Killer Apps: Knowing The Top Benefits Of Each Card

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People are always asking me what the best cards are.  If only it were that easy.
You see different cards have different things they excel at. Some have a great signup bonus, others have great spend categories, others have great fringe benefits, etc.
If you know where your card excels you’ll know where and when to use it. There’s no shame in keeping a cheat-sheet in your wallet 😀

For example:

-Chase United Explorer Consumer (Click on “Business Owner” for business card)
-Killer app: While most cards only give secondary car rental insurance when renting in your home country, this card gives primary insurance. With other cards that means you would have to make a claim with your personal car insurance and only if they deny it will the credit card would pay the claim. With this card your insurance company will never even know about the claim.
-Also great for: Signup bonus (I’ve gotten 55K+$50 my past several times), free checked bag, expanded saver and standard award availability.
-Not great for: Spending, unless you can hit $25K in a year in which case the earning are bumped up from 1 mile per dollar to 1.4 miles per dollar.

Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, and Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
-Killer app: Signup bonus of 50K on the Bold or Plus.  Plus awesome bonus categories. You get 5 points per dollar on internet and telecom but more importantly 5 points per dollar at office supply stores. With hundreds of gift cards sold by office supply stores you can earn a ton of miles for anything from buying gas, online shopping on Amazon or Groupon, buying clothes from Gap Inc, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Marshalls/TJMaxx, or Nordstrom, and much much more.
-Also great for: 0% intro APR on the Ink Cash.
-Not great for: Spending outside of the bonus categories.

-Chase Freedom Mastercard and Chase Freedom Visa
-Killer app: No annual fee. 5 point rotating spending categories. Currently drug stores is a category. Can you hear Vanilla Reload?
If you have the card linked for exclusives with Chase checking account you also earn 10 points every time you swipe the card and 10% bonus points, making this a go-to card for small spend amounts.
-Not great for: Small signup bonus. Also you or your spouse needs a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus to transfer points to airlines or hotels.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN
-Killer app: 25K signup bonus. Plus you get a 25% points bonus when you transfer blocks of 20K points into airlines miles. And the points transfer into dozens of airlines with endless possibilities. Plus the points are very valuable towards hotel stays.
-Also great for: Fringe benefits! AMEX is simply awesome when it comes to benefits. If you ever need to dispute a charge they make it painless and easy…I’ve never lost! Store won’t take back an item within 90 days? You can return it to AMEX for a full refund and many times for smaller purchases they even let you keep the item! Problem with an item within the year after the original warranty expired? AMEX will refund your entire purchase price, simple as that! In other words if you even buy on item that you may have a problem with it should be on an AMEX.
On Small Business Saturday you get a $25 in free spending and that even works on all of your free additional cardholders! There are many other similar promotions that AMEX runs throughout the year as well.
-Not great for: Base spending is good due to the 25% bonus but the only bonus category is for spending in Starwood hotels.

-The Hyatt Card from Chase
-Killer app: 2 signup bonus nights that can be used at hotels that go for $1,000/night. You also get Platinum elite status which gets you upgrades and free internet. If you are already elite you get suite benefits for applying. Every year you get an additional anniversary night.
-Also great for: At Hyatt hotels you get triple points, though AMEX business cards give points + 5% cash back at domestic Hyatts. No foreign exchange fees.
-Not great for: You can usually do better for spending on other cards.

Chase Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card® Card Visa Signature
-Killer app: 40K signup bonus. 2.14 points per dollar on dining, airfare, car rentals, and hotels, and 1.07 points per dollar elsewhere. Plus you get the best possible foreign exchange with no fees when abroad.
-Also great for: You can have Chase convert the card into a Mastercard which will cover car rentals in Israel, all while earning 2.14 points per dollar with no foreign exchange fees. I was able to get another Visa after converting to a Mastercard and got the points on it again.

-Chase United Club (Click on Club tab)
-Killer app: 1.5 miles per dollar spent everywhere.  2 free checked bags on United. Full United Club membership for gate access even when you aren’t flying. Primary rental car insurance. Expanded saver and standard award availability. Waived award expedite fees.
-Not great for: Hefty annual fee, though I’ve been able to get it waived by asking.

American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card
-Killer app: Triple points on airfare and double points on gas and groceries. Plus 15K bonus points for spending $30K annually.
-Also great for: 25K signup bonus.
-Not great for: Spending outside of the bonus categories unless you can hit $30K in a year.

-The Platinum Card® from American Express
-Killer app: $200 per year airline fee refund, Platinum card lounge access, Priority Pass lounge access, Global Entry Fee Waiver, Lost Item Protection
-Also great for: 25K signup bonus, no foreign transaction fees.
-Not great for: You can do better spending on other cards, though no other card will reimburse you for just losing an item. Hefty annual fee though it’s offset by getting $400 in refunds.

