Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards Bonus Offers - October 2014
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Hilary Stockton
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My Award Booking Service helps travelers book first class and business class with miles and points. As an independent affiliate of Cadence, I also have access to Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Ritz-Carlton STARS, Starwood Luxury Privileges and other 5-star hotel partners, so I can book, for no extra cost, your perfect luxury hotel or luxury cruise with VIP amenities not available anywhere else. Become a client and upgrade your stay!

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The best  travel rewards credit cards of 2014 based on signup bonuses and category spend bonuses are listed here--these are public offers, available to U.S. residents. Thanks in part to credit card offers such as these, you can Earn 1 Million (or More) Miles and Points in a Year Without Flying. With this post, I'll go into some detail as to why we rank these credit card offers the way we do, and separate them into the best ones for signup bonuses and the best ones for everyday spend. We do receive referral credit for some of the cards listed, but not all of them. I'll also aim to keep this blog post up to date to track changing offers and spend bonuses. Overwhelmed? Check out our Beginner's Guide to Miles and Points.

Note that there are sometimes targeted offers that are better than public offers, such as a 150K AMEX Business Platinum offer, so make sure to check your email and even junk mail regularly. 

Also note that the value of miles and points varies enormously depending on how you plan to use them.  Someone redeeming for U.S. domestic flights that are normally inexpensive will typically get much less face value out of the same number of miles or points than someone redeeming for an international business or first class award ticket. In that case, a cash back card such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is often a better bet than airline credit cards. Even if your goal is international first class or business class, it's good to have the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® to reimburse yourself for award ticket fees and taxes.

The other part of the equation is redeeming miles and points for first and business class. If you don't have time or need help, consider using our Award Booking Service, which is just $75 per person if you book at least $3500 in hotels or cruises with us for your travel itinerary.

Best Travel Credit Cards for Sign-Up Bonuses

In ranking these, I've taken into account not only the bonus, but the spend to get that bonus. I apply the highest value use, so be sure to read my notes to decide if you would value the card as highly.

1. Citi American AAdvantage Credit Cards - Up to 100,000 AA miles total for the 50K Citi Executive AAdvantage and the 50K CitiBusiness AAdvantage card, or 100,000 AA miles for the 50K Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage and 50K CitiBusiness AAdvantage card

Update: Citi appears to have stopped allowing multiple applications for the same Citi Platinum Select credit cards, so you would be able to get a maximum of 50K AA miles for one Platinum Select personal card, plus 50K AA miles for a CitiBusiness card. 

  • Note: Some of the links below are the application pages and do NOT show the offer terms. But based on the recent experience in this Flyertalk thread, most do receive the bonuses stated if you're approved. Your mileage may vary, so be sure to confirm the bonus miles and terms when you call to activate your card.
  • 50,000 Citi Executive AAdvantage offer, with 50K AA miles after $5000 spend within the first 3 months for the Citi Executive AAdvantage MasterCard, which comes with Admirals Club Membership and an annual fee of $450, not waived. 
  • 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on American Airlines within first 12 months, 1 AAdvantage mile for all other spend
  • $95 annual fee waived the first year
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back — up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year
  • 50,000 AAdvantage miles after $3000 spend within the first 3 months for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage MasterCard (note that you cannot apply for more than one Citi card per week; you'll need to wait at least 2 months after the  personal Citi AAdvantage application before applying for the CitiBusiness card)

 

Why #1: Applying for a Citi Executive AAdvantage and also a CitiBusiness AAdvantage card makes it relatively easy to earn 125,000 AAdvantage miles, but you do have to make $10,500 in spend within the first 3 months to get both bonuses, or spend $6000 to get both 50K bonuses for the Citi Platinum Select and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage. Unfortunately the previous 100K Citi Executive AAdvantage is no longer available. Citi also seems to have recently changed the rules to make churning these cards much harder, so you may not be eligible for AA mile bonuses if you've recently had a Citi AAdvantage card, even if you've closed it.

 

2. Hyatt Visa - 2 Award Nights at any Hyatt, including Park Hyatts (up to $2000 value)

  • 2 Free Nights at any Hyatt worldwide including Park Hyatts after spending $1000 in the first 3 months
  • New: annual fee waived the first year, then $75
  • If you make a Hyatt booking at Hyatt.com, you can apply for the Hyatt Visa with a $50 statement credit. 
  • Receive 1 Free Night each year on your anniversary in any Category 1-4 Hyatt
  • No foreign transaction fees 
  • 3 Hyatt points per $1 
  • 2 Hyatt points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline and at car rental agencies. 
  • 1 Hyatt Gold Passport point for every $1 spent on other spend

Why #2: This is a great deal, especially now that the $75 annual fee is waived the first year, especially if you also get a $50 statement credit (see Hyatt Visa Still the Best Hotel Credit Card Bonus Offer) if you use your 2 free award nights in a Park Hyatt, especially one of the most expensive properties, such as the Park Hyatt Maldives or the Park Hyatt Paris. See Best Park Hyatt to Stay 2 Free Nights with the Hyatt Visa.Depending on the time of year, a paid stay would cost you anywhere from $700-$1000 per night, so the face value of a 2 night stay is $1400-$2000. Amazing deal, and with a low minimum spend of $1000 within 3 months. I also like that the Hyatt card is one of the few U.S. credit cards with an EMV Chip. See Best U.S. EMV Chip Travel Credit Cards

Note, though, that the prior offers of 2 free nights in a suite if applying as an existing Hyatt Diamond member, or 2 free suite upgrade certificates to use on paid stays if applying as an existing Hyatt Platinum, are no longer given. Now the 2 free nights for ALL Hyatt Visa applicants, regardless of Hyatt elite status, are in a standard room.

The Hyatt Visa is also a good card to keep beyond the bonus since it gives you Hyatt Platinum status as long as you have the card, with 15% point bonus on each Hyatt stay, preferred rooms, complimentary in-room Internet access, dedicated elite check-in, 2pm late checkout. You also receive an annual free night at category 1-4 Hyatts. As of 2/7/13, there will even be 2 Park Hyatts that are Category 4; see Park Hyatt Aviara and Park Hyatt Toronto to be Category 4-Hyatt Visa Annual Free Night

All that said, the Hyatt Visa is still not great for everyday spend, even with its new bonuses and elite benefits (see Hyatt Visa: New Bonuses and Elite Status Benefits) since the Sapphire Preferred trumps it for dining, airline and other travel spend at 2.14X vs. 2X; the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold trumps it for airline spend (3X vs. 2X); and ironically the SPG Business AMEX trumps it for Hyatt spend, since it gets 5% cash back at Hyatt hotels via American Express OPEN, in addition to the 1 SPG point per $1. Even if you value the Hyatt Visa's 3 Hyatt points per $1 at about 5% cash back, the SPG point means the SPG Business AMEX comes out ahead. That said, you should bring your Hyatt Visa along for any Hyatt spend abroad, since the Hyatt Visa does not have foreign transaction fees whereas the SPG Business AMEX does.

 

3. Chase Ink Plus Credit Card - 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points

  • 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in 3 months from account opening
  • Credit card (may carry a balance, although don't be tempted to!) 
  • 5X points per dollar on office supply store spend, telephone, cable and Internet services
  • 2X points on hotel spend when directly with the hotel, gas stations
  • 1:1 point transfer to United and Hyatt (best use of points), Korean Air, Southwest, Marriott, InterContinental, Priority Club, Amtrak
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee of $95 is NOT waived for the 70,000 offer from Chase branches

Why #3: There is now a 70,000 bonus for the Ink Plus, available in person at Chase retail bank branches, but the $95 annual fee is NOT waived. The 50,000 bonus offer for this card is tied with the Ink Bold, since it has the same sign up bonus, bonus categories, perks and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year. Some used to place it above the Ink Bold because you don't incur interest charges for the first 6 statement cycles, giving you extra leeway to make minimum spend, but unfortunately the current version does *not* offer a 0% APR for 6 months.  

Another thing I love about business cards is that unlike personal cards, credit utilization is not reported to credit agencies. So as long as you're paying it off in full by the due date, no need to zealously pay off high spend right after it occurs.


4. British Airways Visa-50,000 Avios (There was a 100K offer, but it has expired)

 

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after $2,000 spend within the first 3 months of account opening
  • 2.5 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1.25 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Smart Chip Technology 
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel Together companion ticket valid for 2 years after $30,000 spend within a calendar year
  • $95 annual fee is NOT waived 

Why #4: 50,000 Avios could get you 2 roundtrip coach tickets or 1 business class ticket from Boston to Europe with under $150 taxes/fees per ticket. See Maximizing British Airways Avios-Fly Aer Lingus to Europe and Avoid Fuel Surcharges. Note that the $95 annual fee is NOT waived.

Or, use the 50,000 Avios plus additional Avios transferred from AMEX Membership Rewards (ideally when there's a transfer bonus) for a roundtrip business class ticket on British Airways (80,000 Avios if flying from the East Coast) and get another ticket with the Companion Ticket, for a total of ~$2200 in fees. See How to Maximize the British Airways Companion Ticket on Award Travel.  

Avios in my view are good to have for miles and points diversification, since they can offer the best deal for short direct flights in the U.S., Asia, Australia, and even in Europe, to a lesser extent (due to all the low fares from easyjet, Ryanair etc.) 

Thanks to our prior two 100,000 British Airways bonuses and 50,000 Sapphire Preferred bonuses, we enjoyed Cathay Pacific First Class to Bali via Hong Kong

   

5. Chase Ink Bold Business Card - 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (going away soon)

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No interest charges because it's a pay in full charge card
  • 5X points per dollar on office supply store spend, telephone, cable and Internet services
  • 2X points on hotel spend when directly with the hotel, gas stations
  • 1:1 point transfer to United and Hyatt (best use of points), Korean Air, Southwest, Marriott, InterContinental, Priority Club, Amtrak
  • Annual fee waived first year, then $95

Why #5: 50,000 bonus points after $5000 spend over 3 months, which isn't that hard by front loading some spend. If you purchase needed supplies or gift cards at office supply stores, that $5000 spend x 5X points = 25,000 points, on top of the 50,000 signup bonus points. See Maximizing the Chase Ink Bold Bonus-How to meet Minimum Spend for some tips. 5X points categories are: office supply stores and for cellular and landline phone services, Internet, and cable TV. 2X points categories are: gas stations and hotels when purchased directly from the hotel.

Points may be transferred 1:1 to Singapore KrisFlyer, United MileagePlus,  British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Intercontinental/Priority Club, Amtrak. Singapore KrisFlyer, United MileagePlus and Hyatt Gold Passport are the highest value uses for points transfers.

Thanks in part to the points from the Ink Bold, I recently experienced Lufthansa's New First Class. Ultimate Rewards points are great for transferring to United to redeem for awards on Lufthansa, ANA, Asiana, Thai and other Star Alliance partners. 

 

6. United MileagePlus Explorer 5OK

  • 50,000 United miles after $2000 spend in the first 3 months
  • 5000 additional United miles after adding an authorized user
  • $50 statement credit is after first purchase
  • 10,000 additional United miles after spending $25,000 on the card in a calendar year (not worth it for most, except for high spenders)
  • 2X United miles on United purchases
  • Check your first bag free
  • Priority boarding
  • Two complimentary passes to the United Club per year
  • Annual fee waived first year, then $95

Why #6: 50,000 United miles after $2000 spend is a good deal, even though this card isn't a good one for everyday spend. That said, I've demoted this card in the ranking due to the massive United award chart devaluation that took effect February 1, 2014.

 

7. Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa - Up to 45,000 points or 50,000 Bonus for Chase Private Clients

  • 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $3000 spend in the first 3 months
  • 5000 Ultimate Rewards points after adding an authorized user within the first 3 months (note that this is only for the above 40,000 bonus offer, and is not part of the 50,000 offer for Chase Private Clients)
  • 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Receive a 7% Annual Points Dividend on all new points earned on purchases - even on points already redeemed. This makes your effective earn on travel and dining 2.14X
  • 1:1 point transfer to United and Hyatt (best use of points), Korean Air, Southwest, Marriott, InterContinental, Priority Club, Amtrak
  • Direct access to expert service advisors anytime
  • Annual fee waived first year, then $95

Why #7: There was a short lived 55,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points offer, but it's now dead, so this is the current best offer. Be award that United miles have been by far the best value transfer partner for Ultimate Rewards points, but that will change as of 2/1/14 due to the massive United Award Chart Devaluation

Points may be transferred 1:1 to United MileagePlus, British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Intercontinental/Priority Club, Amtrak. United and Hyatt are the two highest value uses for points transfers.

It's great to be able to get the 2.14X points (taking into account the 7% points dividend) on international dining and travel spend, since there are no foreign transaction fees. Plus, there's an end of year 7% points dividend (including on bonus points) and annual fee is waived the first year.

 

8. The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® - 40,000 miles after first purchase and payment of annual fee

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee (NOT waived first year)
  • First checked bag free on eligible bags for you and up to four companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
  • One companion certificate good for up to 2 guests to travel with you on a US Airways operated flight at $99 each, plus tax
  • Priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flights 
  • Earn miles on every purchase with 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways purchases

Why #8: 40,000 US Airways miles after first purchase and payment of the annual fee is a good way to earn miles with low minimum spend, miles which can help with a interesting "round the world" award (see Worth It to Buy AA Miles or US Airways Miles with a Bonus?) which is useful given that AA has eliminated its AAdvantage Explorer award, and which will ultimately become AAdvantage miles.

  

9. Mercedes-Benz Platinum AMEX - 50,000 Membership Rewards points

  • 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $3000 spend within the first 3 months (increased from $1000 previously)
  • Points may be transfered to Aeroplan, ANA, British Airways, Delta, Singapore and others; there are sometimes transfer bonuses for British Airways and Delta
  • $200 airline fee credit (some have managed to get this twice, because it's in a calendar year)
  • 5X points per $1 on eligible Mercedes-Benz purchases, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases 
  • $475 annual fee is NOT waived the first year

Why #9: After putting this card low on my priority list, I recently applied for and got approved for it. What changed? Mainly, I had a great experience in Singapore First Class and want to save more Membership Rewards points so that I can redeem for more Singapore Airlines First Class, by transferring MR points to Singapore KrisFlyer.

Because of that, I've bitten the bullet on the steep annual fee, though I do have some tips for Maximizing the AMEX Platinum Airline Fee Credit. I'll probably also take advantage of reimbursement for Global Entry. I still don't value the Fine Hotels and Resorts Program, as a luxury travel advisor, since my clients receive equivalent or better perks booking Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner with me (for example, Four Seasons Preferred Partner upgrades are prioritized ahead of AMEX FHR). For more details, see Become a Client.

