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7 great rewards credit cards that fly under the radar — but are worth paying attention to

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  • Some credit cards aren’t advertised much, but offer bonuses or perks that make them worth a look.
  • These hidden gems may require you to join a credit union or meet other criteria.
  • There are also options for those with fair credit, or cards with a long intro 0% APR offer.
  • Read Insider’s guide to the best rewards credit cards.

As you drive around town, watch television, or go through your mail, you’re likely to see the same ads for the same credit cards over and over again. Some might be decent cards, but many are the equivalent of the terrible movies and TV shows that are given overblown marketing budgets in the hopes that the producers can salvage their investment. 

But as someone who studies credit cards for a living, I occasionally stumble across a few hidden gems in this industry. These are cards that are almost never advertised on billboards but can be found in the wallets of the savviest credit card and award travel enthusiasts

Here are seven lesser-known credit cards that don’t get the attention they should.

Lesser-known credit cards that are worth considering

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card

Regular APR

15.74%, 19.99% or 24.99%

Credit Score

Good to Excellent

Featured Reward

60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, plus an additional 30,000 points after spending $2,000 in total the first 6 months of account opening

Intro APR

0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Complimentary Platinum elite status
    • Strong points earning on Wyndham stays and gas stations
    • Annual bonus of 7,500 points for your cardmember anniversary
    • 10% points discount for booking gofree Wyndham award stays
    Cons

    • The information related to the Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
    • Earn 4 points per dollar on eligible dining and grocery store purchases (excluding Target® and Walmart®)
    • Earn 6 points per dollar on gas purchases
    • Earn 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases made at Hotels by Wyndham
    • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

    Would you and your family be more comfortable staying in a condo or a cabin, rather than a hotel room? The Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card may be the card for you as the vast majority of the properties in the Wyndham Rewards program are vacation rentals, also known as timeshares.

    This card allows you to earn points from your spending that can be redeemed at not just Wyndham hotels, but also some very desirable vacation rental condos and even cabins. 

    Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Wyndham points

    For a limited time through October 14, 2021, new applicants can earn up to 90,000 Wyndham points: 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, plus an additional 30,000 points after spending $2,000 in total the first 6 months of account opening

    You also earn 6x points at Hotels by Wyndham and on gas, and 4x points on dining and grocery purchases (excluding Target and Walmart). All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.

    Free stays in hotels start at 7,500 points per night, and are either 15,000 or 30,000 points per night, per bedroom at vacation rental properties. There’s a $75 annual fee for this card.

    The Plum Card® from American Express

    Annual Fee

    $0 for the first year, then $250

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • You can carry a balance for up to 60 days with no interest
    • Earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase if you pay your balance early
    Cons
    • Annual fee jumps from $0 to $250 after your first account anniversary
    • You can earn higher rewards with other business credit cards if you don’t need to carry a balance for 60 days
    • Pay early, get cash back. Earn an unlimited 1.5% Early Pay Discount with the Plum Card.
    • Stay in control of your cash flow with up to 60 days to pay with no interest.
    • No preset spending limit.
    • Employee Plum Cards at no additional annual fee.

    What if your business is booming, but you’re struggling to come up with the cash to pay for your expenses before you get paid for your invoices? If this problem sounds familiar, you should consider  The Plum Card® from American Express.

    You won’t see it advertised much, but it’s the only card out there that gives you the option to pay in full each month or to carry a balance for up to 60 days with no interest. When you pay in full within 10 days of your statement closing date, you earn 1.5% cash back, which is pretty respectable.

    Read more: The best American Express cards

    But when your priority is smoothing out your cash flow, instead of earning the cash back you can avoid pricey interest charges while you wait on your accounts receivable.

    There’s an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $250, but there’s currently no welcome bonus. 

    PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Visa Signature Card

    If you want a premium rewards card, without the premium price, you’ll have to look to PenFed, the nation’s second-largest credit union. The PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card includes a $100 annual domestic air ancillary travel statement credit, a $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck application fee credit, and even a complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge annual membership (admission to the lounges is $32 per person). 

    Read more: Your credit card could get you a free drink and a comfortable place to relax at the airport

    New applicants can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Every cardholder earns 3x points on all travel purchases and 1.5x points elsewhere. But if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage Member (you can qualify by opening a free checking account or as a military member), you earn 4x on travel purchases. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card (waived for Honors Advantage members). 

    Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No annual fee
    • Travel and purchase protection
    Cons
    • Some other business cards offer better rewards
    • No welcome bonus
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase for your business
    • Free employee cards
    • Pick your own monthly due date. Your business has the control to pay when you want
    • Get an itemized report of your spending to simplify budgeting and tax time

    There are plenty of cards out there for consumers who’ve had some credit hiccups, but what do you do if you’re the owner of a thriving small business, but your personal credit report is still affected by past financial problems?

    Read more: The best small-business credit cards of 2021

    I recently spoke to just such a person, and recommended that she apply for the Capital One®️ Spark®️ Classic for Business, which is one of the few small-business cards offered to applicants with fair credit. She was immediately approved and now she’s enjoying 1% cash back on all of her company purchases, with a $0 annual fee. 

    Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card

    If you just want to earn a lot of cash back, the Alliant Visa® Signature Credit Card with Cashback is worth a look. It offers an unequaled 2.5% cash back on up to $10,000 in purchases each billing cycle (then 1.5% back).

    However, to earn that rate, you must qualify for Alliant’s Tier One Rewards, which means you’ll need to meet high-rate checking account and balance requirements. For those who don’t meet these criteria, the card earns 1.5% back on all purchases.

    Read more: The best cash-back credit cards in 2021

    For high spenders who qualify for Tier One, that works out to as much as $250 in cash back per month. There is a $99 annual fee for this card, but it’s waived the first year. 

    PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

    When you think about PayPal, credit cards probably don’t immediately come to mind. That’s a shame, because the online payments giant offers one of the simplest and most rewarding cash-back credit cards you can get.

    Read more: After owning more than a dozen travel credit cards, I finally got my first cash-back card — and I’ve already earned $525 in rewards

    The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, with no annual fee. To open the card, you must already have a PayPal account in good standing, and the rewards you earn will be deposited into your PayPal account.

    U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

    Regular APR

    13.99% – 23.99%

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Long intro APR period for balance transfers and purchases
    • Cell phone protection
    Cons
    • No rewards
    • Balance transfer fee
    • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 13.99% – 23.99%.
    • No Annual Fee
    • Flexibility to choose a payment due date that fits your schedule.
    • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your U.S.Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.

    The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card is not an exciting credit card. It has no welcome bonus, earns no rewards, and doesn’t even come with many valuable benefits, other than a cell phone protection plan.

    But it does have the longest introductory 0% APR offer currently available. New applicants a 0% APR on both new purchases and balance transfers for 20 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee.

    Read more: The best low-interest and 0% APR credit cards

    That means that you won’t be incurring interest charges until 2023! There’s no annual fee for this card. 

    Featured credit cards from our partners

    Featured Reward

    100,000 points

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    3 Free Nights (valued up to 50,000 points each) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus 10x total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases in select categories within your first 6 months

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    $200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening

    Credit Needed

    Good to Excellent

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