Here’s our list of top picks for 2015– it should help you decide which one is best for YOU!
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Best all-around cards:
BEST OVERALL: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a nice 40,000 point sign up bonus (after spending $4,000 in first three months), and you can use points on several airlines, hotels and other travel providers. Nice: no irritating and expensive foreign transaction fees. That 40,000 point bonus with Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is good for $500 in travel when booking through the very robust and flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards program, plus it now offers primary rental car collision coverage (most cards provide secondary coverage).
BEST FOR UNITED FLYERS The United Explorer Card is perfect for those who don’t fly or spend enough to earn elite status– that’s because the card provides some nice elite level perks like priority boarding, passes to United Clubs and free first checked bags. Other nice perks: no irritating foreign transaction fees, primary car rental collision coverage and double miles on tickets purchased from United. Right now you can get 50,000 bonus miles for signing up and spending $3,000 in the first three months. Plus, the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. Details in our TravelSkills post about the card here.
BEST for travelers who love Southwest‘s no frills approach to travel: The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card offers 50,000 points (enough for TWO roundtrip flights) after spending just $2,000 in first three months, plus a 6,000 point bump every year on your cardmember anniversary. In addition, it does not charge foreign transaction fees, and offers two points per dollar spent on Southwest flights as well as its hotel and car rental partners. What’s nice about this offer is that the 50K bonus points get you almost half way toward Southwest’s coveted Companion Pass status, which requires 110,000 points. Details
BEST for folks who spend a lot of time in Marriott Hotels: Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. Get a 50,000 point bonus, a free night (category 1-4) and 15 elite credits (guaranteeing at least silver status) after spending just $1,000 in the first three months. You also get a free night (in a category 1-5 hotel) every year after your anniversary date. There are no foreign transaction fees on this card, either. Annual fee is $0 first year, then $85.
BEST for business owners: Would you rather earn cash (instead of points) for your biz? How about an easy $300? No probs– check out the Ink Cash Card, which will earn you $300 cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, and there is no annual fee. Details
Now that IHG is absorbing Kimpton, one of my favorite hotel brands, it’s time to consider getting more deeply involved in the popular IHG Rewards program…and maybe even get the IHG Rewards Club card. In addition to the Kimpton news, a primary motivation right now is that Chase just rolled out a nice 70,000 points sign up bonus for the card (up from the standard 60K offer) after you spend just $1,000 in the first three months of account opening. What will 70,000 IHG points get you? Several free nights at IHG hotels, depending on when and where you say, and if you can take advantage of its lucrative point breaks and last minute reward nights options.
BEST for Big Sign-up Bonus. British Airways Visa Signature Card 0ffers a nice 50,000 mile sign up bonus after you spend $2,000 in the first three months, three Avios for every dollar spent on BA, and a free companion ticket (any class) when you spend at least $30,000 in a year. Plus there are no foreign transaction fees, and the card has a chip making it easier to use in Europe and beyond. Annual fee of $95 waived for the first year. More.
Best for Virgin America devotees (new in Jan 2014): Virgin America Visa Signature Card
Best for frequent Delta flyers who don’t spend enough to earn Medallion status: Delta/Amex SkyMiles credit card
This is by no means an exhaustive list! Please help out your fellow business travelers and tell us which card you use most…and why…in the comments below. THANKS!