Most of us who write these travel bloggy kinda thingies tend to shy away from writing about cash back credit cards. I think it’s because they don’t offer the opportunity to fly to Japan for next-to-nothing in business class. But in fairness, as I’ve written about here before, given that there are cards out there that offer 2% cash back, by choosing to use a mileage-earning card instead you are basically agreeing to buy miles at 2 cents a piece. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but just something to keep in mind: those free miles aren’t free (well, the miles you earn from spend bonuses are free or next-to-free; it’s the miles you earn through spend that are costing you $200 for every 10,000 miles you earn).
The handful of times I’ve mentioned cash back cards, I’ve discussed the Fidelity Rewards Amex cards, which pay 2% into eligible Fidelity accounts.
I’ve recently discovered 2 other credit cards that pay at least 2% cash back – these aren’t new cards, but I never see them discussed anywhere.
— The Priceline Rewards Visa pays 2% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on Name Your Own Price transactions at Priceline. Well, it’s not exactly cash back, but it’s close. You earn 2 points per dollar spent, and those 2 points convert to 2 cents credit on your card. You can pay off items on your credit card using those points. So while you can’t actually get the cash, you can pay for purchases at a rate of 2 cents per dollar spent. Close enough for me. And there’s no annual fee.
— Residents of California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon are eligible for the Marukai JCB Premium Card, which pays up to 3% cash back on all purchases. No annual fee in the first year, $25 thereafter. You’ll earn 1% cash back on the first $1,000 you spend each year; 2% on the next $2,000 you spend each year; then 3% on all spend after that. Plus, they’ll give you $50 each year that you spend more than $5,000 on the card, effectively earning you more than 3% as long as you spend more than $5,000 a year. The cash back is generally applied as a credit to your account.
The only real caveat is that it’s a JCB card, not a Visa/Mastercard or Amex. The JCB card is accepted in many places, and it’s generally accepted anywhere Discover is accepted.
But I haven’t heard much about this card (perhaps because of the geographic limitations), but 3% cash back with a low annual fee is a solid deal.
If you live in Hawaii you are eligible for your own version of this deal here.