What is Your Single Favorite Credit Card Ever Offered, and Why? - Expert Roundup
Issue #12 of the Credit Card Reviews Industry Roundup, focuses on expert picks for what they consider the best credit card of all time. This question requires them to have been a cardholder of the offer and an explanation as to why it's their favorite. Jason Steele asks them:
What is your single favorite credit card ever offered, and why?
This week's contributors are Bill Hardekopf, Robert Harrow, Miranda Marquit, Gerri Detweiler, Holly Johnson, Lindsay VanSomeren, and Russ Nauta:
Bill Hardekopf - CEO of LowCards.com
If you play the rewards game correctly, you can earn some incredible early-spend bonuses with certain cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. But many of those cards come with a steep annual fee, so you have to make sure your annual purchases and the resulting rewards far outweigh that fee. I prefer a card with no annual fee and great ongoing rewards. My favorite rewards card is the Citi Double Cash card. You get up to 2% back on every purchase: 1% when you make the transaction and 1% when you pay off that purchase. There is no limit to the amount of cash back rewards you can earn, and no tiers to keep track of or consider. Since it is cash, the rewards can be used anywhere.
Robert Harrow - Product manager for the credit cards vertical at Value Penguin
In a world dominated by points and miles, my favorite credit card ever offered is actually a cash back one--the Discover it. Credit card hobbyists likely know about the card’s main features, like the 5% cash back on purchases in rotating categories. This sort of cash back rate is already outstanding. What makes this card my favorite, however, is the ‘outside-the-box’ thinking that went into its creation. As someone who looks at credit card offers day in and day out, most cards out there tend to blend together after a while. The Discover it breaks the mold and consistently delivers value in a lot of interesting ways that I just don’t see out of other cards. For example, consider its bonus. Instead of giving a flat cash back bonus for reaching some minimum spend (as is customary), the card instead doubles all of the cash back you earned at the end of your first year. That effectively boosts the rewards you get from it to anywhere between 2% and 10%, for those first 12 months.
The card’s creativity goes beyond cash back rewards. Many people today are concerned about data breaches and privacy. As the world becomes more digital, our personal information is at a greater risk of landing in the wrong hands. Discover offers an interesting perk to deal with (part of) this problem. The company will monitor your social security number on the dark web, and alert you if they come across it. This can help you get ahead of any potential problems with identity theft.
These sorts of innovative perks make the Discover it one of the most interesting cards on the market. I wish more credit card issuers would take note of this type of product design when launching new credit cards.
Miranda Marquit - Founder of Planting Money Seeds
My favorite credit card ever is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Even though it has a somewhat steep annual fee, it's worth it. You earn rewards quickly — especially on travel — and it's easy to multiply them and benefit with even more free travel. Plus, you get access to airport lounges and other perks that make travel more comfortable. On top of that, you can get a $300 travel credit each year, as well as free TSA PreCheck. Additionally, there are a lot of travel protections. You can get protection for your trip, and get emergency evacuation coverage as part of card membership. It brings a lot of peace of mind.
There's a lot to like about this card if you're a frequent traveler. The signup bonus is less generous than in past years, but it's still not a bad bonus, and the other perks still make this credit card worth it. It's a great card and even better if you, like me, go on frequent trips.
Gerri Detweiler - Coauthor of Finance Your Own Business: Get on the Financing Fast Track
The AT&T Universal Card was launched in early 1990. It offered no annual fee for life, and the company was heavily focused on customer service, earning the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige national quality award on multiple occasions. It quickly became the second largest issuer of credit cards in the country. Although it later lost its luster and was acquired by Citibank, it may well have had a lasting impact on the card industry. It set a high bar for customer service, and set the expectation for no annual fee cards. I suspect it may have helped pave the way for other issuers like Capital One.
Holly Johnson - Owner of Travel Blue Book
My favorite travel credit card of all time is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and it's not even close. I initially signed up for this card when the signup bonus was 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards, but I have fallen in love with the card and its offerings ever since. This card lets you earn 3x points on dining and travel, which are both areas we tend to spend a lot in. You also get 50% more travel when you use points to book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which is something I do quite a bit.
Finally, I love Chase transfer partners and believe Chase has the best partners in the business. I frequently transfer points to partners like Southwest, Hyatt, Air France, and British Airways to get maximum redemption value. Finally, I love the fact that Chase lets you pool points with other Chase cards you have. I carry both the Chase Freedom and the Ink Business Preferred credit card, so I am able to use each card strategically to earn a lot more points over time.
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card does have a $450 annual fee, its $300 annual travel credit makes the net fee only $150. Add in the fact that you get airport lounge access, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary auto rental coverage, and other perks and this card offers a ton of value.
Lindsay VanSomeren - Owner of Notorious D.E.B.T.
My favorite credit card ever offered is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I was a bit hesitant to sign up with the steep annual price ($450!!), but I've more than made up for it with the benefits. Right off the bat you can use it for a $300 annual travel credit, making the true cost of the card just $150 (as long as you do travel, of course). From there, I've also gotten a $100 credit to apply for the Global Entry program, and I just signed up for the Priority Pass Select membership (a comparable Priority Pass membership is around $399 if you pay for it yourself). I use it to pay for all of my dining out and travel expenses since I earn 3 points per dollar on these purchases. I don't spend a ton of money in this category, but every little bit helps. Plus, the points that I do earn go further, because I get a 50% bonus on travel redemptions (it's only a 25% bonus if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the next step down). I also love the customer service. I've had to call up a few times with questions on the program and I always get a live person within a ring or two of the phone.
I did have to fight a bit with Chase to get the sign-up bonus. They were offering a special high sign-up bonus (I forget what it was) when it first came out. At some point they stopped offering that bonus online and only offered it in the bank, but again only for a limited time. I went and signed up in my local Chase branch, but I didn't get the bonus when I should have. I had to go back to that same Chase branch two times and appeal a denial that Chase decided on before I finally was awarded the bonus. It was a good thing, too - I used those points to pay to see my family at a reunion in North Carolina later that year!
Russ Nauta - Founder of Credit Card Reviews
Most people will cringe when I say this because it isn't an overly popular card and based on my own experience, the customer service on the issuer side is pretty poor. It has to be the JetBlue Plus MasterCard.
I have a family of five and we live in the Boston area which basically means if we have to fly anywhere we are taking JetBlue. Our main expense is groceries (2x points) and it just makes the most sense to carry this card for us because airline tickets are quite expensive when you are dealing with five seats. Originally, I was an Amex holder of the first generation version of the offer (excellent customer service IMO) and made the jump to the JetBlue Plus when I got switched over to Barclaycard US.
I am from the school of thought that if you have a mobile app that works well for online account management, and your rewards program works for me, I'm going to be on board with your card, and willing to overlook a few flaws (within reason).
That last point is actually most relevant to my philosophy when using credit card rewards programs. The rewards program value of a card is going to differ based on your spending habits and lifestyle/needs. For me right now, with three kids, this in my opinion is the best credit card. 10 years ago it was not because I was more interested in upgrades and things of that nature. I'd bet that 10 years from now there will be a new card that I love because the perks will be more relevant to where I am at that point.