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When you have a lot of credit cards, people come to you and ask you what card they should get. It comes with the territory. Coworkers and friends often ask me for card recommendations that have no annual fee, and while I think cards with annual fees can be really beneficial, you gotta give the people what they want. Given I get this request a lot, I figured I’d put my top three annual fee-free credit cards for New Yorkers in one place.
#1: Chase Freedom or American Express EveryDay
OK, so this is technically an either or category. Both of these cards offer the ability to earn convertible points, either Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards.
In terms of current bonuses available on these cards:
- Chase Freedom: earn $150 (15,000 points) after spending $500 in three months
- American Express EveryDay: 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in three months
The Chase card will earn you 5% cash back in rotating categories (5 points per dollar) and 1% everywhere else (1 point per dollar), while the AMEX gets 2 points per dollar at supermarkets and 1 point everywhere else. The American Express EveryDay also gives you 20% more points when you make 20 or more transactions in a month.
In terms of convertibility, Chase and American Express each have a fair number of transfer partners, which you can see here at this very well designed infographic by the Well Traveled Mile. Something to note: In order to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to partners, you’ll need to also have on of their premium UR cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Because of this, and because I tend to gravitate towards AMEX’s partners more, I would ultimately recommend the AMEX EveryDay. It’s really a matter of personal preference here, and since they both have no annual fee, you could get both if you so desired!
#2: Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum
I take Amtrak ALL. THE. TIME. In 2016, I made 21 trips on Amtrak, generally shuttling between NYC and Boston. For New Yorkers, Amtrak really can’t be beat in the Boston-D.C. market. Stations are generally more convenient than airports, and there’s no added security time suck. That’s why the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum has a place on this list. Currently, you’ll earn 12,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in three months with this card.
This no-fee Amtrak card, while not as great as the $79/year card, does come with some good benefits. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar on Amtrak purchases and 1 point on everything else. You’ll also get a 5% point rebate when you make award redemptions.
#3: jetBlue Card
When you do need to fly, jetBlue has one of the largest presences in the NYC area, and I’ve found them to be a really convenient airline for my needs. Out of just JFK, they fly to over 70 destinations, and there’s no reason to believe they’ll shrink. Currently, you’ll earn 5,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in three months with this card.
The jetBlue card offers 3 points per dollar on jetBlue purchases, 2 points per dollar at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1 point everywhere else. You do trade some benefits, like higher earning ratios and anniversary bonus points, to avoid the annual fee.
Credit Cards for New Yorkers Conclusion
I have a version of all the cards below (not always the no annual fee version), so given my experience using them, and what people have asked me for, these are my go-to recommendations as far as credit cards for New Yorkers go. As always, I feel like I must repeat Dan’s mantra that you should NOT sign up for ANY credit card just because some guy on the Internet says that it’s a good idea. Do your research, weigh the pros and cons and figure out what makes sense for you and your family.
Anyone out there want to offer alternative credit cards for New Yorkers? The only rule is that it can’t have an annual fee!
Header image courtesy of AngMoKio.