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Suppose that you signed up for the American Express Platinum card. You saw the high-end travel perks and thought that the $450 fee was well worth it. Maybe they were at the time if you were a high rolling globe trotter. However, if you got tired of rubbing elbows with other high rollers or your lifestyle has changed for other reasons, the time may have arrived to downgrade to a less expensive card.
If you own a relatively expensive American Express card such as the Platinum or the Premier Rewards Gold card, and aren’t taking full advantage of the benefits, you can actually downgrade the card to another offering from American Express. If you are downgrading from say, Blue Cash Preferred to Blue Cash, many times this can often be done without a hard credit pull or even an account number change.
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular cards offered by American Express that have either no annual fee, or something a bit more reasonable.
Blue Cash Everyday from American Express Card
[#Amex_Blue_Cash_Everyday_Review#]The Blue Cash Everyday from American Express card is a great rewards card with no annual fee. It is particularly suited well for everyday spending. This card offers 3% cash back at U.S. stand-alone supermarkets, 2% cash back on gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations and select major department stores; 1% cash back on other purchases.
Also, note that you’ll receive $150 statement credit after you spend $1000 in your first three months. If you are in the market for a good credit card that won’t cost an arm and a leg, this is one that should be strongly considered.
Costco and American Express True Earnings Card
[#Amex_True_Earnings_From_Costco_Review#]The Costco and American Express True Earnings card comes with high-quality rewards and no annual fee – sort of. This is because you’ll have to pay a Costco membership to have no annual fee on this card. However, if you already frequent Costco or are a fan of such stores in general, that shouldn’t be a problem.
With this card, you’ll earn 3% cash back on gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations, including at Costco, for purchases up to $4,000 per year (1% thereafter). Note that the rewards on gas purchases are a bit restrictive, as you’ll only get rewards at Costco and stand-alone gas stations. Purchases at the gas stations of other warehouse clubs, convenience stores, superstores and supermarkets are not eligible for rewards. Also, note that there is a 75 gallon maximum per purchase, which shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t drive a bus to work.
Dining and travel purchases qualify for 2 percent cash back with this card. All others are good for 1 percent cash back.
American Express Hilton HHonors Card
If you would like a travel card without an annual fee, the American Express Hilton HHonors card should work just fine. It offers high-quality travel rewards at no annual fee.
If you spend at least $750 within the first 3 months with this card, you’ll earn 40,000 bonus points. That’s enough for over 5 nights in a basic hotel room without spending an extra dime.
For purchases at Hilton locations, grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations, wireless and home phone, Internet, cable and satellite television providers, you’ll earn 6 points per dollar spent. All other purchases are good for 3 points per dollar spent. With high rewards per dollar spent, a strong upfront bonus offer and no annual fee, this is a good card to have if you are a traveler on a budget.
How Each Card Could Work For You
Suppose that you spend $50,000 per year with your chosen card. Let’s assume that you spend it as follows:
Groceries – $5,000
Gasoline – $3,500
Clothing – $1,000
Dining – $2,500
Travel – $5,000
All others – $33,000
This is how each card would work for you during the first year:
|Card||Upfront Bonus||Purchase Rewards||Total Value|
|Blue Cash Everyday||$100||$645||$745|
|Hilton Hhonors Amex||40,000 points||190,500 points||Varies|
It is important to note that the Hilton HHonors card is a bit of a wildcard. There are published rewards charts indicating how many rewards are necessary to get certain levels of hotel rooms (you can also redeem in other fashions), but what does that mean to you if you are an average traveler just looking to book a room? For example, I searched for a Hilton room in Seattle and the required points varied widely, even among those with similar prices. In other words, the value of your points depends on more than just the cost of the hotel room.
The upfront bonus on the Hilton HHonors card and it’s purchase rewards are certainly good to consider. If you are looking for a high-quality travel rewards card with no annual fee, this one could be good for you.
However, given that you can spend cash back rewards without any strings attached, I recommend going with the Blue Cash Everyday from American Express card. It offers better rewards with less strings attached than the Costco and TrueEarnings card and has a less complicated rewards system than the Hilton HHonors card. Any card that you choose among these 3 will offer a strong value, but my pick goes to the Blue Cash Everyday card.