08 Jul Looking to Play the Points Travel Game? Consider These Two Credit Cards!
UPDATE – Don’t mess with the Citi Prestige! The bonus and benefits have changed, including no more AA Lounge Access! Instead take a look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Amex Platinum for your premium credit card fix!
I have over 20 credit cards. Each one of the cards has provided me with its own value throughout our time together, but most people would find this many credit cards to be extreme and ridiculous!
Ok, so maybe I am a bit extreme when it comes to the points and miles game, but to play the game you don’t need to be exactly like me – you can settle for a much more reasonable number of credit cards and still make moves in the points game!
Let’s settle on the number 2.
Which cards would I choose if I had to narrow down the 21 to only two?
Would I pick my very first credit card ever that I received while in college from Auburn Bank? Or would I choose my $450 annual fee American Express Platinum that provides me lounge access and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck?
Well… neither! After factoring in initial sign-up bonus, points value, spending reward categories, and ongoing benefits, I came up with the two cards that I would hold onto (or apply for, if I didn’t already have) if I had to put my overflowing wallet on a diet!
Introducing my bread and butter:
My #1 – The Chase Sapphire Preferred – the All-Around Card (you need this)! Top to bottom, it is my favorite card in the market! The card is my base (the bread!) and covers most of my credit card needs…
My #2 – The Citi Prestige – the High-End Card! Providing rewarding on-going benefits for a more comfortable travel experience! If the CSP is the bread, then this is the butter… and everything is better with butter on it!
The proof is in the pudding (fyi – the pudding = initial sign-up bonus, points value, spending reward categories, and ongoing benefits).
Exhibit A – Initial Sign-up Bonus:
Chase Sapphire Preferred – The current offer is at its highest in almost 5 years and will earn you 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, with an additional 5,000 bonus points awarded after adding an authorized user. The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but that fee is waived the first year.
Citi Prestige – This card will earn you 50,000 ThankYou Points upon $3,000 in spending in the first 3 months. The card comes with a $450 annual fee [not waived the first year]… a lot of money, but I assure you it is worth the fee – just keep reading!
Exhibit B – Points Value:
Chase Sapphire Preferred – The 50,000 sign-up bonus (+ 5,000 Authorized User bonus) is worth at least $687.50 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal… but is most likely worth even more when transferred to Chase Travel Partners – like United, Southwest, Hyatt, British Airways, Air France, or Singapore Airlines!
Citi Prestige – 50,000 ThankYou points are worth up to $800 in flights on American Airlines, $665 in flights on any other airline, or $500 in gift cards. In addition, Citi has some strong transfer partners in Singapore Airlines, Air France and Etihad that can potentially drive the value your points even higher!
Exhibit C – Everyday Spending Reward Categories
Chase Sapphire Preferred – The CSP is my go-to card when it comes to spend – especially when it comes to restaurants!
- Earn 2X points on dining at restaurants
- Earn 2X points on all travel
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Citi Prestige – While some other premium cards do not offer many spending bonus categories (I am looking at you, Amex Platinum Card), the Prestige is different…
- Earn 3x points on airfare and hotels,
- Earn 2x points on dining and entertainment
- Earn 1x point per dollar on other purchases
Which to choose when these categories overlap?
Generally, I will pick Prestige on airfare & hotels… and then my CSP on remaining travel expenses, dining and all other purchases!
Exhibit D – Ongoing Benefits
Both – No Foreign transaction fees!
Chase Sapphire Preferred – My favorite ongoing benefit has to be primary rental car insurance – with “primary” meaning that the card will cover losses before your insurance, rendering the Rental Agency insurance unnecessary!
So, renting a car? ALWAYS pay with the CSP! (AND Earn 2x points in the process!)
The card also provides:
- Trip Cancellation Insurance – up to $10,000 per trip
- Trip Delay Reimbursement up to $500 per ticket
- Baggage Delay Insurance – $100 per day up to 5 days
- Purchase Protection – within 120 days, repair/replace up to $500
I have never used any of these, but it is great to know that I have the coverage just in case!
Citi Prestige – While the CSP covers the bases, the Prestige allows you to dabble in some of the finer comforts while traveling – with free lounge access, free TSA PreCheck, and more!
The list of card benefits is quite long… but here are some of my favorites:
- Annual $250 Air Travel Credit – can automatically be applied to flight-related expenses charged to your card, including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades (that cuts the annual fee to $200 right there!)
- Lounge Access – Complimentary access to American Airlines Admirals Club Lounges, plus hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass Select
- Complimentary 4th Night Free at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4-consecutive-night booking.
- Free Global Entry/TSA PreCheck – the card earns you a $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Once approved for Global Entry by the U.S. Government, you can bypass long lines and enjoy expedited entry into the U.S
Credit cards are wonderful (if used responsibly)! Whether you go for 21 or you go for 2, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Citi Prestige are my go-to cards and perhaps should be yours too?
Have another card in your top 2? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will let you know why you’re wrong… Just kidding, I value your opinion!
Credit Cards =LIFE