[Updated 5/25/13: I no longer know of a working landing page for the Priceline Rewards card that displays the 2% cash back offer. However, this FatWallet Forums thread has a link to this application, and if you click on the "Terms and Conditions" at the top of the page you'll see that they still show "2 points per $1 spent on all other transactions."]
[Update 6/29/13: the link above is no longer working, which means the Priceline 2% cash back offer is now well and truly dead. If you know of a working application link, let me know!]
The two best all-purpose cash back credit cards available today are the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express, which earns 2 points per dollar, worth 2% cash back when deposited to a Fidelity account, and the Priceline Rewards Visa, which earns 2 points per dollar spent on the card and allows you to redeem those points at 1 cent each for statement credits. Even better, neither card has an annual fee. Today, I'd like to clarify some of the important differences between the two cards.
- The Fidelity Investment Rewards card is issued by FIA Card Services, the credit card division of the Fidelity investment bank.
- The Priceline Rewards Visa is issued by Barclaycard US.
Since the Fidelity card is not issued by American Express, you can apply for it at the same time as a credit or charge card issued by American Express, like the Premier Rewards Gold or Platinum Membership Rewards-earning cards, or a Starwood or Delta co-branded card, without an automatic rejection.
Barclaycard also issues the Arrival World MasterCard (which I just received in April) so you probably won't be able to receive both that card and the Priceline Rewards Visa in the same application cycle.
- The Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express does not have a signup bonus.
- The Priceline Rewards Visa has a signup bonus of 5,000 bonus points after your first purchase, worth $50 in statement credits.
Fewer merchants, especially small local merchants, accept American Express cards than Visa cards, although I find that besides at the smallest grocers and restaurants American Express cards are very widely accepted in the United States.
If you use the US Bank or Nationwide Visa Buxx cards to manufacture spending, those products only allow you to load using Visa and MasterCard.
On the other hand, if you do much of your shopping at Costco you know that their stores accept only American Express cards.
- The minimum redemption for the Fidelity Investment Rewards card is 5,000 points, worth $50 in cash deposited to a Fidelity account.
- The Priceline Rewards card allows a minimum redemption of 2,500 points against a charge of at least $25. No partial redemptions are allowed, meaning you must have enough points to redeem for the entire amount of the charge to your account.
- Fidelity allows you to set up automatic disbursements at the end of each month, or you can manually redeem your points for cash deposited to a Fidelity account. In either case you must have at least 5,000 points, worth $50, in order to redeem them (however, there does not appear to be a maximum).
- Priceline Rewards allows you to redeem your points for a statement credit against any charge made in the last 90 days. Since you need to have enough points to cover the entire charge, the best method to make sure you don't have any points left over is to manufacture a transaction of exactly the right size. For example, if you send $1,000 per month using Amazon Payments, you can break that into one $950 transaction and one $50 transaction, which you can then redeem your Priceline Rewards points for.
The Priceline Rewards card has a lower minimum redemption, and more widespread acceptance as a Visa card, but a slightly more complicated redemption method, which doesn't allow you to redeem your points for cash directly.