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

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Happy new year!  Here are the best credit card bonus offers currently available to help you fulfill your new years resolutions to go see the world…for free.  If you need help using these points after you get them, please feel free to post a comment below.

 

1) 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 $75

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 or 1 round trip to South America (with 10k points left over), or even 1 round trip flight to Europe. 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 Staples.com.

Please keep in mind that in a few weeks United’s new increased rates will go into effect for business and first class bookings for anything booked after 2/1/14 (anything booked before 2/1/14 will get the current lower rates).  See my post here to read more.  At this point, its too late to get this credit card if you want to use the bonus miles to book at the current rate.

 

 

2) 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.

3) Citibank AAdvantage Mastercard

Link to Apply: Citi AAdvantage World Mastercard (Personal) or CitiBusiness AAdvantage World Mastercard (Business)

Bonus: After spending $3,000 you receive 50,000 miles (worth up to ~$1,000+)

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $95

This was supposed to expire on December 31, 2013 but its still working.  They add a free companion certificate for a domestic flight after spending $30k each year (there is a $99 ticketing fee plus up to $43.20 in taxes/fees).  Its nice but I dont think many people are going to put the effort to get an extra companion domestic companion ticket which you also have to pay almost $150 in fees for.  I can think better ways to get rewards from $30k worth of spend (for example, signing up for another credit card).

50k miles is good for 2 domestic flights, 1 international flight to Europe or South America. When I initially signed up a few years ago, I jumped on an offer for 75k miles, though now 50k seems to be the new 75k unfortunately. AA is great to have miles saved because it is easy to book and can often find availability.

 

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)
  • Barclaycard Arrival Mastercard (20,000 Mile Bonus / $0 annual fee and Earn 1x on all purchases)

Bonus: After spending $1,000 you receive 40,000 miles

Annual Fee: 40k Mile Offer: $0 first year, then $89 OR 20k Mile Offer: No Annual Fee

This one didn’t make my list initially, but I included it after hearing from some people that a $5k requirement was too high for them, I reconsidered it.  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 use these miles for a $400 credit anytime.  No, its not the biggest or best bonus, but for many people this may be the only one that makes sense.

You will earn 40,000 miles after spending only $1,000 in the first 90 days. There is a 2nd Arrival card with No Annual Fee but that one only gives 20,000 miles, so I would avoid that one. The first card does have an annual fee but its waived in the first year then $89/yr. 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) 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 (that seems unlikely here).  We all have enough problems every month where a call to customer service is required.

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 6) United MileagePlus Explorer Visa

Bonus: After spending $2,000 you receive 55,000 Miles

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $95

Link to apply: follow the instructions below

Note that rates are set to skyrocket for business and first class bookings for anything booked after 2/1/14.  See my post here to read more.

This is a targeted offer so I’m including it as bonus in my list. To see if you are eligible, go to United.com 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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Comments

  1. Four cards you listed are issued by Chase. Chase limits 4 personal cards only. Chase denied me when I applied for 5th card.

    • Yes, Chase has most of the best offers right now, and most of the partnerships with travel companies.
      American Express comes in with good offers from time to time. Do you have any Barclays, Citi, or Amex cards?

      • thanks for quick reply. Amex also sets up a limit of 4 cards since 2013 (my 5th card application was rejected).

        currently, i have 4 chase cards: amtrak (take amtrak from time to time during the year but do not really need this card, will consider cancel it) , marriott (need 15 nights credit every year), sapphire (use to earn 2X on dining and travel), southwest (every year, my family or me flies southwest award flights a few times on vacation, paid $99 for 6,000 points to get 2 free checked baggages — may consider cancel it);

        4 amex card: starwood personal (help earn 2 nights credit), delta premier business (help maintain my medallion status and earn 10K MQM by spending $25K annually), hilton (will upgrade this year to surpass to earn gold status and 50K hhonor pts), blue card (this card is not useful except that it maintains my longest credit card history and maintains my MR points).

        i have citi AA master card (earned 50K bonus miles 2 months ago), barlcay arrival card (earned 40K points in Nov) + chocie hotel visa card, cancelled my us airways master card last June (just before paying annula fee) and then was denied when I reapplied in Oct. i was rejected Citi AA Visa card in Oct — does Citi allow only one AA card?

        i am mostly interested in ink bold or ink plus, and IHG reward club visa (Holiday inn) card because i found some countries do not have sufficient marriott or hilton presence. my marriott points and certificates are sufficient to cover my loding need in US. any advice what cards i should consider give up and apply?

        • Do you mainly travel for work or pleasure?
          The Ink cards are business cards so I dont think they will count against your limit, and I think you would benefit more from the Ink or IHG cards versus the Amtrak and Sapphire (the ink cards have 2x and 5x on certain categories). You could get the SPG business card for another 2 nights credit. If the only reason you would get the Hilton Surpass (or even keep a Hilton card) is for the Gold, then check this link out – you can get gold with a Milepoint P2 membership but its sold out right now. Also the Citi AA cards have a personal and a business version. Does the Delta medallion status get you any real benefits/upgrades? The Delta rewards are really expensive so I rarely work on saving up points to redeem with them.

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