TheRewardBoss’ Top 5 Credit Card Deals For Travel Rewards – February 2014

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Every month when I update my Top 5 list, I scour the web for the best offers.  What I continually find is usually long lists of offers where I can’t tell if they are advertisements, offers that are old or aren’t really the “best” (if there is a 75k+ offer out there, why post a 35k offer?).  I want my readers to come here and find the best offers without all the clutter — these are the offers signing up for myself or suggesting to friends and family.  Over the years, I’ve learned that a few times a year there are offers that scream at you — and this recently there was one like this.  It is my #1 below.   

1) Citibank AAdvantage Mastercard

Link to Apply: Citi AAdvantage 100k Offer  (leave the referral code and airport code blank if you don’t have one)

Bonus: After spending $10,000 in 90 days you receive 100,000 miles (worth up to ~$7k to $10k)

Annual Fee: $450 (but you get $200 credit after you spend $200 so the fee is really $250)

This was the highest offer I’ve ever seen for American Airline miles!  I wrote about this offer in detail here when I called this “possibly the best offer of 2014”.  I got excited the moment I saw the offer and signed up right away.

Many people will think this is a lot of points but its difficult to get because of the big spend required and big annual fee.  This is true, sort of.  The annual fee is not really $450 after you consider the $200 statement credit you will get — $250 is not a small amount either.  The real question is what is 100,000 AA miles worth?  How about a round trip business class flight to Asia — would you pay $250 for that?  Most people pay around $1200-1500 for a coach flight and $7k+ for a business flight.  So the real concern is the $10k required spend.  If you pay your rent or other monthly costs using Amazon Payments, you can spend $3k in 3 months ($1k max per month).  There are other ways to hit the spend which I will write about but for now you can check this post out by ThePointsGuy.  Are you moving or renovating?  Put it on your new credit card and get a free trip out of it.

I have heard from a reader that he could sign up for 2x 50k offers and still get 100k miles while having a lower spend requirement.  This is true but I prefer only 1x credit pulls and one credit card.  If its just too much, there 75k and 60k offers which are higher than usual and have lower spending requirements.  Here are the links to the 75k and 60k offers if you’re interested in doing that.

You should definitely get the card if the minimum spend doable.



2) Frontier Mastercard

Link to Apply

Bonus: After spending $500 in 90 days you receive 40,000 miles

Annual Fee: $69 (not waived the first year)

This is a new offer that I wrote about last month here.  The best part about the Frontier offer is that you have a very low spend requirement (only $500) and then you earn enough miles for 2 free domestic flights (20,000 miles each which is lower than most other airlines).  So its easy for anyone to earn these miles – just make sure you check out Frontier’s route map — it is extensive in the states but does often require you to connect in their main hub in Denver.  My original post explains what you can do with the points.  The only thing I dont like about this is the annual fee is not waived the first year.


3) Chase Ink Bold & Ink Plus

Link to Apply: Ink Bold and Ink Plus

Bonus: After spending $5,000 you receive 50,000 Ultimate Reward Points

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $95

These offers have been around for quite a while and continue to be very good offers.  These 2 cards are the same except the Ink Bold must be paid in full (its a charge card), while the Ink Plus can be paid over time. Both of these cards will give you 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $5k in 3 months. This is quite attractive because you can transfer the points 1:1 to United Airlines, so its worth 2 domestic round trip tickets.  To me that’s worth up to around $1,000. You can also transfer it to Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG Hotels, British Airways and some others, but I would stick with United to get the most value. I also love the 5x points for office supplies and if you log in through the Ultimate Rewards website, you can get an additional 2x per dollar at (so a total of 7 points for every dollar you spend at Staples for example, including computers and supplies). 


4) Barclay Arrival World Mastercard

Link to Apply:  Barclaycard Arrival Mastercard (40,000 Mile Bonus / $89 annual fee waived first year and Earn 2x on all purchases)

Bonus: After spending $3,000 you receive 40,000 miles

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $89

This card is 1) easy to get the bonus due to a small spend requirement and 2) With blackout periods, especially during holidays, you can easily use these miles for a $400 credit anytime without trying to figure out which airline to search and problems finding availability.  No, its not the biggest or best bonus, but for many people this may be the only one that makes sense.  Also, you will get 2x miles on all purchases and there are no foreign transaction fees which will save you a big when you travel internationally.

