Which Travel Credit Card for American Airlines Flights and Other Business Travel? TravelSort reader Lauren comments on the Best Travel Credit Cards page "I fly 3-5 times a month, typically with American Airlines for business. While we can collect flyer miles, charges go directly to our company account. I am responsible for charging everything else, hotel, rental car, meals, etc. Is there a card that is ideal for this set up? I typically stick with Avis, Hyatt, or Hilton. My only travel card now is Southwest. Thank you!"
Park of picking the best travel credit card for yourself is getting the greatest return in miles or points for the kind of spend you normally make. But the other part of the equation is knowing how you'll want to redeem miles and points, since people differ in their travel preferences. Because of this, I'll look at both how to maximizing Lauren's earn, but also suggest other cards that may be more useful, depending on how she'll want to redeem her miles or points.
Maximizing Miles and Points for American Airlines Flights, Hotel, Car Rental and Dining Spend
50K Citi Prestige Card
The Citi Prestige card has a hefty $450 annual fee, but it does earn 3X ThankYou points on air travel and hotels booked directly with the airline or hotel, and 2X at restaurants, and the card also provides complimentary access to American Admirals Club lounges, which could come in handy if Lauren doesn't already have access to these lounges. There is a $250 annual airfare credit, which helps make the annual cost an effective $200 for the card. There's also a $100 Global Entry credit, which is great if Lauren doesn't yet have Global Entry or TSA Precheck, since joining can help her reduce time clearing security.
The main cons of this card in addition the steep annual fee? The lack of attractive transfer partners. The best Citi ThankYou points transfer partner, in my view, is Singapore KrisFlyer, which can be used to book not only Singapore Airlines flights, but also other Star Alliance partners, such as United Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, Air Canada, Thai, etc. Citi ThankYou points can also transfer to FlyingBlue, which can book Air France, KLM, Delta, and SkyTeam partners. But in terms of oneworld, Citi ThankYou points transfer to Cathay Asia Miles and to Qantas, which have very expensive award charts. Also keep in mind that even if you have another Citi card linked to ThankYou points, you can't keep points alive by combining ThankYou points from the cards--you'll have only 60 days to use or transfer any ThankYou points earned with the Citi Prestige card after you cancel it.
50K AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card
The AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card also earns 3X Membership Rewards points on air travel, as well as 2X points at U.S. gas stations and 2X at restaurants. The card is free for the first year, and after that it charges a $195 annual membership fee. The card also provides a $100 airline credit per calendar year, so you make $100 off the card your first year, then the effective fee is $95 per year (or you make $200 off the card your first year if you cancel before the annual membership fee is due).
I prefer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Citi ThankYou points since, in addition to transferring to Singapore KrisFlyer, Air France Flying Blue and Cathay Asia Miles, they also transfer to Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA and British Airways Avios. True, you won't generally want to transfer to Avios since it's no longer a 1:1 transfer and is 250:200, but it's an option.
Other Travel Credit Cards to Consider with Greater Flexibility in Transferring Points
55K Chase Sapphire Preferred
Another strong travel card to consider is the Chase Sapphire Preferred, with a signup bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points plus 5000 bonus points for adding an authorized user. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2X Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining. Yes, you give up that extra point for airfare, since it's 2X rather than 3X, but you do earn 2X points for categories the Citi Prestige and the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card don't cover, such as car rentals, tolls, trains, taxis, parking garages, ferries, and even travel agencies such as TravelSort.
There's no fee the first year, and thereafter the annual fee is $95 per year. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are still my favorite (apart from SPG Starpoints, which are much more difficult to earn) since they transfer 1:1 to the following programs; I've highlighted in bold face the ones I value most:
- British Airways
- Korean Air Skypass
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Hyatt Gold Passport
- IHG Rewards
- Marriott Rewards
- Ritz-Carlton Rewards
Hyatt Visa with 2 Free Nights
Since Lauren mentions staying at Hyatt properties for business, another card to consider is the Hyatt Visa, with a signup bonus of 2 free nights at any Hyatt worldwide, as well as 5000 bonus points for adding an authorized user. The card earns 3X Hyatt Gold Passport points per dollar of Hyatt spend, as well as 2X points for dining, airline spend made directly with airlines, and car rental agency spend. There's also a free anniversary night at any category 1-4 Hyatt property, which helps to cover the $75 annual fee, which is waived the first year.
Have I missed any cards that, given Lauren's work travel spend, you think she should consider? Which of the above cards do you have and use?