There are also no category bonuses, except for 5X for Mercedes-Benz purchases, unlike the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card. If you value the benefits more than I do though, you could find the card to be worthwhile. Note that the current offer for the regular AMEX Platinum (not Mercedes-Benz) is now 25,000 points, although some report receiving a targeted offer for 50,000 points. That card comes with a $450 fee. Note that it no longer is possible to receive the signup bonus for both the AMEX Platinum card and the Mercedes-Benz Platinum card at the same time, they are now considered the same product. See AMEX Stingier: Rules for Signup Bonuses & FAQ

  

10.  Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on ALL purchases
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • EMV Chip for increased confidence and convenience to pay abroad as easily as you do at home
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • Get 10% of your miles back when you redeem for travel statement credits (effectively, 2.2% cash back when redeemed for travel)
  • Book the travel you want - airfare, hotels, cruises and more and earn miles on your purchase
  • Complimentary FICO Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers (Transunion FICO)
  • No fee the first year, thereafter $89 annual fee

Why #10: While 40,000 miles in a fixed value program may at first not seem attractive, it equates to a $440 rebate off any travel expense. And $440 is $440, that you can use to get all kinds of travel expenses for free that you otherwise can't use miles or points for, whether it's airfare on a low cost carrier (even international low cost carriers, given that there's no foreign transaction fee), a train ticket, cruise or boat ticket, or even those pesky fuel surcharges on, say, British Airways award tickets. And since the first year annual fee waived, you're basically throwing away $440 in travel if you don't get the card. While usually have a new card I'm trying to meet minimum spend on, when I don't, I do tend to put otherwise non-bonused spend on the card. See my Barclays Arrival Card: Top 10 Tips to Maximize Rewards from the 40,000 Bonus.

 

11. Ritz-Carlton Rewards (Annual fee is NOT waived)

  • Earn a Free Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton stay after $2000 in purchases during the first 3 months from account opening. After qualifying spend is made, allow 6-8 weeks for bonus points to post to your account.
  • Bonus is enough to stay 1 night at any participating Ritz-Carlton property
  • 5 points per $1 spent at participating Ritz-Carltons
  • 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, and at car rental agencies & restaurants
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • $300 airline incidental credit per calendar year: supposed to be for non-ticket purchases classified in the airline category, and must contact JPM Priority Services within 4 billing cycles of purchase date to receive statement credit
  • Upgrade to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level on up to three paid stays (maximum 7 nights per stay) per year. Not combinable with any other offers, and not valid on corporate or other promotional rates.
  • Cardmembers achieve Silver Elite status with 15 nights credit toward Elite status
  • Annual fee is $395

Why #11: I used to personally rank this card above the Mercedes-Benz Platinum AMEX and Barclaycard Arrival Plus, but I now value Membership Rewards more thanks to KrisFlyer Saver awards, especially as you can now even book Singapore Airlines Suites Awards. Plus, I just don't value Ritz-Carlton stays highly, especially those that are only in Tier 1-4--there are very few markets where these lower tier Ritz-Carltons are viable contenders for the best property. That said, $600 airline credit within the first year via $300 per calendar year is nothing to sneeze at, although not easy to use towards actual ticket, since this is an incidental ticket credit and you do need to call in about it, which is a hassle.

As hotel offers go, this isn't as good as the Hyatt Visa, which offers 2 free award nights at any Hyatt (including top-tier Park Hyatts) since this is just 1 night, and doesn't even include the top Tier 5 Ritz-Carltons. Also remember that certain Ritz-Carlton properties such as the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore and the Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties don't participate at all in Ritz-Carlton Rewards, so you can't redeem for a free night at those resorts.

Or, you could stay 1 night at a Tier 2 Ritz-Carlton, such as the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, and 1 night in a Tier 1 Ritz-Carlton, such as The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner. 


Best Travel Credit Cards for Everyday Spend
Everyone of course is a bit different when it comes to what they spend most on. To put my list in context, I tend to have quite a few small purchases on an everyday basis--some groceries, a short cab ride, perhaps a sandwich, some postage, etc. Then there are less frequent, larger purchases, such as a $50 subway card, restaurant meal, hotel stay, biweekly grocery shopping, Amazon orders and the like. With that in mind, here are the travel credit cards I use most, and what I use them for:
 
1. Whichever Card You're Working on Minimum Spend For
The absolute best card for everyday spend is the one you're working on meeting minimum spend for. If my husband or I aren't working on minimum spend for at least one card, we know it's time to apply for a new credit card. Assuming you're applying for bonuses worth at least 40,000 miles or points, a card that you're working on meeting minimum spend for is your best choice for everyday spend until you earn the bonus. At that point, evaluate whether there are still bonus categories that make it worth it to use the card for.
 

2.  Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

  • Named "Best for Travel Rewards" by Money Magazine, October 2013
  • 40,000 miles after spending $3000 within first 90 days from account opening
  • Earn 2X miles on ALL purchases
  • Redeem for travel and get 10% of your miles back (effectively, 2.2% cash back when redeemed for travel)
  • No fee the first year, thereafter $89 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Why #2: When I applied, I figured the card was only about the bonus. But in light of the United devaluation and the fact that I'm no longer as keen on earning United miles and Ultimate Rewards points for foreign low cost carrier spend that I won't put on the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card due to the foreign exchange fees, I actually will be using the Arrival card more, in addition to continue use for otherwise non-bonused spend. 

 

3. Chase Ink Plus Credit Card - 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points

  • 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in 3 months from account opening
  • Credit card (may carry a balance, although don't be tempted to!) 
  • 5X points per dollar on office supply store spend, telephone, cable and Internet services
  • 2X points on hotel spend when directly with the hotel, gas stations
  • 1:1 point transfer to United and Hyatt (best use of points), Korean Air, Southwest, Marriott, InterContinental, Priority Club, Amtrak
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee of $95 is NOT waived for the 70,000 offer from Chase branches
Why #3: The Ink Plus was tied with the Ink Bold for everyday spend, thanks to the ability to leverage its 5X points category to get 5X on much of your spend, but the new 70,000 offer available at Chase branches nudges it ahead.
 


  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No interest charges because it's a pay in full charge card
  • Earn up to 5X points per dollar on eligible business purchases, and points do not expire
  • Introductory Offer - First Year Free ($95 thereafter)
Why #4: This has moved up in the rankings, mainly because of the ability to purchase gift cards for Amazon, Whole Foods, and other other retailers, in order to get 5X on all Amazon and other spend and Maximizing the Chase Ink Bold 50,000 Bonus-How to meet Minimum Spend for some tips. And even with the United award chart devaluation Ultimate Rewards points have recovered some of their lustre since they can now transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer.


  • Up to 45,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $3000 spend in the first 3 months and add an authorized user
  • 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 7% Annual Points Dividend on all new points earned on purchases - even on points already redeemed. This makes your effective earn on travel and dining 2.14X
  • 1:1 point transfer to participating frequent travel programs
  • Annual fee waived the first year, then $95
Why #5: I used to put all dining and travel expenses, such as $50 subway cards, restaurant lunches and dinners, direct hotel bookings, taxi fares above $10, etc. on the Sapphire Preferred. That said, with the United devaluation, I'm more focused now on meeting minimum spend for other miles and points cards.
 
