Compare The Best Rewards Credit Cards 2021

Tens of millions of Americans miss out on extraordinary opportunities to get valuable benefits by putting their spend on credit cards that work for them.

Those who enjoy travel should consider opening a travel rewards card that can earn hotel points, such as the World of Hyatt card or airline miles, such as the United Club Infiniti card. Some of favorite cards, however, earn transferable points that can be transferred to an airline or hotel program or redeemed for cash credits later. These cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the American Express Platinum card.

You can compare all of the best travel rewards cards here.

Many Americans who don’t aspire to travel or who want immediate cash back will prefer to use cash back cards. You can learn more about cash back cards here where we compare the best cash back cards including the Chase Freedom Unlimited card and the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card.

Small business owners and some non-small business owners should consider small business cards here. Some small business cards offer - such as the Chase Ink Business Cash card and the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express offer such compelling value that they should be considered by those who may not have a business but are trying to segregate business expenses (although the may not offer the same purchase protection as personal cards).

BestCashCow examines the value of each loyalty program here.

As you try to decide which card is best for your practices and interest, we have developed this handy tool below that enables you to explore which cards may be most valuable to you based on your estimated annual spend and your objectives. Please have a look.

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Five Realities About Earning Hotel and Airline Points in the Post Pandemic World

BestCashCow launched its section on travel rewards and cash back cards a few years ago.   We have always aimed to provide insightful information for credit card users about how to maximize the rewards you receive on your credit card spend.

I myself am older than most of the youngsters running blogs designed to tell flippers how to flip cards for signing bonuses.  Our advice, therefore, is not for flippers or those willing to abuse they system.   It is realistic advice for how to approach points and miles from years of following this area and seeing its changes and evaluating the post-pandemic travel and credit cards landscape.   So, here are five general things we see and some strategies around them. 

1.   Chase is the best credit card issuer.   Amex is a close second.   Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One and Citibank have rewards programs and partners that are attractive, but I think that customers need to understand that they are getting an entirely different level of service when you open a credit card account with one of these banks.  If you are going to be traveling in Africa or Latin America or Southeast Asia, you want to have a Chase Reserve or an Amex Platinum card in your wallet, and not someone else’s card.

2.  American Airlines has the best airline loyalty program among the US airlines and you can rack up a ton of American points through opening Citibank and Barclays personal and business cards.   If you are a flipper, this is a great deal, but it is such a waste or time and energy that most people shouldn’t bother with this.  An easier way to rack up American Airlines miles is to open a Bask Bank account that gives you 1 mile for every dollar you keep on deposit every year.   That also enables you to open more flexible cards, cards with more valuable sign-up bonuses and to stay below Chase’s rule that you can only open 5 personal cards every 24 months (Chase’s 5-24 rules).

Compare sign-up bonuses here.

Learn More about Bask Bank here.

3.  When flying, you are most likely going to get the most value redeeming points only for long-haul business class fares.   I view points and miles as aspirational, and use them to enjoy a class of service that I might not be able to otherwise afford.   Flying business class between New York and Southeast Asia on Singapore in Business Class is extremely expensive, but using points transferrable from Chase, Amex, Citibank (or Brex) makes a family trip there realistic and achieves tremendous value from the points.   One exception to this rule is British Airways (also a Chase, Amex and Citibank transfer partner) where great value can often be achieved through redemptions on short-haul travel on partner airlines (American in the US, Cathay, Qantas or JAL in Asia, Iberia or Finnair in Europe). 

4.   Hotel programs, other than Hyatt, have become largely worthless.   Radisson may be doing something with their program, but it will unlikely ever have the value that it had a decade ago.   And, unfortunately, Arne Sorensen’s legacy was to kill any loyalty value in Marriott and Sheraton.  And, the French failed to understand the loyalty that Fairmont had (expiring Club Accor miles in the middle of a pandemic was ridiculous).   Hilton and IHG never had programs to speak of.   If you seek to convert your spend to hotel points, you should focus on Hyatt or Chase points (convertible to Hyatt points), but there is no other hotel chain that seems to value your loyalty at the moment.

Compare travel and reward cards here. 

5.   You might not be traveling as much in the post-pandemic world.   Unless you really see yourself traveling on trips where you can get more than 2 cents per point in value from your points, you may want to consider cash back cards.   The Bank of America Premium Rewards card, for example, gives 2.625% cash back to those with $100,000 in assets at Bank of America or Merrill Lynch.   Unless you are traveling a lot and actively seeking out great redemption values for your points, you might have a hard time extracting as much value from your airline and hotel points.

Compare cash back cards here.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Advertising Disclosure: This site may be compensated for hosting offers.

American Express Platinum Card – The Greatest Opportunity Ever or Time for a Pause?

For years, the Amex Platinum card has been one of the most premium travel rewards credit cards accessible without an invitation.    The Platinum card has offered access, exclusivity, privileges and protections to those customers willing to pay its $550 annual fee.   This annual fee could be almost entirely offset by a $200 air travel incidental credit, $200 in annual Uber credits ($15 monthly, plus an additional $20 in December) and a $100 Saks credit ($50 semi-annually).   

As a result of COVID-19 and the disruption in travel which impairs some of the travel benefits, American Express has added a $20 a month U.S. wireless service credit and a $20 a month U.S. streaming service credit through December 31, 2020.  These $40 monthly credits now make it possible for penny pinchers to justify owning a premium credit card with the certainty of the card effectively paying for itself in benefits (plus they can get a 60,000 point Welcome Bonus after spending $5,000 within 3 months).

