Which No Annual Fee Credit Card Pays 3% Cash Back on All Travel?

Sam's Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard
Equipped with chip and PIN technology

There is a rewards credit card flying under the radar that pays 5% cash back on gas3% cash back on all travel, and dining out, and 1% cash back on everything else.

Can you guess which card this is?

Here’s a hint:

  • it is a no annual fee card;
  • it requires you to be a member;
  • membership is open to everyone but costs $45.

This Card Pays Higher Cash Back on Travel Than Better Known Rewards Credit Cards

No, it is not the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card.  The PenFed card earns 5x points on airline tickets, and 1x point on other purchases.  It offers a signup bonus of $200 after spending $2500 in the first three months and has no annual fee.

No, it is not the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® which pays 2x points on restaurant meals and all travel expenses, and redeposits 10 percent of redeemed miles back into your account.  The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® card offers 20,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and has no annual fee.

No, it is not the Chase Sapphire card which pays 2x points on dining, 1x points on other penes, and an extra point on hotels and air fares booked via Chase Ultimate Rewards.  The Sapphire card offers 10,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months and has no annual fee.

Meet the Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard

Sam's Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard
Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard

The Sam’s Club 5:3:1 MasterCard pays 5x points on gas purchases, 3x points on all travel, 3x points on restaurants, and 1x points on other purchases.  

I don’t know of no other no annual fee rewards credit card that pays 3 percent cash back on restaurants, hotels, rental cars, airline tickets, train tickets, buses, cruises, tours, and timeshares!  (If you have any contenders, please share in the comments.)

Some cards pay bonus points on car rental and hotels, others on restaurants or air tickets.  But the general travel rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire or the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® pay 2 or 2.2 percent respectively on travel and dining.

The Sam’s Club credit card comes with the latest chip technology for added security.  The card will be PIN enabled, meaning it can be used in situations such as overseas train stations where a PIN is required.

If you apply by August 31, 2014, and you will earn a $20 statement credit after spending $50.

There is no annual fee for the card, but membership in Sam’s Club is required, and membership costs $45.  

There is a maximum of $5,000 in cash back rewards during any “reward period” which is a calendar year.  You’d have to be a real big spender to exceed that cap!

Sam's Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard
Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard

Here are some specifics:

  • 5 percent cash back on fuel at gas stations (for the first $6,000 spent on fuel each calendar year). That’s good at all gas stations in the U.S. (except gas stations run by other warehouse clubs and super centers.) After the first $6,000 in fuel spending each year, you earn 1 percent back.
  • 3 percent cash back on restaurants worldwide (including fast food, bars, and catering, but excluding purchases at other warehouse clubs).
  • 3 percent cash back on all travel. Travel includes: rental cars; airlines; hotels; passenger rail; bus lines; cruise lines; time shares; travel agencies (although not those offered by other warehouse clubs); travel sites; and tour operators.
  • 1 percent back on all other eligible purchases.

Be sure to read the Terms and Conditions for all the details.

The Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back Credit Card Has Some Quirks

There are a few weird things about the Sam’s Club 5:3:1 card.

  • First, cash back rewards are issued just once a year in February.
  • Second, the rewards are in the form of a check made payable to Sam’s Club.
  • Third, the checks can only be cashed at a Sam’s Club.

These features are a big turn-off for me!

How to Get Sam’s Club Membership for “Free”

The usual cost of membership in Sam’s Club is $45 per year.

Several times a year you can find special offers for Sam’s Club membership via Groupon.

Continue reading —>

Which Cash Back Credit Card is Best for Priceline Purchases?

southwest  credit card bwi

Would you buy a used car(d)
from this woman?

I call myself the Priceline Queen, so I thought it would be fun to do a little analysis of which credit card is best for Priceline purchases.

On the face of it you might guess that The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card is the best bet, but that is not always the case.

For purposes of this analysis, I focused on three cash back, no annual fee credit cards issued by Barclays.

The three contenders are:

  • Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®
  • The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card
  • Upromise World MasterCard®

Ultimately, I decided not to publish the quantitative analysis, because the results were completely dependent on the hypothetical assumptions.  It makes more sense for you to consider your individual spending patterns.

Instead, I prepared a comprehensive table comparing the three options, considering the pros and cons of each of these cash-back, no annual fee credit cards from Barclay’s Bank.

In Brief

The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card pays 5 percent cash back on all Priceline purchases, and it offers a $100 bonus for new applicants, after spending $1,000.

The Upromise World MasterCard® pays 3x points on gas purchases at Exxon/Mobil and 5 percent cash back on online purchases via the Upromise shopping portal, plus an additional 5 percent or so depending on the vendor, and it offers a $50 bonus after the first purchase.  A ten percent payout on many travel purchases sounds pretty good, if you have faith that the Upromise shopping portal will pay out benefits.  That’s a big if!

