Maximizing Credit Card Spend Part 2
- Part 1 – Small Purchases, Dining, and International Spend
- Part 2 – Hotels, Airlines, and Rental Cars
- Part 3 – Office Supplies, Groceries, Gas
- Part 4 – Department Stores & Summary
Generally, the best card to use at a hotel is one of the hotel’s own cards. If you’re staying at the Hilton, the Citi Hilton Reserve Card is going to be your best card as it offers 10 points per dollar at Hilton properties! No other card can offer you that amount of value even when you take into account the low value (0.6-0.7 CPP) of Hilton points. The Reserve card also offers no foreign transaction fees, which means that you can use it abroad as well! However, if you don’t stay at just one chain/family, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is my top recommendation. Not only does it offer 2X points at hotels, but it also gives a 7% annual dividend, meaning that each dollar spent at a hotel earns 2.14 points. As I’ve said before, Chase Ultimate Reward points are some of my favorites as they offer so much flexibility!
Similar to hotels, many times it is best to use an airline’s own credit card as a way to:
- Avoid baggage fees since many cards offer at least one bag free for the cardholder and a certain number of additional people
- Get extra benefits such as early boarding
- Decrease the number of miles needed for an award booking
While airline cards such as the US Airways Premier MasterCard and the Gold Delta SkyMiles card only offer double miles, the free baggage, and early boarding make it easy to recommend them for non-elites. For elite members who don’t need the extra benefits, a card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which offers 2.14X points on travel, would be recommended.
Another choice would be the Platinum American Express Card that offers lounge access and a $200 airline fee credit. The Platinum card allows cardholders to receive statement credits for expenses such as checked baggage fees, in-flight drinks, etc. While the card does have a $450 annual fee, if you are able to use the $200, it effectively lowers the fee to $250. With the card offering lounge access, that $250 could be a great deal! Don’t forget you also get your $100 Global Entry fee reimbursed too!
Many credit cards offer some sort of rental car insurance coverage free of charge, meaning that you generally don’t have to pay for CDW coverage from the rental car companies. In fact, VISA offers secondary coverage on all of their cards! However, the coverage that they include does not cover things like injury, property damage, or damage to other cars, meaning that you can’t rely on it for everything (VISA’s coverage terms). Similarly, MasterCard offers coverage to their customers as well. According to the Mastercard website, their Gold, Platinum, and Black cards all come with coverage that is similar to VISA’s.
American Express is a little unique in that it offers different types of coverage depending on whether you want to pay for it or not. All cards offer its “basic” coverage that is similar to VISA’s and MasterCard’s offerings. On its Platinum card, American Express offer slightly better coverage with $75,000 of coverage compared with the $50,000 on its other cards. The Platinum card also offers excess medical coverage and accidental death coverage, which is not offered with their other cards. However, for a flat fee of $24.95 (per rental) American Express offers its Premium Car Rental Protection. The plan covers a rental car for up to 42 days for that one flat fee! You can compare the two offerings, but one of the biggest advantages is that the paid plan offers primary coverage compared to all of the other offerings’ secondary coverage.
While I generally don’t elect to purchase any additional coverage from the rental car companies – and in order to qualify for the credit card companies’ coverage you cannot accept the CDW from the rental car companies – I would most likely purchase the Premium American Express coverage if I were to rent a car overseas as a way to be safer in unfamiliar situations.
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day FlyerTalk is giving away A FlyerTalk Luggage Tag & Hoodie combo for the best overall travel deal submitted. A great mileage run, mistake fare, partner promo, new card sign-up offer, or the special twist you figured out on a deal today. Add it to the comments section of this post (with your First Name, Last Initial, and 3 letter airport code) or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post to be eligible to win.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49