By Ken Yee
So you’ve entered the wonderful world of rewards credit cards and you’re done getting your sign-up bonuses. Now what? Now it’s time to figure out which cards are actually worth using. Each credit card comes with its own earnings potential. Most cards offer you one point/mile/cent per dollar spent and others offer double or even triple points per dollar spent. The bonus points are often tied to spending categories so when selecting which cards you want to use on a daily basis, it will be helpful to diversify.
Your Dining and Travel Card.
You’ve most likely heard about the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and the chances are high that this card is one of the cards you signed up for. It offers a 40,000 point sign-up bonus, strong earnings potential (including a 7 percent annual dividend) and flexible rewards. With double points on a wide variety of travel expenses, and dining, you can feel comfortable that you’ve earned a pretty good return on your expenses. When you take a trip, you pay for airfare, hotel and food. With the Sapphire Preferred, you get double points on all those purchases.
Another Dining and Travel Card?
With your travel and dining expenses covered, the next credit card in your wallet, if you choose to carry one, should avoid both of those bonuses. Let’s say you also picked up the Chase Hyatt VISA for the sign-up bonus of two free nights. It used to be that there wasn’t much reason to use this card after you got the two free nights, except when staying at Hyatt hotels. However, recent improvements to this card have made it more user-friendly.
Some of the new improvements include earning double points on dining, airline tickets and car rentals. In other words, it offers the same points bonuses as the Sapphire Preferred. So which card do you use? With the annual dividend and more flexible rewards program, that includes transferring points into the Hyatt Gold Passport program, the nod goes to the Sapphire Preferred.
Citi Forward Card
This is Rick’s favorite dining card earning five points per dollar. The Thank You points program seems to be the forgetton sister in comparision to the Ultimate Rewards program. If you also have the Citi Premier card, points redeemed through the Premier card on travel earn at a rate of 1.33 per dollar. You can combine your points in the Thank You points programs making the earnings on your Forward card a whopping 6.25%.
Gas Stations and Grocery Stores
There are a number of other credit cards out there that offer bonus points or cash back on categories not related to travel or dining, like gas stations and grocery stores:
- The Chase Priority Club Select VISA offers double points on purchases made at gas stations and grocery stores.
- The Hilton HHonors American Express offers six points per dollar on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and even your cable/internet and cell phone bills.
- The Bank of America Bank Americard offers three percent cash back at gas stations and two percent cash back at grocery stores.
These spending categories offer a nice complement to the Sapphire Preferred. If you can earn three, five or six points on these categories instead of just one, that will add up over time.
Citi Prestige® Card
- Annual Fee: $450 fee
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Bank
The increase to 50,000 ThankYou points for the Citi Prestige card may be a signal that Citi wants back in the game, big time. The sign-up bonus has just been increased to 50K points from the previous 30K offer. An added benefit is a $250 annual air travel credit each calendar year -- so, if you sign up in April, you'll receive the credit this year, and again in January of next year -- which more than covers the $450 first year fee. When you add in lounge access for you and up to two of your guests, you’ve added another $400+ in value. One more benefit worth mentioning is the fourth night free for any four-night hotel stay booked through Wagonlit Travel. And lastly is the $100 statement credit when you sign up for Global Entry and pay for it using the Prestige card. Don’t forget the ever-growing number of airline transfer partners that work with the ThankYou points program.
- $250 Air Travel Credit each year
- Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
- Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
- Points are redeemable for an $800 flight on American Airlines or US Airways®, a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 in gift cards.
- Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
- Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
- Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
- 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases