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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. He 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. It combines What’s In My Wallet, as well as the favorite cards from other Point Me contributors. 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.
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 calendar year in purchases, then 1X) while earning 3x points on airfare booked directly with airlines. You will also receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within 6 months. There is an annual fee of $250 (See Rates & Fees), but most of it is a wash when you consider 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 double the standard 30,000 Membership Rewards points public 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.
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.
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 75,000 Membership Rewards points after $5000 in purchases in the first 6 months of card opening
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here
The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy complimentary 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 through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That’s an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- Pay Over Time Option: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
- 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 Barclays’s restrictions apply 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 it offers lounge access for the cardholder, authorized users, as well as two guests or immediate family members. Card also features priority boarding and the one free checked bag like the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
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.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
- 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
- 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
- Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
- Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- $95 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
Citigroup actually beat Chase to the premium credit card market, launching the Citi Prestige card in 20XX to compete with Amex’s Platinum Card.
With a fee of $450, the Prestige offered may similar benefits including access to American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs. However, some perks have since rolled back and rumors have circulated that Citi may stop issuing new Prestige cards in the future.
The Prestige sits atop a similar lineup of cards, however, all tied into Citi’s unique and very flexible ThankYou Rewards program. Citi partners with quite a few interesting airline partners that neither American Express nor Chase cardholders have access to, including Jet Airways JetPrivilege, Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles, and Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Citi’s no-fee card comes with access to some, but not all of Citi’s ThankYou Rewards travel perks. Points can be transferred to JetBlue Airways, or used to pay for travel through Citi’s travel portal at a rate of 1¢ per point.
Preferred cardholders earn two ThankYou points per dollar spent on dining and travel categories and one point per dollar on everything else.
The Citi ThankYou Preferred includes basic travel accident insurance, secondary auto rental insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation insurance, price protection and purchase protection.
For a no-fee travel card, the perks are impressive, though it’s necessary to step up a notch if you want to transfer points to most of Citi’s airline and hotel partners.
Citi ThankYou Premier Card – $95 (waived first year)
For a $95 card, ThankYou Premier offers unparalleled points earning. Cardholders earn three points per dollar spent on travel and gas stations and double points on dining and entertainment categories. That is an exceptionally broad swath of bonus earning categories.
Premier cardholders have 15 airline frequent flyer programs they can transfer points to, and Citi often offers transfer bonuses on airline programs like Air France Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Premier comes with most of the same travel perks as the Preferred card and allows travelers to make international purchases without incurring foreign transaction fees. Unlike Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi ThankYou Premier comes with secondary — not primary — rental car coverage.
For the sake of this comparison, I will also count Citi ThankYou points at 1.5¢ per point, although some would argue that increased transfer times to some Citi partners makes the points less flexible and in turn less valuable.
With 3x earning on travel and gas, however, it’s easy to break even on this card: $2,200 of spend in either of these categories will pay off at the 1.5¢ per point rate.
Citi’s top-flight Prestige was once second to Amex Platinum in terms of perks. It has since fallen, as Citi ended its relationship with American Airlines Admirals Clubs, leaving Prestige cardholders with the same Priority Pass benefit that Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders enjoy.
There are some unique perks that come with prestige. Every fourth hotel night booked through the ThankYou Travel Portal is free — and those hotel stays are still eligible for triple points earning. The earning profile is slightly different than Citi Premier. Prestige cardholders earn triple points on travel and hotels, but not gas, and double points on dining and entertainment.
Similar to its competitors, the Prestige card includes a $250 travel credit that applies automatically, helping offset the fee. Citi also operates a luxury concierge for Prestige cardholders.
Other benefits include $75,000 in rental car coverage and an extension of the price rewind and loss and damage protection also included with the Premier card.
Like Chase, Citi has recently scaled back some of its price protection, car insurance and loss and damage protection benefits.
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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