How do USA credit cards compare with other markets?

We’re big spenders, and we cannot lie. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, retail therapy made up 68% of America’s GDP in 2018. What’s more, we made many of those purchases with credit.

A survey done by payment processor TSYS found we made 26% of all purchases with credit cards. If you sell credit for a living, it’s hard to find a better market than the United States. Indeed, scores of issuers, from banks to stores, profit immensely from our addiction to easy money.

In April 2018, the American Banking Association revealed that there were 364 million open credit accounts in the USA. That’s more than one for every man, woman, and child in the country.

With the American market at peak saturation, competition for new accounts can be vicious. Sign-up bonuses promising loads of air miles, generous cashback schemes, complimentary insurance coverage – consumers here have it good.

Or do we? The world is a huge place, after all.

In today’s blog, we’ll compare the deals Americans get against those enjoyed by consumers in other markets.

Setting the baseline: the best of American credit card deals

Before we can compare what the rest of the world gets to our deals, let’s set a baseline. How ridiculous are American credit card offers? Let’s dig up the best cashback and travel card deal we can find.

Blue Cash Preferred by American Express

In case you’ve been living under a rock, cashback credit cards give a percentage of each transaction back to the consumer. Often, you’ll see offers of 1-2% on specific purchases. Blue Cash Preferred, an American Express card, goes much further than that. This card gives 6% of every grocery purchase back up to $6,000, then 1% after that. It gives 6% back on select television and music streaming services. You get 3% back whenever you get gas. All this is yours for an annual fee of $95. Do the math.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Travel often for business or pleasure? Chase Sapphire Reserve is the only card you’ll ever need. It starts with a 50,000 point bonus when you sign up. It has an earn rate of three points/dollar for travel and dining expenses (one point/dollar for other costs). Every year you’re a member, you’ll get $300 you can use on flight, hotels, and rental cars. You’ll get access to airport lounges around the world. And best of all, they’ll front you $100 to pay for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry applications. The annual fee is $450, but when you consider the travel credit and other benefits, it pays for itself.

We found these two with a quick Google search. That’s a high bar to clear – let’s see how the rest of the world stacks up.   

Best credit card deals in the United Kingdom

How do British credit card offers stack up to those in the United States? They’re competitive but lag noticeably behind. Let’s compare.

American Express Platinum Cashback

Want to make money on every purchase you make in the UK? If so, the American Express Platinum Cashback card is for you. In your first three months, you’ll get 5% cashback on all purchases, up to a cap of 125 GBP. After that, you’ll earn 1% cashback uncapped. Spend more than 10,001 GBP in a year, and you’ll get a rate of 1.25% cashback. These rates may sound paltry, but in the UK, the industry average is 0.5%. On the bright side, you’ll only pay an annual fee of 25 GBP/year.

American Express Platinum

As the UK’s premier travel card, the American Express Platinum closely compares with the USA’s Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you sign up, you’ll get 30,000 bonus points. You’ll earn two points/pound for Amex Travel purchases, and one point/pound on all other expenses. It provides access to Star Alliance Gold lounges, and it will earn you other hotel and travel-related discounts. The annual fee is 450 GBP, which equates to about 570 USD at publication time.

Despite being home to the world’s fifth largest economy, the UK has some rather underwhelming credit card offers. So sad.

Best credit card deals in Australia

Surprisingly, credit card deals Down Under are better than in the UK. But, how do they compare to American deals? Read on below for the details.

ING Direct Orange One Platinum

Have you read about the crazy cashback deals available for credit cardholders in the States? Sit down – you might be disappointed with what Australia has to offer. Of all the cards we looked at, the ING Direct Orange One Platinum Credit Card offered the best rate. Every month, you’ll get 1% cashback on all purchases – up to a cap of 30 AUD. This card shines in other areas, though – for one, it offers complimentary travel insurance. Also, if you charge more than 1,000 AUD/month, they waive foreign transaction fees.

American Express Explorer

When you live on an island far from the rest of the world, wanderlust can hit hard. Thankfully, Aussies have strong cards that help support their travel habit. Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get 50,000 points when you sign up. Your earn rate is a flat two points per dollar on all expenses. The American Express Explorer offers an annual travel credit of 400 AUD, competing closely with Chase’s card. Apart from the usual perks (e.g. travel insurance), it provides smartphone repair coverage – perfect for traveling Millennials.

In comparison to Australian credit cards, American brands still reign supreme. However, the American Express Explorer competes admirably and is a can’t miss card for Aussie travelers.

Best credit card deals in Hong Kong

Most overlook Hong Kong as a credit card market. However, it had the 17th highest GDP per capita in the world in 2019. That’s more than Germany and Canada, the owners of 18th and 19th largest GDPs per capita.

It turns out that Hong Kongers really love to spend. Find out more below.

BEA Visa Signature

America has some of the best cashback cards on the planet. But Hong Kong’s BEA Visa Signature Card might have them beat. Available to those that make 240,000 HKD (~ 31,000 USD), it offers a base cashback rate of 4.8%. However, that rises to 6.8% when you use your card for dining out. Off the island of Hong Kong, you’ll earn 6% on all purchases. But that’s not all. During BEA (Bank of East Asia) Days, you’ll receive an additional 4.4% cash back on select items. Throw in perks like complimentary travel insurance and 20% off movie tickets, and you’ve got a heck of a card.

Citi PremierMiles

When you call a city-state home, international travel is a virtual necessity to stay sane. Consequently, Hong Kong has an excellent selection of travel cards. In our opinion, the Citi PremierMiles Card is the best of the lot. Let’s start with their welcome offer – Citi PremierMiles gives you 108,000 points on sign up – that’s enough for a round-trip ticket to Taipei, Taiwan. You’ll earn miles at a ratio of 8 HKD:1 locally (like 1:1 in USD) and 3:1 abroad (more than 2.5:1 in USD). You can redeem miles in 12 different frequent flyer programs, and for hotels, in the IHG Rewards Club. You also get 12 complimentary lounge passes per year, free travel insurance, and Visa signature privileges. And we aren’t done yet – Citi PremierMiles is also a cashback card. The rate on local spend is only 0.8%, but beats some Australian and UK offerings, despite being a travel card.

At the start of this post, we wondered aloud if any jurisdiction could beat the American credit card market. It appears Hong Kong is up to the task, with absurdly generous cashback schemes and highly competitive travel cards.       

2019 is a great time to be a consumer anywhere in the world

Not every market measures up to the credit deals America has. That’s fine – the United States is a consumer economy like none other in the world. However, as we’ve illustrated above, there’s never been a better time to be a consumer than now. Pay your monthly balance, and you can reap handsome rewards by running your spending through any of these cards.