I receive a lot of “credit card spam” in the mail but I always open each envelope just in case I find something worthwhile. Going through this spam mail this weekend, I noticed a new credit card I never heard of called the TravElite card in some fancy packaging. I opened it to find out that it offered 3x points on airfare and hotel purchases (hmm better than the Sapphire Preferred) and 1.5x points on everything else (hmm just like Mileage Plus Club Card). It also offered a $100 airline fee credit annually and a $100 credit for Global Entry. There was a $99 annual fee (not waived) but all those perks certainly got my attention.
With my hopes high, I dug a little more into the card. It was an American Express card but issued by the First National Bank of Omaha which I’ve never heard of. My first thought was maybe this smaller bank was issuing a premium credit card to compete with the big banks in the industry so this was good news since I could always use a card that is not from the Chase, American Express & Citibanks of the world. The next question was how is the rewards program since that is what ultimately matters.
Alas, this is where I started seeing the downfall of this card. Per both the mailer and their website, “You can check your point balance and redeem points for rewards like travel, gift cards, merchandise or cash back as a credit to your account.” No mention of transferring points to any frequent flier programs so this looks like your ordinary cash back credit card. I couldn’t find any information related to the rate of cashback but I think it is safe to assume its $.01 per point. While a setback, if this card had a large signup bonus it might be worth it for the first year and than I could just cancel it.
Ah the final nail in the coffin – there was no signup bonus. Without a signup bonus, the most value you could extract from this card would be $100 in the first year and that assumes you need to still apply for Global Entry (since the $100 airline fee credit offset sets the annual fee). Going forward, this would be an awful card to put any spending on since you’d be paying a $99 annual fee for the right to earn 1.5% cashback on all purchases outside of airfare and hotels. You’d be much better off with the no annual fee, 2% cash back Fidelity Amex with a $50 signup bonus or even the Barclay Arrival Plus.
If it wasn’t clear already, this is an awful credit card to signup for. I personally look for at least $300 in value for opening a credit card and that is usually covered by the large signup bonus associated with most cards. This card doesn’t offer one so ,if you see this offer in your mailbox don’t fall for the snazzy packaging and safely send it to your paper shredder.