Here’s our list of top picks– it should help you decide which one is best for YOU!
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Best all-around cards: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card. Both offer a nice 40,000 point sign up bonus (after spending $3,000 in first three months for the Barclaycard or $4,000 for Chase Sapphire), and you can use points on several airlines, hotels and other travel providers. Neither card assesses 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 Chase Ultimate Rewards, plus it now offers primary rental car collision coverage (most cards provide secondary coverage). With the Barclaycard, you simply use your points to pay off travel related charges on your bill– so the 40K sign up bonus alone pays for a $400 airline ticket or hotel bill.
Another good all-around card is the Chase Freedom Card. For a limited time, it’s offering a 20,000 point bonus for signing up and spending $500 in the first three months. (That’s up from the standard 10,000 point sign up bonus.) Those 20,000 points are worth $200 in travel using Chase Ultimate Rewards. Best of all, there is no annual fee and you earn 5% back in certain spending categories and 1% on nearly everything else. If you already have another Chase card, adding the Freedom card is a nice way to bump up your Ultimate Rewards balance.
Best for travelers who love Southwest‘s no frills approach to travel: The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card currently offers a nice 50,000 points sign up bonus (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 and AirTran flights.
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 30,000 bonus miles for signing up and spending $1,000 in the first three months. Plus, the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
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. Annual fee is $0 first year, then $85.
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, 2.5 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.
Lucrative oddball offer: While it may sound odd to even consider a US Airways credit card since the airline is on the verge of disappearing, consider this: The US Airways Premier World MasterCard is currently offering a 40,000 mile sign up bonus. Now, while most cards require you to spend thousands of dollars in a short period of time to get that bonus, this card does not. To get the bonus, all you have to do is make a SINGLE PURCHASE and pay the annual fee. It could be a cocktail on the plane or a toothbrush at Walgreens. It doesn’t matter. After that single purchase, just pay the $89 annual fee with your first statement and bingo, you get 40,000 US Airways Dividend miles. More details about this offer here.
Best card for those who spend a lot of time in Hawaii… or would like to spend more! The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard. It offers a nice 35,000 mile sign up bonus (after spending $1,000 in first 90 days), a 50% off companion pass and a waived check bag fees. Mahalo!
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!