The Top 5 Credit Cards for Travel Rewards

by on January 2, 2014 · 100 comments

in American Express, Barclays, Chase, Citi, Credit Cards

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Update:  As of July 20, 2014, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card no longer offers the 7% annual points dividend.

Since it’s a new year, I’ve already started to hear from a lot of friends and family that they are sick of seeing my amazing travels and not being able to go places themselves. So they’re going to buckle down in 2014 and get into the points and miles game, starting with applying for the right credit cards to get their points portfolios in shape. If you’ve got good credit and can pay off your bills in full every month, travel credit cards can be extremely lucrative and are the main way that I’m able to fly first class internationally and stay at some of the nicest hotels in the world- often for less cash outlay than if I paid to fly coach or stay in a hostel.

I recently transferred 60,000 Chase points to United to fly EVA Airlines to the Maldives in business class- a $4,000 ticket for $24 in taxes and fees.

I recently transferred 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United to fly EVA & Singapore Airlines to the Maldives in business class – a $4,000 ticket for $24 in taxes and fees.

For anyone else looking to get in the action, here are my picks the top five current credit card offers for beginners. I chose these because the sign-up bonuses are easy earn, the points or miles are easy to use, annual fees are reasonable and the cardholder benefits are valuable. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to use points or miles, the key is having those points or miles to use when you need them. For a full list of top deals, visit our TPG Top Deals page.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current Bonus: 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months
Spending Bonuses:
2 points per $1 on travel (which includes flights, hotels, car rentals, subway, parking, taxis, etc.) and restaurants (basically any food establishment and catering) with no maximum caps.
Points are worth 1.25 cents when redeeming with pay-with-points for airfare, hotel, car rentals and cruises (that means the 40,000 sign-up bonus = $500 towards travel at the very minimum); no foreign transaction fees; extra earning potential through the Ultimate Rewards earning mall; Ultimate Rewards Exclusives experience redemptions, Visa Signature perks and protections, no foreign transaction fees and chip & signature technology
Transfer Partners:
United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club, Amtrak.
Annual Fee:
$95, waived the first year

Why get it? A lot of people ask me what is the one travel credit card they should get, and while it really depends on what you’re hoping to use your points for, the core card I almost always recommend to friends and family is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. That’s because of its powerful earning potential, the ease of transferring to great partners, benefits like no foreign transaction fees (super important if you travel or use your card for foreign purchases), and the fact that even if you don’t use the transfer partners, that 40,000-point bonus is worth $500 in travel. But if you do maximize those travel partners, you can make out like a bandit. For example, I’m writing this post from my room at the newly opened Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica, where rooms cost $600 a night or 22,000 Hyatt points (which transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio from Chase Ultimate Rewards). So once you spend the $3,000 and get the 40,000-point bonus, that would be enough for 2 free nights, or $1,200 in value- all from a single credit card sign-up on a card that even has the first year annual fee waived.

My 2014 began at the Andaz Papagayo, thanks to my Chase points transferred to Hyatt Gold Passport at an instant 1:1 ratio

My 2014 began at the Andaz Papagayo, thanks to my Chase points transferred to Hyatt Gold Passport at an instant 1:1 ratio.

For more information, check out these posts:

Details on the Sapphire Preferred 2X on Travel
The Sapphire Preferred 7% Annual Dividend – Update: This feature is no longer available.
Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
Ranking the Top Chase Travel Credit Card Offers

2. Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Current Bonus: 40,000 miles with $3,000 spend in the first 90 days
Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and receive 10% of your miles back when you redeem on travel. Receive a complimentary membership to TripIt Pro. No foreign transaction fees and EMV chip technology. For more information on this card, read my review here, and then check out this post for details on its Travel Bonus Category and Redemption Options, and this one for ideas on the Top 10 Ways To Maximize Barclaycard Arrival Miles.
Annual Fee: $89 waived the first year

Why get it? The sign-up bonus is worth $440 towards travel, simply put. Since there is no annual fee the first year, so it is literally like free money, which is great for covering costs like award ticket fees, train tickets, car rentals, and other expenses you can’t usually use travel points for like b&b’s, Airbnb, car rentals and more.

3. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
Current Bonus: Two weekend night certificates, each good for one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) at most hotels and resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, after $2,500 in eligible purchases within the first 4 months.
Category Spending Bonuses: 10 points for every $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio; 5 points for every $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases; 3 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Benefits: Automatic Hilton HHonors Gold status; Diamond status with $40,000 annual spend; no foreign transaction fees, SmartChip technology; Visa Signature benefits; cardholders who spend $10,000 annually get an anniversary free weekend-night certificate as well that can be used at any property
Annual Fee: $95

Why get it? Those two free nights you get as a sign-up and spending bonus are good at ANY hilton in the world, which can be an amazing value if you redeem at Hilton’s top properties where award nights can cost 95,000 points (for a standard room at the best rates), like I recently did at the Conrad Maldives. That equates to a 190,000-point bonus, or nearly $2,500 in value in my case.

I used my two free weekend nights to stay at the Conrad Maldives and then paid to upgrade to the overwater bungalow

I used my two free weekend nights to stay at the Conrad Maldives and then paid to upgrade to the overwater bungalow.

For more information, check out these posts:

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card Review
Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Free Weekend Nights Valid at Category 1-10 Hotels
Deciding Between The HHonors Reserve And The Chase Hyatt Visa

4. Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
Current Bonus: Up 25,000 Starpoints – 10,000 with first purchase and another 15,000 with $5,000 spend in the first 6 months of Cardmembership
Category Spending Bonuses: 2x points on Starwood purchases, 1x on other purchases.
Benefits: Get 5,000 bonus Starpoints when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program with more than 30 airlines; 2 stays/5 nights credit toward elite status qualification.
Transfer Partners: 30 airlines
Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65

Why get it? This card is great for spend when you can’t get a category spending bonus on other cards because Starpoints are one of the most valuable currencies out there. Plus, Amex has great purchase protections.

SPG points are great for airline transfers- Alaska airlines is one of my favorites, giving the ability to redeem for Emirates first class, which I recently flew on the A380

SPG points are great for airline transfers – Alaska Airlines is one of my favorites, giving the ability to redeem for Emirates first class, which I recently flew on the A380.

For more information, check out these posts:

Maximizing Starwood Cash & Points Awards
Starwood “Enhances” Cash & Points Awards
Major Starwood Preferred Guest Elite Enhancements
Maximizing Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfers

5. US Airways Mastercard
Current Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus US Airways miles after your first purchase
Category Spending Bonuses: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on US Airways purchases, 1 mile per $1 on everything else
Benefits: Free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions, yearly companion ticket for up to two guests to fly for $99 each, 5,000 mile discount on US Airways awards, 10,000 Preferred-qualifying miles every calendar you spend $25,000 or more on purchases and waived award processing fees after $25,000 spent within a year.
Annual Fee: $89 annual fee
Why get it? Earning 40,000 US Airways miles after your first purchase if pretty lucrative since there is no minimum spending requirement to meet to earn these. The miles are usually awarded in the billing cycle when you make the purchase, so they should post pretty quickly if you ask them to rush the card. If you are a US Airways flyer, you can also get a bunch of benefits such as free checked baggage and priority boarding when flying on them.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Redpanda

    Would you still consider ultimate rewards points to be as valuable as they were after the united and hyatt award devaluation?

  • thepointsguy

    Yes, they’re still valuable. United and Hyatt are devaluing, but there are still good deals to be had.

  • dee seiffer

    Great primer, Brian. I just sent the link to my family who ask me how to travel on miles and points.

  • Dieuwer

    Maybe you could do an overview article again highlighting the redemption sweet spots in each program?

  • Pascal

    To Bad still no Netherlands creditcards. Waiting for Amex or British Airlines

  • thepointsguy

    A lot of the sweet spots are included in the related links for the cards… but I will think about doing a refresher with my favorite sweet spots- even after United and Hyatt devals

  • Miles

    Not the PRG? Given the recent United and Hyatt devaluations, I’m wondering if MR is a better bet since they have so many more transfer options.

