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Picking a rewards credit card that closely aligns with your spending habits is one of the easiest ways to quickly rack up points and cash back.
But what if you could earn more on rewards tied to your interests in space exploration or your plant-based lifestyle?
Some companies are working to specialize their card offerings more than ever, which can help you earn more rewards on the purchases that you make most often. No matter how specialized your spending habits, chances are there’s a card just for you.
Still, it’s important to remember that a general rewards credit card may also bring you more in savings in the long run. Returns of 1.5 percent on every purchase with a card like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card may earn more over time than slightly higher rewards on less frequent purchases. Do the math on your own habits before you decide.
A diversified wallet can also be helpful for responsible credit card users, though. You can maximize your unique spending habits by choosing cards that reward those purchases.
Specialized cards aren’t for everyone, but devotees can benefit from their tailored rewards offerings. Here are just a few niche cards that have found their target audiences:
1. NASA Federal Credit Union credit cards
You won’t see any out-of-this-world rewards bonuses from NASA’s card offerings, but you can tell your friends that you likely hold the same credit card as International Space Station dwellers.
In practice, NASA Federal Credit Union’s cards are pretty standard. With the Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card, you can redeem points earned on every dollar for travel and NASA merchandise. They also have a Platinum Cash Rewards Credit Card with 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases and Classic Credit Card which offers a fixed interest rate and no balance transfer fee. All NASA Federal cards also carry no foreign transaction fee.
To become a NASA Federal cardholder, you must be a member of the NASA Federal Credit Union. Luckily, even non-rocket scientists may join by becoming members of one of NASA’s 900 partner associations, like the Moon Society or Mars Society.
The best part? Your NASA card comes with a customizable photo. Options include a launching space shuttle or galaxy image.
2. Vegannection Prepaid Loyalty Card
Veggie lovers rejoice!
In January 2019, European vegan company Vegannection launched the first vegan mobile debit card. While it’s not a credit card like the others on this list, it acts much like one: there’s no option to withdraw money from an ATM and you can earn rewards from your spending.
The card is virtual (so plastic-free) and can be used exclusively at all-vegan partner establishments via mobile pay. Cardholders receive 2 percent cash-back on all purchases they make with the card and can even receive 0.5 percent back on purchases their friends make with their Vegannection cards.
Currently, Vegannection partners consist of only businesses found in the United Kingdom, but the company says you can sign up from anywhere in the world. Vegannection does have plans to expand globally, including to online vegan retailers, so international cardholders may soon earn cash back from home too.
3. Uber Visa Card from Barclays
While this card isn’t an underground niche offering, rideshare aficionados may meet their perfect match in the Uber Visa Card.
This rewards card offers generous points on dining (4 percent) and travel (3 percent). Meanwhile, Uber rides and online shopping entitles cardholders to a 2 percent rate, with 1 percent back on all other purchases. Your percent back is rewarded in the form of points which can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards or Uber Cash.
Its high rewards on dining, which includes restaurants, takeout, bars and Uber Eats, make this card well-suited for Uber regulars who love their nights on the town. And it’s all mobile: you can apply through your Uber mobile app and begin earning instantly. You’ll also receive a physical Uber Visa Card in the mail.
4. AARP® Credit Card from Chase
Once you get past the “over the hill” jokes, you may not want to discard those AARP mailers that start arriving after your 50th birthday. On top of the organization’s countless savings benefits, products and resources, they also offer a rewards credit card.
Like many of these specialized cards, AARP’s rewards offerings are pretty standard, but great for big spenders in food and gas categories. You’ll earn 3 percent cash back at both restaurants and gas stations, plus 1 percent on all other purchases with no cap or expiration.
There aren’t necessarily AARP-specific rewards with this card, but you can join or renew membership for you or someone else with your points.The lucrative rewards program, combined with the discounts and benefits provided makes the organization’s $16 annual membership fee seem reasonable.
5. American Express Centurion Card
The infamous Amex Black Card isn’t just for Jay-Z.
American Express’ Centurion Card is almost as well-known for its secrecy and legend than its rewards offerings. The card is invitation-only, and while American Express hasn’t revealed exactly how one receives the highly sought-after invite, there is no shortage of speculation.
The Points Guy, a Bankrate sister site, estimates that an invitation requires a minimum spend of $350,000 across your Amex accounts, plus additional secret requirements that only those on the inside know.
Once you’re in, expect to fork over an initiation fee of $7,500 plus an annual $2,500.
Those hefty fees are not without their benefits, though. The Black Card grants cardholders elite status with partner hotels like Marriott, Hilton and IHG; Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion status; Centurion Wine and Dining Program benefits; concierge access; invitation-only events and much more.
While other premium cards like the The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve may offer even more lucrative travel rewards for big spenders, the Centurion card’s reputation and exclusivity remains enticing to those who want (and can afford) to live in the lap of luxury.
Are these unique rewards cards worth getting?
Before signing up for any rewards card, you should take stock of what you already put most of your money towards.
If you’re on a first name basis with your delivery person and prefer ridesharing over other forms of transportation, the Uber Visa Card may be the perfect addition to your wallet. If you’re a space hobbyist and spend your extra cash on donations to NASA partner associations, the NASA Federal Credit Union card may give the rewards you’re looking for.
These cards are usually specialized for a reason, though. Like retail cards, they’re developed for dedicated members and loyal fans and won’t be a perfect fit for everyone.
Most people will reap the greatest rewards from a more general card, like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card for travel or Chase Freedom Unlimited for cash back. Even big spenders don’t necessarily need a Black Card–a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with plenty of luxury benefits.
If you’re on the hunt to find your perfect combination of rewards, check out Bankrate’s Best Cards of 2019.
The information for the Uber Visa Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve card, AARP Credit Card, and American Express Centurion Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.