Following some recent experiences with rewards-earning cards, I wonder whether the offerings are well-designed. None seem to stand out from the pack. They all generally offer some sign-up bonuses, some points-earning capability, insurances of various kinds, a bit of lounge access, access to a wine club etc.
What if an issuer offered a card which was exceptionally strong just in one area rather than a bland mixture of items, all good but none outstanding?
As an example, what if a credit card - Visa/Mastercard - had the simple proposition: $1 spend equals 1 point (Qantas or Velocity or Krisflyer …). No sign-up points, no insurances, just the one offer. And priced in the $100 to $150 pa range for example. Ideal for the points-earner.
Another example might have a different combination: great travel cover (at least as good as a specialist insurance offer) plus lounge access. Ideal for the traveller and real value.
There is no one card does all option. Annoys me too. I’d love to give my business to one provider but I maintain 4 cards to optimise my points. You need to consider annual fees and point caps based on your spending habits but in general I’d suggest you look for a Visa/MasterCard that gives you 1:1 and an Amex that gives you 1.5:1. That should take care of the average spending. I spend an significant of money (at least $1,000 per month) in foreign currency so I also have a card dedicated for that purpose that doesn’t charge currency conversion fees or international transaction fees (generally around 3%). I also have a Platinum Amex which gives 3 points at restaurants and 2 point is $AUD for accommodation but in essence, I only have that card for the travel/hotel benefits, not for its points earning.
For me personally the American Express cards always stand out from the pack and offer incredible value for money. Take for example the American Express platinum Edge. $195 annual fee, one free return flight within Australia ( i sell mine for around $300 so this card actually pays ME). 3 ppd at supermarket 2ppd at petrol station and one elsewhere (with some exceptions). And you’re earning points in what is arguably the best reward program in Australia (Membership Rewards). For everything that doesn’t accept Amex i have my Bank West World Mastercard with no FX fees and 1:1 earn rate. I have a few other cards but won’t go into details.
I pick my main “stack” based on the value they offer me even after the annual fee. In the end you have to do the maths and see what works for you but IMO there are quit a few “stand out” cards worth considering.