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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Years of Earning Points and Miles for My Credit Card Spend With Only a Few Regrets

I have been earning points and miles for my spend – all of my spend – for many, many years.   I know that I have played the system well, earning valuable hotel stays and airline tickets (and transferrable points) that have enabled me and my family to stay at places that I might not otherwise have been able to afford (or that I might have viewed as too costly) had I merely taken cash back for my spend.   There are very, very few regrets, but here are three.

Spending More Money for Points or Miles

Many times, I’ve been sucked into paying more to put something on my credit card rather than paying less in cash (each time I go to a gas station, for example) or rather than a direct withdrawal from my bank account (each time I use PayPal).   I’ve even paid estimated taxes with pay1040.com in order to get travel points on a credit card.   The truth is that unless you are working on getting to a promotional spend amount for a sign up bonus or to meet some sort of other spend threshold, it just doesn’t make sense to ever pay a premium to use your credit card.

Not Using My Point Balance before Devaluations or Expirations

Over the last decade virtually every airline has devalued their travel miles by making valuable redemptions both more costly and availability more restricted.   None has done this more than Delta which has virtually rendered its program worthless.   Since my Delta miles were largely accumulated through many years of loyalty when I lived in Russia and Spain (and not so much through credit cards), the program’s devaluation has been especially painful.   I regret now not having burned their miles as soon as I earned them, as I rarely find attractive redemption opportunities these days.

Devaluations of hotel points haven’t been as severe over the years as those of airline points, except for the Radisson Rewards devaluation three years ago. (At that time, the program was known as Club Carlson).   Three years ago, in an instant, the program moved from providing outstanding value at the Mayfair Hotel in London, where 50,000 points yielded two nights,to yielding only one night for 70,000 points.   On reflection, I should have used all my Radisson points at that hotel before the change, but I was concerned about spending too much time in a hotel where Putin had brought plutonium-210 through the lobby to poison Alexander Litvinenko a few years earlier.

Not Knowing the Benefits of A Credit Card

Some cards, like the Amex Platinum card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, have so many benefits that it is difficult to keep track of them.

The Platinum card gives holders Gold status at Starwood hotels which allows for late checkouts, ungraded rooms, and, until recently, free breakfasts.  I mistakenly failed to realize that Marriott was matching this status immediately after the merger, and stayed countless nights at Marriott where the benefits – especially the breakfast - would have been really nice to have.

Of course, my failure to get this right was probably more attributable to the fact that Amex representatives were consistently unable to answer simple questions about these benefits which I called.  I encountered similar frustrations when Chase’s representatives were unable to explain the Ralais & Chateaux benefits that they advertise (in fact,  Relais’s own customer support was based in Europe and was equally unfamiliar with benefit offers).

All in all, the regrets associated with using travel rewards credit cards have been few and the benefits many.

See the best sign-up bonuses.

See the most valuable travel credit cards for spend.

Explore the most valuable cards for your spend profile.

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.

4 Exciting New Travel Rewards Credit Card Offers in May 2018

May has already seen four exciting new travel rewards credit card offerings.   These are worth taking a look at for anyone who enjoys free travel and/or wants to maximize the value of their credit card spend.

  1. Chase’s New Marriott Rewards Credit Card

This new Chase card is offered in preparation for the full 3-to-1 integration of the Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest programs (following Marriott’s 2016 acquisition of the latter).  While the card is inferior to the 1 SPG points per dollar Amex card (3 Marriott points per dollar) that has been a staple of a good travel rewards credit card program, it is better than prior offerings by Chase for Marriott.  It has also been reported that following the full integration later this year, Amex will be allowed to maintain its SPG accounts, but will devalue its program to earn only 2 Marriott points per dollar spent.  Therefore, if you aim to rack up Marriott points, this will be your best bet.

Here are the details of the offer.   Get 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months of card membership.   Earn 2 points per dollar on all spend, 6 points per dollar at Starwood and Marriott programs.

The card also gives a free night award (up to a 35,000 Marriott point value) when you renew each year.   It carries a $95 annual fee (not waived the first year) and has no foreign exchange fees.

Some existing Chase Marriott card members will receive an offer to upgrade to this card.

I don’t have much to say about this card.   I was always a fan of the Starwood Preferred Guest program and held the Amex card for many years.  The 100,000 bonus Marriott points that this card offers (= 33,333 SPG) are slightly better than the sign up offer than most people got when they first got the Amex SPG card, but 2 Marriott points aren’t as good as the 3 that SPG was giving you all of these years.  With so many other cards offering more for your spend, this will be compelling for very few.

See the 20 best credit cards for spend.   Or, use our card maximizer tool to find the best card for your spend profile.

  1. Chase’s Freedom Unlimited Card Offering 3x On All Spend for your First Year

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card ordinarily offers 1.50x on all spend.   Since I can find redemption values of Chase points as high or higher than 2.40 cents a piece, I love racking up these points with this card.   But the card is essentially designed as a cash-back card and in order to get those types of values, you also need to have a Chase Sapphire card which will enable transfers to Hyatt, United, Singapore Krisflyer or British Airways and use it in conjunction with that card.   This strategy is fully explained here

For a limited time, Chase is offering new cardholders 3x on all spend in their first year.  If you can get 2.4 cents out of the points like I can, that is a return of over 7 cents per dollar spent on everything over your first year.   You’ll also get 15,000 Chase points for spending $500 in your first 3 months and the card has no annual fee.   This seems like a deal worth taking a look at.

And, the next two cards are small business cards, except you really don’t need to have a business to take advantage of these offers (learn more).

  1. Chase to Unveil New Ink Business Unlimited Card on May 20

This new card also offers 1.50x on all spend and has no annual fee and is therefore akin to the Freedom Unlimited card, described above.   However, the card gives a 50,000 Chase points sign-up bonus with your spend of $3,000 in the first 3 months.  Also like the Freedom Unlimited card, this is intended primarily as a cash back card and it isn’t available to existing Chase Ink card holders (although they can request a product change to it).    While the sign-up bonus isn’t as good as the Ink Business Preferred Card (that card offers 80,000 Chase points with a $5,000 spend), it doesn't have an annual fee.  It will also be preferable for those who have small business expense that ordinarily doesn’t qualify for one of the Ink Preferred’s spend categories (and therefore usually earn only 1 point per dollar on that card).   Unlike the Ink Preferred, you’ll need to have a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred in order to get your points to one of the valuable travel partners (Hyatt, United, Singapore).

  1. Barclays Raises AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard Sign-Up Bonus to 50,000 American Points

Barclays has been somewhat limited in terms of how and when they can promote their American Airlines products, but they did recently unveil a business card, and now they have raised the sign-up bonus for the card to 50,000 American AAdvantage points.  You’ll need only to make a single purchase on the card in your first 3 months in order to get the sign-up bonus.  The card carries a $95 fee that is not waived during the first year.

See all top 10 travel rewards business cards,  Or, use our card maximizer tool to find the best card for your spend profile.

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.

Hyatt Paris Madeline is Not a Bad Way to Use Your Chase Points in Paris

On my most recent trip to Paris, I stayed at both of the Park Hyatt Vendôme and Hyatt Paris Madeline.  I think that Hyatt points now represent the best value for hotel point redemptions in Paris, and perhaps in all of Europe.

I am a big fan of the Park Hyatt Vendôme.  This is where you want to stay in Paris.  The hotel is simply outstanding and elegant is a way that virtually no other hotel in the Hyatt family matches.   As a Hyatt category 7 hotel, you can stay there with 30,000 Hyatt points per night and Chase Thank You points transfer at a 1-to-1 ratio.   There are many ways to quickly rack up Chase points by pursuing a strategy involving two or more of their credit card products.  By redeeming these points at a hotel like the Park Hyatt Vendôme, where the paid rates start at $1200 a night, you can easily achieve greater than 4 cents in value per point by staying at the Vendôme.

But, the Park Hyatt is not always available for points, and when it isn’t, the Hyatt Paris Madeline is also a super sweet hotel offering a great place to redeem your Chase and Hyatt points.

Whereas rack rates are much lower than the Park Hyatt (around $400 a night) the Hyatt Paris Madeline is very elegant with a very pleasant lobby and more contemporary décor than the Park Hyatt.   The location on Boulevard Malshebes is not as prime, but it is close to Madeline and the Place de la Concorde.  It is a category 6 Hyatt, and at 25,000 points, you won’t be maximizing your value per point as you are with Park Hyatt, but you will still be achieving more than a penny and a half per point, and staying at a hotel that is very much nicer than most other luxury hotels in Paris.    

I have previously advocated using Starwood and even Radisson and Intercontinental points in Paris.   With the Marriott acquisition, I’d now prefer to hold my Starwood points for 7 night Point and Mile redemptions in Hawaii (Paris, though great, isn’t worthy of a 7 night stay).   Radisson has disposed of the nicest hotels in its Paris portfolio and killed their loyalty program over the last few years.   The Crowne Plaza at Place de la Republique, a once Holiday Inn, is a perfectly nice and inexpensive Intercontinental hotel, but not a great point value.   While it may be a reasonable place to stay for cash, it simply isn’t in the same category as the Hyatts.  

What both the Park Hyatt and the Hyatt Paris Madeline have done exceptionally well is keeping out the less than desireable ultra-wealthy that overwhelms a lot of the high end Paris and London hotels these days.   The Park Hyatt Vendôme does this through small male sculptures all over the place, and the Hyatt Paris Madeline does it through simply being understated.  The Churchill in London, also a Hyatt hotel, in juxtaposition to both Paris hotels, is a little more exotic and over the top.

See the best cards for racking up hotel and airline rewards points 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.