Home / BLOG / How to Pick the Most ‘Rewarding’ Credit Card

Jun 18th

2017

By Jim Bendt

Posted in Travel Advice
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We are commonly asked which credit cards on the market offer the best travel rewards.  With so many card options, how do you choose?  While each of us has different preferences, we thought it might be helpful to share the top three credit cards you’ll find in our wallets at Pique Travel Design:

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card:

Having a Visa card is ‘a must’ for those who travel internationally.  Why?  Visa is universally accepted in more than 200 countries (versus 140 for American Express).  The Visa card is also the preferred choice of local merchants because of its lower processing fee, which is why many local shops don’t accept American Express.

Chase offers the best of both worlds.  Great travel benefits that rival American Express and the peace of mind knowing you can use the card while traveling.  The annual fee is $450 but with a $300 Annual Travel Credit your true cost is $150, which you’ll quickly recoup with these travel benefits:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Pay no foreign transaction fees when you use your card on purchases made outside the United States. For example, if you spend $5,000 internationally, you would avoid approximately $150 in foreign transaction fees.
  • 3X Points on Travel Worldwide: Earn 3X points per $1 spent on travel from flights, cruise lines and hotels to car rentals, trains and taxis.
  • No Blackout Dates or Restrictions: No restrictions or blackout dates on airline tickets booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Redeem for tickets on most major airlines and fly any class. If a seat’s available, it’s yours.
  • Complimentary Airport Lounge Access: You and your authorized users can access 1,000+ VIP airport lounges worldwide with Priority Pass Select and enjoy lounge amenities such as Wi-Fi, free snacks and beverages.
  • Special Car Rental Privileges: Enjoy complimentary membership in premium rental car programs from National Car Rental, Avis and Silvercar.
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit: Receive a statement credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: If you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Purchase Protection: Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.

American Express Platinum Card:

American Express is the most well known when it comes to earning travel benefits.  They offer the most robust travel program, but it’s important to consider the network limitations when trying to use the card internationally.  American Express charges a $550 annual fee.  New members may receive 60,000 bonus miles after charging $5,000 in the first three months.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: There are no foreign transaction fees with your Platinum Card.
  • Uber Credits: Enjoy $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December, simply because you’re a Platinum Card Member. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit: Receive a statement credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
  • Complimentary Airport Lounge Access: With more than 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries and counting, the American Express Global Lounge Collection offers travelers more lounge options than any other card on the market. Enjoy the highest levels of luxury at any of their networks, The Centurion® Lounge and The International American Express lounges, or visit partners including Delta Sky Club® when flying Delta or a Priority Pass™ Select lounge once enrolled.
  • Airline Fee Credit: Feel free to check your bags or enjoy an in-flight meal. Select a qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 a year in statement credits when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card® account.
  • Special Partner Privileges: Enjoy complimentary membership with Starwood, Hilton and premium rental programs, including special upgrades and discounts.
  • Global Assist: When you travel more than 100 miles from home, you have 24/7 medical, legal, financial or other select emergency coordination and assistance services, including medical and legal referrals, passport replacement, cash wires and more. Card Members may be responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.
  • Transfer Points: With the Membership Rewards® program, you can use points for rewards from over 500 leading brands in travel, gift cards, merchandise, or entertainment. You can also transfer points to a selection of frequent traveler programs, including Delta’s SkyMiles® Program.
  • Global Dining: With the Global Dining Collection, you get special access to reservations and extraordinary experiences at restaurants that Platinum Card Members love, as well as the opportunity to meet some of your favorite chefs at exclusive culinary events.

Capital One Venture Card

If you’re looking for a lower cost Visa card with great travel benefits, Capital One is free the first year and then switches to a $59 annual fee.  New members may receive 40,000 bonus miles after charging $3,000 in the first three months.  Other travel benefits include:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Pay no foreign transaction fees when you use your card on purchases made outside the United States. For example, if you spend $5,000 internationally, you would avoid approximately $150 in foreign transaction fees.
  • 2X Points on all purchases: Earn 2X points per $1 spent on every purchase.  Not just travel purchases.
  • Purchase Eraser: Simply book your travel using your Capital One Rewards card. Then, use the Purchase Eraser feature to redeem your points and receive an account credit for the cost of your travel purchase.

If you’re thinking about changing or adding a credit card to earn more travel benefits, try to time it around a big purchase so you can take advantage of the upfront bonus offers.  Keep in mind the application process can take a couple weeks before your account is set up.

Travel perks are changing all the time.  To keep up on the latest news and offers you can visit ThePointsGuy.com.  If you’re juggling multiple reward programs and want to find a way to better organize your benefits, AwardWallet.com is another useful tool to explore.

Other Credit Cards With Travel Perks:

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Master Card – This is one of the best everyday credit cards because of its high general rewards rate, which applies to all purchases you make. The card rewards you with two miles for every $1 you charge to it. Additionally, the card offers a 2.1% Rewards Rate regardless of what you spend your money on. Other benefits include no Foreign Transaction Fees and the miles you earn can be used as travel statement credit – this qualifies you for an extra 5% points dividend. This card frequently has a 50,000-mile bonus so it would be beneficial to try to apply for it when that offer is available.
Citi Prestige – Cardholders earn three ThankYou points per dollar on air travel and hotels, two points per dollar on dining out and entertainment and one point per dollar on everything else. However, this card boasts some major travel benefits. Each year a $250 Air Travel Credit will automatically be applied to flight-related expenses charged to your card, including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more. Also, you can extend your trip with a complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4–consecutive night booking through the Citi Prestige® Concierge. Other benefits include: a $100 Global Entry application fee credit and access to hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass™ Select.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card – This card offers up to five Starpoints per $1 spent at participating SPG locations, two Starpoints per dollar at Marriott Rewards properties, and one Starpoint per dollar on all other purchases. Redeeming points for hotel stays at any one of the Starwood properties – Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, and the W – provides the most dollars per point.  Starpoints can also be transferred to more than two dozen frequent flier programs. Overall, the card’s high earning rate and flexible redemption make it a solid choice for frequent fliers and frequent hotel guests alike.

United Mileage – This card offers two miles per dollar on United purchases and one mile per dollar on everything else. Bonus travel benefits include enhanced award availability, priority boarding and a free checked bag for you and one companion when flying on United, plus two United Club passes each card member year. One of the standout features of these cards is the extra United award seat availability you get access to as a card member, so when you have one of these cards, it’s not unusual to be able to find award seats when non-card members can’t.

Delta Skymiles American Express – This card offers two miles per dollar on Delta purchases and one mile per dollar spent on everything else. Bonus travel benefits include a free first checked bag for you and up to eight people traveling on the same reservation, priority boarding on Delta flights and 20% savings when you use your card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases. This card frequently has a 60,000-mile bonus so it would be beneficial to try to apply for it when that offer is available.

Citi AAdvantage – The main benefits of this card are receiving 10% of your redeemed miles back (up to 10,000 miles each calendar year), a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases and access to reduced mileage awards. You also get preferred boarding and your first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling on the same reservation. This card frequently has a 60,000-mile bonus so it would be beneficial to try to apply for it when that offer is available.

Again, as you research which credit cards might be most beneficial to you or how to manage your rewards, please consult sites such as ThePointsGuy.com and AwardWallet.com.

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PIQUE Travel Design is a travel agency based in Minneapolis, Minnesota serving clients across the globe.