There is a 2nd Arrival card with No Annual Fee but that one only gives 20,000 miles, so I would avoid that one. If you dont want to deal with the hassle of transferring the points to an airline and trying to find a reward flight that’s available when you want to go, this is the card for you. You’ll get $400 credit towards your flight with no restrictions. If you are willing to put a little time into it (its worth it), you’ll get a better deal with the other cards listed here. That alternative takes some time and sometimes people get frustrated with it (searching for the right flights that are available when you need to go) and give up, letting their miles go unused or expired.


5) Hyatt Visa

Link to Apply

Bonus: After spending $1,000 you receive 2 FREE NIGHTS (worth up to ~$2,122)

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $75

In addition, after the first year and the $75 fee fee you will get 1 FREE NIGHT at any category 1-4 Hyatt hotel which can be worth up to $200, so you are getting a lot of value for your annual fee.  You’ll also get upgraded to Hyatt Platinum.  Its not the highest status but you’ll get great perks such as room upgrades, free internet, late check out and other perks you can read about here.  What can you do with 2 free nights?  SPLURGE at a Luxury Park Hyatt Hotel (Hyatt’s most expensive hotel brand)!  Check out the beautiful Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, which costs a mere 785 Euro = $1,061 USD per night.  The Park Hyatt Hotels are some of the nicest and most expensive hotels in the world.  So 2 nights is worth up to around 2 x $1,061 = $2,122.  Add to that double points on restaurants, flights, and car rentals.  Need more inspiration?  Read this Top 5 Most Expensive Hyatt Hotels throughout the World.

Bonus 6) IHG Rewards Club Visa (Formerly Priority Club)

Link to apply: IHG Rewards Club Visa

Bonus: After spending $1,000 you receive 80,000 points

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $49

This offer is for 80,000 IHG points (formerly known as Priority Club) compared with the usual 60,000 offer which you can find on Chase’s website.  IHG is the hotel chain most known by its Holiday Inn hotels, as well as the Intercontinental hotels.  One reason I don’t like this offer is because when you click on the link, there is no official landing page (you don’t know what you’re getting when you click the link to apply).  That means you’ll have to confirm the offer after you apply and get approved.  People have been having success and posting results at this Flyertalk forum.  I already have this card for a while now, but I don’t like recommend things that people might have trouble with (which seems unlikely here but I prefer to be cautious).  We all have enough problems every month to deal with.

Why is this worth it?  Figure a typical hotel night will cost you 15,000 to 25,000 points per night at a Holiday Inn.  That will get you 3 to 5 nights.  If each night is worth approximately $150, its worth $450 to $750.  Here is the redemption chart so you can get a better idea.  To make it even better, every year you will get 1 free night at any of their hotels.  I used mine for a room on New Years Eve a couple days ago at the Intercontinental Times Square (the cash price was ~$750 +tax).  You do pay the annual fee but clearly the $49 fees is worth paying to receive a free night at an Intercontinental hotel for example.  Even some Holiday Inns can cost $200+.


Bonus 7) United MileagePlus Explorer Visa

Bonus: After spending $2,000 in 3 months you receive 55,000 Miles (50,000 for the business card)

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $95

Link to apply: 

  • For the personal card, follow the instructions below
  • For the business card, log into your United account, then click this link – its targeted so if you see an offer for 30k, you are not eligible.

United raised their prices on award flights starting 2/1/14.  See my post here to read more.

This is a targeted offer so I’m not including this in the main part of my top 5.  To see if you are eligible, go to and log in. On the top right you should see a banner offering up the 50,000 miles after $2k spend in 3 months. There is another offer out there for 30,000 — DON’T TAKE THAT OFFER!  In addition, they will give you 5,000 bonus miles after you add an authorized user to your account and make a purchase with your Card during the first 3 months + 10,000 bonus miles every calendar year you spend at least $25,000 on your Card.  Some additional nice features are: 1st checked bag free, priority boarding, no foreign transaction fees, 2 United Club passes (I never seem to find a time to use mine) and a few more things you can read about on United’s website.

Which cards are your favorite and how do you plan to use these bonuses?

[In full disclosure, the Reward Boss gets paid a referral if you use some of the links above for but for most this is not the case. I research and post the best deals I can find, regardless of whether there is a commission available. You don’t have to use my links but I really appreciate if you do.]

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