Travel Cards I Currently Carry And Why

Hello Travel Bugsss. This post is meant to share with you which Credit/Charge cards I currently have in my portfolio and why. Hopefully, this post is useful to you in figuring out which travel card best suits your needs. I will go through the list chronologically, starting with the first card I decided to open when I joined the points and miles game.

1. Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom card was my first travel card that had the dual purpose of starting me off with a decent amount of points (15k Chase UR sign up bonus) and beginning my banking relationship with Chase. Chase UR are worth and standard 1 cent / point when redeemed for cash back so the 15k I got from the freedom is worth $150 in cash back. The goal, however, was to eventually combine points with a premium Chase travel card and redeem for a big trip. More on that later. It was important to begin a relationship with Chase because, like all banks, they like to know who they are doing business with. Getting them to extend you a line of credit is NOT solely dependant on your credit score. This is why the Freedom had so much added value for me. 

PROS

$0 Annual Fee

5% Cash Back or 5x Points On Rotating Categories (Up to $1500 in combined purchases)

1% Cash Back on All Other Purchases

$150 or 15,000 Point Sign-up Bonus With Low Spending Requirement ($500 in first 3 months)

12 Months Zero Interest

Great, Low Risk Starter Card

CONS

3% Foreign Transaction Fee

No Transfers To Chase Travel Partners (Must transfer to a premium card first)

 

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) was my second card by design. I started my relationship with Chase in Jan 2016 and was approved for this "premium" card a month later. The benefits of adding this card to my portfolio was, like with the Freedom, two fold. First, the CSP came with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points. Combined with my Freedom bonus, this gave me a total of 65k UR which brought me closer to my redemption goal. Secondly, it came with a slew of added benefits, most notably of which was the ability to transfer points to Chase travel partners where the points can be worth much more than the 1 cent / point I would have gotten with the Freedom. Not to mention, the earning potential of this card is not too shabby at an unlimited 2x / dollar on travel & dining.

PROS

2% Cash Back or 2x Points On Travel & Dining

$500 or 50,000 Point Sign-up Bonus (After spending $4000 in first 3 months)

Transfer Points 1:1 To 11 Travel Partners

Myriad Of Included Travel Benefits Such As Travel Insurance

Waived Annual Fee First Year

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Metal Card

CONS

$95 Annual Fee (after year 1)

 

3. American Express Platinum 

I did not have plans to jump to a card with such a hefty annual fee and benefits but it was very difficult to pass up. The public offer at the time was a gaudy 100k Membership Rewards (MR) points (after $3k spend in 3 months) which only comes around about once a year and for a very limited time (in this case, 24 hours). So, I jumped on the offer and was instantly approved. Since then, I have enjoyed many of the cards benefits, Including using the points to book our Incredible 2 night stay at Royal Kamuela in Ubud. We have also enjoyed using the complementary Global Lounge Collection membership to visit airport lounges around the world. 

PROS

40,000 Point Sign-up Bonus (after $3k spend in 3 months)

Annual $200 Airline Fee Credit

Amex Global Global Lounge Collection Membership ($400+ value)

5x Points On Airfare Tickets

Points Transferable To Many Airline and Hotel Partners

Global Entry and TSA PreCheck Credit Every 5 Years (up to $100 value)

Free Boingo Wi-Fi At 1 Million Locations Around The World

Car Rental Insurance (when booked with the card)

24/7 Concierge

CONS

$450 Annual Fee / $175 For Up To 3 Additional Users

Amex Not Accepted In As Many Places As Visa and Mastercard

 

4. American Express SPG

This was an interesting choice to be quite honest. I had just applied and been approved for the Amex Platinum card and wanted to take advantage of already having one hard pull on my credit report. I chose to combine hard pulls before I even knew which card I would be applying for. Needless to say, I landed on the SPG card which came with a sign-up bonus of 25K SPG points which turned out to be enough for a 2 night stay at Wanderlust Hotel in Singapore. An amazing design hotel sandwiched between Little India and Chinatown. This was strictly a points play, as the earning potential of the card is pretty sub-par at 1x per dollar spent unless at an SPG property where they are worth up to 5x depending on your SPG member status. Unless you spend a LOT of time at SPG properties, meh.

PROS

35,000 Point Sign-up Bonus (Highest ever, after $5k spend in 3 months)

Up To 5x Points On Purchases at SPG Properties (1x everywhere else)

5 Night/2 Stay Credit Towards Elite Status Annually

No Foreign Transaction Fees

CONS

$95 Annual Fee

Hard To Accumulate Points

 

5. CHASE INK PLUS

This card is a beast and I had been plotting on how to get approved for it since the minute I found out about it after entering the travel game. Unfortunately, it is no longer available for public sign-up*. So if you have this VERY elusive business card from Chase, hold on to it. Not only did this bad boy earn me a 70k point sign-up bonus, but it also earns me about 9k UR each month thanks to its unrivaled 5x at office supply stores. Adding this card to my Chase portfolio brought my total to 135k UR in just sign-up bonuses. A mere 25k UR away from my goal of 160k which would net me 2 round trip tickets to Asia for Danielle and I. All in the span of 6 months. 

