Compare The Best Rewards Credit Cards 2019

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®
Citi Prestige Card (Revamped for 2019)
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Barclays Study Suggests Amex Platinum Card Falling Behind Competitors

American Express recently announced changes to its flagship credit card product.  The Platinum Card ®, which recently began giving 5x points per dollar spent directly on airlines, will now also offer 5x points per dollar spent at hotels when booked through Amex travel, and a $200 annual Uber credit.  The annual fee is rising from $450 a year to $550.

A recent Barclays credit card use study suggests that these changes are still not strong enough to for Amex to remain competitive with Citibank’s Prestige card and Chase’s Sapphire Reserve card.

The Barclays study assumes an average customer earning $150,000 a year and uses government data on average household spending across different categories to estimate which card offers best rewards.

The study suggests that the Amex Platinum card now delivers an effective rewards rate per dollar of 1.48% (up from 1.22%) whereas the Citi Prestige cards delivers 1.78% and the Chase Sapphire Reserve 2.06%.

The Barclays study, in our view, is flawed on at least three levels.  First, it fails to identify how the rewards rate is calculated (for example, while all points are transferable to Singapore, Amex points remain transferrable to British Airways and Delta which may allow a more valuable redemption than Citibank points which are not).  Second, it fails to account for the fact that most cardholders have two or more cards in their wallet and spend according to category bonuses; Amex is arguably more valuable than the other cards to those who travel because of the 4x and 5x categories (Citi and Chase have only 2x and 3x categories).   The use of, say, an Amex Platinum card, coupled with the use of a Chase Freedom Unlimited card (which offers 1.50% cash back or 1.5x transferrable points on a spend that can be worth well over 3 cents per dollar at Hyatt, enables a customer to generate far more valuable rewards than Prestige or Sapphire Reserve alone.  Third, the study fails to take into account other factors, including service and purchase protection.  To many, Amex continues to be the gold standard in purchase protection and in resolving disputes with vendors.

It is, therefore, BestCashCow’s position that, while Prestige and Sapphire Reserve are both very compelling and while Chase has significantly better transfer flexibility than Amex, the Platinum card is an important tool in a strong travel rewards strategy.

See the best cards for racking up travel rewards 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.

Is the Credit Card Flipping Game Ending?

The game of flipping credit cards to earn free travel may be nearing an end.

Here is why.   There is talk in Washington that the Republican legislature may seek to limit the interchange fees that credit card companies can charge to small vendors, and to peel back legislation that previously forbade offering a discount for cash payments.  These actions would significantly limit the ability of credit card issuers to become profitable quickly with virtually each new cardholder.

JP Morgan Chase, the largest credit card issuer in the US, is already limiting the ability of cardholders to flip cards through its 5-24 rule.  As we discussed in this article, the rule is being applied with a heavy hand, regardless of the number of transactions, number of business cards or other transactions that you conduct with bank.  Chase has control of many of the most attractive areas of this market and driven this market.  Its actions would seem to indicate that, even without legislative change, it may not be so easy to rack up travel rewards through just quickly flipping credit cards going forward.

See the best credit card sign up bonuses.

As the game ends, or at least gets a little more challenging, it is time to look at the best strategy for continuing to maximize the money you receive from your credit card usage, and to plan to keep the cards that work best for you and your needs while discarding those where your recurring spend may not work as well.

See the best credit travel and reward cards for recurring spend.

As you do that, here are some things that I recommend.

First, consider going back to what you were doing before you started the flipping game.  For me, the Starwood card provided the most value for more than 2 decades.  While Amex only lets you get the sign up bonus twice (once for a personal account and once for a business account), the points have always had real value, arguably even more now that they are convertible to Marriott points at 3 to 1.

Second, look at those cards that provide added value over the long term.  The Amex Platinum card provides all sorts of purchase protection that other cards do not offer, the Chase Sapphire cards offer better liability protection for rental cars, and the Citi Prestige card offers a fourth night free on hotels booked through the card’s service center.  These cards have hefty fees, but may be worth renewing if the value is there. And, importantly, you probably should not cancel them with the intent of getting them again later for a new bonus, as that may no longer be possible soon.