Ultimate Rewards Points may be transferred 1:1 to United MileagePlus, British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Intercontinental/Priority Club, Amtrak and now, Singapore KrisFlyer. 


6. American Express Starwood Preferred Guest-25,000 Bonus
  • 5x Starpoints per dollar spent at Starwood Hotels if you are a Gold or Platinum SPG member; otherwise, 4 Starpoints per dollar spent
  • Currently offered with a 25,000 SPG points bonus: 10,000 SPG points after first purchase, and 15,000 SPG points after spending $5000 on the card within the first 6 months
  • Starwood Gold Preferred Guest Status after $30,000 spend in a calendar year
Why #6: For non-airline, non-dining, non-travel, non-grocery, non-telecom and non-office supply store spend, if I'm not working on minimum spend I put it on the SPG AMEX or on the Barclays Arrival card, in addition to of course all Starwood spend eligible for Starpoints. Note though, that the cash portion of Cash & Points stays is NOT eligible for Starpoints, so it goes on my Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold--see comments to Do SPG Cash & Points Award Stays Earn Elite Status? 
 
Also note that you don't want to use the SPG AMEX for international hotel stays, since it does charge foreign transaction fees; you'll want to use your Barclays Arrival, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold Charge Card or Ink Plus instead.
 

  • 3x Membership Rewards points for airfare
  • 2x Membership Rewards points for groceries and gas 
  • $175 annual fee waived the first year
Why #7: I use this card most regularly for non-Whole Foods grocery spend (note that the Ink Bold or Ink Plus will earn you 5X on all Whole Foods spend, if you first buy Whole Foods gift cards at an office supply store), which occurs every few days or so since I live in NYC and will even buy some of my lunches and snacks at a grocery store. I don't have much airfare spend (mostly I redeem for award tickets) but any U.S. airfare spend does go on this card as well, since it gets 3x vs. the 2x of the Sapphire Preferred. I value Membership Rewards points primarily for their instant transfer to British Airways, especially when there's a transfer bonus (currently there's a 20% AMEX transfer bonus to Avios, although past bonuses have been as high as 40% or 50%. See 50 percent AMEX Transfer Bonus to British Airways Avios-Best Deals)
 
But what I really want to save AMEX Membership Rewards points for now are for Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer redemptions, including Singapore Suites!
 
 
  • 15,000 points signup bonus after spending $500 in 3 months, plus earn 2500 points after adding an authorized user, for a total of 17,500 points
  • If you travel, get this card for points, not cash back. Note that you'll need the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus to transfer points out to Ultimate Rewards partners such as United and Hyatt
  • No annual fee
Why #8: The signup bonus has improved slightly from the usual 10,000 points to up to 17,500 points if you add an authorized user, but the main reason to get this card is for the rotating 5X categories. Note that for travel, I recommend using this to earn points, NOT cash back. To transfer points out to Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners such as Singapore KrisFlyer, United and Hyatt, you must have a card linked to Ultimate Rewards, such as the Sapphire PreferredInk Bold or Ink Plus.
 
Ever since Chase eliminated the old Chase Exclusives program (see Goodbye Old Chase Exclusives Even for Grandfathered Members), meaning that there is no longer any per transaction bonus, I only use my Chase Freedom for the quarterly 5X bonuses.
 
Which cards do you have for the bonus, and which do you value most for everyday spend?

Related posts

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When Can You Get a Credit Card Signup Bonus Again?

 

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Disclaimer: Note that some cards in this post offer credit to me if you’re approved using my links. The opinions, analyses, and evaluations are mine. This content is not provided or commissioned by Chase, Barclays, American Express, Citibank, US Bank, Bank of America, or any other company. They have not reviewed, approved or endorsed any of my articles.