PROS

70,000 Point Sign-up Bonus

5x Points At Office Supply Stores, Cable, Internet, Landline, Cell Phone.

2x Points At Gas Stations And Hotel Stays

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Transfer Points 1:1 To 11 Travel Partners

CONS

$95 Annual Fee

No Longer Available To Public

*A very similar card is still available from Chase with no annual fee but does not grant access to transfer to travel partners and had a cap on the 5x spending categories of $20,000. It is the Chase Ink Cash. Current sign-up bonus is $300 cash back or 30,000 UR after $3k spend in 3 months.

 

6. Chase United MileagePlus Explorer

This card put me over the top for our trip to Asia. It came with a bonus of 50K United points which is the airline partner that I planned to transfer Chase UR points over to in order to book our tickets. With this sign-up bonus, we now had 135k UR and 50K United points in just sign-up bonuses alone. I transferred the points over from Chase to United to bring us to 160k United points which was enough to book our round trip ticket to Asia which included stops in Thailand, Singapore and Bali. The award program from United is easily one of my favorites.

PROS

50,000 Point Sign-up Bonus (after $3k spend in 3 months)

2x Points On Flights Purchased With United

2 United Club Passes Annually 

Free First Checked Bag When Flying United

No Foreign Transaction Fee

Priority Boarding On United Flights

CONS

95$ Annual Fee

 

7. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

The Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card or the PRG was my second high end card, not just from Amex but in general. The PRG has an annual fee of $195 that is waived in year one and currently comes with a paltry 25,000 MR sign-up bonus. The bonus for this card usually fluctuates between 25k and 50k so when the opportunity arose to snag a 65k bonus, I jumped on it. Combining this bonus with my 100k MR bonus from my recently aquired Platinum card was a no-brainer. Especially with the annual fee being waived for the first year and it coming with an annual airline fee credit of $100.

PROS

3x Points On Airline Tickets Booked Directly With Airline

2x Points At Gas Stations And Grocery Stores

$100 Annual Airline Fee Credit

No Foreign Transactions Fees

Car Rental Insurance (when booked with the card)

CONS

$195 Annual Fee

Current Sign-up Bonus Low At 25,000

 

8. Chase Freedom Unlimited

This card was released mid-2016 and with a $150 or 15,000 UR sign-up bonus and offered an unlimited 1.5% cash back per dollar spent on all purchases. Adding this card allowed me to round out my Chase portfolio by being able to earn more than 1 point per dollar spent on purchases that were in the "other" category on all of my other cards. So when I am purchasing something miscellaneous, I would now be able to earn an additional .5 point per dollar. The sign-up bonus also was not bad at 15,000 UR on a card that carried no annual fee. It also came with a 12 month interest free period. This was a must.

PROS

$150 or 15,000 Point Sign-up Bonus

$0 Annual Fee

1.5% Cash Back Or 1.5 Points Per Dollar On All Purchases 

12 Months No Interest

CONS

3% Foreign Transaction Fee

No Transfers To Chase Travel Partners (Must transfer to a premium card first)

 

9. Chase Sapphire Reserve

This card was the card I and a lot of others in the points and miles community were waiting for from Chase. A truly premium card that rivaled the American Express Platinum and the Citi Prestige cards. It was released in August of 2016 and had the community abuzz. It offered unrivaled benefits right out of the gate, starting with its MASSIVE 100,000 UR sign-up bonus and annual $300 travel credit that could be used on anything considered travel by Chase. For a more in depth look at many of the card benefits and why I upgraded my CSP to this card, thus forfeiting the sign-up bonus (I was unable to sign up for any new Chase cards due to 5/24), here is a link to my YouTube video explaining.

PROS

$500 or 50,000 Point Sign-up Bonus (100k no longer available)

Annual $300 Travel Credit

Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership ($400 value)

3x Points On Travel & Dining

Transfer Points 1:1 to 11 Chase Travel Partners

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Credit Every 5 Years

$75 Authorized User Fee Is A Steal (Comes with Priority Pass)

Metal Card

CONS

$450 Annual Fee

 

And that concludes the list of cards I currently carry and why! Some of them are keepers and some will likely kick the bucket depending on their annual fee. I hope this helps some of you to decide which card is your next card! Please feel free to leave a comment about your experiences or asking any questions you may have about the post! Cheers!