2% Rewards Card After Priceline Visa Closed The Door

Closed

If you thought about getting the Priceline Rewards Visa which gave 2% rewards on everything but you procrastinated, now it’s too late.

Back in April reader Charlie alerted me that my links were showing only 1% rewards. I found another link that still showed 2% rewards. Now posters on FatWallet reported that their applications using the 2% link were all declined. The reason given was that the 2% program is no longer offered to new applicants. They were invited to re-apply for the 1% card.

The bank hasn’t announced whether the rewards will be slashed for existing cardholders. I hope existing customers will be grandfathered forever but usually they are cut as well after some time.

This, and the previous experience with the Schwab Visa, show that 2% rewards on a Visa or MasterCard for every purchase with no special categories and no caps is a good deal that will not last. Next time you hear about one, jump on it right away. Use it while it lasts.

If you didn’t jump on it, Fidelity AmEx is the only one still available that gives 2% rewards on everything with no annual fee. All other 2% reward cards, including the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard, Capital One Venture, and BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards, follow this setup:

  1. An annual fee, waived in the first year
  2. No foreign transaction fee
  3. 2% rewards or more redeemable against past travel purchases

The annual fee will make sure you will use it as the primary card to make the annual fee worth it. Limiting the highest redemption percentage against past travel purchases will make sure you charge those high-dollar travel purchases to this card. The merchant fee rate is about the highest in the travel categories. High dollars times high fee rate equals high profit. If someone isn’t patient enough to wait for a travel purchase, the rewards will be redeemed at a lower rate. All these factors make this setup more sustainable than straight 2% rewards.

Fidelity AmEx is able to keep the 2% rewards because (a) Fidelity’s marketing budget supports it; and (b) the American Express network charges a higher fee to the merchants.

Of these remaining 2% rewards cards, Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard is the best. It offers 2.2% rewards and a much larger signup bonus ($400 vs $100) which effectively pays the annual fee for five more years after the first year.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Jason]

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Comments

  1. Harry says

    John – I heard you can request a check if you wait until your reward reaches $250. If you have a Fidelity account, the reward can be auto deposited when it goes over $50.

  2. Steve says

    This raises the question, is it worth chasing that extra percentage point? It doesn’t seem worth the time to constantly be looking for your next 2% card when you can get a 1% card with 1% of the effort and 0% of the annual fees.

    I don’t bother paying attention to the rotating 5% categories, either, because it’s a hassle to register and they typically have low caps on how much bonus you can get.

  3. Jim says

    I guess I got lucky and snagged a great deal at the right time. I have been using the Fidelity Rewards MasterCard for over 5 years now. No annual fee. I get 2% rebated on all purchases. No limits. The rebates are converted to cash and automatically deposited in my Fidelity brokerage account when they exceed $50. Thankfully this deal is still working for existing customers. My Chase business card pays 3% on gas, home improvement, office supply stores, and restaurants. The Chase freedom has the rotating categories at 5%. But the Fidelity card is used for everything else. I’m enjoying the ride while it lasts!

  4. Harry says

    Steve – I have a high tolerance for change. When I got the Priceline card I knew it may not last but I’m OK with riding along for as long as it does. It may still continue for existing customers indefinitely as Jim’s Fidelity 2% MasterCard did. You just never know. I think it’s worth it. If Jim didn’t get in thinking the 2% won’t last, he would’ve missed the extra 1% all these years.

  5. Matt Becker says

    I’ve used the Fidelity Amex as my primary card for 5 years now and there has never been a change in rewards or fees. I love it. I use the Fidelity Visa, which pays 1.5%, as my backup when Amex isn’t excepted. I’ve had that one for the same amount of time, also with no change.

  6. TJ says

    You have to do a LOT of non-amex spending to make the Fidelity Visa worth it. The points aren’t pooled together. I think you can transfer from one to the other after you have 2500 points, and only in 2500 increments. Once transferred to the other, they expire after a certain amount of days. I do have both, but there is not many places I go to that accept visa but not amex. Those that do usually charge a fee (even though that’s illegal)

    I think the Fidelity Amex is obviously the best of all the cards listed in this article, despite the lack of a referral link (which might be one reason they can afford maintaining the program).

  7. thepotatohead says

    I use a PNC visa as my main credit card, although since I’ve paid it off I’m not really looking to charge it back up again. It gives a bunch of rewards points for different things. What was nice was their debit cards also had the same rewards point structure, but sadly they canceled that last year.

  8. D says

    Bank of america cancelling the 2% schwab card was the best thing that happened to me.

    It was replaced by the twin AARP and TY Pref cards that gave me 5% back for six months each (12 months total), and then got me reading about travel cards. Since I have switched to bonus harvesting, I have averages 13% yield on my spend, with about half of that already redeemed, and half sitting in my accounts (albeit risking future devaluations).

    My credit score seems to be more 770-ish than 800-ish, 20 cards in. Cry me a river. Refi was still the best rate available.

  9. Dan says

    Steve, Harry,
    I too have a high tolerance for change and variety. I use both the Priceline Visa and Fidelity Amex 2% cards, among several others which I use for specific purposes that get me more than 2% back (groceries, restaurants, gas, rotating categories, sign up bonuses). If you’re willing to juggle a few cards and sign up for 2-5 new ones a year, you can get 5-10% back a year. Since I already spend a decent amount of time looking for savings account rates, index funds, and other products, the extra effort is fairly small and it’s well worth it to me.

  10. Chase Vaseleou says

    I had household credit card with 2% on everything capped out at $400 in rewards a year; for the past 4 years, now Capital one bought HSBC Credit they dropped it to 1.5%. Looking for a new card now.

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