Normally on PYCR, I write the “Best Cards For…” posts to help you earn more points for a given bonus category or situation. But I’m celebrating April Fools’ Day by giving you suggestions on which cards to avoid.
Don’t be a fool and apply for any of these cards if you intend to travel. And if you have any of these cards, I suggest either product changing (if possible) or cancelling.
Barclays MasterCard Luxury Cards
This series of Tier III and IV cards has Barclays trying to compete with the likes of American Express, Chase, and Citi. However, all three of them are failing miserably.
All three cards earn one point for every dollar spent. You can redeem your points for airfare at 2 cents per point (CPP). Or, you can redeem for or for cash back between 1 and 2 CPP, depending on the card.
At $195 per year (NOT waived the first year), this card is the least expensive and egregious of the trio. Its cash back redemption rate is a measly 1 CPP. This card gives you no significant benefits outside of those from MasterCard. It’s a World Elite MasterCard, so you get a little something. But that’s not enough to justify a $195 annual fee.
Don’t let the name fool you. This is NOT the American Express Black Card (AKA the Centurion Card)! The MasterCard Black Card has an annual fee of $495 (NOT waived the first year) and a cash back redemption rate of 1.5 CPP.
With this card, you get some perks such as concierge access, a $100 annual airline credit, and a Global Entry / Pre-TSA fee waiver. But with a “net” annual fee of $395, it doesn’t compare to even a nice Tier III card, such as the American Express Gold Card.
Even though this card plated in 24-karat gold, its sky-high annual fee of $995 is not justified. This card’s cash back redemption rate of 2 CPP, which is the same as the no annual fee Citi Double Cash. You receive the same benefits as the Black Card. However, the annual airline credit is doubled to $200.
Chase Starbucks Card
As much as I love Chase, they’re not off the hook with this card. Chase and Starbucks’ co-branded card has no viable rewards even for Starbucks fans. There is also a $49 annual fee of that’s NOT waived the first year. But I would not want this card even if it had no annual fee. Here’s why:
The Starbucks Card has a sign-up bonus worth 4,500 stars. It can be earned after spending $500 in the first three months. Starbucks and Chase claim that the bonus is enough for 36 free food or drinks items.
You earn one extra star per dollar at Starbucks in addition to the two normally earned. Also, you earn one star per $4 spend outside of Starbucks. That’s not a typo, just horrible earning! And finally, stars can be redeemed only for free Starbucks products.
American Express Green Card
Amex’s verdant charge card is probably the most historically significant card still in existence. It’s also one of the most beautiful (in my humble opinion). But that does not mean that it’s a great option.
This card earns a single Membership Rewards (MR) point for every dollar spent. There are no bonus categories or multipliers, despite its $95 annual fee (waived the first year). Its only redeeming factor is a targeted sign-up bonus worth 25,000 points. This bonus can be earned after spending $1,000 in the first three months. The bonus is not always available, but it could be a way to earn a quick 25,000 MR points.
There are rumors that American Express is going to revamp the Green Card this year. But as it stands, the Green Card is one to avoid.
American Express Plum Card
This magenta-colored charge card is not talked about as much as the Business Gold or Business Platinum Cards. The reason is that the Plum Card is not designed for traveling. But that doesn’t mean it’s a poor choice in general for businesses.
The draw of the Plum Card is that it gives you flexibility in payment. You have the option to pay in full or float a balance for 60 days without any interest. This is a fantastic option for businesses with lots of payables and receivables.
The Plum card is the only Amex charge card that does NOT earn MR points. Instead, Amex gives you a 1.5% discount for paying your bill within 10 days of your statement closing date. You must charge and pay back $16,667 per year to break even on the card’s $250 annual fee (waived the first year).
In essence, the Plum Card is one to avoid for travel purposes. But it’s a fantastic option when used the way it’s supposed to.
All jokes aside, stay away from these cards! Keep reading PYCR if you want supremely better options to help you travel for free (or close to it).