Every once in a while I come across a credit card product that I haven't heard of, but which seems to offer some kind of disproportionately high earning potential. Typically these cards fly under the radar either because they're new, they earn miles in a less-familiar rewards program, and/or they don't offer referral credit to bloggers. Here are a few such cards:
Barclaycard Travelocity Rewards American Express – 2%-6% cash back
When I wrote about this card all the way back in June, there were 2 versions of the card, one which earned 5 points per dollar spent at Travelocity and one which earned 3. I can no longer find a working link to the 5 point card, so it seems they've discontinued it for new applications. The 3 point per dollar, no-annual-fee card is still available though, offering 10,000 points after $1,000 in purchases within 90 days, worth up to $200 in statement credits against Travelocity purchases (see my June post for more information about redemptions).
You should be booking your paid airline tickets through Travelocity anyway, since they offer 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.
The Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard is strictly superior for manufactured spend, since it earns a flat 2.22% cash back on all purchases after the 10% redemption rebate, while the Travelocity American Express earns 6% only on Travelocity reservations, and 2% on all other purchases (which is still a decent return for a no-annual-fee card). And of course if you make a travel purchase with the Arrival card in order to make a redemption against it, you can't make the same purchase with the Travelocity card!
On the other hand, the Arrival MasterCard has an $89 annual fee, and earns less value on the travel purchases themselves.
That's a problem with no one right answer, but I would use the Travelocity card if I booked a lot of reimbursable business flights, and earn a $400 rebate for every $6,667 I spent on airfare.
For hotel stays, you are still be better off using a hotel co-branded card and booking through your hotel's website, since $6,667 spent on a co-branded card is enough to earn 1 or more (in some cases many more) free nights at any hotel chain property except a Category 7 Starwood property, which would require $8,750 or $7,000 on the co-branded American Express, depending on your elite status.
Quicken Rewards Visa – up to 2.86% cash back
Like the US Bank FlexPerks Visa, this card offers travel redemptions in fixed tiers, so the amount of value of your points will depend entirely on the cost of the flights you redeem them for. Here's are the available redemption tiers:
You can also redeem your points for a $100 check for 10,000 points. So, assuming you're not some kind of sociopath, you'll get a minimum of 1 cent and a maximum of 1.43 cents in value per point (for a flight costing exactly $500).
Crucially, the card earns 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations, pharmacies, and office supply stores. If those sound like 3 of the most popular and lucrative venues for manufactured spend, it's because they are.
Interestingly, the slightly random redemption thresholds make this card a good complement to the US Bank Flexperks Visa. For example, a $400 ticket would cost 20,000 FlexPoints, giving you 2 cents per FlexPoint (100% of the maximum value), but 35,000 Quicken points, giving you 1.14 cents per point (80% of the maximum value).
Huntington Voice - 3% cash back on $2,000 in spend per quarter
While you won't get rich using this card, you can still earn $240 per year manufacturing spend in the bonus category of your choice (including gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, and office supply stores). Together with some of my other favorite cash back cards, like the US Bank Cash+, Discover More, and Chase Freedom, this is the kind of card you can take out once a quarter, max out your bonus category, and forget about it for 3 more months.
Which are your favorite "sleeper" cards, the ones that don't get the attention you think they deserve?