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TPG reader credit card question: Which rewards card should I get to prepare for when I travel again?

June 29, 2020
8 min read
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With many travelers still staying close to home -- or avoiding travel altogether -- now is an ideal time to evaluate your credit card portfolio. To stay top of mind, card issuers have been revamping benefits with bonuses on groceries, credits for streaming, and other limited-time perks.

Besides the cards already in your wallet, TPG readers are also considering their next move. This week, TPG reader Taylor S. asks us about which rewards card to get as they plan out their future travel strategy.

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[pullquote source="Taylor S."]I’m currently thinking about getting another rewards credit card to plan for after the pandemic. I have the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card now, and I am trying to decide between a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and a hotel card such as Marriott or Hyatt. Which would you recommend? We probably stay in hotels 2-4 weeks out of the year.[/pullquote]

After you've done the work of researching, applying for, and using your first rewards credit card, where do you go from there to decide what your next card will be? Let's consider Taylor's options.

Transferable points vs. hotel points

My Marriott elite status helped me score an upgrade to an overwater villa at the W Maldives (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

It's great that Taylor is considering other card options. While the Capital One Venture is a solid card with both fixed-value redemption options as well as the option to transfer miles, there's a whole world of rewards cards out there.

As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for your points and miles portfolio. So how does one go about ensuring they have a diversified points and miles balance? Have a variety of different cards.

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The crux of what Taylor is asking is what type of travel rewards card that they should get:

I'm also assuming that Taylor isn't considering a premium travel card, and I've capped her options for cards that have a maximum $150 annual fee.

Why transferable points make sense

If Taylor were to apply for just one other travel rewards card, my choice would be for a card that earns transferable points. Transferable points are incredibly valuable in the points and miles world. This is entirely due to their versatility. Since Taylor already has the Capital One Venture card, they (hopefully) already know this.

Related reading: Complete guide to Capital One transfer partners

Chase, American Express, Capital One and Citi all offer rewards credit cards with points that you can transfer to a wide variety of flight and hotel partners. If you have a particular affinity to a certain hotel chain or airline alliance, look carefully at the list of travel partners for each respective card program.

With Capital One, Taylor has no ability to transfer her miles to either of the two hotel programs that she is looking into, Marriott or Hyatt. The only hotel partners that Capital One has are with Accor or Wyndham.

The argument for a card that earns hotel points

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

If you really are pining for perks like hotel elite status and are confident that you'll be loyal to a specific chain, a hotel card can still make sense. For instance, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card has a $95 annual fee but comes with an annual award night worth up to 35,000 points, immediate Bonvoy Silver status, and the ability to earn Gold status with $35,000 in annual spending on the card.

I included Marriott here because you also have the ability to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to airline partners, with most partners at a rate of 3:1, meaning that 3 Marriott Bonvoy points yield 1 airline mile.

With the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you'll also pay a $95 annual fee to receive Hyatt Discoverist status, a free night certificate at Category 1-4 properties, and the ability to spend your way towards higher levels of status.

Related reading: Best hotel credit cards

My card recommendations for Taylor

Preference for Marriott hotels? Get a Membership Rewards-earning Amex card

If Marriott is Taylor's hotel of choice -- or they have accumulated primarily Marriott points -- I'd recommend a card that earns transferable American Express Membership Rewards points. Amex points can be transferred to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. A solid option would be the American Express® Green Card or American Express® Gold Card.

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Earning and perks: The Amex Green earns 3x Membership Rewards points on broader travel, restaurants and transit as well as annual statement credits for Clear and LoungeBuddy that help cover its $150 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Redeeming: Marriott is just one of the many Amex transfer partners that you can redeem with. The Membership Rewards points you earn with the American Express Green Card can be transferred to 21 travel partners: 18 airlines and three hotels. TPG’s valuation of Amex Membership Rewards at 2 cents each is based on the potential value you can get when you transfer your points to these partners and redeem for award flights or award nights.

Welcome offer: The Amex Green is currently offering new cardmembers a welcome bonus of 45,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership.

The information for the Amex Green 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.

Related reading: Best Amex cards

Preference for Hyatt hotels? Get an Ultimate Rewards-earning Chase card

If Hyatt is Taylor's hotel of choice -- or they have accumulated primarily Hyatt points -- I'd recommend a card that earns transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Chase points can be transferred to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. A solid option, as Taylor suggested, would be the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Earning and perks: The Sapphire Preferred It also earns, 5x total points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft through March 2022, 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out, 3x points on select streaming services, 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 2x points on all other travel, 1x point on all other purchases.

Redeeming: Hyatt is just one of the many Chase transfer partners that you can redeem with. The way to get top value from your Sapphire Preferred is to take advantage of the card’s ability to transfer points to any of Chase’s airline and hotel partners. However, you can use your points to purchase airfare, reserve hotel rooms and even rent a car at a fixed rate of 1.25 cents per point through the Chase travel portal.

Additionally, through Sept. 30, 2021, Chase Sapphire Preferred customers can redeem Ultimate Rewards at 1.25 cents each to offset purchases made at grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments, including take-out and delivery services, with the Pay Yourself Back program.

Sign-up bonus: You’ll earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening -- that's worth $1,200 according to TPG valuations.

Bottom line

Taylor isn't alone in wanting to travel again. Once you're comfortable doing so, having the sign-up bonus from one of these travel rewards cards will certainly come in handy. Personally, I'd recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred -- and applying for the World of Hyatt card later on -- as the perfect 1-2 combo. This is also a card pairing that I personally use.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, please click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Summer Hull/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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