Many people aim to accumulate credit card rewards by traveling on specific airlines and being loyal to certain hotel chains. However, the best way to rack up air miles and hotel points is actually by opening specific branded cards. Here are the five cards to consider:
Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card gives 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points upon signup that can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to either United or British Airways (or certain other airlines or hotels), does not have an annual fee in the first year, and has no foreign exchange fees. In addition, you receive a 7% points dividend at the end of the year and receive 2x points per dollar spent on dining and travel. Chase also offers a United Airlines card that offers 40,000 United miles without an annual fee in the first year and gives certain advantages over the Sapphire card when used on United, but has foreign exchange fees.
Citi ThankYou Premier. This card gives 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 within 3 months. Unlike the Sapphire Card, these points cannot be transferred to hotels or airlines, but they can be used to book airfare at 1.33 cents a point, or $665 in airfare. One advantage is that you will get miles and credit towards elite status for tickets booked with Citi ThankYou points. Those who have a particular allegiance towards American Airlines may find a Citibank American Airlines card to be attractive: it offers 40,000 American AAdvantage points for signing up and often has a lower spend requirement.
British Airways Chase Visa. If you anticipate big charges to your card, the British Airways Chase Visa offers a current sign up bonus of 50,000 British Airways Avios after your first purchase, and 25,000 more if you spend $10,000 or 50,000 if you spend $20,000 within a year. In addition, if you spend $30,000 within a year, you receive a free companion ticket on British Airways that can be used in the same class of service as the ticket that you book or redeem. A principle advantage of this card is that it does not have foreign exchange fees. While British Airways has high redemption fees, its Avios points can also be used on their partners, including American, Cathay Pacific and Iberia. The card carries a $95 annual fee.
Starwood American Express Card. With a current sign up bonus of 25,000 points, this card provides users with free nights at all of Starwood’s over 1,000 hotels worldwide (operated under the Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, Four Points, W Hotels and Aloft brands). Starpoints are valuable for hotel redemptions and discounts (through a cash & points option), or can be transferred to many airlines including Delta and British Airways for a 25% mileage premium. The $65 annual fee is waived the first year.
Chase Hyatt Visa. This card gives new cardholders 2 free nights in any Hyatt property, including Park Hyatts, and renewing cardholders 1 free night in a Category 1 to 4 hotel. Unlike the Starwood card, the card’s annual fee ($75) is not waived in the first year, but the card does not carry foreign transaction fees.
These are just some of the many ways to accumulate travel rewards through holding certain credit cards. For a closer examination of the right credit card for you, please visit this page.