Just what readers were clamoring for – more credit card coverage (with a twist)

Chase Chase Chase. AmEx AmEx. Chase Chase Chase Chase Chase. And on it goes.

Sure Chase and AmEx have great cards but they are hardly the only game in town. Since moving back to the US, I have been stunned at the utility of credit cards for travel, from sign-up bonuses to tremendous benefits. It seemingly defies logic what card issuers are willing to give in the hopes of claiming pride of place in the wallet. Annual Hilton Hhonors silver status from a no annual fee Citi card is but one example.

But the credit cards have all been flogged to death, right?

SOME cards have been flogged to death, that ego-stoking metal one, the formerly ulimited stopover to South America now New York to Boston one, etc.

There is a constellation of cards that are rarely mentioned. They are even neglected in the catacombs of FlyTalk. Some are junk. Some are hidden gems (the 2% cash back Priceline Visa). Some do not like people from Iowa (Aer Lingus, Best Western, China Airlines, Icelandair, and Lufthansa).

I am a completist. When I research a country I read every chapter in a guidebook before narrowing my selection. Similarly with credit cards, I have found himself researching the broad spectrum of cards.

This is the launch of detailed credit card reviews on Rapid Travel Chai. These are not the typical ‘reviews’ with inconsistent format and content. Or card comparison sites that spend half their time talking about interest rates, which, frankly, if those are a concern, you probably should not be dreaming of more credit cards. Hopefully the reviews will be useful, and in some cases, entertaining.

I chose criteria that seem most relevant to travelers and miles junkies, and which differentiate cards:

  • Card issuer
  • Type
  • Sign-up bonus (public)
  • Sign-up bonus (YMMV)
  • Annual fee
  • Annual fee waived first year (Y/N)
  • Additional cardholder fee
  • Foreign transaction fee
  • Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): Primary/Secondary/None
  • Earning
  • Redeeming
  • Special benefit(s)
  • Annual benefit(s)

The blog menu bar now has drop-downs for Travel Credit Cards, categorized by type including Business Cards, and Cards by Issuer, even AmEx Cards Not Issued by AmEx. Travel Credit Cards has a page for Deals & Picks, highlighting the best cards for bonuses and the best cards for the benefits. This is basic HTML stuff due to the limitations of the platform, but hopefully the content outshines the design.

The original plan was to have all cards before launch, but that is a Sisyphean task, as I learned in the battle to understand the multiple versions of each Barclays card. For launch, the travel cards of Barclays are covered in detail, check them out. Other cards have placeholder info provided by the card issuer, as noted, and are pending review.

And then there are those links to the usual suspects from Chase and AmEx. Yes, those are affiliate links that pay a commission to me if you use the link to  apply and are approved. I struggled tremendously with the decision to add affiliate links. It is fun to run this blog as a hobby, but it will be a lot more fun to make money from my efforts. As I am not likely to be hearing about affiliate offers from  North Korean banks or my other usual topics, the US credit card affiliate model is appealing.

If you are already planning to apply for any of the commission-paying cards and feel that Rapid Travel Chai is worthy of reward, I will be grateful for your support. Every card is clearly noted whether or not it pays a commission.

I appreciate every moment a reader spends with me on Rapid Travel Chai. The credit card coverage will supplement my usual, offbeat content. Much in that vein I started with a solid weekend of researching 17 cards from Barclays that do not pay a cent of commission.

Hopefully you will learn and enjoy. As with every topic I cover, I am limited by being one traveler making his way through the world. Please share and comment so that fellow readers  benefit from your expertise.

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  • M

    A HUGE thank you to you!  I have long been wondering about the ‘unpopular’ cards and have to spend time away from the usual blogs to find out any information.  This indeed is greatly appreciated-along with your witty repertoire of course!

    Looking forward to a good and ‘new’ read!

  • Brad

    Stefan–great initiative. Thanks for the post.

    Chase and AmEx offer some great products, but we’ve all heard everything we need to know about them (at least the mainline cards). There are other attractive value propositions that warrant some discussion.

    As just one example, I recently came across the LANPASS Visa Signature card issued by U.S. Bank. A couple tempting benefits: 3 upgrade passes per year and a one-time 20% discount on LAN flights.

  • Richard

    US Bank also has a bunch of store cards. Store cards are generally, ummm, less than completely useful from a “points per pull” perspective but when combined with other apps, make more sense.

    US Bank also has card(s) with their own no hassle/thankyou kind of points program as well.

  • @Brad – more to come, US Bank is on the list. Like Barclays, they take quite a bit of time to dig in since I am not familiar with many of programs but I am sure there are plenty of hidden values.