-Chase British Airways Visa
-Killer app: Signup bonus of 50K for spending $1K, 75K for spending $10K, 100K for spending $20K. With award starting at just 4,500 Avios that’s a lot of free flights. Vanilla Reload, MVD, Bluebird, Amazon, et al can all help meeting that.
-Also great for: If you can make it to $30K you get a free companion pass to use on a BA award ticket. No foreign exchange fees. You get 1.25 Avios per dollar spent everywhere and 2.5 on BA tickets.
-Not great for: As BA partners with AMEX, Starwood, and Ultimate Rewards, there are many other ways of getting Avios besides for spending on this card once you get the signup bonus.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card OPEN
-Killer app: Free checked bag and priority boarding on Delta
-Also great for: 30K signup miles.
-Not great for: You can do better spending on other cards.

-Blue Cash Preferred Card® from American Express
-Killer app: 6% cash back at grocery stores
-Not great for: Spending outside of the bonus categories.

-Chase Slate
-Killer app: 0% APR for 15 months plus no fees on balance transfers within 60 days of opening the account.
-Not great for: Earning points.

-Chase Marriott Premier and Chase Marriott
-Killer app: Signup bonus.
-Not great for: You can do better spending on other cards.

-Penfed Visa
-Killer app: 5% cash back on gas.  No foreign transaction fees.
To open this card you need to join something a membership like the National Military Family Association, which is open to the public but costs $20. On the plus side belonging to the National Military Family Association also reduces most people’s auto insurance rate significantly.  You can ask your car insurance company how much you would save if you were a member before joining.
-Not great for: Spending outside of gas.

-Barclays USAirways Consumer Card and USAirways Consumer Card for Chairman Preferred Elites
-Killer app: 40K signup bonus. 5,000 mile discount on USAirways awards.
-Not great for: You can do better spending on other cards.

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76 Comments On "Killer Apps: Knowing The Top Benefits Of Each Card"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


Great post! btw, What does “killer app” mean?

Go Dan!

Congrats on hitting the milestone of 20 million hits!!


@Dan, when you mentioned that you got the annual fee waved on the United Club Card “just for asking”…how would you recommend you go about asking? Do you leverage closing the card or do you spend a certain amount on it and it would be in their best interest to keep you?


Great post Dan. Thanx a lot for all the work you do.


hey dan great post! where does barclay pull ur credit from in nj? do u recomend it if u dont want to apply any more from amex and chase? tx!


One other that I love for its benefits is the platinum Delta American Express Card. It’s got all the benefits the Gold Delta Amex has (good signup, priority boarding, 1 free suitcase) plus a free companion ticket every year (except for taxes, usually around $35 on a $400 ticket.) Yes, there is a $150 annual fee, but if you need a 2nd ticket that perk alone can save you hundreds of dollars, easily offsetting the annual fee. Of course, you can do better with spending.

Dans the man

I have the unied explorer card i got matched to the 55k offer if i signup for the business one will they match it too? also how can you open the united consumer card to get the bonus more than once? do i need to cancel my existing card or do i apply and leave the one pass # blank



@Go Dan!:

SM them to match it to the first year free as your colleague received.


As long as you’re able to use it every year it’s a good deal.
But if you only use it every other year then it’s not worthwhile.

@Dans the man:
Yes, they’ll match the business to 50K+$50.
Make a new United account to apply for another consumer card and merge later.

Dave loves DD!!

You once posted that Chase Sapphire preferred visa gives 2.14 points/dollar for tolls (included in travel), however, I called and spoke to 2 different agents who disputed that? Whats the truth here?


@Dave loves DD!!:
From Chase,
“Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel when you use your card to pay for airfare, hotels, cruises, rental cars, train tickets, taxis, tolls and more.”



Don’t you want to close it so you can reapply and get another sign up bonus after a certain period of time?


Great summary!

Dave loves DD!!

Thanks! What about if I book hotels through “priceline bid for rooms”? or through Orbitz etc? Will this be considered spend for travel on Chase sapphire?


what pharmacy has the cheapest gift card fee?


hey dan i just did a 3bm for a biz united ink bold and ink plus .called them up they aproved me for the bold but declined me for the other 2 sud i HUCA or just be happy with one?


@Dave loves DD!!:

For which gift cards?

Of course you should, you have nothing to lose by calling up several times.
Offer to move credit line or close other cards if you can as that always helps.


I got the British Air VISA a couple of years ago with a 100,000 mile sign-up. Long ago cancelled. Can I double dip, and get the current Chase offer.

Dave loves DD!!

Does every 3BM require a reconsideration phonecall? Or if I have really good credit could they approve me for all 3 cards?

