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What’s In My Wallet?
Credit cards are one of the easiest ways to accumulate miles and points and there are some amazing deals out there.
Adam can actually trace his mileage obsession back to the original American Airlines Citi AAdvantage MasterCard. IHe remembers being about 10 years old when his friend Peter’s parents from down the block had just signed up for the card. They had a conversation with his parents about how they used their card for all their purchases and were planning a free trip for the entire family to Disney World. His parents soon signed up (yes, they were allowed in those days to sign up for cards without Adam’s input) and so began his early December family vacation to Florida followed later by the Caribbean, care of Citi and American.
The offers weren’t as generous back then, but the award tickets were readily available at low redemption levels. Things have changed quite a bit, but credit cards are still one of the easiest ways to earn free travel and anyone not utilizing these offers is silly. Adam’s easily earned over 10 million points with cards.
This page highlights those opportunities as a combined What’s In My Wallet list across each Point Me contributor. These are our favorite cards and the ones we actually keep in our wallets. We are constantly asked by colleagues, friends, and family what our favorite cards are and which ones will allow them to earn the most points for an upcoming trip. In fact, at sister site Juicy Miles, we’ve helped countless clients obtain completely free trips and honeymoons, flights and hotels fully booked with miles and points.
Below you’ll find our favorite cards, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to share a better sign-up offer. Remember, these are per individual so you can obtain even more points if each member of the household applies.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening, worth over $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
My Comment: A top choice for many travelers, this card has both many redemption partners (both hotel and airline) along with a travel portal.
Chase’s 5/24 Rule
Thinking about adding a Chase card to your points and miles strategy to pick up some Ultimate Rewards points? You need to know about the 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened five or more new credit cards (from any issuer, not just Chase) in the past 24 months, it’s highly likely that your application for the Sapphire Preferred will be automatically declined. To take advantage of the sign-up bonus and the other benefits listed above, you should apply for this card sooner rather than later.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Let’s start out with the cost, it’s $550 a year (See Rates & Fees)! Yes, that sounds outrageous but you make up the initial outlay extremely quickly, especially if you’re a frequent traveler with no lounge access. With membership comes complimentary Delta Sky Club lounge access, access to Priority Pass Select lounges around the globe, and American Express Centurion Lounges. If you are someone who buys any of these memberships, then this card is definitely worth the membership fee. Prices for annual club memberships at airlines vary based on your status level, however Delta charges $300-$450. Even more valuable, you can add up to 3 additional members for only $175 total (see Rates & Fees), which means 4 people can enjoy these benefits for $625 or $156.25 per person for access to all of these lounges for the year. The card also includes $200 airline fee credit per year. You select an airline to receive up to $200 annually in statement credits for incidental fees such as checked bags, in-flight refreshments, and change fees. Finally, the card also comes with Global Entry registration, which normally costs $100. You’ll also receive SPG/Marriott Gold status, Hilton Gold status, and GoGo and Boingo wifi access while traveling. Additionally, a special Platinum concierge desk that can help with special dining reservations, sold out event assistance, and shopping services. You also get VIP treatment at thousands of hotels in the Fine Hotels and Resorts Program booked via AMEX, including upgrades and late 4pm checkout. No foreign currency conversion fees (see Rates & Fees) and the standard purchase protection plans are also included. You earn 5x points for flights booked directly with airlines or AmEx Travel, and in March 2017 the same was added for eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. As noted with the AMEX Gold Card above, Membership Rewards points are extremely flexible and can be transferred to several partners including some of the largest airlines. Do the math, first subtract the $200 airline fee credit from the annual fee. Now, if the remaining cost is lower than what you pay each year for an airline membership, the card definitely makes sense, even without taking into consideration Global Entry or the hotel benefits. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points after $5000 in purchases within three months.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
Welcome Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. Earned miles can be used as a statement credit towards any travel purchase. The sign-up bonus represents $700 in travel statement credits.
Annual Fee: $89, waived the first year.
My Comment: The bonus miles may be of use for many in offsetting their travel purchases. Although, the 70,000 miles could be leveraged for some great award redemptions; eclipsing the $700 potential value in statement credits. Also, be aware of a 6/24 rule (similar to Chase’s 5/24 rule) where applications are denied if you have opened 6 or more credit cards in the past 24 months. Currently, it seems that’s Barclays’s restrictions applies only to the Arrival+ card.
Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending just $2,500 within the first three months of account opening.
Annual Fee: $98, waived the first year
My Comment: This card now offers double miles on purchases at U.S. gas stations and restaurants, as well as for American Airlines purchases. You also receive a checked bag, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight food and beverages.
Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Annual Fee: $450
My Comment: Another high annual fee card, but offers lounge access for the cardholder, authorized users as well as two guests or immediate family. Card also features priority boarding and the one free checked bag like the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
American Express® Gold Card
This card was relaunched with exciting new benefits in 2018. A huge benefit of this card is that you’ll earn 4x points at restaurants globally and US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X) while earning 3x points on airfare booked directly with airlines. You will also receive 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 on eligible purchases within 3 months. There is an annual fee of $250 (See Rates & Fees), but most of it is a wash when you consider that you’ll receive up to a $100 airline fee credit and that you can earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120.
The current welcome bonus is 10,000 Membership Rewards points higher than the original public launch offer. Additionally, AMEX consistently runs transfers bonuses where you can earn up to a 50% mileage bonus on miles transferred into a given partner program. That means you’re actually earning more than the double and triple points listed above. Membership Rewards has a ton of airline partners including: Delta, AeroMexico, Air Canada, Alitalia, ANA, British Airways, Air France/KLM, Frontier, Hawaiian, Iberia, JetBlue Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin America. Under a recent promotion, you could earn 1.5 British Airways Avios points for every Membership Reward Point transferred. Hence, the bonus points earned actually became 37,500 British Airways Avios miles.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
- Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
- 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
- Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees
Welcome Offer: Earn up to 60,000 bonus miles. You earn 50,000 after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening, and another 10,000 miles after spending a total of $10,000 within 12 months of account opening.
Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.
My Comment: Card allows for priority boarding, one free checked bag plus discounts on in-flight food and beverage purchases. Offers 2X miles for some non-airline purchases like gasoline, rental cars as well as telecommunications expenses paid with the card.
This card has benefits similar to the Platinum Card from American Express below. You’ll receive a welcome bonus of 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months after opening your card. In addition, the card comes with access to both the American Airlines Admirals Club lounges (a new yearly membership would cost you $400-$500 from AA depending on your status) and Priority Pass Select lounges as well as a $100 Global Entry fee credit every five years. The card has some awesome bonus categories too including 3x points on airfare and hotel purchases and 2x points on dining and entertainment purchases. Points can be transferred 1:1 to Cathay Pacific, Singapore KrisFlyer, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Qantas, Thai Airways, EVA Air, Virgin Atlantic, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, and Hilton HHonors. Each year you’ll receive a $250 air travel credit which can be used on any airline for any type of charge (including airfare). Even cooler, you receive your fourth night free for all hotel stays…at any hotel. There are no foreign transaction fees with the card and ThankYou Points earned from the Citi Prestige Card can be applied toward airfare at 1.6 cents per dollar (60% more value) on flights with American Airlines and at 1.33 cents per dollar (33% more value) on flights with all other airlines. Cardmembers receive special benefits at Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons hotels as well when booking via Citi’s travel concierge. Now the fee…it’s $450 and not waived the first year. Though, if you take into account the $250 air travel credit, the $100 global entry credit, and the AA Admirals Club benefits, it’s quite an enticing offer.
This card is sort of the Citi version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Upon approval, you’ll receive a sign-up bonus of 40,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card is all about the spend categories…you’ll earn 3x points on travel purchases (airfare, taxis, train, bus, parking, and gas) and 2x points on dining and entertainment transactions. Points can be transferred 1:1 to Cathay Pacific, Singapore KrisFlyer, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Qantas, Thai Airways, EVA Air, Virgin Atlantic, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, and Hilton HHonors. When using the Citi ThankYou travel booking portal (thankyou.com), your points are worth 25% more when redeemed for airfare, hotels, and other travel purchases. There is no annual fee for the first year and a $95 fee thereafter. The card has no foreign transaction fees.
Family Time Credit Card Applications? See here for tips on tracking, providing spending guidance to parents and loved ones, and why your continued involvement is so important when making this a family event!
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