These are the three most powerful cards in my wallet
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There are plenty of premium credit cards that offer benefits, rewards, earning potential and insurance. As a small-business owner and frequent traveler, I have spent years navigating the credit card game and sorting through cards with various perks. Of my 30+ credit cards, I hold three that are clearly superior to all the rest. Here they are.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you’ve spent any time researching credit cards, you probably know the Chase Sapphire Reserve well. With a network of transfer partners, its Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth a whopping 2 cents per point, according to current TPG valuations. Right now, Chase Sapphire Reserve is offering a 50,000-point sign-up bonus after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of your account opening — a $750 value through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but a $1,000 value if you transfer your points and maximize their value when redeeming them for travel.
The card’s $550 annual fee is offset each year by a $300 travel credit and cardholders earn 3x points on travel and dining purchases worldwide. I appreciate the global approach to this earning potential because it encourages travelers to use the card abroad. On top of that, Chase is pretty generous about what is considered a travel or dining purchase; I often find myself being rewarded for unlikely purchases such as those at vending machines and parking garages.
On top of those great perks, CSR comes with complimentary access to the Priority Pass Select network of more than 1,300 lounges and restaurants worldwide. The ability to use lounges extends to cardholders, their authorized users and up to two guests. Although the network doesn’t cover every lounge, I can usually find a few options between my flights.
Perhaps more important than the perks and benefits are the insurances that accompany the CSR. By booking travel with my CSR, I am automatically entitled to trip cancellation insurance, trip delay coverage, baggage delay and loss coverage, primary car rental insurance, and emergency evacuation coverage. These insurances are indispensable to me as a frequent traveler.
Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Another great card in my wallet is the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. It might be one of the most underrated cards out there, the unsung hero of everyday business cards for me. As a no-annual-fee card (see rates and fees), it doesn’t come with a welcome bonus, but cardholders do enjoy a 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases from account opening, then a variable APR of 13.24%-19.24%, applies (see rates and fees), which counts for something.
To qualify for a business card, you don’t need to own your own company or even hold an LLC; you can gain access to a business card by doing things like selling items, teaching or tutoring, or working as a freelancer.
The reason this is a powerhouse card for me is that cardholders earn a flat 2x Membership Rewards points on purchases up to $50,000 annually and 1x points after that. Although other business credit cards offer better points-earning from booking business trips or buying office supplies, the 2x earning rate with the Amex Blue Business Plus card is the best out there for everyday business purchases. According to TPG valuations, that’s 2 cents per point or a 4% return, which is nice considering most cash-back cards boast 1%-3%.
Eventually, when you’ve stashed enough points, you’ll be able to transfer Membership Rewards Points to any of the American Express Membership Rewards partners. There are plenty to choose from, including Delta SkyMiles, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. It’s also important to note that Rakuten members can now earn Membership Rewards points through purchases on the Rakuten portal. This allows cardholders to double-dip on points by using their Amex Blue Business Plus card to shop through the Rakuten portal. Not bad!
Read our review of the Amex Blue Business Plus card.
Citi Prestige® Card
Citi Prestige has taken some heat lately because Citi announced devaluations and changes in benefits on several cards. However, I still like this card for the earning potential and travel benefits that remain.
Citi Prestige is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Citi ThankYou Points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. The $495 annual fee is offset by up to $250 in travel credit annually and the card comes with the same enrollment in Priority Pass Select as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, one of my favorite benefits of this card is the 4th night free benefit. When a cardholder books a minimum of four consecutive nights at any hotel through the ThankYou portal, the 4th night is free. This perk was recently capped at a maximum of two uses per year, but there is still value for stays at pricey properties.
On top of those benefits, this card comes with enormous earning potential — cardholders earn a whopping 5x points on airfare and dining. At 1.7 cents per point based on current TPG valuations, that’s an incredible 8.5% return on those purchases. Additionally, cardholders earn 3x points on hotel and cruise line purchases (a still-amazing 5.1% return) and 1x points on all other purchases. Even with recent devaluations, the earning potential of this card makes it a must-have for me.
The information for the Citi Prestige 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.
There are a lot of great credit cards out there, and they’re all competing for our attention. These three cards put spend the most time in my wallet because of the spending bonuses and other benefits.
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Plus card, please click here.
Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy
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