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: 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.
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.
Best for travelers who love Southwest‘s no frills approach to travel: The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card offers 25,000 points (enough for one roundtrip flight) after spending just $1,000 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. What’s nice about this offer is that the 25K bonus points get you started toward Southwest’s coveted Companion Pass status, which requires 110,000 points.
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.
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.
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 flyers who want the perks of upper elite levels, but don’t fly enough to get them American Express Platinum 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!