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Comments
User_avatar_default Joanna K. commented 23 Apr 2012
SUPER helpful post, hilary! this is exactly the type of information ive been looking for, and is laid out extremely clearly. thanks!
User_avatar_default Todd M. commented 08 Jan 2013
Are these offers still valid? DO you have any direct link where it shows the offer detail? 50,000 AAdvantage miles after $2500 spend within the first 4 months for the Citi AAdvantage Visa 40,000 AAdvantage miles after $1000 spend within the first 4 months for the Citi AAdvantage AMEX 40,000 AAdvantage miles after $1000 spend within the first 4 months for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 08 Jan 2013
PR, these AA offers are still valid, but I've edited since the AA Visa no longer comes with the $100 statement credit or lounge passes. The offer page is dead, so the links are to the application pages, which still work, but don't state the bonuses. Flyertalk members have recently gotten these cards with these application pages, since they are better offers than those officially available on Citi's site. After being approved, you can confirm the bonus and spend requirements with the rep.
User_avatar_default Todd M. commented 09 Jan 2013
Thank You Hilary for the confirmation.
Picture?type=large Ashley C. commented 11 Feb 2013
Hi Hilary!! I am looking for a credit card for my business that will allow me to spend 50-100k, has great travel rewards and/or offers miles and cash back. The annual fee does not matter. The APR does not matter ( it is paid off each month). Can the points be used for travel for friends and family? And I like the idea of the price of flight ($150) = the amount of points (15,000)... Can you please help guide me to some choices that you think would be the best solution?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 11 Feb 2013
Ashley, I'd actually not recommend a cash back card if you want to earn travel rewards, because you're only getting 1 cent per point in value. If you ever intend to redeem for international award flights, and especially international business or first class, I'd recommend cards that earn you Chase Ultimate Rewards points (such as the Ink Bold or Ink Plus); AMEX Membership Rewards points (Business Gold Rewards card, if you can get it with the 75K signup bonus which appears periodically) or CitiBusiness AAdvantage. You can definitely book award travel for friends and family with your miles and points, and would be earning more with these cards, both from the signup bonuses and, in the case of the Ink cards and AMEX Business Gold Rewards cards, from category spend. You may also want to check out a recent post on this topic, http://travelsort.com/blog/high-spend-which-credit-cards Hope this helps!
Picture?type=large Chris K. commented 14 Mar 2013
I'm a big fan of the Chase Freedom/Sapphire Preferred idea, but I get rejected by Chase for the Sapphire (despite sterling credit) for having too many Chase cards. I'm going to wait and try again later, but I think they may be on to the synergy between these two cards. I've been a Chase customer for years, and never been rejected for anything before.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 14 Mar 2013
Chris, sorry to hear it; did you call Reconsideration and offer to move some of your credit line from another Chase card? While Chase often does set an upper limit on the total amount of credit they're willing to extend a given customer, it would be new to me if Chase is now setting a hard limit on the number of Chase credit cards you can have, the way AMEX does. You may want to see http://travelsort.com/blog/how-many-chase-cards-can-you-have
Picture?type=large Chris K. commented 15 Mar 2013
That worked like a charm. Thanks. You're the best. Now that I can follow your advice, I'm really enjoying your blog!
User_avatar_default Stan J. commented 16 Mar 2013
Hilary - Just wanted you to know that the Citi Business AAdvantage Visa link above still works. I got approved on Tuesday and received my card today. Only got $1,000 credit because I already have 3 other Citi cards (AAdvantage Select Amex, Platinum Select Visa and Platinum Select M/C). When I registered my card today, I verified with the customer rep that I'll get 50K miles, 2 Admirals Club passes (within 2 months) and the $150 statement credit with valid American Airlines purchase. I had initially been declined on the Business Visa application with the reason being I had submitted too many applications for credit. But the last applications I had submitted to Citi were 76 days ago in November when I got the Select Amex (25K bonus) and Select Visa (30K bonus). It took me asking for a supervisor to get the issue resolved and obtain final approval because the representative I had spoken to earlier said there was nothing she could do. It always pays to request to speak to a supervisor. Thanks for posting the links !
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 17 Mar 2013
Stan, thanks for confirming the CitiBusiness AAdvantage offer still gets the 50K mile bonus, and glad you got approved! Great tip for others, to request a supervisor if the front line rep can't help.
User_avatar_default Barb P. commented 17 Mar 2013
Hi Hilary, I was able to take advantage of the Chase 55,000 mile rewards offer last year, (June 2012) After spending $25,000, and receiving all 65,000 miles rewards, I cancelled in Jan 2013. About 3 weeks later, I found your link again, and applied for another 55,000 mile rewards offer. They accepted my application, but later refused the miles, because I was not a new customer. Is there a certain time frame/limit between ordering new cards to get the miles. I secure messaged them, and asked them to reconsider, but they still refused.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 17 Mar 2013
Barb, thanks for using my link. Generally Chase won't let you get the bonus again for the same card, especially so soon. Yes, there are folks that successfully churn Chase cards by using a new frequent flyer number, although I'm not advocating that. Do weigh the risks before going full steam ahead with churning Chase cards, since Chase has been known to close accounts of heavy churners or perk abusers. I'd instead recommend leveraging category bonuses (especially the 5X via Ink Bold/Ink Plus) and applying for the Ink small business cards if you don't yet have them, to earn more United miles.
Picture?type=large John M. commented 27 Apr 2013
Are there any cards with an intro 0% on balance transfers or purchases that you'd recommend?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 27 Apr 2013
John, thanks for your question. In general I recommend only applying for rewards credit cards if you don't have any credit card debt, as I mentioned in http://travelsort.com/blog/beginners-guide-to-miles-points. A few months ago I would have recommended the Ink Plus as a rewards card that offers an introductory 0% APR for the first 6 months, but unfortunately the current offer doesn't include this--there's a hefty APR charged from the outset. I'll give this some more thought and potentially discuss in a future post.
Picture?type=large John M. commented 28 Apr 2013
Thank you, Hilary! Yeah, I whole-heartedly agree with you on not carrying a balance on rewards cards. I just need to make a purchase that I don't quite have the cash for and figure that I can pay the item off in half the time of the typical 0% offer.
Picture?type=large John M. commented 28 Apr 2013
I figured, why not earn some rewards if possible.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 29 Apr 2013
John, agreed! Had a couple recommendations, pls. see my post today, http://travelsort.com/blog/best-0-apr-and-balance-transfer-rewards-credit-cards
User_avatar_default kato b. commented 08 May 2013
Hi Hilary, I noticed this article gets updated every month. Is there a way for me to find the March version of this article (before your April and May updates)? I was thrilled to have found your useful info here in March and followed your wonderful advice, was approved for both personal Citi Platinum Visa and Citi Amex. Amex is now refusing to issue me the miles. I just wanted to see what the exact offer was for these two cards back in March as a Citi Amex supervisor claimed that they never offered 50,000 bonus miles in Amex history when I called to inquire about my bonus miles. Thanks for your help in advance!!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 08 May 2013
Kato, sorry to hear the miles aren't being honored, but just wanted to clarify: are you speaking to Citi? AMEX has nothing to do with the Citi AMEX because Citi merely licenses the AMEX use; the issuer is Citi for both cards. When you called to activate the Citi Amex card, what was the bonus that you confirmed? I remove expired links as soon as I notice them, so even if I'd kept the prior March version, all you'd see is a note to that effect instead of the application page.
User_avatar_default kato b. commented 08 May 2013
Hilary, that's what I was looking for, a note about the miles for the Citi AMEX card. I called Citi AMEX, the phone number provided on the billing statement from Citi. I applied online in March via your link to the application page (Citi Select AMEX Card), did not get an answer right away, but was approved about week and a half or two later (out of the blue on a Sat or Sun evening) when they called me over the phone. At that time, I could not remember the exact number of miles but I briefly confirmed with the lady on the phone that I would get the sign on bonus miles as well as the extra miles after meeting the spend requirement and she said yes and all the miles should be posted accordingly to my AA account. My Citi Platinum Select was approved right away online. The 50,000 sign on bonus miles were posted by Citi Select Platinum Visa on the date that I got the approval. I've already met the spend requirement to get the extra 30,000(?) miles from Visa which should be posted soon I hope. But for Citi Select AMEX, I have not received any bonus miles from them, maybe I have confused the offers from Citi Visa and Citi AMEX? Should have done a screen shot in March......
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 08 May 2013
Kato, just to clarify, these aren't my links (I receive no referral credit for them) but are simply the best links I'm aware of, which I aim to keep updated. What does Citi say now when you ask about the signup bonus miles and terms for the Citi AMEX card? They should be able to confirm the details. I know the Citi AMEX offer has changed since late March, but you should still receive the offer that was in effect when you applied and Citi should be able to confirm this. The signup bonus miles are earned after minimum spend, so it does sound you got extremely lucky if 50K miles posted when you got approved and even before meeting minimum spend--perhaps that's why Citi is not being forthcoming or helpful regarding the Citi AMEX bonus...
User_avatar_default kato b. commented 08 May 2013
Hilary, I didn't mean to construe anything about the excellent links, tips and advice you provide here. I understand completely. As you surmised, Citi AMEX was not forthcoming nor helpful, the supervisor indicated that the burden of proof for such offer is on me. He said never in Citi AMEX history was there an offer like that and they have nothing to do with Citi Visa. Oh well, I'm happy with what I got from Citi Visa, thanks again for your page here!
User_avatar_default James S. commented 17 Jun 2013
The article shows the best possible card and which card to use where. As travel card be good options for traveler as the can gain reward point and utilize it.
User_avatar_default James S. commented 22 Jun 2013
The blog very smartly explain the best credit card as much as possible. The comparison can also be done through the content and now its up to the people to choice the best among all.
Picture?type=large Robert S. commented 16 Jul 2013
Thanks so much Hilary, this info and links were invaluable today during my AOR. I applied for 8 cards and was approved for 7! I picked up 2 more Chase cards, 1 more Citi, 1 AMEX, 2 Barclays, and 1 BofA. My advice to others is to follow all of Hilary's steps and tips, and also keep a spreadsheet to track all your notes. Start in the AM early in the week because some of the calls can take a while. If I wasn't instantly approved for a card, I waited 2-3 minutes (used time to make notes and prep for reconsideration call) then called in. As long as I can meet my minimum spend, today's efforts should net me ~275k miles and save well over $3k! Thanks again, Hilary!! Oh, other blogs I used were extrapackofpeanuts, flyertalk, fatwallet, and frugal travel guy. But Hilary's was my go-to site and was the most comprehensive and up to date.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 16 Jul 2013
Robert, thanks for the kind words, so glad you had a great AOR and got approved for 7 cards, congrats! Hopefully this post can be helpful as you focus on meeting minimum spend to earn your signup bonuses: http://travelsort.com/blog/meet-minimum-spend-on-credit-cards-top-20-tips
Picture?type=large Sheryl H. commented 19 Jul 2013
Aggravating. I got the AA offer last month at 40,000 because AA was cheaper than Delta, and now Delta is cheaper again for my next two flights to Seattle. I'd love to see a yearly comparison between airlines for average costs because I didn't see United as a choice from VPS (Fort Walton Beach, Florida) until recently. I'd also like to know how the Chase Freedom Visa compares to the Discover card my sister talked me into signing up for because of the online shopping mall. They both have the same quarterly categories but Freedom has more than one per quarter, so if the online mall and redemption bonuses for taking gift certificates vs cash are also better, I will switch. For now, I'm going to get the Barclay World Arrival before our cruise because there aren't any gas stations involved except driving to the port and I like the effective 2.2 percent rewards rate.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 19 Jul 2013