Zvi Weiss

One issue that I have found is that when traveling in ISRAEL, these Master Card “super” cards (e.g., MileagePlus Explorer) did NOT provide Master Assist Auto Coverage (even though the card did on other countries. I contacted Master Card and was told that this is a function of THE BANK that issues the card. I finally found an NYU Alumni Master Card (issued by Bank of America [I think!]) that DID provide the Master Assist coverage even in Israel.


If you had USAirways Consumer Card and canceled it 20 days ago can I open a USAirways Consumer Card for Chairman Preferred Elites


hi Dan, I have the Amex BCP & Amex gold among other cards, which is best for gas? or if u think there a different better card pls let me know

Dave loves DD!!

@ Steve,
Right now the chase freedom is running 5% bonus on gas through March, definitely better than 2 points on Amex. And the miles are worth more too!


@Dave loves DD!!:
Right, but better to max that out on Vanilla at CVS and use a different card for gas.

Dave loves DD!!

The $1500 max bonus is for all categories combined? I thought it was the max in each category?


@Dave loves DD!!:
$1,500 max per quarter in all categories combined.

iLove-Dan-Fan Dan-Da-Man DD=The Best World Wide

Where I can sign up for your fan club?
Seems like everyone else took all the good names!


ink bold ink plus are great, but need to spend 5k each in 3 months… I am not putting so much on CC.

Would paying rent thru amazon work? ($950 a month)
is it a violation of TOS?


Of course that would work, why would it not?


how does joining National Military Family Association save insurance. Also I signed up and they never asked to pay anything?

Yossi W

Can you expand on that car insurance thing relating to the Penfed Visa. That can be very valuable for $20.


@Dan, thanks again for an amazing post. Do you know of a card i could get for under 18yrs old?


@ Dan, new to your site & I appreciate all your insight. Not sure how to show my appreciation but when I apply for my cc’s I always use your links. Hope it helps in some way.


How about a post on the partners you can transfer MR points to and the pros/cons of those?


Great post. Though at first, I thought someone had come up with the same idea that I had…a mobile app to assist you in choosing which CC to use.

Andy F.

Hi Dan,
If I’ve already redeemed 2 signup bonus nights from Hyatt card and want to change the dates (still at the same hotel), is it allowed? Also can I cancel the reservation and rebook at another hotel?


Which bureau does Penfed pull from in OH? I don’t see it on the thread (Once we’re on subject, do you know about Nordstrom in OH by any chance?)

Jason Smith

The Gulf Mastercard issued by Barclays Bank gives you 3% back at Gulf gas stations but more importantly, most Gulf stations will still give you the cash price when using the Gulf Mastercard! In NJ, the cash price is usually 10 cents less than the credit price.


wow never knew about that card with the primary car insurance coverage. Is that the only card that does that? Did you ever post about that before?

Dán K

Dán- can u do a three bowser with 2 personal cards, and 1 buisness card and get only 1 credit hit??


@Yossi W:
I’ve added the link in the post with more info.

Have your parents add you onto an old good card that isn’t using too much of it’s credit line.


@Andy F.:
Yes, subject to the cancellation deadline which varies by hotel.

@Jason Smith:
Or just buy gas cards with Ink and get the cash price.

Many times.


whats the max Vanilla visa gift card ? And what pharmacy is the cheapest?

Dán K

Dán- when u open up a buisness card with Chase, do u do a three browser with that as well? Is it more difficult to get a 3 browser of personal cards approved, than a 3 browser of buisness cards?


You can buy an MVD for $500 for a $3.95 at CVS.
You can cash it out at a bank for free.

@Dán K:
Chase=2 pulls.
AMEX=1 pull.


Love your sight, Dan, thanks. What do you think of the Carlton Club credit card?


I honestly haven’t looked into it as their hotels don’t excite me and I have a lot of their points from when they run those 50K point promotions for making a single cheap stay.



I must thank you. I recently signed up for the milegae club card. Following your advice, I SM chase and was refunded the annual fee! Your awesome!!!

Thanks again,



can u do both Barclays US airways cards as a 2BM?


have you ever gotten the club card waived a second yr?


dan, amazon limit only 1000 a month for rent pay? can I pay via amazon higher amount too ?

David R

@shaiks: @Yossi W: Like all credit unions, PenFed has certain criteria for being a member, such as membership in any one of a long list of organizations, each with its own membership fee. Dan’s post mentions that membership in one of these organizations can make you eligible for a discount on car insurance. Some of the other organization on that list probably also get you an insurance discount. I would add that GEICO offers a discount for PenFed members, so if you have GEICO, you can sign up for the cheapest one of the organizations on PenFed’s list even if it is an organization that itself does not provide any discount on car insurance.

