Compare The Best Rewards Credit Cards 2018

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
The American Express® Gold Card
Chase Freedom Unlimited® (when used in Conjunction with Ink or Sapphire)
World of Hyatt Card® by Chase®
DiscoverIT Miles Card (First Year Only)
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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.

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American Airlines and Marriott Are Each Now Playing the Loyalty Credit Card Game with 2 Partners – Outcomes Appear Different

American Airlines acquired US Air in 2015 and Marriott acquired Starwood in 2016, making each the largest US Airline and largest US hotel chain respectively.

It took years for them to fully integrate the loyalty program of their acquiree.   In the case of American Airlines, the loyalty program wasn’t the main reason for the acquisition (it was scale), but Marriott clearly acquired a better program than they had previously (and than they have now).

Both American Airlines and Marriott have now wound up with terms allowing the credit card partner of their acquiree to continue as a credit card partner, effectively creating two separate credit card partners competing for their loyalty customers.

American is now allowing both Citibank, its longtime incumbent credit card partner, and Barclays, which had serviced US Air, to issue personal and business American Airlines branded credit cards.   Barclays had been barred from issuing new cards for a while, but now gets exclusive access to market inside the airplanes and the airports (excluding Admirals Club which goes to Citi, along with the website, direct market channels, etc.).

In practice under the new American Airlines system, Barclays and Citibank are now competing against each other to provide the most valuable consumer card, the most valuable business card and the best signup bonuses.   American is winning - they are being rewarded for all of these new accounts at both Citibank and Barclays, and selling miles to both.   Customers also seem to be winning.   I was on a flight where a flight attendant told a passenger next to me to open both, and that means customers can get two products with separate features (for example, the Barclays Aviator cards give 3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars for every $25,000 in spend).   They are also getting access to better products with Citibank now offering a high end product in The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and a low end no-fee product in American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp? Card.

Marriott has also maintained both Chase, its incumbent credit card partner, and American Express, which had serviced Starwood, as credit card partners.  Their press releases indicate that Chase will be offering the standard Marriott card with  Amex offering higher end consumer cards and business cards.    Again, Marriott is probably something of a winner here – like American they are being rewarded for new accounts with both Amex and Chase and will be selling miles to both.  

However, unlike the case with American Airlines, consumers seem to be losers here, especially those who had been part of Amex’s exceptional successful and popular Starwood loyalty card products.   Those cards which had been the most valuable travel rewards credit cards since  the early 2000s until recently were debased at the beginning of this month.   Instead of continuing to provide one Starwood point per dollar, it will now only offer 2 Marriott points.   Since Marriott itself is applying a 1 to 3 conversion ratio, it means that the Starwood product will now produce 33% fewer points.   Likewise, the new Chase Marriott card is also giving only 2 Marriott points on non-Marriott spend which is more than it previously delivered, but still 33% less value that loyalty to Starwood had delivered through Amex.  In short, Marriott has not delivered an enhancement for credit card loyalty that it appeared that they might when they instituted a 1 Starwood to 3 Marriott conversion ratio.   They recognized that Starwood was a better program, but then set out to destroy it, and are now making their own program less valuable through devaluations and removal of their 7 Night Hotel And Air Packages.  

Find the best travel rewards credit card for your spend profile 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.

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Very Questionable Financial Judgment

Within the last 24 hours, there has been a lot of analysis of required financial disclosures around Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

It is clear that Judge Kavanaugh, together with his wife, has a positive net worth of over $1 million between the equity in their Chevy Chase home, their retirement accounts and their savings accounts.   I personally believe that this is a fair net worth estimate for a Federal Judge who has never worked in private practice.

What I find difficult to fathom is that these same disclosures revealed that he held credit card debt between $15,000 and $50,000 on each of three credit cards at some point in 2017.  In other words, Judge Kavanaugh, at some point in time, held no less than $45,000 in credit card debt and probably much more.   Even if that debt was just transactional – in order to buy Washington Nationals tickets for his friends – it should have been paid off immediately and it was obviously carried for some length of time in order to require federal reporting.

Anyone who reads their credit card disclosures (anyone with a pulse) knows that the rate on credit card debt can easily be above 16%.  Those who are well versed in the law, as is Judge Kavanaugh, will know that such debt easily get as high as 36% without violating most States’ usury laws, and as outlined in the Credit Card Act of 2009 or Marquette National Bank versus First Omaha Corp.

To be clear, credit cards should be used as a financial instrument to generate rewards, particularly travel rewards, and balances should always be paid off by the payment date.  

Find the best credit card sign-up bonuses here.

Find the most valuable credit cards for your spend profile here.

But individuals or couples with a positive net worth of $1 million, especially those who own a home, should not be carrying credit card debt on their credit cards.   Instead, they should look at home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, auto loans or even personal loans for the liquidity required to avoid even a single interest payment at a rate which anyone of sound financial judgment would easily determine to be absurd.

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.

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Chase Makes the Hyatt Card A Sensible Alternative to Sapphire Reserve

BestCashCow has been a big fan of the Hyatt program for many, many years.   We’ve always viewed Hyatt points as among the most valuable points that you can accumulate for your credit card spend.  Historically, only your spend on the Starwood card or the Fairmont card can produce more valuable hotel points (and those cards are now both being removed or adjusted downward in value).  See here how we value hotel points today.

The Hyatt card, however, has not really provided more value than several other Chase cards over the last few years, even to loyal Hyatt customers.   Until recently, it gave you only 40,000 Hyatt points for signing up and no more for your spend in any category than you would receive by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.   As Chase points earned through the Sapphire Reserve card as well as the Sapphire Preferred card and many other Chase cards are freely transferrable to Hyatt, there has been little reason to keep a Hyatt card in it your wallet.

Yesterday, Hyatt and Chase announced a revamped card that provides 60,000 Hyatt points for signing up (40,000 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and an additional 20,000 after spending a total of $6,000 in the first 6 months).   The categories have been changed so that the new card gives 4x the points at Hyatt (more than the 3x that the Reserve provides) as well as 2x for gym membership and ride sharing services (the Reserve only provides 1x here).   The new card, therefore, is one that you might want to keep next the Reserve in your wallet even after meeting the promotional spend.

If you have the old Hyatt card, your point earnings have not changed, although you may get an offer to upgrade to this card.  You could also cancel in and apply for the new card, although Chase only allows one sign-up bonus for all Hyatt cards every 24 months.  The new Hyatt card is not subject to Chase’s 5-24 rule.

Apply for the new Hyatt card here.

Use the BestCashCow credit card tool to find the most valuable travel rewards credit card for your spend profile 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.