Sheryl, actually I believe United and US Air also serve that route, United via IAH and US Air via CLT. So if you have United or US Air miles, you may want to check those as well for award flights. The value of the Chase Freedom for many folks, if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold or Ink Plus, is the ability to transfer points instantly to United. With only the Freedom, however, you won't be able to transfer points out to airline or hotel partners (United and Hyatt are the best value transfer partners). The Barclay Arrival is good for its effective $440 rebate from the 40K signup bonus on travel purchases, including international ones (no forex fee) but for ongoing spend you may want to also consider the Sapphire Preferred effective 2.14X on all travel and dining, especially if you think you'll redeem for United or Hyatt awards.

User_avatar_default Movie D. commented 20 Jul 2013
Hilary, First of all, thank you for your thorough treatment of the best credit cards. Not only is your information up-to-date, but you are refreshingly rigorous in your treatment of nominal and subjective value. That said, there are a few cards which I do not understand why you left off your everyday spending list: - PenFed Travel Rewards: 5% on all airfare spend - PenFed Cash Rewards Visa: 5% on all gas spend, 3% on all - Citi Forward: 5% on all dining spend For dining, you mention the the Sapphire Preferred's 2.14X. Even transferring the Sapphire's Ultimate Rewards to United miles with a value of two cents per mile, that's still only an effective 4.28% -- less than the Forward. On airfare and gas, you mention the Amex Premier Rewards Gold's 3x and 2x respectively. Even accounting for the fact that you can transfer Membership Rewards to KrisFlyer miles, I don't see how you beat PenFed's 5% in these two categories, especially considering the Amex Gold's annual fee. Thoughts?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 20 Jul 2013
Movie, thanks for the comment and great question--I'd like to post on this later this coming week, as I do think it's important to really take into account your travel preferences when deciding which cards to put everyday spend on. The reason I (and many other bloggers) prefer the Ultimate Rewards and AMEX cards I mentioned is that we prefer to fly in international premium cabins--first class or business class flights that would cost thousands of dollars retail. Pretty much all the AMEX Membership Rewards points I earn get transferred to Singapore KrisFlyer. Let's say I spent $10,000 on airfare--I could either earn 30K AMEX MR points or $500 cash back. Given that I intend to use the points to transfer to Singapore and add to existing KrisFlyer miles to redeem for a Singapore Suites flight, it's a no brainer for me to use the AMEX card, because there's no way I would pay for the flight even with the $500 cash back discount earned by the PenFed card--even with the cash back discount it would still be more than I'd be willing to pay. Obviously if one prefers domestic and/or coach travel the calculus is different, and could well mean that a cash back card is preferable.
User_avatar_default Movie D. commented 22 Jul 2013
Hilary, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Based on your example, your subjective value for a Membership Rewards point (as wel as KrisFlyer miles) must be more than 1.67 cents. It would be great if you could provide your subjective values for both MR and UR points. As you pointed out, these values are based on your preference for premium class travel, and they may be different for someone who prefers coach. But having those numbers would provide a good benchmark for comparison. For illustration, here is an example that is more favorable to the cash back cards. Suppose you spend $10,000 on restaurants. The Citi Forward would get you 50K TYP, which can be redeemed for $667 in travel through the TY Web site. With the Sapphire Preferred, you get 21K UR points. But unless you value UR points at over 3.1 cents per point, the ThankYou comes out ahead.
User_avatar_default Movie D. commented 22 Jul 2013
Hilary, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Based on your example, your subjective value for a Membership Rewards point (as wel as KrisFlyer miles) must be more than 1.67 cents. It would be great if you could provide your subjective values for both MR and UR points. As you pointed out, these values are based on your preference for premium class travel, and they may be different for someone who prefers coach. But having those numbers would provide a good benchmark for comparison. For illustration, here is an example that is more favorable to the cash back cards. Suppose you spend $10,000 on restaurants. The Citi Forward would get you 50K TYP, which can be redeemed for $667 in travel through the TY Web site. With the Sapphire Preferred, you get 21K UR points. But unless you value UR points at over 3.1 cents per point, the ThankYou comes out ahead.
Picture?type=large Sandra B. commented 13 Aug 2013
We are thinking of purchasing a new car. Is it possible to charge $20,000+ on any 1 or 2 credit card(s)? If so which credit card(s) would you suggest to accomplish this? We both currently carry AMEX (Costco) and chase VISA Slate. Thanks for your insight.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 18 Aug 2013
Sandra, it could be, depending on your credit limit or if it's a charge card. In terms of which one, it really depends on which miles or points you value most for your travel. The miles and points I recommend earning are Ultimate Rewards points via cards such as the Sapphire Preferred or Ink small business cards, AMEX Membership Rewards points, AAdvantage miles via the Citi AAdvantage cards and SPG points via the SPG AMEX.
User_avatar_default Marcel L. commented 18 Aug 2013
Hi Hilary, I live in the Netherlands, Europe. Currently I have a Flying Blue Amex card, i.e. the card is connected to our national airline KLM (and Air France and other Flying Blue airlines). Your blog seems to focus on the US. Do you have information on the best deals / cards when being based in main land Europe (so not UK)?, or are you aware of a site that has this info? The Amex card is no fun fo regulare spending because of the huge costs for currency exchanges. But so far the visa and master cards that i can find overhere are just plain vanilla cards without connection to airline programs. For hotels I have a Preferred Gold card from Hilton and I am SPG Platinum member. Thanks in advance for your feedback. Marcel
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 18 Aug 2013
Marcel, great question. Yes, my blog posts on credit cards are more focused on the U.S., since the best miles and points bonuses are from U.S. cards--unfortunately bonuses in Europe and the rest of the world tend to not be nearly as lucrative. There is a bit of discussion about this, and the high fees of the Flying Blue AMEX, on this Flyertalk thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/flying-blue-air-france-klm-other-partners/1478461-further-updates-co-branded-amex-cards-nl-fr-status-miles-af-kl-purchases-8.html I don't know of a good site to refer you to offhand, but if I come across one will post an update. If you ever have the chance to apply for U.S. cards and build a U.S. credit history I would recommend that, since you can of course use many of these cards with no foreign transaction fees internationally. Some of my award booking clients have done this--they live abroad but hold U.S. cards with a U.S. address (sometimes that of a relative or friend).
Picture?type=large Kevin C. commented 23 Aug 2013
Hilary, do you know if it is possible to apply for the British Airways 50,000 avios card, and then apply for the Citi AAdvantage card-which now shows only 30,000 points-and use them in conjunction for a combined total of 80,000 points, if I wanted to fly on American Airlines? The BA card supposedly can be used with partner airlines, which would include AA in theory. I would just like to verify that, before applying. I would like to fly AA to Europe, and could use the 80,000 points if that is possible. Thanks for your help!!!!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 23 Aug 2013
Kevin, you can't transfer airline frequent flyer miles to a different frequent flyer program, so you wouldn't be able to consolidate British Airways and AAdvantage miles. But actually you can currently earn 100,000 AAdvantage miles from 2 AAdvantage Platinum Select Visas, pls. see http://travelsort.com/blog/citi-aadvantage-100k-aa-miles-from-2-citi-platinum-visas-in-8-days
Picture?type=large Kevin C. commented 24 Aug 2013
