Credit Cards for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Barclaycard Arrival or Amex EveryDay?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
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 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.
The American Express 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 welcome 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.
I'd actually recommend getting all three of these cards at some point in time, simply because all three offer 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!
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