  • Robertplafker

    Is EVA Air business class the same hard product as Qatar and United Global First?

  • runnergirl

    Please write a in-depth report on the Andaz Pagagayo as I am going in a few weeks! Thanks!

  • atltravel

    Just got a Marriott ad for 70,000. should I do it.

  • mhenner

    I had a promotion for a Chase United Club card which waived the $395 fee for the first year, but when I entered the special link, the on-line application did not mention the fee waiver.

    If they charge me the fee, is there a special number I can call to talk to someone who can sort it all out for me?

  • Bob

    What about the Chase Ink Bold card? To me, I think its more valuable than the Sapphire Preferred with the 5x bonus on spending in office supply stores up to $50k dollars per year.

    On another note, I recently used ultimate rewards points to go on a great trip to Japan & Hong Kong, by transferring to British Airways Avios (and booking domestic flights in Japan and between Japan and Hong Kong for very few points), Hyatt (stayed in the Tokyo Park Hyatt, amazing!), and also United (flew business class from the US to Japan on All Nippon airways, and used the free stopover idea to book a flight from NYC to Hawaii later this year for no extra points!)

    Thanks a lot for ideas learned on this website!!

  • Karl Mitchell

    I agree. The Amex PRG is undervalued of late. In some ways it is more restrictive than the Chase SP. However, the true value is only unlocked if you hit the $30k spend, and take advantage of the transfer bonuses, and so more planning is required. I find that I get better value for both One World (regular 20-50% BA avios transfer bonuses), Virgin (regular 15-35% VS transfer bonuses) and sometimes Skyteam redemptions, even taking into account the combo with the Chase Freedom. I get particularly good value in short-mid haul economy redemptions, especially BA-American and VS-Virgin America/Delta. Hyatt redemptions with Chase remain excellent value though, which MR can’t come close to in the realm of hotels.

  • Zila


  • Jasmine

    You have to apply at a chase branch to waive the fee first year. Otherwise it will post to account

  • Adam

    With the Citi Plat Selet AA card… should we wait? Are they gonna tag on lounge access since AmEx Plat is getting dropped from that? Any idea?

  • Miles

    Lounge access is part of the Citi Executive AAdvantage card, which has a much higher annual fee.

  • EE Tim

    Both I and other people I know applied online for the waived annual fee offer and were not charged.

  • thepointsguy

    I did too! Happy new year

  • thepointsguy

    I love the PRG, but the 25k signup bonus and relatively high annual fee (after the first year) made it a little less valuable than the 5 listed here in my opinion.

  • thepointsguy

    Correct- this post is cards for beginners, so the 5 listed are easier to unlock the value off the bat. The PRG is great (I have it and use it for all airfare), but the signup needs to be 50k for it to compete with this list.

  • thepointsguy

    You need to get the Executive AAdvantage card ($450 annual fee) to get lounge access. I do not see them adding that benefit to this card.

  • thepointsguy

    Ink Bold and Plus are amazing, but since they’re business cards, I didn’t put them on this list of cards for beginners.

  • thepointsguy

    Youl should be fine- message Chase if you do see the fee and send them your email/screenshot of the offer and I’m sure they will honor it.

  • thepointsguy

    You got it… shoudl be up next week

  • Josh

    Why doesn’t the IHG card get more love? Free night, plus 80,000pts? That can go a long way…much further than Hilton, Marriott, and SPG card.

  • UAPhil

    I’d pick the United Explorer card over the AAdvantage card cuz Saver award availability on United and its partners during peak times is much better than on AA/Oneworld. (Just try searching for one or two Saver/PlanAAhead seats to Europe next summer. You’ll quickly see the difference. Ignore “phantom” Air Berlin availability on AA.)

