[Update: The offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Capital One Spark Cash for Business.]
Credit cards are kind of like cars. Most drivers stick to popular models like the Honda Accord or the Toyota Camry, while others seek out high performance cars that are more exotic. Likewise, the market for credit cards is so vast, that it is worth considering some cards that you might not be aware you could even get.
One of the more unexpected cards with great rewards out there is the AARP card from Chase. When people think of the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), they probably think of the commercials that feature senior citizens. In fact, people of all ages can join the AARP as an associate member, if only to apply for this card. The new AARP Visa offers 3% cash back from purchases at gas stations and at restaurants, and 1% cash back on all other charges. There is no annual fee for this card, and new applicants earn $100 cash back after spending $500 within the first three months of opening an account.
Here are four more surprising credit cards with great rewards:
Spark is a business card, but there is nothing stopping cardholders from using it for any purpose they wish. This card features an outstanding 2% cash back on all purchases, and like all Capital One products, there is never any foreign transaction fees. There is no annual fee the first year, and a modest $59 fee after that.
This card doesn’t offer the best all-around rewards program, but it does have some amazing bonus categories. Cardholders earn five Thank You Points for every dollar spent at restaurants and on entertainment. What does Citi consider entertainment? It includes book stores, record stores, restaurants, motion picture theaters, and video entertainment rental stores. But since purchases from Amazon.com are considered to be from a “book store,” cardholders can receive five points per dollar on anything sold by Amazon.com. There is no annual fee for this card.
Lufthansa Miles and More World MasterCard From Barclays Bank
Few credit card users realize that foreign airlines can offer credit cards to Americans that are issued by banks here in the United States. The Lufthansa Miles and More card features an excellent sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles after a cardholder’s first purchase, and another 30,000 miles after spending $5,000 on the card within 90 days. So why get this card instead of one from a domestic airline? Lufthansa requires only 35,000 miles for a round trip, business class award within the United States. So when Lufthansa miles are redeemed for flights on its partner United, it results in a domestic first class seat. In contrast, United charges 50,000 of its miles for the same seat. There is a $79 annual fee for this card.
Asiana Airlines American Express Card From Bank of America
Another gem from a foreign airline is this card from the South Korean carrier Asiana. It offers double miles for all gas and grocery purchases, which is nice. But even nicer is the way Asiana allows customers to redeem awards. Awards on Star Alliance partners are distance-based, and travelers are allowed four multi-day stopovers along their trip. A trip of 10,000 miles requires only 80,000 points for a business class award. Therefore, cardholders can travel from the northeast U.S. to most of Europe, and visit four additional cities along the way. In contrast, United Airlines requires 100,000 miles for a business class ticket to Europe, and only allows a single stopover. There is a $99 annual fee for this card, but new applicants receive 10,000 miles after their first purchase.
There is a whole world of unusual credit cards out there that are just waiting for savvy customers to take them for a spin. And unlike owning an exotic car, having an exotic credit card will never result in unexpected maintenance costs.
At publishing time, Capital One Spark Cash and Citi Forward are offered through Credit.com product pages and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for either of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Image: Monkey Business