Which Credit Card Is Best For Multiple Programs?

Nov 16, 2014

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TPG reader John tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy — “My employees and I have at least 100 flights and hotel stays annually with various airlines and hotel chains. What credit card should I use?”

Back when I was traveling a lot with Morgan Stanley, I luckily had my choice of airlines (most of the time). However, when it comes to work travel, you don’t always have that flexibility.

If you’re in a situation like John, where you and your employees travel frequently, but not always on the same airline or at the same hotel, maximizing your points can be difficult since there isn’t one clear best credit card for the job. A co-branded airline or hotel card doesn’t make sense if you aren’t always flying the same airline or staying at the same hotel chain.

You can't always choose to travel on your preferred airline or stay at your favorite hotel chain during business travel. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
You can’t always fly your preferred airline or stay at your favorite hotel. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

My suggestion for John (or anyone else in a similar situation) is to use a card that gets a better than average return, and earns flexible points that can transfer to many different airline and hotel partners. My preference is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which earns 2x points per dollar on all travel. This includes any airline or hotel, and things like taxis, car rentals, parking, and subways. The two points per dollar also applies to dining, so it’s useful for any meals you have to expense while traveling.

Another option is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card. It earns two points per dollar at Starwood hotels and just one point per dollar elsewhere, but Starpoints are so valuable that the card is worthwhile despite the lack of bonus spending categories. For expenses other than dining or travel, this is my go-to card. There are foreign transaction fees, but if you usually travel within the U.S., that shouldn’t be an issue.

I’d also suggest making sure that you and all of your employees have business frequent flyer accounts. You can get credit through the Business Extra program from American Airlines and other airlines. Even if your business is small, you can still earn a lot of extra miles through these programs.

If you’re staying in all different hotels and you’re not too concerned with elite status at any one particular chain, I recommend booking with Hotels.com. It has a very simple loyalty program–you basically earn 10% back on all of your hotel stays to use on future stays.

Using these tips, you should be able to streamline your points and miles earning and diversify your options so you can get the most our of your redemptions, whether for business or for pleasure.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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