Annoyed by the FIA Credit Card? Here are Other 2% Cash Back Cards - NerdWallet
Advertiser Disclosure

Annoyed by the FIA Credit Card? Here are Other 2% Cash Back Cards

Aw nerds! Looks like this page may be out of date. Head over to our Rewards Credit Cards page for updated info.

When the Schwab Visa was phased out in favor of the FIA credit cards, the nation (well, maybe not) had a collective moment of silence. Those with Schwab brokerage accounts could just have “free” cash deposited on a monthly basis with no points or miles to handle.  And with industry standard reward rates hovering around 1%, this was understandably a very popular card.

In its place came the Fidelity American Express. Unlike Visa credit cards (like, say, the Schwab Visa), AmEx cards have lower acceptance, especially if you travel abroad. Plus, FIA credit card statements are notoriously hard to read: they tell you the minimum payment rather than your current balance, making you more likely to draw out your payments (and thus pay more in interest).

So what’s a poor gal (or guy) to do if she wants a card that gives 2% rewards and still has the benefit of being accepted everywhere? Here’s our list of the other 2% rewards cards that don’t give us tiny, tiny headaches.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of our favorite credit cards, let alone ones that give 2% rewards. It earns 2 No Hassle Miles per $1 spent, redeemable for a statement credit offsetting travel expenses. It’s got fringe benefits that the Fidelity American Express lacks (like concierge service), and has no foreign transaction fee (the Fidelity American Express’s is 1%). Best of all, it’s a Visa, so you don’t have to carry around a second credit card for places that don’t take your AmEx. It does have an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $59 after that but we believe that the convenience, lower fees and signup bonus make up for it. If you want the full gory details, see our take on why the other 2% cards can’t hold a candle to the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Discover Escape 

The Discover Escape is like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card lite. It too has a 25k-mile signup bonus, but it’s paid out at a rate of 1,000 miles over 25 months, so you have to keep the card awhile. Its annual fee is nearly the same at $60, but it isn’t waived the first year. It charges a 2% foreign transaction fee, and has the acceptance of, well, a Discover card. We think it pales in comparison to the no-annual-fee Fidelity American Express, and definitely suffers in comparison to the waived-foreign-transaction-fee-instant-gratification-bonus-no-first-year-fee Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Can you do better than 2%?

If you’re a luxury traveler, you’ll get great value out of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, which we believe actually gets better than 2% rewards. It earns 1 Starpoint per $1, and 2 Starpoints per $1 spent at Starwood Preferred Guest hotels. But we value Starpoints at 2.3 cents each, so your effective rewards rate is actually 2.3%. Redeem your points right, and you could get as much as 5% value on all your purchases! The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express comes with a host of perks, too, like the giving you a night free at the Sheraton if you spend 2 or more nights there. It has a $0 for the first year, then $95 and it has a killer signup bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

While the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a great deal for travelers, it’s less useful if you don’t stay at the hotel chain. You can redeem your points for airline miles on a number of carriers, but your points will be worth 1.25 cents apiece, lowering your rewards rate below 2%. That said, if you stay at Starwood’s hotels, you can’t do better than this.

Shop & Compare Credit Cards:

  • slug

    I got the official letter today that Schwab was passing control of the account to FIA beginning October 1st. I already got the Fidelity AMEX as a back-up, but it is important to note that, contrary to your post, the terms are not the same for the Fidelity card. You must accumulate a c ertain number of points before Fidelity will credit your brokerage account whereas Schwab did it monthly regardless of how much or how little you spend.

  • askmrlee

    More items to note: The foreign currency conversion fee on the Fidelity Rewards Amex is 1%. The Fidelity Rewards Visa has a 3% foreign transaction fee. And yes the Starwood Amex will be $65/year.

  • Arnold Semmons

    My guess is that they'll reduce the reward to only 1% instead of the current 2%. Even if they do that, I will still use this card because the customer service at FIA has been incredible. If they eliminate the reward completely, I have a Capital One card that pays 1% and I guess I would switch over to them, reluctantly. It was good while it lasted!

  • BigD

    I am so pissed about this, and I have only had the card for a year and they dump it. I hope everyone that was suckered in by this marketing ploy to open brokerage accounts with this credit card, closes them!!!! Hopefully, FIA finds another sponsor but I doubt it. If FIA reduces it to 1%, I am closing the card and doing business elsewhere. I already have investments in Fidelity with my 403b, so probably will open one of these. Schwab sucks and I hope the company goes bankrupt!

  • rivergeek

    I had a Schwab brokerage account before the 2% VISA offer came around. Naturally, I opted for the Schwab card from day one. It was a sweet ride while it lasted (and still is, altho I haven't been notified of a reward reduction yet). Surely it will come after FIA thinks I'm theirs. The account web site already forwards to a new FIA URL. Might switch to a 1.5% Fidelity Signature VISA since I don't travel much, but will wait and see. Man, changing credit card numbers for automatic payments is such a pain. I pay for practically everything with a credit card… all utility bills, fuel, insurance, groceries, you name it. For me it's not a CREDIT card as much as it is a CONVENIENCE card.

  • Anonymous

    In my opinion, the most annoying thing about the Fidelity/FIA AmEx–by far!–is the atrocious web site.  I have been managing all of my credit cards exclusively online since about 2003, and the FIA web site is by far the worst.  This is mostly a one-time hassle though… once you have figured out how to automatically deposit your rewards to a Fidelity account, and signed up for auto-pay (which requires a snail-mailed form >:( ), you won’t have to navigate its more arcane sections any more.

    I also have the Capital One Venture Visa and love it… 2% back and accepted everywhere, what’s not to like?  The Capital One web site is significantly better, but shares the annoying property that you have to send in a snail-mailed form to sign up for automatic payment of your full balance every month.

  • Jkollin

    I think I found a “gotha” with the Venture Card. Say youhave 27,000 miles and you want to buy an airline ticket that costs $280. You CAN’T cash in the 27K miles and ad $10. This could leave you always just a little out of reach from using the miles the way you want.

  • Anonymous

    Am I reading this wrong?  Schwab deposited CASH into your account.  These other programs are offering points.

    CASH is King, Points are for losers.  How many times did you have 25K points and they upped redemption points to 35K or 50K?

    • Tim

      You’re right, cash is king. However the Schwab card is no longer offered, and seems like it’s going to be taken from those remaning cardholders that still have it.

      In its absence, the only equivalent cash card is the Fidelity, which is an Amex and requires a Fidelity account. These other cards do offer points, but the cash redemptions are standardized. 1 point = 1 cent if you redeem them for cash.

      • Rxlaw1

        Yes, oh so sad. Today’s mail informed me that my Schwab card (w/ 2% cash back into my account each month) is no more. Replaced by a B of A card that looks not so good.

    • Msem2

      It was a 2% CASH deposited directly to your Schwab account with zero foreign transaction fee.
      We put everything on our Schwab Visa. Now I am looking for a replacement.
      I choose NOT to do business with BOA. Took MIL over 1 year to stop BOA sending her bills for $15 monthly fee for having balance under XXX dollars in the account she closed.

  • BigD

    Its official, all former Schwab/FIA cardholders will be switched to a BOA Americard replacement. I blame Schwab for getting in way over their heads for offering a card like this in the horrible economy we’re in.

  • Lmfmail

    Does the Capital One Venture have a sure-pay like the FIA? If not, what credit cards do? I really loved this feature.

  • Sprucedon

    Travel credit cards are not cashback credit cards. Neither are point cards. None of these cards are actual replacements, and honestly they don’t seem like good travel cards either…

  • Jimbobka

    Just a note – I got the Venture card and am very impressed. I got it during the promotional which matched my Delta miles, so it came with 110,000 points! The points are aimed to use for airline tickets, but you can get gift cards as well which really are the same as cash. Not quite as convenient as the FIA card depositing cash directly into the Schwab account, but very easy to redeem points for cash cards, so the full 2% is for real.

  • Miguel

    Why wasn’t the Fidelity card mentioned? Or the Sallie Mae?

    • Tim

      Hey Miguel, the Fidelity card is the first card we mention above. And the Sallie Mae card isn’t a 2% card as far as I can tell, the one offered on their site only pays 1%, plus 3% on gas and groceries (but only up to $200 in purchases a month).

  • Fexpinc

    So sad to see the Schwab card go — the replacement BoA card is no comparison. Not memtioned above is the Fidelity Signature VISA card. 1.5% cash back first $15k 2% cash back after that (annual) with no reward limit. Schwab card had no foreign transaction fees Fidelity does.

    • Vchip2321

      I use the USAA credit card when traveling. It is worth the 1%. Twice I have had trouble with a foreign transaction and both times they have had it removed. I was very impressed. Worth the 1%

  • finfife

    Two months after this article was posted, Discover announced that it would be dropping their foreign exchange fee to 0% in November 2011. It looks like that’s happened, according the their FAQ:

    Will I be charged a transaction fee when I make a purchase in a foreign currency using my Discover card?

    No, Discover does not charge a foreign currency transaction fee.

    No exception noted for any of the various Discover cards, so I suppose this change applies to all of them, including Discover Escape.

    Acceptance overseas is still rather limited. Check their map to see if their network has made inroads into where you’re headed.

  • Pingback: NerdWallet vs the Consumer Reports Credit Card Survey()

  • nerdwallet

    Ah yes slug, you're absolutely right. It's a subtle difference, but an important one! I'll change the text to reflect your point.