Here are the credit cards that were honored at last night’s TPG Awards
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The 2019 TPG Awards are in the books, and the second annual ceremony was an incredible evening. From the special honors for Beverley Bass and Katherine Johnson to memorable appearances from Selene Saavedra Roman and Amin from Rainbow Railroad, it was a night to remember.
Of course, the main focus of the ceremony was recognizing the best travel providers, credit cards and loyalty programs in 2019, many of which were chosen directly by you, our TPG readers. In fact, over 100,000 votes were cast this year, with some winners defending their titles from last year and others dethroning the 2018 honoree.
So … which credit cards took home honors at this year’s event? If you weren’t following along on Instagram, here’s a recap.
For a rundown of travel and loyalty award winners, check out this recap post.
Best Premium Travel Credit Card
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you’re going to pay an annual fee of $300+ for a credit card, it better have a wealth of benefits, and this year’s victor has that in spades. The Chase Sapphire Reserve took home this honor for the second straight year thanks to its array of perks, including a $300 travel credit (more on that below), Priority Pass lounge access and 3x points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases. It also provides multiple layers of protection when you travel, including trip delay reimbursement and trip cancellation/interruption coverage. And when you go to redeem your Chase points, you’ll get 1.5 cents apiece when booking travel through the Chase portal — or even more value by transferring to partners like United, British Airways or World of Hyatt. This makes it easy to justify the card’s $550 annual fee, which is even waived for active-duty military.
Current welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
Best Travel Rewards Credit Card
Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Before the Sapphire Reserve launched in 2016, the Sapphire Preferred was the go-to card for many award travelers, and TPG readers recognized it as the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card (annual fee of <$300) for the second straight year. It carries just a $95 annual fee but still offers 2x points on travel and dining purchases, plus many of the same protections as its more expensive brethren. Your Chase points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed directly for travel in the Chase portal, but they’re also transferable to all Ultimate Rewards partner programs.
Current welcome offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.
Best No-Annual-Fee Credit Card
Winner: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase completed a sweep of the major card awards for the second year in a row, with readers picking the Chase Freedom Unlimited as the best card with no annual fee. The card by itself offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but you can get a ton of additional value by pairing it with one of the Sapphire cards above. That’s because you can combine all of your Ultimate Rewards points in the account that offers the best redemption options, so you can effectively convert the cash-back earnings on the Freedom Unlimited into fully-transferable points. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, that represents a return of 3% on every single purchase — a main reason why it’s a part of my perfect Chase quartet and also makes for an ideal beginner’s pairing with the Sapphire Preferred.
Current welcome offer: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening (though if you also have the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred, this can be converted into 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points).
- Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card review
- Freedom Unlimited hub page
- When should you use the Chase Freedom Unlimited?
Best Credit Card Perk
Winner: $300 travel credit (Chase Sapphire Reserve)
The Chase Sapphire Reserve took the award for the best premium card, so it’s not surprising that one of the most popular benefits of the card defended its crown as the Best Credit Card Perk. The $300 travel credit is just that: an automatic, $300 statement credit every card membership year for any travel purchase. There are many cards that offer these credits, but the Sapphire Reserve’s version is typically regarded as the most flexible and easiest to use. My annual fee hit on Nov. 1 this year, and I’ve already received my full credit — which was automatically applied to purchases that included tolls in my home state of Florida, a Sheraton stay, an Uber ride and a Southwest flight.
Current welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Best New/Refreshed Credit Card
Winner: Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
This year saw the launch of a number of new cards and also included some notable changes to existing cards, and TPG readers selected the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card as the best of the bunch. The no-annual-fee offering from Chase earns 3 points per dollar spent at participating Marriott properties plus 2x points on travel purchases. You’ll enjoy 15 elite credits every year (good for automatic Marriott Silver Elite status) and will pay no foreign transaction fees — a relative rarity for a card with no annual fee.
Current welcome offer: 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card review
- Bonvoy Bold card hub
- Which Marriott credit card is right for you?
Best Business Credit Card
Small business owners have an array of business credit cards from which to choose, and when the votes were tallied this year, The Business Platinum Card from American Express took home the honor for Best Business Credit Card (a title it also won last year). While it does carry a $595 annual fee (see rates and fees), you’ll enjoy an incredible array of perks in exchange — including 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels at Amex Travel, a 35% rebate when you use Pay With Points for flights, lounge access to American Express’ Global Lounge Collection, automatic Gold status with both Hilton and Marriott, and annual statement credits for airline fees along with Dell technology purchases.
Current welcome offer: 125,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Amex Business Platinum card review
- Business Platinum hub page
- Who should (and shouldn’t) get the Amex Business Platinum card?
Best Cobranded Airline Credit Card
Winner: Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
Airline credit cards come in many shapes and sizes, but TPG readers voted for a premium one as the Best Cobranded Airline Credit Card of 2019: the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express. These high-end cards are typically best for frequent travelers, but any semi-regular Delta flyer could get some fantastic value from the card thanks to its annual companion ticket, access to Delta Sky Clubs and perks when flying Delta — including free checked bags, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases.
Note that this card is adding new travel protections as of Jan. 1 and then will undergo a significant overhaul of its benefits starting Jan. 30, 2020, including an annual fee increase from $450 to $550 (see rates and fees). These were announced partway through the voting process, so it’ll be interesting to see if this will be bumped next year. For now, however, TPG readers felt it was the best airline card out there.
Current welcome offer: Earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months.
- Delta Reserve credit card review
- Delta Reserve hub page
- Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers
Best Cobranded Hotel Credit Card
Like airline cards, there are hotel credit cards that fit just about every traveler’s preferences, but TPG readers voted the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card as this year’s Best Cobranded Hotel Credit Card — a new victor (the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express took home this award last year). Like all Marriott cards, you’ll enjoy 15 elite night credits as a cardholder, and you’ll also earn up to 17x Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. However, the most valuable perk is the annual free night certificate, which is valid for free-night stays up to 35,000 points. It’s common to see some properties at the higher end of this limit to go for $200 or $300 per night, so this benefit by itself can easily cover the card’s $95 annual fee.
Current welcome offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
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.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review
- Bonvoy Boundless hub page
- Which Marriott credit card is right for you?
Best Transferable Point Currency
Winner: Marriott Bonvoy
The final credit-card-related award was a new one for this year: Best Transferable Point Currency. While the most well-known of these programs are from card issuers, TPG readers surprisingly felt that Marriott Bonvoy deserved this honor. When Marriott and SPG integrated back in August 2018, the new program kept the legacy SPG transfer ratio to airline partners (which was 1:1 but is now 3:1 based on the rate that Starpoints converted to Marriott points). You’ll also still get 5,000 bonus miles when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, and there are some cases when it makes sense to utilize this redemption option.
The 2019 TPG Awards included many of the same winners as last year, but it also yielded some surprises and a handful of new honorees. As mentioned at the outset, all nine of these awards were chosen entirely by TPG readers’ votes. Our editorial team members were able to cast one vote apiece, just like everyone else. Over 100,000 votes were cast, and the results above reflect that voting. If your favorite card or program didn’t win, hopefully it’ll have better luck next year!
Want to share your thoughts on the winners? Visit the TPG Lounge on Facebook.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Card, click here.
Featured photo by Patrick T. Fallon for The Points Guy.
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