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1. Citi Prestige
I’ve been considering adding this premium travel-rewards card for a while now, as I’ve been jealous of TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig and how much value he’s gotten out of this card and its 4th Night Free benefit. I finally made the jump due to the card’s very generous selection of benefits, including this perk, which can save you 25% on a four-night paid hotel stay.
While the Prestige comes with a $450 annual fee, you get a $250 airline credit each year. And, unlike with the The Platinum Card from American Express, you can use this fee credit on actual airfare; not just associated fees like checked bags. So you’re looking at $200 for a card that gets you Admiral’s Club access when you’re flying American and Priority Pass lounge access for you and two guests — better than the Amex Platinum, which only gets the cardholder free access to Priority Pass lounges. You also get enhanced earning (3x points on air travel and hotels; 2x points on dining and entertainment; and 1x points on everything else) and redeeming — you get 1.6 cents per point in value when redeeming Citi ThankYou points for American Airlines flights.
All that, plus the incredibly lucrative 4th Night Free benefit, makes this card a no-brainer. And that’s not even mentioning the current sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of cardmembership, which is worth $800, based on my latest valuations.
2. Wild Card: BBVA Compass NBA American Express Card
I definitely enjoy basketball — especially when I get to sit virtually courtside thanks to the SPG Moments program — but the appeal of this card from BBVA Compass isn’t limited to NBA fans. This no-annual-fee card earns 5x points (or 5% cash back) on all purchases during the NBA All-Star Weekend (February 12-14, 2016) and two weeks of the NBA finals games. The 5x return on spending is uncapped, so there’s the potential to rack up some serious points, which can be redeemed for select NBA-related events or merchandise, or cash back.
I’m hoping to maximize this uncapped 5% cash back to the high heavens, and I’ll consider it for paying taxes during that period as well, since the charge is just under 2%, and earning 3% cash back on taxes (after the fee) sounds pretty great to me. I call the BBVA Compass NBA Amex a “wild card” since it’s an experiment for me, but I see some great potential for rewards here.
The card offers a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points (equal to $200 in account credit) after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. For more info on the card, see this post.
3. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
As mentioned in my credit card inventory post, I decided to switch my Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to the Quicksilver Card, since I wasn’t getting much value out of the Venture. (I’m going to be focusing on using my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard instead.) With the no-fee Quicksilver, I can earn 20% off on Uber rides through April 30, 2016 — and I use the on-demand ride service all the time.
Plus, switching over from the Capital One Venture Rewards Card to the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card couldn’t have been easier. I simply called in and explained my situation, and the issuer preserved my original credit line from the Venture when it opened the Quicksilver Card for me — the new card even has the same account number. This is great because it won’t negatively affect my credit score; the date of account opening for the Quicksilver card will be reported to credit agencies as the date when I opened the original Venture Card. That, plus 20% off Uber through the next few months is a win-win to me!
You can currently earn a one-time bonus of $100 when you sign up for the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and spend $500 on purchases within the first three months. And if you don’t already use Uber, you can save $15 on your first ride by signing up here.
I’ve also decided to add the Amex EveryDay Preferred. With it, I can earn 3x points on purchases at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year); 2x points at gas stations; and 1x points on everything else. If I make at least 30 transactions in a monthly period, I’ll get a 50% points bonus, further bumping up my return on spending to at least 1.5 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on all purchases. This makes it a great card for non-bonus-category spending, so I’ll be splitting those types of purchases between this card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express.
Right now, the sign-up bonus for the Amex EveryDay Preferred is 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months. For more information on this card, see this post on One Year of Earning and Burning with the Amex EveryDay Preferred.
Potential Addition: Citi Double Cash
As far as cash-back cards go, I’m eyeing the Citi Double Cash. This card earns 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% as you pay your bill — and it has no annual fee. That’s a pretty simple (and valuable) formula for rewards, so I’m definitely considering this option for later this year.
This card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, but the ability to earn cash back on everything is plenty valuable in and of itself. There’s also 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% – 23.49% based on your creditworthiness — that, plus no annual fee make this another great potential addition.
With nearly 20 great points, miles and cash-back-earning cards in my wallet after making a few cuts in early 2016, I still found a few additions that provide plenty of value in the form of sign-up bonuses, cash back, category bonuses and perks like the Citi Prestige‘s 4th Night Free. With four new cards already in my arsenal and at least one more I may add soon, I’m feeling pretty great about my credit card strategy for 2016.
What cards are you hoping to add this year?
There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
- Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.
- Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
- Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees