Credit Cards for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Barclaycard Arrival or Amex EveryDay?

by on March 30, 2014 · 24 comments

in American Express, Barclays, Chase, Credit Cards, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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Earlier this month, I answered the question Which Credit Card To Get: Chase Sapphire Preferred or Barclaycard Arrival? Now I’ve received an email from TPG reader Chaz, who’s torn between these two cards and a brand new one on the scene – the Amex EveryDay cards:

“I’m trying to decide between two of three credit cards: Amex EveryDay Preferred, Barclaycard Arrival, and Chase Sapphire Preferred. I don’t do a whole lot of traveling but would like to bank points towards my one big trip per year. I’m thinking the Amex EveryDay Preferred would be good with its 50% bonus every month, plus 3x points on groceries and 2x on gas. However, I eat out a lot so the Chase Sapphire Preferred card seems good, but I feel like the Barclaycard Arrival is too good to pass up because you can basically book anything you want and use your points to get statement credits. What are your thoughts?”

Sounds like you’ve got a good handle on where your spending – and thus earning – is. The big question to ask yourself here is – what are you trying to redeem points for?

Maybe you’re looking to take domestic trips and just want to earn miles for that, or have a family and want to buy multiple coach-class tickets during peak travel seasons. If either scenario sounds like you, consider a combination of the EveryDay Preferred card and Barclaycard Arrival.

Just this past week, American Express launched their new EveryDay cards, which are great for getting bonuses on well, everyday categories like groceries and gas. Once you hit a certain number of transactions each month, all of that month’s purchases earn a bonus of up to 50%.  The only real downsides to these cards are low sign-up bonuses – 10,000 points for the standard EveryDay card and 15,000 points for the Preferred version. However, these cards are the ones that earn full Membership Rewards (that you can transfer to the programs travel partners. For the basic version the annual fee is $0 and $95 on the Preferred version. And the Preferred version offers pretty high every day earnings – 3x points at US supermarkets, 2x points at US gas stations and 1x points on all other purchases.

I value Amex Membership Rewards points at about 2 cents apiece thanks to being able to transfer them to dozens of partners as well as using Pay With Points to book travel – so on the basic card, you’re earning between 1-2.4x points per $1 on purchases (so a 2-4.8% return on spending for me) while with the Preferred card, you’re earning between 1-4.5x points per $1, so you’re getting 2-9% return on spending in my opinion.

The Barclaycard Arrival gets 2x miles on everything across the board, and also comes with a 40,000-point sign-up bonus currently. You can redeem those miles for most travel purchases – including things like rail tickets and award fees on airline tickets – at a rate of 1 cent per mile and get a 10% mileage refund, so your return on spending with this card is 2.2%.

Alternatively, if you want to save up for international trips with premium airline seats and high-end hotels, a combo of the Sapphire Preferred and EveryDay Preferred cards will be the ticket. Sapphire Preferred gives you access to Ultimate Rewards, EveryDay gives you Membership Rewards, and between both programs, you can really leverage your points to book ideal award tickets and hotel stays. As an added boost, Sapphire Preferred currently gives you a 40,000-point sign-up bonus.

Having a combination of cards in your wallet can be an ideal way to bank miles for a big trip

Having a combination of cards in your wallet can be an ideal way to bank miles for a big trip

I’d actually recommend getting all three of these cards at some point in time, simply because all three offer sign-up bonuses and the Sapphire Preferred and Arrival do not have annual fees for the first year. You just might not want to get them all at once, as it could be hard to hit all of their spend thresholds within the same time period.

Play your cards right, and instead of taking just one trip a year, you could be taking two, three, four…or even more!

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebooktweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

And for more on choosing credit cards for travel, check out:

Top Five Credit Cards For Travel Rewards
Using the TPG Maximizer Tool To Help You Choose The Right Card

For more on the above-mentioned cards in particular, check out these posts:

Amex EveryDay Cards Now Accepting Applications
Top 10 Ways to Maximize Barclaycard Arrival Miles
Details on the Barclaycard Arrival Travel Category
Details on the Sapphire Preferred 2X on Travel
The Sapphire Preferred 7% Annual Dividend
Chase Sapphire Preferred Sign-Up Bonus
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

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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  • RakSiam

    I already earn MR points with my Amex Plat card. If I get an everyday Amex card will it be linked to the same MR points account so that all of my MR points go into the same pool (and then I can cancel my Plat card without losing the MR points I have accumulated)? Or are the totally separate and I would end up with two MR pools?

  • Jasmine

    It’s all combined into one account.

  • Mercruiser

    Good question. I was wondering that too.

  • Eitan Amir

    I already applied to the Amex Everyday card and got approved.
    Yes, I can verify that the membership rewards show in one pool even if you have another membership rewards card like the platinum or Premier rewards gold like I have.

  • Eitan Amir

    The amex everyday preferred annual fee unfortunately is not waived the first year :(

  • AudreyBNBrown

    You can redeem those miles for most travel purchases – including things like rail tickets and award fees on airline tickets – at a rate of 1 cent per mile and get a 10% mileage refund, so your return on spending with this card is 2.2%.

  • Guest

    And the Preferred version offers pretty high every day earnings – 3x points at supermarkets, 2x points on gas and 1x points on all other purchases.

  • Bob

    Unless you are charging lots of money on your credit card(s) like TPG, it’s probably not worth holding several cards and pay those annual fees. You’ll have to charge enough to break even on the amount of points you are getting to cancel out the annual fee.

    So what works for TPG and others who have reimbursable business expenses may not work for most people.

  • Locke42

    For a $95 annual fee, you need to spend at most $9,500 in a year to break even, and that’s not considering the fact that these points are worth more than 1 cent per point, nor does it take into account the sign-on bonus, which by itself will pay for several years’ worth of annual fees.

  • Locke42

    Up to a maximum of $6,000 per year on groceries. That’s plenty for me, though.

  • Savvy Consumer

    I’d still say when it comes to Amex, you should consider features like Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty instead of just looking at points. I make all my “big bucks” purchases of electronics or furniture on Amex. You never know when those features might help you. In my case, Amex has been really good in settling insurance claims for my broken phone and their customer service is excellent. If they can’t repair it, they extend you a statement credit for the full amount! I think these features totally outweigh the annual fee and make their cards worth it.

  • Chris

    Your math ignores that you could spend the money on another card that you already have (and maybe paid an annual fee for). Think of it like this: say you already have an Arrival card, then any dollar NOT spent on this card “costs” you roughly 2,2 cents (because that’s what you would get if putting the spending on the arrival card). So putting spending on an Amex Everyday is only worth it if the category bonus is more valuable to you than the annual fee and the “lost” 2,2 cents per $ spent.

  • Chris

    You really prefer this over the Amex card that gives you 6% cashback on groceries?

  • Locke42

    This gives 3x points on groceries, plus another 1.5x points if I use it 30 or more times a month. That’s doable for me, and 4.5x MR points beats 6% cash back.

  • Locke42

    That’s why you analyze your spending and see what categories you spend your money on.

    For me, I spend a lot on Amazon, so I buy Amazon gift cards from Office Depot with my Ink and get 5x points. I also spend a lot on eating out and on work travel expenses, so I use my Sapphire Preferred and book my flights through Chase’s portal. That’s 2x and 3x points respectively. My SPG Amex I use for business hotel stays because SPG points are the most valuable points to have, my Hilton Surpass Amex I keep for the Gold status perk when I can’t find a Starwood hotel, and my Amex Platinum I got for the 50k bonus and the travel perks.

    If most of my spending was more general, I would get the Arrival and stick with that, but since all of my spending fits so well with categories, I do better with multiple cards with bonuses. For the record, I don’t plan on getting the Everyday Preferred specifically because I don’t spend a ton on groceries (because I eat out a lot) or gas (I have a hybrid). I might get the Premier Rewards Gold though, if my business airfare spending picks up.

  • Josh Frey

    I get it that a lot of people churn credit cards, in which case getting as many as you can with as many large sign up bonuses as you can is the way to go. But for those who don’t (which I’m assuming includes the person asking the question) very few people would benefit from getting all 3 of these cards.

    If you can get a value of 2 on MR, the Arrival is useless because you’d be getting a rewards rate of 3.0 on uncategorized spending with the Everyday. And as has been mentioned, you have to spend a ton of money to justify multiple annual fees.

    It really all depends on the value at which you can redeem MR and UR points. If you can really get 2.0 or more off MR consistently, I’d say the Everday Preferred comes out in first, since 9% on groceries, 6% on gas and 3% on everything else is pretty hard to beat. On the other hand, if you can’t consistently get a value of >1.5, the Everyday is pretty useless. I think it’s worth noting too that between gas, groceries and uncategorized spending, you’re going to have A LOT of MR points with the Everyday, so it would be relatively easy to let them pile up if you don’t have a consistent avenue for a good redemption rate.

    CSP wins if you spend a lot on travel and can get a better redemption for UR than MR. It also couples well with the Freedom and other no fee cards. If you have a lot of category spending on the Freedom, you can basically cover the CSP’s annual fee just from transferring the earnings from your Freedom card.

    Barclaycard is best if you can’t consistently get good value from UR or MR. It’s usually better than the Everyday if you can’t get >1.5, since gas and groceries are easily covered with other cards. Similarly, unless you spend a ton on travel, I’d say it’s better than the CSP if you can’t consistently get a value of 1.5+. Dining is easily covered with other cards, so if you’re getting less than 1.5 for UR points, ~3.3% on travel (2.14 x 1.5) is hardly worth giving up 2.2 on everything else.

    But like has been said, it’s all about the redemption value you can CONSISTENTLY get. I’d say 1.5 is a good rule of thumb for whether CSP or Everyday are worth it.


  • RakSiam

    awesome, thanks.

  • JimT

    The Arrival card will not return 2.2% on spending since the yearly fee causes the return on spending to be a function of the yearly spend. The year return is 1.31%, 1.76%, 1.90%, 1.98%, and 2.02% for $10k, $20k, $30k, $40k, and $50k yearly spend, respectively, with the current card fee of $89 per year. No recommendation for having all three cards should be made without considering individual yearly spend limits.

  • thepointsguy

    Yes you can link your accounts.

  • doctorofcredit

    Hitting the minimum spend thresholds shouldn’t be an issue if you do a bit of light manufactured spending.

  • Guest

    Do you know if I can pool MR points with my Amex Business Gold? What happens if i cancel my business card (to save the $175 annual fee) after pooling? Will the points stay in my EveryDay account?

  • Kent O

    Redirecting my question to the maestro.
    Do you know if I can pool MR points with my Amex Business Gold? What happens if i cancel my business card (to save the $175 annual fee) after pooling? Will the points stay in my EveryDay account?


  • Marc

    here’s a question… since we’re talking pooling….. I’m small potatoes, so should be an easy one for all of you. I have 47k on my Barclay arrival, 30k on my freedom, 9k on my Alaska Airlines. I’m going to Hawaii at the end of August, can I pool ALL of them somehow, so I can fly free or close to free? Taking the gf for her first time and also her 40th bday. If so, how? Thanks in advance. I’m adding about 5-7k a month, in points, maybe more….fyi

  • Perry Hobbs

    What I haven’t seen anyone talk about is the just getting both the regular Sapphire and Preferred. Are there any downsides to doing this?

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