Membership in PenFed is free, but you have to keep at least $5 in your savings account. PenFed runs a credit check when you sign up for membership, even if you don’t apply for a credit card, so you may as well apply for the card. There is no signup bonus for the Visa. (The AmEx card has a signup bonus, but don’t bother applying unless you are a PenFed member for over a year and have great credit.) It should also be pointed out that PenFed’s cards have no foreign transaction fee.


@Dan whats MVD ?


Great post.

How do I ensure I am getting the extra saver award availability on united?


Anyone know if the 55k plus $50 credit is still alive for the united card?

Dans the man

One more question. If I call chase to reconsider my united card and they ask me why do I want another consumer card what do I say?


How do i take advantage of the amex benefits when it comes to a product that broke that the store won’t take back since its been a few months? I call amex and tell them what?


Thanks Dan – we just got back from our ElAl trip. My family and I owe you much thanks and appreciation.

Question: While in London I tried to enter the Star Alliance Club with my United Club Card and United MileagePlus Club Credit Card – they wouldnt let me in. They said since I am traveling on American. Any thoughts? Should I complain, if so to whom and what should I ask for.


Dan have you heard anybody having success getting annual fee waived with Chase Hyatt card and/or Citi Hilton reserve. If so how?


I got -Sapphire Preferred Mastercard but now I want the visa do I need to cancel the master card first in order to get the visa?


Hi Dan,
Thanks for the very useful information you are posting in your blog. I learned a lot from you and still a lot to learn. I love the stuff you writing about.
I have question about the opening of new United account and merge it after that. How do you do that?

@Dans the man:
Make a “new United account” to apply for another consumer card and merge later.


@Dan: Thank you, Dan
Do you know if I can open another account with United when I already have one with them? Are their system going to recognize me and block me because I am going to use the name again? Do you know if there is some trick to open new account with United when I’am allowed to open just one under my name?



Hi Dan,
Is it possible if you could post info about canadian credit cards? Thanks


Is blue cash preffered still have signup of 150 I’ve had the card since dec and havnt got it and they told me it wasn’t my offer what is best way to get them to honor it?

Chase United CC

How do you get the 50k+$50 sign up bonus when the offer is for 30k?

Chase United CC

How were you able to have United waive the $395 fee on the United Mileage Plus club card? Was it by Hang up Call back?

mayer zahtz

Dan, My exp. date for Amex Business Platinum card is Feb 13, 2013. I don’t see any benefit to cont. to pay $450 for another year. I got the original bonus points, the $100 back for Global signup, baggage refund of $125 last year, then a $75 AA gift card on 1/31/12 ,which got credited to my account (per your recommendation-end of year).I also transferred to BA for bonus miles- worked out great.
2 questions:
1- where can I use the AA gift card; is it only to pay for travel? Since I usually get BA Avios to pay for trips I don’t have use for the card in that way.
2- If before I cancel my card, would I be able to try for $200 refund with purchase of air related charges? and where would I do it besides AA gift card- unless it can be used for things other than travel? Thanks in advance.


does barclays work 2bm 3bm and what about combining business and personal and do you know any good ofers with barclays


Does adding a cardholder to my AMEX account pull from their credit when I provide their SS#? I got the card w/o the SS# but now they are asking for it. Is it different for a business account?


The 10 points per swipe on chase freedom is DISCONTINUED. So unless you were grandfathered in, you will only receive the ten percent bonus, which negates the advantage of small purchases


No. It wasn’t purchased within the past 90 days.


Please elaborate on how to switch a sapphire visa into a master card. I recently got a visa, and want to change to master. Must I wait a year?? If I switch will they still give first year free? (I posted a similar question in the wrong discussion. Sorry.)


How about the Capital One Spark Business????


I see the explorer card of united gives u primary rental coverage does that mean the club card also gets it. the way i understood the club has everything from the explorer or is that a good reason for getting both cards
#2 off subject i was in the airport jfk-tlv via united with ticket purcahsed on club card and they did’nt want to let me take 2 free bags as they said the free bags are only in the states is that correct it does not seem so on united .com. and should i call customer service from the club card and tell them i was denied the bag and ask for somthing (I did’nt pay at the end because my freind that came with me had amex platinum buissness which let us take the bags free so they put it on my freinds name and did”nt charge anything but it bothered me because i new i was going to be able to take myself 2 free bags and was denied .


Another bunch of cards covering car rentals in Israel is CitiBanks’s Citi® / AAdvantage®, Citi ThankYou®, Citi® Dividend or Citi CashReturns®. They provide primary coverage abroad. Check your coverage at or call 1-866-934-1138, Mon-Fri, 7am-7pm, CT. I called and they gladly sent me a “Letter of Coverage” by email.

david o.

i dont know much about c.c but iam looking for a personal
c.c that has a very low interest rate or apr can u suggest
i am looking for a c.c not more then $2500


besides for the penfed visa what other card is the best for gas either on cash back or points which one is the highest return on gas