Credit Cards

Credit cards from our partners:

Read more posts about credit cards by clicking on the “credit card posts” tab.

These cards earn actual miles and/or points that can be converted directly into real airline/hotel points. The sky is the limit as to the value of these points as they are what you make of them. When used for last-minute coach travel, or for travel to far-flung places, or especially for travel in business or first class that most people could never otherwise afford, they can literally be worth their weight in gold. I’ve had redemptions where my miles have been worth over 50 cents each (and there are cards that give as many as 10 real miles per dollar), compare that to your average 1% or even 2% back card!

The values listed below are just my personal values that I use to decide whether it’s worth using miles for a ticket.

Cards with a transferable points currency:
-Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature
-Chase Ink Plus Business Card
-Chase Ink Cash Business Card
-Chase Freedom Visa
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
-The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express
-The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express
-American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card
-Platinum Card® from American Express

Airline cards:
-Chase British Airways Visa Signature
-United MileagePlus Explorer card.
-Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
-The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®
-The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®

Hotel cards:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
-Chase Marriott Visa

Cash back:
-Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
-Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
-Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
-TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express
-Discover it®
-Discover it® for Students

0% APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers with no fees:
-Chase Slate
———————————————————————————————————————-

Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature

Signup Bonus: 40K for spending $3,000 within 3 months.
Plus get an additional 5,000 points for adding an additional user and making a single purchase within 3 months.

About the currency: Ultimate Rewards points transfer instantly with no fees into United miles, what I consider to be the most valuable airline currency today and into Hyatt points, a very valuable hotel currency. That also transfer into other airlines and hotels like British Airways and Southwest among others. Ultimate Rewards can also be freely transferred to other people.

Value: When using Ultimate Rewards points I aim for a redemption value of about 1.9 cents per point, making the signup bonus worth about $760 and spending on the card is worth between 1.9 and 3.8%.

Benefits:

-Double points on airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, restaurants, catering, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, cafes, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, timeshares, etc.

-Triple points on all dining and catering on the first Friday of every month.

-Primary car rental insurance everywhere in the world.

-There is no foreign exchange fee.

-Having this card allows you to transfer points earned from cards like Chase Freedom, Ink Classic, and Ink Cash to airlines/hotels.

Sapphire Preferred also offers protections including very generous travel protections when the trip is charged to your card:
-Trip cancellation insurance ($5,000 per individual trip or $10,000 per family trip).
-Lost luggage protection ($3,000 per person)
-Trip delay protection ($500 per person for trips delayed by 12+ hours or that require an overnight stay)
-Baggage delay protection (If delayed 6+ hours: $100 per day per person up to 5 days)
-Travel accident insurance
-Price protection ($500 per item that drops in price within 90 days of purchase)
-Return protection ($500 per item for 90 days)
-Purchase protection ($500 per item damaged or stolen for 120 days)
-Extended warranty protection ($10,000 per item for an extra year on original warranties of 3 years or less)

Annual fee: No fee first year and then $95.

A great card because: The strong signup bonus and bonus points categories that earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points. This is the perfect card for use when outside the United States due to no foreign exchange fees. Plus this is an awesome looking heavy metal card that is sure to get noticed and a live customer service rep really does answer the phone immediately when you call the number on the back of your card.

Cons:  Lack of bonus points for general spending.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Chase Ink Plus Business Card

Signup Bonus: 50K bonus Ultimate Rewards points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.

About the currency: Ultimate Rewards points transfer instantly with no fees into United miles, what I consider to be the most valuable airline currency today and into Hyatt points, a very valuable hotel currency. That also transfer into other airlines and hotels like British Airways and Southwest among others. Ultimate Rewards can also be freely transferred to other people.

Value: When using Ultimate Rewards points I aim for a redemption value of about 1.9 cents per point, making the 50K signup bonus worth about $950 and spending on the card is worth between 1.9% and 9.5% back.

Benefits:

-Earn 5 points for each $1 spent on wireless/telecom, cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores, and wholesale distributors of office supplies for up to $50,000 of spending in bonus categories.

-Earn 2 points for each $1 spent at gas stations, hotels and motels, and travel agencies for up to $50,000 of spending in bonus categories.

-There is no foreign exchange fee.

-2 free airport lounge visits per year per cardholders.

-Having this card allows you to transfer points earned from cards like Freedom, Ink Classic, and Ink Cash to airlines/hotels.

Annual fee: No fee first year and then $95.

A great card because: The strong signup bonus and bonus point categories that earn valuable Ultimate Rewards points. This is the perfect card for use when outside the United States due to no foreign exchange fees.

Cons: Lack of bonus points for general spending.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Chase British Airways Visa Signature

Signup Bonus: 50K British Airways Avios for spending $2,000 in 3 months.

About the currency: You can use Avios for short-haul flights starting at just 4,500 Avios. Plus BA doesn’t charge any last minute expedite/close-in fees, doesn’t collect massive fuel surcharges for flights on AA within the Western Hemisphere or on Aer Lingus, Alaska, Air Berlin, LAN worldwide, and only charges $2.50-$10 (just the 9/11 fees) to cancel a domestic award.

Value: When using Avios I aim for a redemption value of about 1.3 cents per point, making the 50K signup bonus worth about $650 and spending on the card is worth between 1.625% and 3.25% back.

Benefits:

-Earn 1.25 Avios per dollar spent everywhere and 2.5 Avios per dollar on BA flights.

-Spend $30K in a year and get a BA companion certificate good on award tickets worldwide on BA flights.

-There is no foreign exchange fee.

Read more info on BA in this post.

Annual fee: $95.

A great card because: The 50K signup bonus and 1.25 Avios per dollar spent everywhere.

Cons: Lack of bonus points beyond the base 1.25.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Chase Freedom Visa

Signup Bonus: 10,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points for spending $500 within 3 months plus 2,500 bonus points for adding a free additional user and making a purchase within the first 3 months.

About the currency: Ultimate Rewards. Points can be cashed out at a rate of 10,000 points=$100 cash back but if you (or someone you know) has a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card you can transfer points earned on this card to airlines/hotels where they will be worth more.

Value: When using Ultimate Rewards points I aim for a redemption value of about 1.9 cents per point, making the 10K signup bonus worth about $190 and spending on the card is worth varying amounts depending on if you have a Chase checking account and the size of the transaction, but a range of 2.09%-10% back with Chase checking.

Benefits:

-There are quarterly promotions for categories that give 5 points per transaction on spending up to $1,500 per quarter.

-If you have a Chase Checking account then you will get a 10% point dividend on top of all points earned during the previous calendar year. That means you’ll effectively earn 1.1 points per dollar on every purchase and 5.5 points per dollar in rotating categories.

The 5 point categories for 2014 are as follows (click here to activate them on your account):

Q1: Gas stations, Movie theaters, Starbucks (Activate starting 12/15)
Q2: Restaurants and Lowe’s (Activate starting 03/15)
Q3: Gas stations and Kohl’s (Activate starting 06/15)
Q4: Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores (Activate starting 09/15)

-Keeps Ultimate Rewards points from cards like Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus alive if you decide to cancel those cards to avoid paying an annual fee.

-0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.

Annual fee: No annual fee.

A great card because: The 5 point rotating categories are lucrative and the 10% bonus makes it even sweeter. No annual fee is the cherry on top.

Cons: Foreign exchange fees, small signup bonus, and the need to have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus to transfer points to airlines/hotels.

———————————————————————————————————————-

United MileagePlus Explorer card.

Signup Bonus: 30K bonus United miles for spending $1,000 within 3 months.
Add a free additional user and get another 5,000 miles after making a purchase within 3 months.

About the currency: United miles are very valuable as they can be used for travel on the dozens of Star Alliance carriers with no fuel surcharges.

Value: When using United miles points I aim for a redemption value of about 1.8 cents per point, making the 30K signup bonus worth about $540 and spending on the card is worth between 1.8%-3.6% or as high as 2.52%-4.32% if you can spend 25K in a calendar year.

Benefits:
-Double miles for spending on United.
-10K annual threshold bonus (40% more miles) for spending 25K in a calendar year.
-No foreign exchange fee.
-Free checked luggage and priority boarding on United.
-Primary rental car insurance (almost all other cards only provide secondary coverage to your own personal car insurance)
-Miles won’t expire if you are a cardholder
-In-flight food, drink, and TV discounts
-Expanded saver award availability
-Last seat EasyPass award availability
-2 annual lounge passes
-Upgrades for elite cardholders on award tickets

Annual fee: No fee first year and then $95.

A great card because: Annual threshold bonus plus lots of benefits like free luggage and free primary CDW.

Cons: Lack of bonus points for general spending for those who spend less than $25K in a calendar year.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Chase Ink Cash Business Card

Signup Bonus: Earn $200 cash back (in the form of 20K bonus Ultimate Rewards points) for spending $3,000 within 3 months of card opening.

About the currency: Ultimate Rewards. Points can be cashed out at a rate of 10,000 points=$100 cash back but if you (or someone you know) has a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card you can transfer points earned on this card to airlines/hotels where they will be worth more.

Value: When using Ultimate Rewards points I aim for a redemption value of about 1.9 cents per point, making the 20K signup bonus worth about $380 and spending on the card is worth between 1.9% and 9.5% back.

Benefits:

-Earn 5 points for each $1 spent on wireless/telecom, cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores, and wholesale distributors of office supplies for up to $25,000 of spending in bonus categories.

-Ink Cash earns 2 points for each $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and caterers for up to $25,000 of spending in bonus categories.

-Keeps Ultimate Rewards points from cards like Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus alive if you decide to cancel those cards to avoid paying an annual fee.

-1 Year of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Annual fee: None.

A great card because: Great bonus point categories with no annual fee.  No interest on purchases for a year.

Cons: Foreign exchange fees and the need to have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus to transfer points to airlines/hotels.
———————————————————————————————————————-

Other mileage/points cards:

-Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
40,000 bonus points, read more here.

-The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

-Chase Sapphire Visa (non-preferred) No annual fee. 10K points for spending $500 in 3 months plus 2,500 bonus points for adding a free additional user and making a purchase within the first 3 months.
———————————————————————————————————————-

Non-Mileage Cards:

-Chase Slate®, No annual fee. Introductory offer: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months and no balance transfer fees for 60 days.

-Discover it® (18 months), No annual fee. 5% cash back in rotating categories. 6 months 0% APR.

-Discover it® for Students, No annual fee. $20 cash back bonus. 5% cash back in rotating categories.

Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Facebook

Switch to our mobile site