The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® offers a $200 bonus after you make $1,000 of purchases within the first three months.  It pays 2x points on all travel and restaurant purchases, and you earn back 10 percent of the points your redeem for travel expenses.

You can shop through the Upromise shopping portal using any credit card, but only the Upromise World MasterCard® pays the extra five percent.

Upromise is for Everyone

You don’t have to be a college student or the parent of a college student to take advantage of the Upromise savings program.  Rebates from the credit card and the Upromise shopping portal are available to anyone registered with the program.  You can request a check when your rewards balance is $10 or more.  The catch is that you have to remember to go through the Upromise shopping portal, and that shopping portals are not always reliable in issuing the promised rebate.

Table Comparing Three No Annual Fee Cash Back Cards

This table is large, so please click through to see the complete analysis.

ATTRIBUTES
BARCLAYCARD ARRIVAL
PRICELINE CREDIT CARD
UPROMISE CREDIT CARD
BASICS & FEES
Credit neededExcellentExcellentExcellent
APR - Interest rate0% APR for 1st 12 billing cycles; then, APR of 14.99% or 18.99% based on credit worthiness. 0% APR for 1st 12 billing cycles; then, APR of 14.99% or 20.99% based on credit worthiness. 0% APR for 1st 12 billing cycles; then, APR of 12.99% or 20.99% based on credit worthiness.
Annual fee$0$0$0
Foreign transaction fee0%3%3%
Card brandWorld MasterCardWorld MasterCardVisa Signature
INITIAL BONUS
Initial bonus points05,000$50 after first use
Minimum spend for bonus points$1,000$1000 in 1st 90 daysUse card within first 90 days
Bonus points awarded for meeting minimum spend20,000 5,000
Total bonus points after meeting minimum spend20,000 = $200 statement credit toward travel expenses10,000 = $100 statement credit$50 rebate
REWARDS EARNING STRUCTURE
Earn rate2x points on restaurants and all travel expenses; 1x points on everything else. 5x points on "eligible" Priceline.com purchases; 1x points on everything else.5% off on online purchases at Upromise.com; 3% off gas at Exxon/Mobile; 2% off movie theaters; 1% off everything else.
Bonus earnings10% bonus points on travel redemptionsNone, but could shop through Upromise or other online portal for extra savings.

Earn extra points from merchants in shopping portal. Many online travel agencies, hotels, cruises, and car rental agencies can be found in Upromise portal.

Priceline payouts: 6% on Name Your own Price hotel; 5% on Hotels; 3.5% on Activities; 3.5% on Cruises; 5% Name Your Own Price Car; 3.5% on Rental cars; 3.5% Vacation Packages; 3.5% Name Your Own Price on Airfare; 1% on Airfare
REDEMPTIONS
Redeem for statement creditYes, in increments of 2,500 ($25) or more Yes, for any purchase of $25 or moreRequest a check;

Deposit in 529 college savings account.
Restrictions on redemptionsMust have 2,500 points minimum to redeem. To redeem for a $100 statement credit, for example, you must redeem your points towards a purchase of $100 or more.Quarterly checks if balance exceeds $10.
Other redemption optionsCan redeem points for statement credits or gift cards at half the value of travel redemptions (not recommended).Use to pay off Sallie Mae student loans.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
Free FICO Credit Scoreyes, 4 times a yearyes, 4 times a yearyes, 4 times a year
Purchase and Travel Protectionsyesyesyes
1 year free TripIt Pro subscriptionyesnono
LIMITATIONS
Can only redeem points at full value for travel expenses. Earn only 1x point for Priceline.com purchases on cruise bookings, non-Name Your Own Price® car reservations, and hotel reservations designated as Pay When You Stay.Payouts from online shopping portals are often unreliable.

Hard to remember to go through shopping portal.
OTHER FACTORS
Initial bonus worth $222;

Subsequent earn rate of 2.2% on all travel and restaurant purchases can pad your travel funds;

Relatively easy to cash out points for statement credits for travel purchases, but may require calls to customer service;
Initial bonus worth $100 toward Priceline reservations. 5% off prepaid hotel reservations on Priceline.com. $50 initial bonus. 3% savings on some gas purchases. 5% savings on purchases through Upromise shopping portal, plus extra payout from many travel vendors and 900 other merchants.
MY TAKE
Good for budget travelers that prefer flexible paid travel over reward redemptions.Good for heavy users of Priceline. Best earning rate (app. 10%) on online travel purchases, except direct purchases from airlines and some hotel brands.

Good option if you do a lot of online shopping.

You need to consider your own spending circumstances to see which credit card makes most sense for you.  Where do you come out?

Click here to compare current rewards credit card offers.