Thanks for the answer on that. I read the post on the Citi AAdvantage, it sounds good, but right now I am only seeing 30,000 bonus miles offered by the Citi AAdvantage card. Is there a trick to getting the 50,000?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 24 Aug 2013
If you click on the link in the post, it takes you directly to the application page, which doesn't have any mention of the bonus, but is in fact a 50K offer. If you apply through the official offers on the Citi site, those are only for 30K.
Picture?type=large Kevin C. commented 26 Aug 2013
Thanks for your timely advice Hilary. I am putting the Citi cards on my to apply for list. But I had a question about the United Mileage explorer card. It gives you 35-55,000 points, depending on if you can get the higher offer or not. I already have a Chase Sapphire card with the bonus 40,000 points. Could I apply for the united mileage card and then transfer over my sapphire points to United for a total of 90,000 United points?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Aug 2013
Kevin, absolutely--Ultimate Rewards points transfer instantly to United miles, so that works.
User_avatar_default Jennifer W. commented 17 Sep 2013
Just wondering, since most of the other sites I've consulted support the Capital One Venture card for long-term mileage, why do you not mention it? I've learned so much from your posts so I just wanted to know is it a personal preference or is the Venture card just not worth it?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 17 Sep 2013
Jennifer, the Capital One Venture card, despite all its advertising, is poor value compared to other travel rewards cards, in my view. That's because it's a "fixed value" card, where you get only 1 cent per mile when redeeming, so even with double points, it's at best 2% cash back. See my post http://travelsort.com/blog/capital-one-venture-card-100000-bonus-miles-7-reasons-im-not-applying The rotating 5X categories of the Chase Freedom give you 5X cash back (although I recommend, once you get the Sapphire Preferred, transferring them out to United miles instead). Also, the current Capital One Venture bonus is only 10,000 points, so you'll do far better with the Barclay's Arrival Card with its 40,000 miles/points bonus and an effective 2.2% cash back when redeeming for travel. See http://travelsort.com/blog/barclays-arrival-card-review
Picture?type=large John P. commented 14 Oct 2013
For the Love of god please help! =) So many variables.. I live in Va Beach, VA, USA... I am trying to decide on a credit card( ditch the Hilton Honors) . I have a very modest home just built in Ecuador.. I will be buying Hardware n appliances =) BUT I make mostly gas grocery and small purchases..( here in Va Beach).. I buy tickets once a year to Guayaquil... once or twice to FLA.....hoping to earn enough to get me back and forth to Ecuador with my sons.. I was going to get the Starwood AMex and the Chase freedom, transfer freedom to spg pts.... But I am not certain.. can you give some free advice?// Thank You, JOHN
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 14 Oct 2013
Hi John, I would focus on earning AAdvantage miles, given the nonstop MIA-GYE flight. I know there's quite a layover in MIA if flying from ORF, but I still think that AA miles or BA Avios are your best bet. You can't transfer Freedom points to SPG points, and the problem with SPG points is that they don't transfer instantly to AAdvantage (or any other frequent flyer program, for that matter). So if you haven't already had them, I'd apply for a Citi AAdvantage personal card and a Citi AAdvantage Business card to earn 90,000 AA miles, a British Airways Visa to earn 50,000 Avios (can be used to fly American) and possibly also a Barclay's Arrival Card which, after earning the 40K "miles" bonus will get you $440 statement credit back for travel expenses (effectively 2.2X cash back on travel; also no foreign transaction fees if you use it in Ecuador). Links to these cards are in the above post. Hope this helps!
User_avatar_default richard g. commented 06 Nov 2013
I just applied for 60k mile bonus Citi elite black card less than 5 weeks ago. I was approved on the spot for 22,500 limit even though I had 4 other advantage cards. Yesterday I applied for another elite black card and did not get immediate approval.Nor did I ever expect to. They called me an hour later,asked me a couple of questions and gave me another black elite card with an 8,000 limit. Amazing. So it will cost 450 annual fee x2 to earn 130,000 miles.60+60+5+5. Still not bad at 900 dollars for 130,000 miles.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 07 Nov 2013
Richard, agreed--with it becoming much harder to apply for other Citi AA cards and get the bonus again in a reasonable time frame and the BankDirect devaluation, this is a good deal--and great that you were able to get two of these cards! Thanks for sharing your experience.
Picture?type=large Torsten J. commented 19 Nov 2013
The improved offer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card deserves a mention. It comes with a 50,000 points sign-up bonus and earns 2x points for all travel and dining purchases. It also has no foreign transaction fee.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 19 Nov 2013
Already mentioned--see #5 on the list and this post: http://travelsort.com/blog/chase-sapphire-preferred-up-to-55k-bonus-offer
Picture?type=large Syed M. commented 03 Jan 2014
Is the Chase Freedom 20k points offer dead?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 10 Mar 2014
Syed, sorry to have missed your earlier comment--yes, Chase Freedom offer has been back to 10K for awhile now. It may still be worth it for the 5X, depending on your category spend, althohttp://travelsort.com/blog/chase-freedom-2014-calendar-5x-categories-disappointingugh in my view the 2014 5X categories are very lackluster:
Picture?type=large Jana P. commented 10 Mar 2014
Does the Barclays Arrival World MasterCard offer Trip cancelation/Interuption insurance? Also, can I transfer the point to United Plus or other or do I need to use their program to book the trip?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 10 Mar 2014
Jana, no, as with virtually all U.S. credit cards, the Barclays Arrival only offers up to $1500 trip cancellation / trip interruption insurance for death, accidental injury, or illness of the insured person or an immediate family member that is verified by a physician and prevents travel, or for airline bankruptcy. You can't transfer Barclay's Arrival points out to partners, they are best used to pay for fuel surcharges on tickets and foreign or other spend that doesn't otherwise earn you a category bonus, since the card gives you effectively 2.2% cash back when redeemed for travel. The bonus and 10% points refund when redeeming for travel make the 40K bonus worth $440 off any travel expense.
Picture?type=large Jana P. commented 10 Mar 2014
So I guess $1500 would maybe cover me and one kid to re-book. We have had one kid sick on a trip and doctor's note said "unable to travel", still the airline wouldn't change the ticket unless I paid some huge amount compare to the cost of the ticket as the flight was overseas. At that point I didn't and flew with a sick kid with fever. I felt bad for him and for other passengers as well. Anyway, it sounds like I could purchase tickets with miles and then pay for fees with Barkley, is that right? I was under the impression I'd have to pay for all of the ticket with one card (e.g. British Airways Visa offers it) if I wanted to be covered for trip interruption. Would that still count as purchasing all of the tickets if the fuel charges were charged to a different card than the tickets? I am new to this and need 4 tix this summer so I am assuming, that our next trip I may be able to aquire enough miles, or most, we need. Thank you!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 10 Mar 2014
Jana, so sorry to hear of your kid's illness--that's especially hard when traveling! I would definitely not rely on credit card travel insurance where travel cancellation and trip interruption is concerned, and would instead get travel insurance from Travel Guard. This is what I sell to my clients as well, since it also provides broader coverage, e.g. in case the airline cancels flights due to weather, you'll be covered, whereas credit card policies don't cover airline cancellations (except for bankruptcy which is highly unlikely to be the cause of your flight cancellation). And yes, you would need to pay for the entire ticket with the card, just paying fees on an award ticket wouldn't be sufficient to trigger coverage.
Picture?type=large Kim C. commented 30 Jun 2014

I've just applied for CITIBANK credit card! very informative.

