Best Charge Cards - What You Need To Know!
The popularity of charge cards skyrocketed following the Great Recession, and in 2013 many consider them a smarter choice for budgeting, since you can't use them to rake up debt. But which are the best charge cards in terms of rewards and benefits? First, let's look at their distinctive features:
American Express is by far the largest issuer of charge cards in the United States. Some of the best charge cards on the market come from them. Their benefits include several types of complimentary insurance coverage, comprehensive expense tracking, higher rewards, and excellent customer service.
- Your monthly bill has to be paid in full, which means you can't run up long term debt like you can with credit cards.
- There is no interest charged as long as you pay your bill on time.
- Charge cards offer a wide array of benefits which are not always available on credit cards.
- An annual fee is paid because the bank isn't make money by charging you interest.
- You often have a high or no preset credit limit.
Which are the best for 2013?
So, which charge cards are considered to be the best? The Gold Card, Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Platinum Card from American Express are considered to be the top choices according to feedback gathered on the forum. Not just presently, but these 3 cards also have historical records of delivering the best value.
Why? Here are just a few of the benefits that all 3 cards have in common:
#1 Top Choice: For this one the membership fee right now is waived the first year so you have nothing to lose. Out of the 3 cards it also offers the highest rewards on both gas and supermarkets.
- Membership Rewards Program - The charge cards from AmEx earn "Membership Rewards" points which are much more valuable than your typical credit card reward points. Why? Because you can transfer M.R. points to over 15 hotel and airline frequent flyer programs. Best of all they don't get watered down during the transfer - you usually get 1 mile in exchange for each point.
- Purchase Protection Benefit: This covers your qualifying new purchases for the first 90 days if something happens to them - accidentally breaking them or if they get stolen.
- Extended Warranty Benefit - With this perk you get up to 1 year of extra coverage if you buy a qualifying item that has a manufacturer's warranty of 5 years or less. So if you bought an eligible computer with a 1 year warranty, you could get up to 1 additional year of coverage for free.
- Roadside Assistance - You can call for roadside assistance up to 4x per year and AmEx will cover up to $50 each time. So that means this benefit alone might be worth up to $200/year.
#2 Choice: This is the best entry level charge card if you don't want the extra rewards that the above version gives you. It has a $125 annual fee.
#3 Choice: The $450 fee is not appropriate for most people. But if you are a frequent traveler the benefits will definitely outweigh the costs, especially if you like to stay at high-end hotels.
What's the best offer if you still want a credit card?
Although not a charge card, this credit card has a reasonable annual fee given the many benefits you get with it. I have received quite a bit a positive feedback from people newer to credit/less impressive credit histories getting approved for it. It is a perfect choice for your first American Express card!
Are there any other charge cards available?
Yes and even though they aren't generally considered to be the top charge cards on the market, for some situations they might be an appropriate choice:
Diners Club - At $95 (or more) per year and given the horrible customer service reviews lately, it doesn't make sense to choose this over AmEx. In fact, Diners Club is the absolute worst choice you could make in 2013 in my opinion.
AmEx Green Card - While it's true this is a good starter card, given that the annual fee is almost the same as the Gold, it's hard to justify getting this particular charge card.
Chase Ink Bold - A good card but it's only for business. $95 annual fee.