The 9 cards TPG staffers added to our wallets this quarter
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
As travel finally seems feasible after a long year of staying at home, many TPG staffers have applied for new travel rewards credit cards to hit the ground running. Especially with the enticing sign-up bonuses and welcome offers we’ve seen on many cards recently, there’s been no better time to apply for a new card and execute our (long-awaited) 2021 travel strategies.
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Check out the nine cards we’ve added to our wallets this quarter.
The Capital One Venture has long been an excellent option for cardholders wanting to earn rewards across non-bonus purchases. The card comes with a modest $95 annual fee — in exchange for 2x miles on all purchases. Once you earn those miles, you can redeem at a fixed value for eligible purchases or transfer to one of Capital One’s 16 airline and three hotel partners for potentially even more value.
The current bonus is 60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. We value this to be worth up to $1,020 (based on TPG valuations).
It’s not just the Capital One Venture that got a major boost from these improvements — other travel rewards cards, including the Spark Miles for Business, now have access to Capital One’s 19 transfer partners and an improved 1:1 rate for select programs. If you’re in need of a business card, you’ll earn an unlimited 2x on all your purchases with no capacity limits or bonus categories to keep up with.
Andrew Kunesh, senior writer
Andrew opened a Spark Miles to earn the 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after spending $4,500 within the first three months of account opening. Ultimately, the new transfer partners inspired him to diversify his credit cards portfolio and open the Spark Miles card.
Hyatt points are among the most valuable in the hotel industry, clocking in at 1.7 cents each according to TPG valuations. And with a current, two-tiered sign-up bonus (30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening and an additional 30,000 bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent on purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening), it’s no wonder why this card is considered one of the best hotel cards on the market right now.
The card comes with benefits including an annual free night certificate, automatic Discoverist elite status and five elite qualifying nights every year you have the card (plus the ability to earn more when you hit qualifying spending). Hyatt has also slashed the elite status requirements by half for 2021, meaning that you could be well on your way to the coveted Globalist elite status.
Mitchell Stoutin, senior director
As Mitchell gets back to travel, Hyatt is a great program, and he had some stays coming up. His wife also has a couple of work trips, meaning that the lower thresholds for 2021 will mean elite status in no time.
Related: World of Hyatt Credit Card review
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card is a great choice for anyone who flies with the airline or its partners regularly, especially now that it has joined the Oneworld alliance. Alaska miles are incredibly valuable, and the card comes with some elite perks without needing Alaska Airlines elite status — including first checked bag free for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation and its popular companion fare.
Here’s the one TPGer who added this card to his wallet this quarter:
Mitchell Stoutin, senior director
While Mitchell applied for the World of Hyatt credit card for hotel stays, his wife got an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. Since their second kid turned 2, Mitchell and his wife can profitably use two companion fares per year: one from his card and one from her new card.
The Amex Platinum is one of the most recognizable travel cards out there, thanks to its sleek metal design symbolizing luxury. It now comes with the most expensive annual fee on the market — at $695 a year (see rates and fees), this certainly isn’t the card for everyone. Coinciding with the higher annual fee, Amex has improved its offerings, such as up to $200 annual hotel statement credit on pre-paid bookings via Amex Travel, up to $300 annual Equinox statement credit on select Equinox memberships, up to $179 Clear statement credit per calendar year on your CLEAR® membership and more. If you’re able to maximize these credits — plus take advantage of all the amazing benefits from lounge access to bonus points — the annual fee won’t seem so daunting after all. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Andrea Rotondo, senior travel editor
Contrary to most TPGers, Andrea always thought the Amex Platinum was a waste — at least for someone that lives on a small island, not a big city. And during the COVID-19 lockdown, it meant that some of the card’s perks — such as up to $200 in annual Uber Cash and access to its lounge network— weren’t that useful. There’s no Uber service in her area, and most lounges were closed during the pandemic (though that’s changing now). Enrollment required.
But with the return of travel upon us, Andrea knew she would be able to start making better use of all those benefits and perks — especially when she starts to travel to cities and go overseas. Also, the 100,000-point welcome bonus after spending $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership will come in handy for business- or first-class awards on long-haul flights in the future.
Related: Amex Platinum review
The Amex Gold has become one of the most popular cards during the pandemic, and we see it continue to be used by consumers — even after travel has picked up. You’ll earn an industry-leading 4x at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x), 3x on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel and 1x on other purchases.
Plus, there are two compelling annual credits (distributed monthly): up to $120 in U.S. Uber Cash each year (broken up by $10 monthly) and up to a $120 dining statement credit each year for Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed and other participating partners. Those two credits alone make up for the $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). Must add card in Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit. Enrollment is required to activate these benefits.
Taylor Jenkins, SEO director
Since a lot of his spending has shifted to groceries (and with plans to cancel his Chase Sapphire Reserve), Taylor needed a new restaurant card. As for the perks, he’s confident that the monthly dining credit will most certainly be put to use, and thankfully he already uses Uber Eats quite a bit.
Related: Amex Gold review
The Delta SkyMiles Reserve is the airline’s top cobranded card offering, catering to the most loyal of Delta flyers. Enjoy Delta Sky Club and Amex Centurion Lounge access (when flying Delta), an annual companion certificate upon card renewal, elite-like perks such as a free checked bag, complimentary upgrades and so much more.
Stella Shon, writer
Delta has been one of Stella’s favorite airlines for as long as she can remember, thanks to its favorable network and reliability. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card was her first-ever travel rewards card that she opened in college. What eventually convinced Stella to apply for the Delta SkyMiles Reserve with its $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) was not only the lounge access, but the ability to get closer to Delta Medallion status thanks to a Medallion Qualification Miles status boost. Stella’s chasing Gold Medallion status with Delta this year, and she wouldn’t be on track to do it if it weren’t for this card.
Related: Delta SkyMiles Reserve review
Marriott’s premium credit card offering, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, comes with a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) that’s quickly recouped by the annual up to $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit for use at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. For Marriott fans, you’ll also enjoy a free night certificate each year (redeemable for up to 50,000 points), 15 elite night credits and more.
Juan Ruiz, editor
With travel picking back up and his Marriott Bonvoy account practically depleted, Juan wanted to boost his balance of Bonvoy points quickly to plan a local hotel stay in Marco Island, Florida, over the summer. He applied when the welcome bonus was 150,000 bonus points — too good of an offer to pass up. The current welcome bonus lets you earn 75,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership, and up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first six months.
The AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard is a solid offering for just a $99 annual fee that comes with an annual companion certificate for $99 (plus taxes and fees), a free first checked bag and more.
Nick Ewen, senior editor
The sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles after a single purchase (as small as a Snickers bar) and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days of card membership was exactly what Nick needed to have enough miles to book a one-way, business-class flight to Jordan for spring break in 2022.
The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Red 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: AAdvantage Aviator Red review
Plenty of credit cards have recently announced changes and limited-time sign-up bonuses. These offers have caused many of us to reevaluate our current earning strategies and apply for new cards as a result. Before you apply for a new credit card, make sure you can take advantage of these sign-up bonus offers — check our guide on application restrictions to be sure you’ll qualify to earn the bonus.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, click here.
Featured photo by The Points Guy.
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