AAA Member Rewards

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This is a straight-A card if you're a regular traveler who prefers low-maintenance over big rewards.

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The AAA Member Rewards card from Visa boasts generous rewards without the hefty fees. Cardholders will earn 3 points per dollar spent on qualifying travel and AAA purchases, which is a better-than-average rewards rate. Gas, grocery and drugstore purchases snag 2 points per dollar and all other spending gets 1 point per dollar.

Considering there is no annual fee to use this card, it’s an attractive option for people who want to be rewarded for travel purchases without having to keep track of spending categories. But no annual fee also means this card has fewer perks than what the premium travel rewards credit cards offer.

Review

The simple, no-hassle AAA Member Rewards card makes it easy to use and redeem points. There are no rotating categories, no rewards cap and points don’t expire for five years from the month you earn them. You can put the card on autopilot and rack up the rewards.

Keep in mind, the highest rewards go to travel and some AAA purchases. If you spend just a small amount on travel or AAA each year, then you probably want to look elsewhere.

New cardholders will get 10,000 bonus points after spending $500 within the first 90 days of the account opening. That’s worth $100 if you redeem for cash-back, which isn’t a great bonus, but it’s fair as far as no-fee cards go.

Points can be redeemed immediately through AAA’s Member Rewards store or by calling them. There is a wide range of goods and services you can redeem your points for, so you’re not locked into one brand or company. The points are good for travel, car rentals, hotels, merchandise and more. You can also get cash back, statement credits and even auto repair vouchers.

Although there are cards with more valuable rewards, many of them require category spending — which means you have to keep track of how much points are worth each month and then activate that category. For some folks, the extra two percentage points are not worth the hassle. Likewise, some of the more rewards-rich cards tack on annual fees, which is not worth it for people who are not avid rewards earners.

Who should get this card

If you’re a frequent traveler and are looking for a card that offers strong rewards without a lot of babysitting, then this is a great choice. You don’t have to worry about category spending, heavy fees or short expiration dates. The AAA Member Rewards card offers flexibility, low fees and a generous but easygoing rewards structure.

For those who want the most rewards possible, there are better cards but you will likely have to work a little harder to maximize their value.

Advantages
  • You won’t have to pay an annual fee.
  • The rewards are generous and there’s no minimum, so you can earn away.
  • Cardholders will get extra perks like car rental insurance at no additional cost.
Disadvantages
  • The sign-up bonus is modest compared to other rewards cards.
  • If you don’t travel or make AAA purchases, then you won’t maximize this card’s rewards value.

Fees and APR

  • There’s no annual fee.
  • Cardholders won’t have to pay a foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • The variable APR is between 13.99% and 23.99% based on creditworthiness.
  • 0% introductory balance transfer APR for the first 12 statements.
  • The APR for cash advances is between 16.99% and 25.99%.

Extras, perks and using points

New cardholders will receive 10,000 bonus points redeemable for $100 cash back after making at least $500 in purchases within the first 90 days.

Points expire after five years from the month in which they were earned.

Earn 3 points per dollar spent on qualifying AAA and travel purchases; 2 points on gas, grocery store and drugstore purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Your card comes with complimentary the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Program (“Auto Rental CDW Program”); this includes damage due to collision or theft up to the actual cash value of most rental vehicles when certain terms and conditions are met.

Redeem points for travel, gift cards, AAA rewards vouchers and cash back. Redemption values for points begin at 2,500 points for air, 3,500 points for gift cards, and 5,000 points for cash and AAA rewards vouchers. Cash redemption is worth 1% of the points redeemed.

How this card compares

Card Details
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed Good
Regular APR 15.99% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 15 months

The Chase Freedom card is fee-free and offers rotating bonus categories that pay 5% back, with a cap of $1,500 in each category and an unlimited 1% back on everything else. You also have to sign-up each quarter to get the bonus.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Card Details
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed Good
Regular APR 15.99% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 15 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 15 months

Chase Freedom Unlimited is a solid, straightforward cash-back rewards card that’s ideal for cardholders who just don’t have the time or energy to track spending categories. It ranks among the very best cash-back credit cards we track.

There are other cards that offer better rewards, but the Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash back on everything is an excellent reward coming from a no-annual-fee credit card.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Card Details
  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 13.99%-24.99% Variable
Annual Fee $95
Purchase Intro APR 0% on Purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months

If you can get over the idea of paying the $95 annual fee, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is a must-have card in the wallet of any big grocery shopper. The 6% cash-back reward at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 in spending each year, then 1%, is the most lucrative available in this category.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.