User_avatar_default Pa R. commented 11 Jul 2014
Looks like Citi AA Exec 100K offer is dead as of today per reports on FT. Links no longer work.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 11 Jul 2014
Thanks, yes, unfortunately seems dead and 75K AA miles for the Citi Executive AAdvantage appears to be the best currently available bonus offer. Have updated the post.
Picture?type=large Casey M. commented 21 Jul 2014
Citi is definitely cracking down on multiple AA Cards!
Picture?type=large Casey M. commented 21 Jul 2014
Citi is definitely cracking down on multiple AA Cards!
Avatar_60_img_0373 NATE S. commented 29 Jul 2014
Hilary, thanks for a nice summary of credit card offers. I've already got approved for Citi AA Executive card and received 100K AA miles. Can I still apply for the 75K Executive card offer? And more importantly, is it still worth it to apply for this care with $450 annual fee($350 after rebate) and high chance of AA devaluation in the near future ?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 04 Aug 2014
Nate, if you've already applied for the Citi Executive AAdvantage 75K offer you should be good; as of now the best offer is the 60K offer. I do expect an AA devaluation sometime this year, so I would plan to redeem AA miles this year.
Picture?type=large Robert S. commented 04 Aug 2014
Hi Hilary, as always, thx for the great summary! Getting ready for my next round of applications and had a few Q's: 1.) I have two Chase cards from my AOR last year that just charged the annual fee (United Plus and Sapphire Preferred.) Always better to leave these open when applying, right? Then offer to give them up during reconsideration if need be, right? (I called and i have between 60 days to 180 days to reverse the annual fee.) 2.) I have a balance of about 35k UR Points with my CSP that I would prefer to leave in UR, as opposed to transferring to Southwest or United miles yet. Can I leave these there and "transfer" them over to my new Chase card (say I get approved for the Ink Plus 70k offer)? Or, should I first transfer them to a partner and then apply? (Or maybe I can transfer them to my Freedom Card and then right back to UR in a few months?) 3.) I should be okay with 1 Chase personal card and 1 business card, right? My luck with Chase has always been a max of two. (I currently have 4 active Chase cards, and willing to close 2.) 4.) Was going to do 2 Chase (Ink Plus, Southwest Biz), 1 Citi (AA Mastercard biz 50k). Any others I should jump on? Especially any AMEX ones if I wasn't targeted? (I did USAir and WorldElite with Barclays, a few AA Citis, and Alaska BofA, AMEX SPG, all last year, so I can't churn those yet.) 5.) Sorry for all the Q's! You rock :-)
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 04 Aug 2014
Hi Robert, glad it's helpful! In terms of your questions, 1. Yes, I would leave your current Chase cards open while you apply for new Chase cards, although you probably don't want to necessarily say you'll close them, but rather offer to move credit line over to get new cards approved. Then later, after getting approved for new cards, you can call to close the United and Sapphire Preferred. 2. You could certainly transfer your current Ultimate Rewards points to your Chase Freedom, and then, if you get approved for an Ink Plus, you'll again be able to transfer them out to Ultimate Rewards partners. 3. I'm not Chase and don't know your credit score/history, so unfortunately I can't say whether or not you'll be approved. Do prepare to answer questions about your business for the Ink and Southwest business cards, as Chase business cards are often not approved instantly. I view the Ink Plus as much more valuable than the Southwest card, so would recommend applying for the Ink Plus first, in case you don't get approved for both cards. 4. It really all depends on your travel goals, but the Ink Plus and Citi AA MC would be among my top picks, especially if you've already gotten more than 1 Citi Exec AA bonus, Sapphire Preferred, US Air, Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite, Alaska and SPG. I do recommend at some point trying for a targeted AMEX bonus by eliminating all your AMEX cards, say when the annual fees come due. Good luck with your AOR!
Picture?type=large Robert S. commented 04 Aug 2014
Thanks so much for all the answers Hilary, great stuff! I'll give everything a shot this week and let you know how it works out, and I'll be sure to use your links in case you get a referral. Also found a JetBlue AMEX w/ 20k true blue points I might toss in the mix, we'll see. Thanks again!
Avatar_60_abhi Abhilash R. commented 22 Aug 2014
I applied for Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard application and got the message to call credit analyst. I've excellent credit and was hoping it is to shift credit lines from my other Citi accounts. They declined my application because I've Citi Executive AAdvantage card opened this year and received promotional miles and hence cannot be approved for another promotion. I was told to wait for a year. This is so weird. Did this happen to anyone recently?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 23 Aug 2014
Abhilash, sorry to hear this; getting the Citi Platinum Select bonus again isn't as easy as the Citi Exec AAdvantage (which can be churned), but this is interesting if you've never had the Platinum Select before and if your last Citi application was over a couple months ago. You might want to open a CitiBusiness AAdvantage card if you haven't had (or haven't recently had) that card. The good thing is that generally if Citi does approve you and you meet minimum spend, you'll get the bonus (unlike AMEX, which may approve you but then deny you the bonus, resulting in a hard pull and meeting minimum spend for nothing).
User_avatar_default Aris S. commented 27 Aug 2014
From what I've gathered from flyertalk discussions, in order to get bonus for Platinum select, you'll need to wait for 12-18 months since your last AAdvantage app of any type(whether Executive or Platinum select). That explains why Abhilash didn't get the bonus.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 27 Aug 2014
Interesting Aris, thanks for your comment. It's definitely a harder card to get if you've had recent AA applications, so my advice to Abhilash stands that a CitiBusiness AAdvantage card for 50K would be a better bet, especially as many have been able to get a bonus a second (or third etc.) time for that card, as long as the master account was closed down.
Avatar_60_abhi Abhilash R. commented 28 Aug 2014
Thanks Hilary and Aris. Agreed the Platinum select is a harder card to get and I suggest to keep it active. The 10% redeemed miles back itself pays for the annual fee, plus Citi may offer retention bonuses.
Picture?type=large Miles R. commented 02 Oct 2014
Just applied for Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard (50K for spending $3K in 3 months) but cannot find same offer for CitiBusiness AAdvantage MasterCard offer (only 30K)?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 02 Oct 2014
Miles, just updated the 50K Citi AAdvantage link in this post, so you can apply using that one.
Picture?type=large Mike C. commented 15 Oct 2014
Good list of cards. You might also want to check out the rewards calculator at CreditCardTuneUp.com to help calculate which cards will pay you the most rewards for your expenses.
Picture?type=large Dan C. commented 15 Oct 2014
The Ritz card is now a $200 airline incidental credit
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 16 Oct 2014
Actually I believe it's a $300 airline incidental credit per calendar year, but the bonus, unfortunately, has been watered down to be just be 1 free night at a Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton--so properties such as the Ritz-Carlton Central Park, Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, etc. are excluded.
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