[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — PenFed Promise, Barclaycard Ring, Capital One Journey Student Rewards and Discover it. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Americans are constantly being astounded by the promise of innovative new products such as self-driving cars, wearable electronics and virtual assistants that you can speak with. But truth be told, the credit card industry is not always the most innovative segment of the economy. Credit card issuers tend to release new products frequently, but many are mere copies of their competitors, with incremental improvements at best.
Thankfully, there are still some credit cards that stand out from the pack in some way. These are cards that can offer new ways of interacting with customers, provide unique benefits, or just eliminate fees that are imposed by all other card issuers.
If you’re the kind of person that prefers to use innovative or distinctive products, then you may want to consider one of these five credit cards that truly break the mold. Just remember to read all the fine print carefully to be sure a particular credit card is right for you. It’s also a good idea to check your credit since you typically need a stellar score to qualify for the better cards on the market. (You can view your free credit report summary, along with two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) And, if you’re using a rewards credit card, it’s best t to pay any balances off in full since not doing so can quickly eat away any points, miles or cash back you’ve earned.
With these caveats in mind, here are some cards that stand apart from the rest of the plastic out there in some way.
1. PenFed Promise Visa Card
If you asked people to dream up an ideal credit card, they might imagine a card with no fees at all. And while such a card doesn’t seem quite possible, it actually exists. The PenFed Promise has no fees of any kind, including annual fees, foreign transaction fees, late fees and even cash advance fees. And while it’s not a rewards credit card, new cardholders can receive a $100 bonus statement credit after spending $1,500 on new purchases within 90 days of account opening, as well as 12 months of a 4.99% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) for balance transfers (subject to approval).
PenFed is the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which was created to provide financial services to members of military, defense and government organizations. To apply, you must first join the credit union based on your membership in one of these organizations or by joining a qualifying military support group for a one-time fee of as low as $15.
2. Barclaycard Ring MasterCard
One of the gripes that many people have with their credit cards is the experience dealing with long waits on hold and poorly trained customer service representatives. But with the Barclaycard Ring, cardholders interact with each other, along with Barclaycard’s product manager, as part of an online community. The Barclaycard Ring community discusses issues related to credit cards, while voting on changes to the card’s terms and conditions. Furthermore, the card has an exceptionally low interest rate of 8.25% that applies to purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. There’s no annual fee for this card, no balance transfer fee, and no foreign transaction fees.
3. The Plum Card from American Express OPEN
There are many credit cards for small business owners, and these cards are often just like consumer cards, but the Plum card from American Express is different. With this card, business owners have the option of paying early and earning a 1.5% discount, or taking up to 60 days to pay with no interest. There’s a $250 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
4. Journey Student Rewards From Capital One
This student card does a few things that you don’t normally see. It offers 1% cash back on all purchases, but if cardholders pay on time, they can boost those earnings to a total of 1.25% cash back that month. The card also offers cardholders access to a higher credit line when they make their first five payments by their due date. Capital One also differs from most other card issuers in that it doesn’t impose foreign transaction fees on any of its cards. There is no annual fee for this card.
5. Discover it
In 2013, Discover started over with a new line of cards simply called Discover it. The standard Discover it card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made each quarter in featured categories, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The Discover card has other distinctive features such as no penalty interest rate, and automatic waiver of your first late payment fee. There is no annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees. Discover is also currently matching all the cash back new cardholders earn dollar for dollar at the end of their first year.
At publishing time, the PenFed Promise, Barclaycard Ring, American Express OPEN Plum, Capital One Journey Student Rewards and Discover it credit cards offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
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