  • John

    I’m curious why you rank the Chase Sapphire Preferred over the Barclaycard Arrival (or the equivalent Capitol One Venture), since Arrival & Venture give 2pts on ALL purchases? Even with the perks of Sapphire… Ultimate Rewards mall, exclusive rewards, 7% bonus… wouldn’t earning points twice as fast no matter what you spend on be, well, faster? Or maybe I’m not understanding the added value of Sapphire’s 1:1 transfer with so many partners. Isn’t redeeming 50k in points for travel with Arrival be the same as transferring 50k in points from Sapphire to (for example) Hilton or United to use for a room or flight?

    I have been looking for a card to be my staple long-term rewards card that will allow my wife and I to take a nice vacation at least once a year.

  • Miles

    For those of us more intermediate users debating MR and UR after the recent UA and Hyatt devaluations, when do you recommend the PRG over the CSP, and vice versa?

  • Bon Vivant

    Do you have any advice on the best UK credit cards for travel please?

  • TravelAddict

    What do you mean by Hyatt devaluing? Are my current points decreasing in purchase value? Please explain. Thanks.

  • Adam

    much obliged.

  • luv2mtb

    Helpful post. Love the Chase Sapphire. Still have the old Chase MileagePlus Select with 2X miles on gas/groceries/dining/home improvement, so devaluation aside (I only book economy rewards), its my #1.

  • Frugal4Life

    I’ve taken advantage of the Chase Ink Bold and Plus 50K point promotions and now need a card that will payoff for a large $$ amount of strange purchases…my husband is a hunter and pays about $15K to various states for tag fees. I don’t think those would fall in any particular category so we need a card that’s best for a ton of non-bonus category purchases. Advice? (Not elite or premier of any airline or hotel but use Chase Explorer card a lot).

  • Michelle

    I already have the chase sapphire card. Can I close it and reopen it to get the bonus miles? How long should I wait to make sure I get the bonus miles? Thanks for blog . Beginner

  • Jacki

    Hawaii trip planning: From the US, would you choose AA and US miles to be the best choice when stockpiling for the flight portion? I am nearly “chased” out and thinking Barclays & Citi would like my business next!?

  • Locke42

    I’m a total newbie at all of this, but my thought is that maybe transferring points to Chase’s transfer partner offers a better redemption value than Barclays’ straight 2.2% points earning?

    For example, a flight on American Airlines on March 7 from LAX to O’Hare costs $189, but book it in BA Avios and you can get it for 10,000 UR points. That means each UR point is worth 1.89 cents.

    But assuming you earned on average 1.6 UR points per dollar on your spending (if you didn’t spend to max out your rewards), that means you spent about $6,250 in order to earn the 10,000 UR points to buy that $189 ticket. That means that effectively, you earned back 3% of your spending value, which outpaces the 2.2% fixed earning rate of the Barclaycard Arrival.

    And that’s assuming you don’t optimize your spending for maximum rewards. If you did, you could end up spending only $5,000 to earn 10,000 UR points for a $189 ticket, which results in a 3.8% redemption rate. This doesn’t even include the 7% points dividend.

    With this in mind, I would probably go for an Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Chase, since between the two of them, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card cover all of my regular spending (dining, groceries, gas, travel), and both have at least 1:1 point transfer to useful partners. The only reasons I think I’d get the Barclaycard are (a) for that delicious sign up bonus, and (b) if I needed absolute freedom in booking travel (i.e. if I wasn’t content with Chase/Amex’s hotel and airline partners).

  • Jordan

    I am in the VERY beginning stages of planning a world trip for 2017. My question is: Can I save these points from year to year? In other words, do they roll over? I wanted to start now and have enough points to get my husband and I affordable major flights we have to make (ie. US to Africa, Africa to Europe, ect.). Thanks!!

  • isabel

    Hi Michelle did find out this? I’m interested in knowing as well?

  • Andrey Leybovich

    Barclay Arrival – gives 2x travel points on ANY purchase

  • Andrey Leybovich

    United devaluation will affect you only if you fly first/business. I fly to Europe on Saver and it will stay at 30k points one way after devaluation which keeps Ultimate Rewards cards as a good value.

  • Icheckthingsout

    The 25% bonus with Ultimate Rewards is misleading. You have to make the reservations through the UR website and when I checked hotel reservation, they were about 25% higher (in $) for the same hotels, same nights. When I call the UR help line, I got a far-fetched story that the rooms listed inline had been purchased by UR and therefore were fixed in price. Not likely that UR buys thousands of rooms and keeps them in their own inventory,

    I haven’t checked airlines reservations yet – would be informative if somebody could post their experience. The bonus does work with cruises since you place the reservation through a human who can call the cruise line to get any special fare that you come up with.

  • Sean

    I booked a Jetblue flight through UR and the cost was the same as on Jetblue’s website. I used some points for 1.25 cents and the rest cash and got Jetblue miles as if i had paid the full cash value.

  • Chris

    I’m curious, in order to make your $3000 in spending within the first 3 months, do these have to be new purchases only? Or can you do that with balance transfers from other cards? If the latter is true, I would think you could just keep opening new cards, stacking miles and balance transferring to the new ones.

  • Billie

    We have had Alaska Air forever. Lately we’ve noticed the rewards are beginning to dwindle down, and only have coach seats available for travel for the most part. We travel mostly to Europe, and like to go First class (sometimes Business), We put all our business expenses on our card so it adds up fairly quickly. What card would you recommend?


    I am very new to the points but I have to get a new business card and I thought this would be a nice bonus. My question is, do I need to pay with or put the hotel or flight reservation on the card I am redeeming the points with or can I use the points and pay cash or with a debit card?

  • SuzieQ

    I booked a flight on United through the UR website and it was the same price listed on United’s website. I think it’s hit and miss on pricing for flights and rooms though.

  • Locke42

    If I already hold a Sapphire Preferred card, can I still take advantage of the bonus points for the Ink Bold/Plus/Classic?

    Like, can I apply for the Ink Classic, earn the 20k points, then apply for the Plus, earn the 50k points there, and then apply for the Bold, and earn another 50,000? (I’m talking over the course of two years or so, not all at once; I can’t meet the spend requirements with my normal spending habits unless I spread them out.)

  • sandra

    What would be the best card for just miles alone? My husband and I would love to travel but we would stay in hostels so hotel points wouldn’t do much. Which card would be best for miles alone?

  • thegweed

    That AA card stinks, we have one and they block out everything. And now they’ve added a 700 dollar charge to international flghts, meaning if you have enough points for the ticket like we do, you still have to pay $700.

  • Matt

    Jordan- yes they roll over. I’m doing the same thing actually, saving for a world trip. I was able to acquire enough on my own for a world trip in about 4 months of applying. The points roll over, some programs have a policy that if you don’t use them or earn any new ones in 18 months, you lose them. Which means very little since you can earn a point buy just buying something through their award mall every year to keep them active. That being said most of these guys encourage a earn and burn strategy because airlines and hotels often devalue the points. United (which I would encourage you to get despite..) just devalued their points and now it costs much more to fly business to Asia Europe Africa etc. my goal is to use them for coach flights. You guys can definitely do this for very little. I’m going to Amsterdam from Boston on Sunday on points. Flight cost me $112.

  • Matt

    Yes you can do that.

  • Matt

    You can close and reopen cards to get the bonus miles. Every bank is different however.
    Some banks like chase I believe and citi you have to close and then wait 18 mo. Because that is when the system “forgets” about you. Other cards, I hear, are churnable like the Barclay us air card. You can close and apply 3 mo later or 6 mo later. Sometimes you don’t even have to cancel the card.

  • T V

    i see that the Venetian is part of IHG, any thoughts on using points there? Is it of good value rather paying cash?

  • Jerry Mandel

    I did a Google search but could not find any credit cards which give 5% back from buying VISA or Master Card loadable $500 cards. Also, your “profit” analysis seems to omit the annual fees for the credit cards,

  • Rose

    I am planning an Alaska trip which includes a cruise this year. My plan is to do one great trip each year. I am stuck in deciding which to apply for the Barclaycard Arrival or the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Help!

