Top 5 Credit Card Deals For Travel Rewards – May 2014

Every month when I update my Top 5 Credit Card Deals for Travel Rewards, 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.

If you are looking for a Small Business Credit Card that rewards you well, read my intro here.

 

THESE OFFERS HAVE NOW EXPIRED.  

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST OFFERS.

 

THE TOP 5

 

1) Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard®

Link to Apply

Bonus: After spending $5,000 in 90 days you receive 50,000 miles (worth up to $4,200 if used for 3 free 1st class 1-way domestic flights)

Annual Fee: $79 (not waived unless you are a Senator or HON member)

ITS BACK!  The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is offering 20,000 miles after your first purchase, and another 30,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days.  This was last offered in Oct 2013 and was so popular they shut it down after a couple days.  They just brought it back! (see my recent post on it).  Since you get 1 mile per $1 spent, you will have a total of 55,000 miles after you spend the $5,000.  There is a $79 annual fee and its not waived but keep reading to see why its really worth it. I’m not sure when this expires, if its as popular as last time it could be gone in less than a week.

My favorite part – I can book 3 one way First Class or BusinessFirst Class domestic tickets!

  • The real bonus here is that US domestic First Class or BusinessFirst Class tickets are only 35,000 miles round trip or 17,000 miles one way.  Yes, you can save 1,000 miles if you book 2 one way tickets instead of a round trip, strangely.  (United and many others charge 50,000 miles round trip or 25,000 one way)
  • Get a round trip flight from US to Hawaii, Europe or the Caribbean (Europe is often 60k miles on United during peak season, but only 50k here)
  • US domestic round trip tickets are 25,000 miles, just as it is on United and many other airlines.
  • Lufthansa gives you access to reward seats much sooner than if you try using United miles (which you have to wait about 2 weeks before departure to see if there are any open reward seats)
  • Check out United’s 180 degree lie flat seats here
  • After keeping the card for 1 year, you get a free companion ticket (of course, after you pay the annual fee)

2) 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 (after the $200 credit on your first statement the fee is really $250)

This is the 4th month this offer made my top 5.  This is 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 can’t even guess when this will expire.

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.  Are you moving or renovating?  Put it on your new credit card and get a free trip out of it.

Want a short cut to hit the spend?  Send a paypal payment to family or friends for $10k and just pay the 2.9% fee = $290 (or send less than $10k and spend the rest).  Worst case you are paying $290 in Paypal fees and $250 Annual fee.  When you’re done, you will have 100k bonus sign up miles and 10k miles from the spend = 110k total miles.

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.

 

3) Chase Ink Bold & Ink Plus

Link to Apply: Ink Bold and Ink Plus

Bonus: After spending $5,000 in first 3 months you receive 60,000 (more than the usual 50k) Ultimate Reward Points

Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $95

Chase usually offers 50k but for a limited time, they are offering 60k.  The last time they did this last year is when I signed up.  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 60,000 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 with some left over, or a domestic 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 (so a total of 7 points for every dollar you spend at Staples for example, including computers and supplies).

 

 

4) US Airways World Mastercard

Link to Apply

Bonus: After first purchase and payment of $89 annual fee you receive 40,000 miles

Annual Fee: $89 (not waived)

This is another newly improved offer from Barclays which I recently wrote about here.

Barclays (the issuer of this card) is stepping up its game.  Yesterday I posted about another Barclays offer – 50k sign up bonus for the Lufthansa Miles & More card which was incredibly popular last year, and now this.  I think its an improvement from what they have been offering. Why? There is no spend requirement.  I don’t like annual fees but this makes it easy for anyone to participate without worrying about any minimum spend requirements.  Is $89 worth 40,000 miles?  I think so. You can’t buy points for $0.002225.  Many people are working on their spend requirements for the 100k AA Citi offer so if you want to get more points, this is very easy.

Additional perks: First Checked Bag FREE (for you and up to 4 companions on domestic US Airways flights), One Companion Certificate for up to 2 guests ($99+taxes and fees each), and Priority Boarding Zone 2.  The Priority boarding loses its appeal because it seems that whenever you have priority boarding so does everyone else and everyone just crowds the entrance.

US Airways does have a second offer (as they often do): 30,000 bonus miles in your first billing period + on your anniversary date after you pay your annual fee, you will get another 10,000 bonus miles.  There is an annual fee of $89 which is waived the first year, but you’ll need to pay the annual fee to collect the extra 10,000 bonus miles (you can see the 30k, 10k, and $89 spelled out in the terms and conditions at the bottom of the page).  They don’t pay any commission for this 30k offer but I want to present both so you can choose what’s best for you.

If you prefer more points go for the 40k offer. <– I prefer this one
If you prefer no annual fee and less points go for 30k offer.

 

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

I considered putting the Wells Fargo Propel card with a 40k sign up bonus as my #5 but I just don’t know enough about it yet.  It has potential – here’s a good review by Runningwithmiles.   The bonus is good but perhaps more important, its a new issuer in the rewards world.  If you’ve signed up for all the other bonuses and aren’t eligible for anything with the big issuers (Citi, Chase, Amex, Barclays), this may be for you.

Why is the Hyatt Visa offer 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 the 50k offer you can apply!  If you see a 30k offer you are not eligible.
  • For the business card, log into your United account, then click this link – if you see the 50k offer…you can apply!  If you see an offer for 30k, you are not eligible.

Note that 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. 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 them) 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?  Not sure what to get?  Let me know where you want to go and I’ll be happy to help you get there!

 

[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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Comments

  1. Been sending your monthly credit card top five to all my novice friends. It’s so clear and helps people get into the game. Thanks!!!

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