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 CURRENT BONUS & BEST OVERALL: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is currently offerings a nice 50,000 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 50,000 point bonus with Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is good for $625 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). Details
BEST FOR SIGN UP BONUS. British Airways Visa Signature® Card 0ffers a nice 50,000 Avios sign up bonus after you spend $2,000 in the first three months. But get this: You’ll earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend $10,000 on purchases for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios. Even better: You earn another 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend a total of $20,000 on purchases within your first year for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios. In addition to the sign up bonus, you earn 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 is $95. More.
BEST FOR THOSE WHO SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN MARRIOTT HOTELS: Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. Get 50,000 point bonus after spending just $2,000 in the first three months- enough for at least one free night, depending on category. Plus you get 15 elite credits and a free night (in a category 1-5 hotel) every year after your anniversary date. Earn 5 points per dollar spent at over 4,000 Marriott locations, including Ritz-Carlton, plus earn two points per dollar spent on airlines, car rental and restaurants. There are no foreign transaction fees but the annual fee is $85, which is waived for first year. Details.
BEST FOR UNITED FLYERS The United MileagePlus 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, two one-time 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. Details here.
BEST FOR FLYERS FED UP WITH MILES: Recently I signed up for the popular new Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®. I easily spent $3,000 in the first 90 days and earned another 40,000 point sign up bonus. Using the card frequently (and earning 2x point on all purchases), I was able to redeem the points to help reduce the cost of a price ticket to Puerto Rico over Christmas. I did that because when redeeming Barclaycard points, there are no blackout dates. You do not convert your points into airline miles like you do with most other cards. Instead, if a seat is available, you buy it using the card, and then use your points to pay the bill. The number of miles you use is based on how much the ticket costs. Easy! Even better: This card uses chip & PIN (vs chip & signature) technology for overseas transactions. Details
BEST FOR THOSE WHO LIKE SOUTHWEST’S LOW FRILLS APPROACH: 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 as well as its hotel and car rental partners. What’s nice about this offer is that the 25K bonus points is a nice start toward Southwest’s coveted Companion Pass status, which requires 110,000 points. 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 Select card. Get a free night each year of card membership at over 4,900 hotels worldwide. Plus, get a nice 60,000 points sign up bonus after you spend just $1,000 in the first three months of account opening. What will 60,000 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. No fee for the first year, then $49. Details here.
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!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analysis, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.