  • Happy Travels

    get the Alaskan Airlines $85 dollar annual fee card and you get a free round trip ticket to Alaska !!! usually no further than denver to alaska . and Alaskan Airlines has unbelievably friendly customer service.

  • James

    Be careful when applying for the Barkleycard. I got “bait and switched.” I have 745 FICO score and applied for this card. When it arrived, the card was entitled, “Barclaycard arrival World Mastercard,” the same as above. However, in reviewing my statement, I noticed that instead of 40,000 miles, they only gave me 20,000 miles. Also, the 2x miles only applies to dining and travel, and not everything. When I called the guy said that, despite my score, I did not qualify for the 40K bonus card so they automatically “downgraded” me to the 20K card.

  • Jim

    I just used almost all of my CSP points to book a trip for the wife and I and am wondering if now is a good time to cancel it and either get the Mastercard version or wait a year and apply for it again to get the sign up bonus. My credit score is 810 so Im not worried about it hurting that too much.

    Is this a good idea or not?

  • Tabitha

    I agree. I’ve been collecting tons of miles on it but when you try to cash them in, you get hit with fees and tons of ridiculous layovers. For example, I checked out Milesaver flights from SF/Oakland to Mexico city and I would have had overnight layovers and two stops in PHX and DFW. Ridiculous!! So I have miles that I never really use except out of desperation and a $95 annual fee. Contemplating just switching to a straight up points or cash back card since I also travel internationally and this thing has the usual 3% fee which also sucks. Anyone have any advice on the most solid points or cash back card?

  • Ashley

    Quick question- If you have to spend, say, $3000 in 3 months does that mean cumulatively, even if you are paying off the balance each month as you receive the bill, or do you have to wait until you see the balance hit $3000 for it to count as eligible for the rewards points? Thank you!

  • jp

    Hi Brian, new reader here. This sounds great, but I am wondering how often it is safe to open a new credit card? Is another rule never to cancel the card? How do you balance having many cards/paying the annual fee, etc?

  • Andy P

    Must be the chip technology -This makes a huge difference! I have a capital one venture card and I was not able to make purchases at restaurants, train stations , bars, and local stores in Europe due to not having the EMV chip. Also, a lot of my buddies who just graduated college (with relatively high credit scores and well paying jobs) were extended over 20k in credit limits.

  • Ed

    I’d go for the Barclaycard or the AA platinum card. The Sapphire makes sense if you combine it with the Freedom/checking account from Chase, but only to make the most of the 5% categories and 2% dining from the Sapphire. (Of course, the Sapphire’s purpose is not the 2% but for the points conversion, but 2x points is still worth taking advantage of).

    If you already have Chase checking/Freedom, I’d get the Sapphire preferred and one of the other two. Probably the Barclaycard since it’s a straight 2.2% return on ANY airline, and probably a better value if you want to fly coach most of the time. If you like to fly first class, however, the AA card definitely has its advantages and teams up well with Ultimate Rewards from Chase

  • Andrew Krzmarzick

    Be careful on that BarclayCard! I did the BarclayCard in September 2013 where I should have received 40,000 points for $1,000 spend in 90 days. We did that and they only gave us 20,000 points. After 45 minutes on the phone just now, they wouldn’t honor the 40,000…only giving me 5K for my time in the end. This site was the origin for my information…and feel like I experienced a bait and switch from Barclay.

  • JenniferA101

    I’m completely new at this and don’t fully “get it” but if I were to apply for a card the best thing to do is save the points for somewhere overseas or vacation-like, correct? I wouldn’t spend more than 1,000 a month IF even that since I would only use it as a debit card (gas, groceries, etc) so I can’t imagine earning enough points for vacation travel… You can’t use these cards to pay bills such as phone bills, mortgage, student loans, correct? Around how much would one need to spend to earn lets say a round trip flight from Vegas to Hawaii or Vegas to London? (Approx points for most of these airlines)