On the other hand, loyal cardholders and who travel extensively are being forced by COVID-19 to question the card’s continuing value.

Prior to COVID-19 the value was unquestionable.   Even though other premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer Global Entry and better Priority Pass access, the Platinum card still has valuable perks.    It offers 5x the Membership Rewards points for air travel booked directly though the airlines and through Amex travel.   I have benefitted from the Fine Hotels and Resorts program and from knowing that Amex has great travel insurance coverage should I find myself in a bind in a foreign country.   And, the lounge access is unparalleled.   Last year, my Platinum card paid for itself when I spent the day at the Centurion Lounge in the Hong Kong Airport when student protests prevented my daughter and me from traveling downtown during a stopover from Osaka to Hanoi.   

But, while I have always been the target customer of the Amex Platinum for its travel benefits, I have never been a fan of subscription services that tries to cross-sell products that I may need in order to cover the cost of the subscription.   Even where the value is apparent (as it is here), I just waste too much time trying to find value and hence these things become a burden.  

I will definitely want the Platinum card again when I can use its great travel benefits.   But, it might be a while before we are traveling again.   With my membership up for renewal and with the value today being transformed into credits here and there, I have decided to give it a break.

Compare all travel rewards credit cards here.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Advertising Disclosure: This site may be compensated for hosting offers.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus Additional Cardholder Benefits for Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Chase, Amex and Citibank have announced the supplemental benefits for holders of their travel rewards cards.   They are as follows:

Chase

Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card will earn 5 points per dollar and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will earn 3 points per dollar on grocery store spend in May and June to a maximum spend of $1,500 each month.  This promotion includes groceries delivered through services like Instacart, but does not include grocery purchases from Costco and other big box retailers.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Chase’s Marriott card will earn 6x Marriott point per dollar on grocery store spend in May and June to a maximum spend of $5,000 each month.  This promotion includes groceries delivered through services like Instacart, but does not include grocery purchases from Costco and other big box retailers.

United Club Infinite Card and United Explorer Card

Chase’s new United Infinite card will earn 5x United MileagePlus miles per dollar on grocery store spend in May and June to a maximum spend of $1,500 each month.  This United Explorer card will earn 3x United Mileage Plus miles.  This promotion includes groceries delivered through services like Instacart, but does not include grocery purchases from Costco and other big box retailers.

British Airways Visa Signature Card

Chase’s British Airways card will earn 3x Avios miles per dollar on grocery store spend in May and June to a maximum spend of $1,500 each month. 

World of Hyatt Card

Chase’s World of Hyatt card and all legacy Hyatt cards will earn 3x Hyatt miles per dollar on grocery store spend in May and June to a maximum spend of $1,500 each month. 

American Express

The Platinum Card

Amex Platinum Card holders now receive up to $20 back in statement credits each month when they use their Card for select U.S. streaming subscriptions through 12/31/20, and up to $20 back in statement credits each month when they use their Card for wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. carriers through 12/31/20.

American Express will be giving personal Platinum card members a statement credit up to $200 for spend with American Express Travel, valid August 2020 through December 2021 for card members whose cards are up for renewal after March 31, 2020.   This benefit is designed to offset the loss of use of the $200 incidental travel benefit that the card ordinarily carries.   Some cardholders who call Amex have reported being offered the following benefits for payment of their $550 annual as an alternative to this $200 Amex Travel credit: a $300 credit after spending $2,000 or 30,000 membership rewards.

American Express Business Platinum Card

American Express is extended to Business Platinum cardholders the same credits for U.S. streaming subscriptions and U.S. wireless telephone services as are offered for personal Platinum cardholders above.   To those card holders whose accounts are up for renewal after March 31, 2000, it is offering $200 in additional Dell statement credits: $100 in additional statement credits from May 1 – June 30, 2020 and $100 in additional statement credits from July 1 – December 31, 2020.  Does Dell still make anything anyone would otherwise want to buy?

American Express Centurion (Black Card)

American Express will be giving Centurion cardmembers a statement credit up to $2,000 for spend with American Express Travel, valid August 2020 through December 2021 for cardmembers whose cards are up for renewal after March 31, 2020.  

American Express Green Card

Amex Green Card holders now receive up to $10 back in statement credits each month when they use their Card for wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. carriers through 12/31/20.

American Express Delta Cards

All American Express Delta cards are giving 4x miles per dollar spent at all U.S. supermarkets until July 31, 2020.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card

The $300 Marriott statement credit can now be used for purchases at US restaurants (including takeout and delivery) between June 1 and August 31, 2020.   This card is also offering 6x Marriott points on U.S. supermarket spend (up to $7,500) until December 31, 2020.

Hilton Aspire Card

The $250 Hilton resort credit can be used for purchases at US restaurants (including takeout and delivery) between June 1 and August 31, 2020.   The card is also offering 12x Hilton points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets at U.S. supermarkets until July 31, 2020.

Citibank

Citi ThankYou® Premier CardCiti Prestige® CardCiti American Airlines® Advantage Platinum Select World Mastercard®, CitiBusiness® AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Credit Card

New cardholders who applied for a Citibank credit card between Dec. 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, will get an additional three months to meet the sign-on bonus spending requirement. You'll get a total of six months to meet the bonus if you applied (or will apply) between those dates.

Citi American Airlines® Advantage Executive Card

Cardholders whose cards are up for renewal after March 31, 2020 are being offered a $225 one-time statement credit.   The statement credit accounts for half of the annual fee, and is designed to offset the loss of access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges.

Find and compare travel and rewards credit cards here.

 

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Advertising Disclosure: This site may be compensated for hosting offers.