Top 5 Credit Card Deals For Travel Rewards – April 2014

Every month when I update my Top 5 list, I scour the web for the best offers.  I want my readers to come here and find the best offers without all the clutter — these are the offers I’m signing up for myself or suggesting to friends and family.  

Not too long ago I booked my trip to the Maldives, Vietnam, Singapore (with Kuala Lumpur still to book) for 120k miles per person in Business Class.  Without miles, there is no way I could have bought these (they cost about $10,000 per person).  Anyone can do the same.

[These offers have expired.  Click here to find the latest offers.]

 

1) Citibank AAdvantage Mastercard

Links to Apply:

  • Citi AAdvantage 100k Offer + $200 credit after $10k spend in 3 months (leave the referral code and airport code blank if you don’t have one)
  • Citi AAdvantage 50k Offer (Personal and Business Cards) after $3k spend in 3 months (less points and less spend, but also a business card option, so you could get the 100k offer above and 50k for business)

Bonus: After spending $10,000 in 90 days you receive 100,000 miles (which are worth at least $2k for coach flights and up to ~$7k to $10k for business/first class flights)

Annual Fee: $450 (but you get $200 credit on your first statement after you charge something 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.  I’m very surprised this is still being offered (its #1 for the 3rd month now).  Take advantage while its still available.

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 credit came on my first statement).  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 business class flights go for $7k+.  So the real concern is the $10k required spend.  If you pay your rent or other monthly costs using Amazon Payments, you can spend $4k in 90 months.  Amazon allows $1k max per calendar month – you have 90 days from the day you are approved to complete the spend.  For example, if you apply and get the card on March 10th, your payments are on March 12, April 12, May 12, June 1.  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 pull 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.  As a reference, here is the flyertalk post which has some of the latest links for these offers.

You should definitely get the card with the 100k bonus if the minimum spend is doable.  These offers don’t come around very often.

 

2) Lifemiles Visa

Link to Apply

Bonus: After spending $3,000 in 120 days you receive 40,000 miles

Annual Fee: $75 (waived the first year)

This is an offer that I wrote about here.  If you want to fly business class to Japan (one way) this is for you.  The main reason to get this is that you get 40,000 miles and there is a trick where you can fly 1 way business class to Japan or Taiwan  for only 25k miles (usually 60k miles+ on other airlines)!  Please read the post for more details.  Its not for everyone because if you do this trick, you can’t check any bags (because you will be leaving the airport in Japan and throwing away the last connection to Guam).  Its only one way so you will need to use different rewards to get home.

 

 

3) 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)

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.    An additional perk is they added  0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months.  My original post (click here to read it) explains what you can do with the points.  The only thing I dont like about this is that the annual fee is not waived the first year.

 

 
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.  To top if off, you get 10% miles back – so redeem 40,000 miles and you get 4,000 back (worth another $40).  It really doesn’t get easier than this.  If you are short on time or don’t feel like trying to figure all this out, this is the card for you.

There is a 2nd Arrival card with No Annual Fee but that one only gives 20,000 miles, so I would avoid that one.  A perk is that there is no hassle of transferring the points to an airline and trying to find a reward flight that’s available when you want to go. You’ll get $400 credit towards your flight with no restrictions. If you are willing to put a little time into it (believe me, 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.  Contact me if you need help (use the comments below or contact button up above)!

 

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

Why is this worth it?  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 (that’s Hyatt’s most expensive hotel brand)!  Check out the beautiful Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, which costs a mere 785 Euro = about $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) 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

Links to apply: 

  • For the personal card, log into your United account, then click this link (or follow the instructions below) – if you see a 30k offer you are not eligible.
  • 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 (not everyone is eligible) so I’m not including this in the main part of my top 5.  To see if you are eligible, go to United.com and log in. On the top right you should see a banner offering for the credit card. My banner no longer advertises the 50k bonus.  There is another offer out there for 30,000 — DON’T TAKE THAT OFFER!  In addition, they will give you 5,000 bonus miles (for the personal card, not the business card) 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 (I don’t plan to ever go for this extra 10k miles because its not worth it).  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) 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 the Barclay card links above for but for the others 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.  As always, if you have any questions please feel free to post a question.]

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