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American Express credit cards are viewed as a status symbol by many people. The company's exemplary customer service, the trademark green look to the original card, and the concierge service known to help you obtain hard-to-get restaurant reservations, concert tickets, and more, sets this card apart. Add the American Express Centurion card (the famous black credit card for big spenders) to the company's mystique, and you may think AmEx is the only card to carry if you're a financial go-getter.
But in today's highly competitive credit card world, many other cards are just as good, have better rewards programs, offer concierge service, and may even skip the annual fee.
To get the same benefit of “No interest” that American Express offers as a charge card, just pay your bill within the grace period (usually 25 days.) If you've been rejected for American Express, look into these credit card offers for people with good credit, instead.
Editor's Note: With the news that Costco will terminate its relationship with American Express effective in April, 2016, we decided to revisit and update this article. More and more consumers will soon be looking for the best alternatives to their American Express cards for shopping at Costco and elsewhere.
Citi Double Cash Card
How would you like to earn great cash back rewards and receive services and perks comparable to those offered by American Express? A great place to start your search in the Double Cash Credit Card from Citi.
Here are the basics on how this card works*:
- 1% cash back when you make your purchase.
- Another 1% cash back on your payment principal payment amounts.
- No annual fee, no caps, and no category restrictions.
- Plus, 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (there is a 3% fee for your balance transfers).
Sounds interesting. Now let's see how its perks and concierge services stack up:
- The first time you are late with a payment, Citi waives the late fee.
- Access to Citi® Private Pass® - a cardmembers service providing you special access to purchase tickets to thousands of entertainment events and special experiences; including VIP packages, preferred & presale tickets to live concerts, family and comedy shows, plus sports clinics with celebrity athletes and culinary events with top chefs.
- Citi® Price Rewind allows you to shop with confidence - if your purchase goes on sale within 60 days of purchase, Citi refunds the price difference up to $300 per item, and up to $1,200 per year.
- Their Concierge Service is like a personal assistant who is available 24/7 and appreciates the importance of your time. They'll help you with everything from making travel arrangements and dinner reservations, to ordinary conveniences like scheduling a cleaning service and finding a dog walker.
- Damage & Theft Purchase Protection allows you to shop with more confidence — you're covered up to $1,000 per item, up to $50,000 per year if purchases made with your Citi card are damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase (90 days for New York residents).
- Extended Warranty protection add up to a year on your warranty of five years or less so you can feel more confident when you make purchases with your Citi card. You're covered for up to $10,000 per year.
- The Lost Wallet® Service will replace your card, usually within 24 hours, and provide you with emergency cash (subject to your available cash advance limit).
- Apple Pay™
- Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
- $0 liability for unauthorized charges
- 24 Hour fraud protection
- Worldwide Car Rental Insurance
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection
- Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance
Like American Express, CitiCards offers concierge service, access to special events, and a long list of perks, benefits and consumer protection rewards. Plus, the opportunity to earn 2% cash back on all your purchases and a generous introductory APR offer makes this card a great replace for an AmEx card.
With the launch of the it Cash Back card, it Miles card, and it for Students rewards card, Discover is showing its commitment to providing first class rewards cards.
The jury is out on whether or not Discover is easier (or harder) to get than American Express, but it's hard to beat the rewards offered by Discover.
it and it for Students Basics*
- 5% cash back on rotating rewards (up to $1,500 per quarter)
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other spending
- Redeem any amount, at any time
it Miles Basics*
- 1.5 miles points per dollar spent (or take as 1.5 cash back)
- Double all rewards at the end of12 months (so you get 3 points or 3% back for each $1 spent!)
- Annual $30 in-flight wi-fi credit
In addition, all Discover cards are currently offering introductory 0% APR promotions for new purchases and balance transfers - including up to 18 months on balance transfers with Discover it.* Balance transfers will be subject to a 3% transfer fee.
These rewards programs looks even better when you start examining all the perks and features included with your Discover card:
- No annual fee.
- Your rewards never expire
- Baggage Delay Insurance reimburses you the actual cost of replacing eligible travel essentials from your checked baggage, up to $500, if your baggage is delayed 3 hours or more.
- No late fee for your first late payment, and your APR won’t go up for paying late. No foreign transaction fee.
- 24/7 Travel Assistance provides you with a wide range of travel assistance benefits if your tickets, passports or other travel documents are lost or stolen while you are traveling.
- Free FICO® Credit Score on your monthly statements.
- Freeze it - Discover's on/off switch that lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. Freeze or unfreeze your account in seconds via our website or mobile app.
- Purchase protection - Discover covers your eligible purchases up to $500 if they are damaged or stolen within 90 days of the purchase.
- Extended Warranty - Discover will extend the terms of an existing warranty for up to 1 additional year on warranties of 36 months or less.
- Price Protection - Discover will refund the difference up to $500 on eligible items if you find a lower price at any store within 90 days of purchase.
- Return Guaranty - Discover will refund the purchase price up to $500 if the original store will not accept your return within 90 days of purchase.
Chase Freedom also offers a rotating rewards cash back card that works similar to the Discover it card. You can earn 5% back on rotating rewards categories on your first $1,500 , and 1% back on everything else. The Freedom card also comes with the possibility of earning a $100 signup bonus cash offer by spending $500 in the first 3 months.
Like a lot of top cards, Chase Freedom now offers a 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. Balance transfers will be subject to a 3% fee.
But you are here to find out what extra benefits Chase offers with the Freedom card*:
- Zero Dollar Liability Protection for unauthorized charges
- Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
- Extended Warranty Protection extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
- Roadside Assistance
- Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement
- Travel Accident Insurance
Most of the top card issuers today offer perks and features similar to those consumers came to expect from American Express. We think that you can choose a card with confidence based on its rewards programs and introductory APR offers. Just take a quick look to make sure you are getting the perks and consumer, shopping and travel protection you expect from an AmEx alternative.
One note of caution when applying with Capital One: several of their cards offer Visa Signature benefits only if you qualify for a $5,000 credit limit. So do not forget to check the fine print or refer to our reviews!
Last Update: June 29, 2015