Most of the very best rewards cards are American Express products. Take just a few examples:
Unsurprising that the most rewarding cards are frequently from Amex, since merchants pay higher fees and as a result there’s more money availablef or American Express to spend on awards.
One of the more frequent questoins that I get is, ok, so I get an American Express card. I make it my primary credit card. But what do I do with those merchants I can’t use an Amex at?
For me, my primary Visa/Mastercard choice is Diners Club. It has a flexible points program and still offers primary rental car collision insurance coverage. But you can’t currently apply for a Diners Club in the U.S. though I’m hopeful that will change with the recent sale of the brand by Citibank to the Bank of Montreal.
For many readers, the primary Visa/Mastercard product is the Biritsh Airways Visa from Chase. There was a 100,000 mile signup bonus (it required $2000 in spend for the second 50,000 miles) and plenty of folks are striving for $30,000 in spend to generate a free companion award ticket. That’s a great offer, and one worth considering if you’re going to put $30,000 on the card in a calendar year and you’re willing to pay the British Airways taxes and fees on an award.
Other than that… I’ve been more or less at a loss, and for lack of better options have tended to suggest the Citibank American Airlines co-branded Mastercard, because at least those American miles accrue towards lifetime status.
But now there’s a new product to consider. Reader Mordy noted in response to my discussion of Asiana Club in the last post that the Bank of America-issued Asiana American Express is now being issued as a Visa.
So the Asiana Visa from Bank of America is a real consideration. It earns 2 miles per dollar on all spend. And iwth their disance-based chart, an award traveling less than 10,000 total miles costs 80,000 miles in business class. That gets you from the US East Coast to much of Europe. And takes only $40,000 in spend to get there (compared to $105,000 in spend with the United Visa or Continental Mastercard, or $100,000 in spend with the US Airways Mastercard). Plus you get two stopovers in each direction (yes, 4 total) for a total of 5 destinations on an award.
See also this previous discussion of Asiana club and the co-branded credit card from Bank of America. There are some interesting ways to use this program for Star Alliance upgrades, as well.
Update: When you go to this site for the Asiana Visa it says you only earn 1 mile per dollar. Navigating through a side-door via Google I had stumbled on a page showing it offering 2 miles per dollar, but this now appears unrealiable. Mordy points out in the comments that the Asiana American Express from Bank of America is still listed on the Asiana website and can still be applied for even though it’s no longer apparent from the main Bank of American website.