TPG reader credit card question: Is it time to switch cards?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: This article is part of our weekly column to answer your credit card questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at email@example.com.
New year, new credit card strategy? Now that we’re starting a new year, many people are taking the time to think through 2021 earning and burning strategies. A big question on a lot of people’s minds is whether or not now is the time to switch cards.
Want more credit card news and advice? Sign up for our TPG newsletter
I have a Marriott Rewards Visa card and have achieved lifetime Platinum Elite status. My question is should I stay with the Marriott card or switch to something else? I work for the federal government and chose the Marriott card since I traveled a lot before the pandemic and was able to choose Marriott hotels wherever I went. I have American and United cards but don’t use them unless I’m traveling on them. I can’t pick and choose which airline I fly on for my trips – the government’s travel booking system (DTS) only lets us select the contract city-pair airline. Assuming business travel resumes in the near future, should I switch to another hotel chain to build up status (e.g. Hilton) or maybe go with a rewards card (in case travel doesn’t return to normal any time soon)?
Now that Gary has hit lifetime Platinum Elite status with Marriott (congrats!), it does make sense to reconsider his goals and how his credit cards can help him meet them. Switching spending over to a new credit card is a good idea, but that doesn’t mean ditching his existing Marriott credit card is the best option.
If he’s had the Marriott card for a while, it’s a smart idea to keep it so that his account remains open (helping his credit score). Length of accounts is a factor in determining your credit score, so cards you’ve had open for a long time are generally beneficial to hold onto if you can justify the costs.
The next step is to determine which direction to head in next: a different cobranded credit card or a more flexible rewards credit card?
An argument for a new cobranded strategy
If Gary’s priority now is to build status with another hotel brand, it makes sense to look at other cobranded hotel card options.
Hilton has a robust lineup of credit cards that would help him hit status, and it’s a solid brand to build loyalty with. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is the top-tier option, offering a long list of perks, including automatic Diamond elite status, up to two weekend reward nights annually, up to $250 in Hilton resort statement credits, up to $250 in airline fee credits, up to $100 in Hilton on-property credits and more. However, the card does come with a high $450 annual fee (see rates and fees). Enrollment required for select benefits. 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.
If that annual fee is a bit too hefty (especially while travel is still on hold), the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is another solid choice. It has a $95 annual fee (see rates & fees). It also comes with complimentary Gold status, 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits (enrollment required) and the ability to earn a weekend night reward when hitting spending requirements.
Related: Best Hilton credit cards of 2021
Another hotel brand to consider is Hyatt. According to TPG valuations, Hyatt offers some of the most valuable hotel loyalty points out there. And the World of Hyatt Credit Card, at $95 annually, is a great card to add to any wallet. You’ll get automatic Discoverist elite status, plus up to two nights per year and five qualifying night credits toward your next tier status each year (with the ability to earn two additional night credits every time you spend $5,000).
If elite status is what Gary is after, Hilton and its lineup of credit cards with Amex makes it easier to earn elite status. Hyatt, on the other hand, makes it more difficult to attain top-tier status.
Also keep in mind that cobranded cards as a whole are less flexible than rewards credit cards. These cards earn points that are best-used only on hotel night redemptions, whereas rewards credit cards could have multiple redemption options that provide a solid value for your points.
An argument for focusing on rewards credit cards
On the other hand, a more general rewards credit card could be great for earning and burning if elite status at another hotel brand isn’t Gary’s top priority. Where cobranded credit cards are not known for their flexibility, many rewards credit cards are known for just that.
Take the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for example. The card offers a great sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus it earns 2x on all travel and 3x on dining purchases — all for $95 a year. Those points can then be used in multiple ways while still getting value.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to airline and hotel partners (including Marriott and Hyatt), but you can also redeem points through the Ultimate Rewards portal for 1.25 cents each. The issuer’s Pay Yourself Back program also offers a way to redeem points for non-travel expenses.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which earns 2x across all purchases, is another great choice. You’ll only pay a $95 annual fee, and you’ll also have access to transfer partners and a way to redeem miles at a flat rate for travel purchases.
These flexible rewards credit cards are a good choice for anyone whose priority is earning rewards and redeeming them rather than luxury benefits with specific brands.
Related: The best travel credit cards of 2021
However, keep in mind that rewards credit cards won’t necessarily help Gary earn status with other hotel brands or airlines. And unless he’s looking at an ultra-premium credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express, Gary won’t get as many perks to upgrade your travel experience.
The right direction for Gary will depend on his priorities for 2021 and beyond. Is earning status with another hotel brand more important? Or is earning and burning for personal travel a larger priority? If the first, a cobranded hotel credit card from Hilton or Hyatt would be a great starting point for building up elite status with either brand.
But if the second, the flexibility offered by rewards (especially in a time when travel is still on the backburner for many) may be the better choice.
Featured image by The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees