Compare The Best Rewards Credit Cards 2020

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Considering Delta One to Japan? Think Again

I recently flew Delta One from Minneapolis to Tokyo.   While I used to fly Delta all the time to Europe when it dominated routes from Atlanta and New York to Germany, Spain and Moscow, it has not been my airline of choice for many years.   Yet with all the hoopla around the new Delta One service with Delta being the first to offer a “private suite” with closing doors, I decided to give it a go on a recent trip to Asia.   I had plenty of Delta miles and at 90,000 points for a one-way ticket, it seemed to present fair value on an awards chart that hasn’t had much value for a long time.

The suite seemed comfortable and spacious and the service was excellent.   Delta always has some US flight attendants with tremendous attitudes, but their Japan-bound flights have some Japanese attendants who are excellent.    The seats seemed to me to lie completely flat (some other reviews that I have read suggested that they were not completely flat) and while they are narrower than the business class seats that the Asia carriers fly, I was able to get several hours of sound sleep lying flat on my back.     The door that makes the compartment a suite and provides some level of privacy from the aisle traffic (even though it can easily be looked over) was something that I really enjoyed throughout the flight.  

Where the Delta One product completely failed was as we were arriving in Tokyo and as I adjusted my seat to search for anything that I may have dropped over the previous eleven hours.   At that point, I looked at the floor to discover that I had been sitting in someone else’s filth for a half of a day.   There was food there that was old and crusted, including a Japanese roll that fell out when I adjusted the seat and that had to have been there through more than one cleaning round in Minneapolis or Tokyo.    The entire experience was so disgusting that it totally ruined the whole flight experience, and left me wondering how Delta can compete in the lucrative US – Asia market where their one-way seats routinely sell for $7,000 plus.  American customers may no longer expect clean planes, but Asian long-haul customers certainly still do.

All in all, Delta’s new first class product to Tokyo is fair to good, but they need to do a much better job adjusting and fully cleaning these lie flat seats when they turn their planes around.

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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Platinum Card Is No Longer Accepting Delta Gift Cards Against Airline Credits

American Express’s Platinum card once gave cardholders a $200 annual credit against airline purchases.   Several years ago, Amex “upgraded” its program by only applying the $200 annual credit against incidentals at a single airline that cardholders needed to specify beforehand.   Savvy cardholders realized from searches on the internet that they would continue to get the full credit by specifying Delta as their chosen airline and purchasing 4 gift cards of $50 each.   (There is also anecdotal evidence that this worked for American Airlines too, but with Delta, it was always certain).   As another new “upgrade” for 2019, Amex is no longer accepting Delta’s $50 gift card charges as an incidental and will charge you their full cost.

Amex seems to just be constantly “upgrading” the Platinum card such that it is becoming harder and harder to see its value against the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and the newly improved Citibank Prestige card.   It is especially remarkable since Amex used to bend over backwards to keep Platinum cardholders happy.

These days, they now charge $550 per year for the card (“upgraded” from $450) and give you small monthly Uber credits that are often not properly credited.   While access to United and American lounge access has been lost (and Delta is no limited to the cardholder only), you do have access to the Centurion lounges, but they are most likely to be more crowded than the terminal itself.   Plus, you may not always be given access and they won’t let in a single cardholder with more than one kid.

Platinum now offers 5 Mmebership Rewards points per dollar for travel booked directly with airlines, but as of January 4, 2019, that has been matched by the Citibank Prestige Card.   While the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card only offers 3 Chase Sapphire points per dollar on airlines, it provides better compensation in the event of a flight delay or cancellation.

Of course, Platinum still has their Fine Hotels and Resorts program that can be incredibly valuable, giving you a third or fourth night free and an upgrade to a suite.  But, if you don’t use that program, the Platinum card’s value is increasingly questionable.

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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Wall Street Journal Article Suggests that Banks Cannot Sustain Travel Reward Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

The Wall Street Journal started the year off with an interesting article that seems to say that the credit card flipping game is about to end.   It suggested that Chase – which controls many of the most valuable sign-up bonuses - can no longer offer the same bonuses for new cards when the card attrition rate is growing and when interchange fees are under pressure.  Interestingly, the article cites ThePointsGuy as Chase’s main source of new accounts while alluding to the fact (although not specifically stating) that ThePointsGuy is completely designed to help young and not particularly well-heeled cardholders maximize travel rewards.

Even were the credit card flipping game to end, the opportunity for individuals and couples to adopt a strategy to maximize rewards from their credit cards will continue to exist.  In fact, it will get still better in the short term, as many card issuers, including Amex and Citibank, have added new features and reward--earning opportunities to their premium products over the last several years.

Most interesting are the reader comments in the WSJ article, as they indicate that most people still do not take the time to analyze or estimate their credit card spend, nor to get the cards that give them the most valuable rewards.   BestCashCow’s credit card maximizer enables users to enter different spend categories and easily identify those travel rewards credit cards and those cash-back credit cards that provide the greatest value.

I’d also note that the WSJ article is not the first to suggest that the huge sign-up bonuses handed out by credit card companies aren’t sustainable.   Much the same has been written time and time again since the early part of the decade.   What makes this time different, however, is that Amex, Barclays and Citibank have all somehow managed to become less and less competitive with Chase on sign-up bonuses.  If Chase cuts back its sign-up bonuses, others will certainly follow and bonuses will become less and less attractive.

But, while competition in this sector continues, , you might want to take a look at all of the valuable travel sign-up bonuses that Chase, Amex, Citi, Barclays and others are still offering to try to attract your business.   We’ve boiled them down to one easy-to-use chart 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.