  • JenniferA101

    Thank you for this post. I want to get into this but I’m a little worried to. I’m completely new at this and don’t fully “get it” but if I were to apply for a card the best thing to do is save the points for somewhere overseas or vacation-like, correct? I wouldn’t spend more than 1,000 a month IF even that since I would only use it as a debit card (gas, groceries, etc) so I can’t imagine earning enough points for vacation travel… You can’t use these cards to pay bills such as phone bills, mortgage, student loans, correct? Around how much would one need to spend to earn lets say a round trip flight from Vegas to Hawaii or Vegas to London? (Approx points for most of these airlines)

  • dutchface

    I am a newbie but already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred. I have close to $80,000 in rent + mortgage per year and plan to do the vanilla reloads via Bluebird.

    Which card is best to maximize this $80K per year spend including the signup bonus?

  • Deb C.

    In July 2013 my sis got engaged & planned to get married in Florida during Spring Break March 2014. I took The Points Guy’s advice & in August 2013 I got a Chase Business Ink card & switched all my bills, purchases, etc. Over to that. I also got the 50K bonus points for spending $5000 in 3 months. With my total points, I bought 2 RT airfares from Houston to Tampa FL, paid for a rental car for 6 days, & 3 nights of hotel rooms for my points + $65. If Sis had given me a few months MORE warning, I have no doubt the entire trip would have been paid for completely!

  • fred stevens

    I applied for the barclaycard in november, but they transposed my zip code so it was undeliverable. They never notified me. When I asked about it and got it in January, I only had 1 month to do my $1000 spend. They would not change the “open date”

  • fred stevens

    Maybe you should write about your experience on their facebook page. I have found that companies will often honor their promises when they are asked in pubic.

  • fred stevens

    No, Only your spending has to reach $3000.(not the balance) I do a spreadsheet to add up my spending to see how far I am from my goal. You should pay off the statement balance by the due date if you can, to avoid paying interest

  • fred stevens

    balance transfers, cash advances, etc do not count as purchases. sorry but that would be too easy

  • fred stevens

    I agree with happytravels. you can easily pay for one way tickets to/from Alaska with your Alaska card signup bonus. (do the cruise for the other direction) and those tickets can cost $400 if you had to buy them

  • Andrew Krzmarzick

    Good call. Just did. Thanks.

  • JenniferA101

    I didn’t think you could use the card for mortgage. Can you?

  • Matt

    Amazingly this is nearly my exact scenario, except I don’t currently have either card and am researching which would be best. I’m not building points via travel purchases, rather for travel redemption through rent/mortgage. Any thoughts?

  • Sheila

    I own a business and have a trip I want to take 2 employees on in October. I’m looking for the best card that will allow me to use points for our flights to Berlin Germany and hotel stay. Any suggestions on best card to get this done? I will probably spend about 20k a month on card.

  • Erika

    Why not Capital One Venture or Quicksilver cards? No annual fee and simple for beginners.

  • Ashley

    I am looking to get a credit card for airline miles for domestic travel 3-4 times a year. I usually find good flights on Frontier, Southwest, Virgin, United and am not partial to one airline. I’ve been looking at the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture Rewards card (dont want the Barclay as I’ve heard bad reviews). I do have a Chase Freedom now but the 2X on ALL purchases with Capital One sounds like a great deal. I have great credit but mainly use my CC’ds for big item purchases. Does it take more miles to get a round trip ticket on Chase Sapphire/Capital One then if I went with an airline-direct credit card like Southwest? What would you recommend (I’m not understanding the UR points and %’s explanation below)?

  • Brian Gillies

    What were the results of sharing your experience on their Facebook page? I just signed up for the card.

  • TravelCardGuide

    I’m surprised the Chase IHG credit card is not listed among the top the list. I really think the 80k point bonus is worth more than those listed.

  • Angharad Caceres

    What about black out dates? We have the BA miles card with lots and lots of points, but no way to use them when we want. It’s a total rip and we are looking to change. I like the sapphire benefits, but the Ventureone cards don’t have blackout dates. Whats the point of miles if they don’t work when we need them?

