Fifth Third Bank is a small regional bank with headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, that’s historically had some ho-hum card offerings. But now it’s offering the highest return possible on dining for personal no-annual-fee cards — 3 percent — with its new Trio card.
Although a few no-annual-fee cards offer 3 percent back on dining (the Costco Anywhere Visa, the AARP card and the SimplyCash Plus card), it’s still rare on personal cards. While that may be a compelling reason to apply, read our review to make sure it’s a good addition to your wallet.
The no-annual-fee Trio card offers elevated cash back in several constant bonus categories – with caps:
- 3 percent cash back at restaurants and 2 percent cash back on gas, at grocery stores and at drugstores (for up to $1,5000 in spending per quarter in these combined categories)
- 1 percent cash back on other purchases (no cap).
This makes the Trio card a cross between an uncapped-rotating-bonus-category card like the Blue Cash cards from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) and a capped-bonus-category card like the Discover it Chrome. You get a wide swath of unchanging bonus categories represented, but your earnings are capped each quarter.
New cardholders can earn a bonus worth $100 (10,000 Real Life Rewards points) if they spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.
You’ll earn points in Fifth Third’s Real Life Rewards program. These are redeemable for:
- Cash back and deposits into a Fifth Third checking or savings account (at 1 cent per point)
- Fifth Third loan and mortgage payments
- Gift cards
- Travel (via Fifth Thirds portal)
This card comes with a suite of protections and perks, including:
- Price protection
- Extended warranty
- Rental car insurance
- Cell phone protection
- No foreign transaction fees
- And more (see your card’s terms)
Should you get this card?
With no annual fee, the Fifth Third Trio card could be a valuable member of your cash-back line-up.
That’s mostly due to the sheer number of its bonus categories: Dining, groceries, gas and drugstores are all represented. And the 3 percent return on dining is hard to beat.
Those earnings are capped, of course, at $1,500 per quarter. And, while 3 percent on dining is high, other cards offer more in the Trio’s other categories. So, if you’re trying to maximize your cash-back earnings, you’ll want to supplement with other no-annual-fee cards. That way, you can earn the most cash back possible in several categories and swap in other cards as you reach any quarterly caps. Possibilities include:
- The American Express Blue Cash Everyday card, which offers 3 percent back at supermarkets, 2 percent back on gas and 2 percent back at department stores (all uncapped)
- The BankAmericard Cash Rewards card, which offers 3 percent back at gas stations and 2 percent at grocery stores (uncapped).
- Discover it Chrome, which offers 2 percent at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in spending per quarter).
- The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard, which offers 2X points on gas and grocery store purchases (uncapped).
The bottom line: If you spend a lot in dining, don’t want to pay an annual fee and want the simplicity of cash back, the Trio card is an asset to your strategy. It’s best used in tandem with other cards, but if you want to keep things simple, its four bonus categories mean you’re still getting a great return on common expenses.
If you have an appetite for complexity and want to use your dining charges to maximize airline rewards, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earns 2X on dining (uncapped) and lets you shuffle your points into various airline and hotel programs.
Why we gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars
This rating was based on our standards for cash-back credit cards, as cash back is the primary redemption option advertised for this card.
The card earned stars on the strength of its rewards (including its rare 3 percent return on dining). It was docked stars for capping category earnings and being short on unique benefits that similar cards offer.
|Rewards-earning rate: This card meets our requirements for no-annual-fee cash-back cards by offering at least 3 percent cash back in a bonus category.|
|Cash-back redemption value: The Trio card earns this star with a cash-back redemption value of 1 cent per point.|
|Rewards simplicity/transparency: This card was docked a star for capping its category earnings.|
|Bonus-earning opportunities: This card earns a star by offering an advertised sign-up bonus and its card-linked bonus program (Prewards).|
|Unique perks: The card earns half a star for offering (rare) cellphone protection. Its other benefits, however, aren’t out of the ordinary.|