Everyday I get asked this question and the simple answer is: YOU NEED MORE THAN ONE.
WARNING: Your credit rating is a very valuable asset, so be extremely careful applying for credit cards.
The reason I like travel reward credit cards is that they act as a forced savings account for me. I can’t spend the reward until I have enough points to do so. With cashback credit cards, you get a credit on your statement every month or a small check every once in a while and then just spend it on stuff you can’t even remember 30 days later. I need a plan, a goal… a DESTINATION.
But I regularly use 4 credit cards. Here they are and why I use them.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Card by American Express: This card is voted #1 year after year by frequent travelers for its richness of award options. We talked about this as being the strength of the Starwood Hotel program as the points can be converted into airline miles on numerous airlines with a 5K point bonus when redeeming 20K point blocks. There is a cash and points program with Starwood that allows for hotel redemptions at reduced point levels with cash copays. And Starwood Hotels have no blackout dates. Every Starpoint you earn is worth between 2.75 and 3.5 cents. The current signup bonus is 10,000 Starpoints each for both the personal and business card.
The next three cards are all part of the CitiCards Program and tied in with the Thank You Point Network. Thank You Points are redeemable for travel, household items, gift cards, credit card statements credits, student loan payments even cash. Do a google search of “thank you point network” to see how extensive this program is and the number of ways you can earn points. You can combine varies earning capabilities into one Thank You Point account, thereby increasing the speed of your earnings. You should investigate this program. I like it for travel rewards because I earn Thank You Points at an accelerated rate based on my credit card usage, and the travel value per point earned. Here are the three cards I use from Citicards.
- Citicard Professional Card with TY Points: pays 3 points per dollar spent at restaurants and several other minor to me categories. We eat out and I get real value from this card.
- Citicard Driver’s Edge Card with TY Points: I earn 6 TY Points per dollar at gas stations, drugstores and grocery stores PLUS I get 6 more TY Points for every mile I drive my car with a max of 50K per year. That is 12 times better than your normal credit card earn.
- Citicard Premier Pass Elite Card with TY Points: I use this card for everything else I buy and particularly when purchasing airline tickets for myself, wife, friends, children and all strangers that pay me cash to put the ticket purchase on my credit card. Here is why: When I buy an airline ticket from say New York to San Francisco I may pay $250 and get a 250 point purchase credit. I also get flight point credits equal to the number of miles flown. New York to San Francisco is about 2500 miles one way so that round trip ticket when flown will also give me 5,000 flight points. I earn and capture my flight points with corresponding purchase points. So if I spend $5000 on my credit card I get 10,000 TY Points by capturing my flight points. It might sound confusing now, but think of earning travel at a much faster rate than $1 earns 1 point, and it takes 25,000 points to get a free ticket.
With these three Citicards you are earning, 2, 3, 6 or 12 points per $ instead of the old fashion $1 equals 1 point.
And they offer great sign up bonuses of 10,000-15,000 Thank You Points per sign up.
You would think a travel nut would be using airline affiliated credit cards wouldn’t you. This is is much better way.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Annual Fee: $95 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Bank
The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on dining and travel, and no foreign transaction fees, making this the go-to card for travelers.
This card accumulates Ultimate Rewards points, which are very valuable for transfer to United and Hyatt. Overall, this card is a great choice for maximizing earnings on dining, travel, and every day spend.
- Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate RewardsSM
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
- No foreign transaction fees, plus Chip and Signature enabled for international travel.
- 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value — that means 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points.
- 24/7 direct access to dedicated customer service specialists
- Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95