  • Rflynet

    Just to let you know, Capital One will NOT honor the online offer! I signed up for 2X rewards and they then noticed that they are only giving me 1.2 per mile!!!!

    WTF! They are a bunch of CROOKS– I called them, and after talking with THREE different people, they said that all I could do was sign up for another card! My answer: WTF, Why would I do that when you cheated me the first time!

  • novemberrain103

    I have a question. I am wanting to get a cc that will allow us to earn flight miles. We don’t have one yet and I am so confused by all the fine print and all the various cards out there. I MUST be able to use it to fly with Delta or US Airways because it is the only companies that fly to my home town so thats a must. I am going to use it to pay bills so it will rack up quickly. My husband says he doesn’t want to get another CC because it will hurt our credit. Is that true? I thought it would help out credit. Thank so much. Also which card would you suggest for us. Our band is USAA just in case they have anything great to offer.

  • Jessica

    I’m looking into getting my first travel card and was wondering if anyone could possibly explain a few things to me. I am trying to decide between the Barclaycard elite and sapphire preferred. I don’t travel often but would like to accumulate rewards for my purchases to begin travelling a bit more. I make all my purchases with my ATM card & plan to change my habit once I receive my card to purchase everything with it. With that info does anyone have any recommendations on which card would be best?
    Also with the Barclaycard I am a little confused with the travel statement credit redemption. Would anyone be able to explain that to me? Thank you in advance.

  • Brenda

    Does this allow you to combine points with a charge? Example: we just went to England and I didn’t have enough points for the flight I wanted and Capital One Venture wouldn’t let me use the points I had and charge the difference to my card. It would only let me book a flight that I enough points for.

  • thepointsguy

    The Barcyalycard Arrival Plus allows you to use points for a partial charge

  • Kelsey

    How was he able to use only 60,000 points for a $4,000 business class flight? The transfer ratio is 1:1. I don’t understand this.

  • Diana

    Can I transfer points from Alaska Airlines Mastercard to the Chase Sapphire??

  • Jennifer

    Hey there! Any advice for the best rewards card when living in Europe (and working – with lots of travel)?? I’m in Copenhagen – and i’m thinking about the SAS Mastercard, but maybe you’ve got a better idea? :)


  • Lee

    Same thing happened to me. High FICO score, minimal debt and was told that I didn’t qualify for the Arrival +. No reason was given why I didn’t qualify from the Credit Department and I was advised to apply again for the card. Why would I apply again? I cancelled my card.

  • Rudy

    My family and I will be traveling to New York for a week in November 2014. I wanted to book my vacation through Expedia. It will be over $3000. I am looking to get a credit card with 0% introductory APR and pay it off before the APR kicks in. I want to utilize the rewards a credit card can offer. I have excellent credit and I have never used a rewards program credit card, so it’s kind of intimidating. Any advice on a card that would be ideal for me? thank you

  • Ed

    Another newbie here. Can most of these credit cards be used for making mortgage payments?

  • thepointsguy

    Nope- most mortgage companies charge a fee that negates the value of the miles/points earned

  • janemontanaro11

    I’m specifically interested in Flying Kansas City to UK (Leeds preferaly). Should I get Citi Platinum or CHase Sapphire? I spend about $2,000/mo on gas, food household and personal. I don’t fly much. Thank you!

  • Michael Bennett

    I have United Explorer Card, and a Delta AmEx. I’m not tied to either card or airline for any one reason. I also am a starwood member and usually use them when I travel but don’t have a card wth them. Should I get the Sapphire and just use it for all travel related expenses and then I can transfer the points to any airline when needed?

  • Julie

    I was wondering how long I had to wait to cancel the credit cards. For the Chase Sapphire Preferred can I use the card pay it off an cancel it (without loosing the points) before the second year roles around and I have to pay the annual fee?

  • Anon

    I don’t see why you couldn’t use the cards to pay bills. I use my Capital One travel card for bill paying all the time.

  • jen

    how does the AA card team up well with the sapphire preferred card when redeeming points for first or business class travel?

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