Third, consider those cards that give you the most flexibility.  In our view the cards that provide the most flexibility are the Barclays Arrival World Elite Mastercard which sets your redemption value at 2.10%. and the Bank Americard Travel Rewards Credit Card which sets your redemption value at 2.625% and requires that you have $100,000 on deposit with either Bank America or Merrill Lynch.  Among the major point earning programs, Chase gives you the most flexibility and when you are done flipping, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is well worth a look.  It provides you with 1.5 points on every dollar spent, and those points can be transferred to a host of great travel partners so long as you also maintain a Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus account. 

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.

Have You Been Rejected for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Because of the 5-24 Rule?

Chase has been forcefully implementing a new rule designed to stop people from churning credit cards.  The rule, known as the 5-24 rule, bars people from getting a new point-earning credit card if they have applied for more than 5 credit cards in the last 24 months.  The rule applies to credit cards received not just from Chase, but from all credit card issuers.   The rule currently applies to all Chase Sapphire products, Chase Ink products and Chase Freedom products.  It does not apply at present to other Chase-branded cards such as the United card, the Fairmont card, the Hyatt card and their Marriott and Ritz Carlton cards.

BestCashCow thinks that Chase’s 5-24 rule is entirely misguided.   As it applies universally to all customers, including those who have records of having spent thousands monthly through Chase products, it prevents their most loyal and highest spending customers from upgrading to their new products.   These customers are then driven to competing products, such as the American Express Platinum card and the Citibank Prestige card, in order to take advantage of the higher level of service that Chase is now offering.   Because it applies to business cards as well as personal cards, the rule disproportionately discriminates against small business owners and entrepreneurs, many of whom need to frequently open multiple cards at once for accounting and legal purposes.

Quite oddly, Chase’s entire marketing strategy for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is to advertise on Bankrate’s ThePointsGuy website, a website which is designed to advise young kids in their 20s how to effectively rack up tons of points and miles through flipping credit cards.  Essentially, Chase has given Bankrate a present which will have unintended consequences for them (similar to Putin’s decision to undermine the US election system and install Donald Trump as President).  In the case of Chase, they are attracting those customers who have not demonstrated loyalty in other Chase product offerings and who present a much higher credit risk than those in their 30s and up who they should be attracting for this product. 

Nevertheless, the reality is that if you apply for this product and are rejected, you have very little recourse.  Your first line of recourse to get them to make an exception is to call the Chase Credit Card reconsideration line at 888-270-2127 (the Business Credit card reconsideration line is 800-453-9719).   The Chase credit analysts who answer the phone may not change the outcome of your application, but they will inform you how many cards Chase has a record of you having applied for in the last two years and when you will be eligible to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

If you visit a branch to seek reconsideration for your application, you will be encouraged to apply for a Chase Private Client account.  These accounts require $250,000 to qualify and are part of Chase’s latest bank-wide efforts to get into the money management business and compete on some level with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.   Even if you have the ability to do this, you may want to pause and consider the following:

  1. Anecdotal evidence is that Chase’s Private Client system isn’t tied to their credit card system.  While Bankrate’s ThePoints guy brags of having defeated the 5-24 rule through his having a Chase Private Client account, plenty of customers are opening these accounts and then getting rejected a second time for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
  2. The benefits of the Private Client account really do not justify having the account.  While Chase offers these clients free ATMs, no foreign currency exchange fees, a free safe deposit box, free checks and free money orders, these services do not compete with the access and services that Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley provide.  
  3. If you are moving $250,000 in cash to qualify for Chase’s Private Client status, your cash will be earning 0.05% or less at Chase.  That same cash deposited at one of the leading online banks will earn over 1%.  Hence, you will be foregoing over $2,500 a year in interest.  See the best savings rates here.   (Note: You can also transfer assets in kind to Chase to obtain Private Client status).

In short, if you get rejected for Chase Sapphire Reserve, you should fear not and take a look at the other great cards you can get:

Find the best credit cards for travel sign up bonuses

Find the best credit cards for travel rewards

Find the best business credit cards for travel rewards

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.