike the Double Cash.
Amex Business Platinum Card
The Business Platinum Card has become famous for its splashy welcome bonuses, which are regularly north of 120,000 MRs. But a lot of folks don't pay attention to the card product itself. In fact, many people ignore the card altogether because of its high annual fee of $695.
But one of the Business Platinum's best perks is the 35% rebate on points redeemed through Amex Travel. The card offers a 35% points rebate for premium cabin bookings and for economy airfare on your selected airline when you pay for your booking entirely with points via Amex's travel portal. This is a great option when you cannot find award availability for a specific flight. In addition, you earn airline miles for the flight since you're booking a cash fare. While we generally caution against booking flights via travel portals, this is one of the few exceptions.
The Business Platinum card is also full of benefits that can help those who are just beginning to travel on points. The card offers robust lounge access benefits, including Priority Pass membership, Centurion lounge access, and Delta Sky Club access when flying Delta. Cardholders also receive complimentary Gold status with Hilton and Marriott. While many of these perks are also available through other cards, few cards offer these many benefits in a single product. This makes the Business Platinum card quite helpful for those just getting started or first branching out from Chase cards.
As mentioned above, we don't believe these cards are necessarily better than other cards in the points & miles world. This is really a list of cards that everyone should consider opening at some point. As always, if you have questions about which card is right for you, you can ask in our Facebook group, where the ToP team and our awesome members are always happy to help.
What do you think of this list? Which cards would you add or replace? Come share your thoughts in our Facebook group!