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Recently, American Express celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Membership Rewards program. And, while 25 years might not seem like a very long time, it’s practically an eternity in the credit card industry, which is constantly offering new products and withdrawing old ones.
Some new products are released with great fanfare, only to silently disappear within less than a year after the card issuer finds few takers.
Here are five credit cards that have bucked the trend — and possibly been around longer than you have.
1. American Express Green Card
The first American Express charge card was issued on paper in 1958, but it would become the first plastic card starting in 1959. That product continues today as the American Express Green card, one of its entry level charge cards. This card currently offers one point in the Membership Rewards program for each dollar spent, and double points for spending with Amex Travel. Benefits include a baggage insurance plan, extended warranty coverage, purchase protection and return protection. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year, and Amex imposes a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
2. BankAmericard from Bank of America
This card was introduced in 1958 as one of the first general-use credit cards rather than a card that could only be used at specific merchants. It was also one of the first to have a 25-day grace period as well as a credit limit. Today, Bank of America offers several cards with the BankAmericard brand, including just the basic BankAmericard credit card. This simple card has no rewards and no annual fee, but offers the lowest standard interest rate (11.24% to 21.24%, depending on creditworthiness) among all of the BankAmericard products. New applicants also receive 18 months of 0% APR financing on balance transfers created within 60 days of account opening, with a 3% balance transfer fee.
3. Discover it Card
Do you remember watching Back to the Future in the theaters or the original MacGyver show on television? If so, you’re also old enough to remember when the Discover card was introduced in 1985 by the Sears corporation as an alternative to cards from other payment networks. In more recent years, Discover card became an independent company and has rebranded its core offering as the Discover it card. Today, the standard Discover it card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter at select retailers and categories of merchants, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Other benefits include 100% U.S.-based customer service, a free monthly FICO score and a waiver of your first late payment fee. There is no annual fee for this card, no penalty interest rate and no foreign transaction fees. The card currently features a 0% introductory offer for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, there’s a 13.74% - 24.74% Variable on purchases & balance transfers APR on the card, depending on your creditworthiness. (You can read the Discover it review here.)
4. American Express Gold Card
Have you celebrated your 50th birthday yet? If so, you are older than American Express’s Gold charge card, which was introduced in 1966. Amex still offers its Gold card, which is one step up from its classic Green card. Today’s Gold card offers double points at U.S. restaurants and on reservations made with its Hotel Collection program, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. The Hotel Collection also offers a $75 credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities when you book a stay of at least two consecutive nights at participating properties. It also includes a baggage insurance plan, extended warranty coverage, purchase protection and return protection. There is an Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195., and there are no foreign transaction fees.
5. American Express Platinum Card
Realizing the need for a premium travel rewards card, American Express introduced its Platinum card in 1984 (read our review here). Today’s Platinum charge card offers Membership Rewards points and myriad other benefits including airport business lounge access, a $200 annual airline fee credit, and numerous travel insurance and purchase protection policies. It also offers you elite status with Starwood and Hilton hotels as well as Avis, Hertz and national car rentals. There is a $550 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
Remember, it’s important to always read the fine print carefully when trying to find a credit card that’s right for you. And, if you’re considering applying for a new credit card to take advantage of certain perks, it’s a good idea to check your credit ahead of time. Good credit scores generally help you qualify for the best terms and conditions. (You can see where you currently stand by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) Keep in mind, too, when it come to rewards credit cards, it’s best not to carry a balance — otherwise, any savings from the perks, points, miles or cash back will be lost to interest.
At publishing time, the BankAmericard, Discover it and American Express Platinum cards are 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.