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Points and Miles Editor Ariana Arghandewal: My top 10 credit card stories of 2020

Dec. 31, 2020
8 min read
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It’s been an interesting year in the world of rewards credit cards. We’re all home more, our spending patterns have changed and card issuers have introduced key changes to accommodate this new reality. Overall, the changes have been positive. With so many updates being rolled out, TPG writers have been busy capturing them all on an almost daily basis. Below are my picks for the top 10 card stories of 2020.

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A pandemic-era guide to navigating card perks and benefits

It was pretty hard to keep up with all the credit cards offering temporary category bonuses and statement credits – especially at the beginning of the pandemic. It seemed like every other day, a new temporary card change was announced. This story has been a great resource in staying on top of all those changes so I can earn the most miles possible on all my purchases.

The story has handy infographics for each spending category, making it easy to quickly determine which one to use at any given moment. Since it’s frequently updated, it's been my go-to article for the latest on category bonuses.

The secret to getting more (and sometimes better) Amex Offers on your card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

How many times have you heard excited chatter about an amazing Amex Offer only to find out you weren’t targeted? Or perhaps you’ve scrolled through the list of (maximum) 100 offers and found nothing appealing. It happens and the solution is surprisingly simple: Add some offers to your account and more will populate soon. Easy. Everyone should do this to get the biggest bang for their Amex card buck.

Traveling less? Here are 6 Amex Platinum benefits you can use from home

Use your Amex Platinum card's monthly Uber credit on Uber Eats food deliveries. (Photo courtesy Uber)

I’m not playing favorites here, but here’s Chris Dong with another one of my favorite credit card articles of 2020. I love this one because The Platinum Card® from American Express is the kind of high-end travel credit cards. So when the pandemic hit, a lot of cardholders wondered what would become of this $695-annual-fee-card (see rates and fees) with obsolete benefits like hotel elites status and lounge access. Luckily, Amex introduced some temporary changes to accommodate the lack of travel demand and this story really sums them up nicely.

How I got more than $1,300 in value from the Hilton Aspire Card — despite the pandemic

The breakfast buffet at the El San Juan Hilton Hotel is free when you use your Aspire card's Hilton Diamond status. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Shameless plug alert: This story on how I got value from my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was not only one of my favorite to write, but read as well. I’m all about maximizing the value I get from credit cards, especially ones with high annual fees. So at the end of every year, I like to take inventory of all the miles I earned, credits I used and any benefits I took advantage of.

The Aspire was already one of my favorite credit cards due to its top-notch benefits, but seeing those benefits backed up my numbers was pretty thrilling. Needless to say, if I can get over $1,300 in value out of this card during the pandemic, I’ll be keeping this card in 2021 and beyond.

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The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

13 expenses that you should not put on your credit card

I loved this piece by Katie Genter because so often we focus on putting everything on a credit card to earn points that we forget about those times when that might be a bad idea. Vacation expenses and large purchases seem like a no-brainer to charge to your card, but sometimes they can lead to you maxing out your credit line. This can negatively impact your credit score and high interest fees, if you don’t have the cash at hand to pay it off. This story is definitely a good one for everyone to review.

How to rent an RV for only $1 a day

(Photo by: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

This is one of my favorite travel stories of the year. I had no idea you could rent a relocation vehicle for just $1. I’ve periodically gone on the sites Katie recommended in her article and found rentals nearby. The only problem is that I’m not a great driver to begin with, so taking a giant RV on a road trip could be a total disaster. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from sharing this article with everyone I know and getting back “that’s so cool! I want to do this” in response.

Related: 6 things you should know before you rent your first RV

4 ways to use expiring Marriott Bonvoy nights and perks during the pandemic (and what I decided)

TPG's Katie Genter may use her free night award for a stay at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy)

One of the most common questions we’ve been getting from readers was regarding expiring free night awards. Cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card issue these annually. They’re a great way to offset the annual fee and score a hotel night. But what do you do when travel is at a stand-still? Frequent traveler Katie Genter does a great job sharing her thought process behind her ultimate decision on what to do with her free nights.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy extends expiration of free-night certificates and points through Aug. 1, 2021

How my brother went from no status to top-tier Marriott elite with one reminder

This is a story about a possible tragedy averted by the foresight and wisdom of a younger sister. With a simple reminder to add his Marriott number before checkout, Points and Miles Reporter Victoria Walker saves her brother from the doom of spending his work trips as a non-elite member with a zero point balance. The result? He walked out with Platinum status and more than 60,000 points. I love reading about how people discovered their love for points and miles or averted missing out on a huge windfall. This story has both.

Caution: You might only save $7 with the Citi Premier’s $100 hotel credit

I was pretty excited when the Citi Premier® Card introduced an annual $100 hotel credit on a single hotel stay of $500 or more when booked through (per calendar year). Not only does this amount to a 20% discount, but it totally offsets the card’s $95 annual fee – in principle. In practice, the credit can sometimes save you just $7 since the savings kick in after taxes. Booking through Citi Travel also means you’re giving up member-only rates offered by brands like Hilton and Hyatt, which further cuts into your savings. There’s also the matter of not earning points or elite nights on third party bookings, which further diminishes the value of this credit.

While it can certainly save you money in some cases, it’s worth being aware of the Citi Premier hotel credit’s shortcomings.

How to use Amex’s expanded credit score tool to increase your credit score

Having good credit is essential if you’re after those hefty reward travel card bonuses. In this story, Madison outlines a valuable tool to help you meet your credit score goal.

Bottom line

In last year's round-up, Madison Blancafore wrote, "the year 2019 was a huge one for the credit cards industry, but 2020 is set to be even bigger," and she was right. We're going into 2021 armed with fantastic credit card bonuses, generous category bonuses and valuable benefits that will come in handy when we finally step on a plane again.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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