This is the Best Credit Card from Each Bank

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It’s Thunderdome, each card issuer’s offerings go in and only one can come out the best at each bank. Here’s my take on the best credit card from each bank. What do you think? What am I missing?

The Best Chase Rewards Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is best and in my view it isn’t even close.

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

You can earn another 5,000 bonus points when you add your first authorized user to the account and make a purchase in the same 3 months from account opening.

The card earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.

I believe this is still the go to for road warriors with double points on travel and dining (what folks like me spend the most on) and one of the most valuable points currencies that transfer to a variety of top frequent flyer programs like United, Korean Air, Singapore, British Airways, and Hyatt.


Transfer Points and Redeem for Singapore Airlines A380 Suites

Here’s Why Sapphire Preferred Should Be the First Card You Sign Up For and here are the 9 Best Use of Chase Points.

The Best Citibank Rewards Card

Citi Prestige has been the hottest card on the market for the past several months. It’s the best thing Citi offers right now, and it’s got a signup bonus of 50,000 points after $3000 spend within 3 months. (Offer expired)

This is a $450 card, but gives you a $250 airline credit (which can be used on airfare, and earned twice during your first cardmember year if you apply now) and a $100 global entry credit. Points can be used to buy paid tickets on American at 1.6 cents apiece or transferred to miles with several airline programs.


Etihad First Class. This card’s points transfer directly to Etihad Guest, as well as programs like Singapore Airlines Krisflyer.

The benefits are worth thousands of dollars. It’s worth jumping now, because it may be too good to last.

The card comes with American Airlines lounge access (when flying American) and a Priority Pass Select card (with unlimited visits and 2 free guests). And 3 free rounds of golf per year, too, and 4th night free on hotels.


Cathay Pacific’s AsiaMiles is a Citi transfer partner.

Citi Double Cash is the best cash back card for most people, with no annual fee and 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay off your bill. The Citi Hilton Reserve Card comes with automatic Gold status in the Hilton HHonors program. But none are strong as Citi Prestige.

The Best American Express Rewards Card

As much as love Centurion lounges, the Platinum card isn’t the best offering from American Express.


Complimentary Spa at the American Express Centurion Lounge Miami

A close second best card from American Express is Starwood card and especially the business card (which also gets you club lounge access at Sheraton hotels). It only earns 1 point per dollar on most spending, but 1 Starpoint is worth more than 1 of any other points currency, given they have the best transfers to airline miles of any program and give you 5000 bonus miles when you transfer points into 20,000 miles.


A Great Big World at the Everyday card launch party

The Best Barclaycard Rewards Card

I’d be tempted to say the Barclaycard Aviator Silver World MasterCard is their best card, since you can spend for an annual companion ticket on American and spending also counts towards elite qualifying with the AAdvantage program. But you cannot sign up for their American Airlines card any long, since the merger of Dividend Miles into AAdvantage.

So I’ll call it for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. It’s effectively a 2.1% rebate card when you spend points for travel, and it’s got a big signup bonus. There’s a $0 fee the first year then $89. So get it for the travel credit signup bonus. Although I don’t think it’s as good a card as Citi Double Cash for ongoing rebates.

The Best Bank of America Rewards Card

Bank of America Travel Rewards is a no fee, no foreign transaction fee card that earns a rebate of 1.5% towards travel.

It’s the best no fee card with no foreign transaction fees, but most readers will already have a card that doesn’t hit you with forex fees.

What makes the product interesting is that if you establish a financial relationship with BofA you get a bonus on top of the card’s normal rewards.

Keep the following amounts with Bank of America, and get…

  • $20,000 or more gets a 25% bonus
  • $50,000 or more gets a 50% bonus
  • $100,000 or more gets a 75% bonus

$100,000 in investment assets held in a Bank of America account gets you a return of 2.625% with the no fee travel rewards card, which is one of the strongest returns out there.

It’s temping to consider the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard with up to 90,000 miles, though I recommend 75,000 miles for $12,000 spend and adding authorized users. It’s got a $90 annual fee. And Virgin’s points are relatively weak.

So I come down for Bank of America Travel Rewards if you can establish a strong banking relationship with BofA.

The Best US Bank Rewards Card

It’s hard to get excited about anything from US Bank, at least since they removed the free night on any award booking of two nights or more for holders of the Club Carlson Visa Signature. Although that card does still have strong earn and comes with Gold status, so likely reigns supreme within their limited portfolio.

I haven’t signed up for a personal US Bank card in over two years, since I was targeted for a 40,000 mile bonus for the Korean Air card. I love Korean Air Skypass for amazing first class award availability, Europe for 40,000 miles each way in business class, and Hawaii awards on Alaska Airlines… but the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is just such a stronger card for earning Korean miles that it’s hard to give the crown to US Bank’s Korean card.

US Bank Flexperks does give 3 points per dollar on charitable giving…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Commenters complaining about Gary doing the business that pays for this free blog, “pump/pump/pumping”, coming in 3, 2, 1…..
    😉

  2. “Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is best and in my view it isn’t even close….”

    “The (Citi Prestige) benefits are worth thousands of dollars. It’s worth jumping now, because it may be too good to last.”

    Uhm, what?? Not even close? While most bloggers value UR over TY by a tenth of a cent or so per point, the Citi Prestige could be considered superior by some with 3x for travel compared to 2x for SP, 4th night free, and golf benefits. Thus your use of “isn’t even close..” reeks of subjectivity instead of objectivity.

  3. Greta post Gary, thank you. Actually I have been looking around for a business card and might query CITI. One main reason is the PP for 2. This would be great internationally.

  4. @Brent, I believe the point of the post was best card per bank, so Gary was saying CSP is best Chase card and other Chase cards aren’t even close; he then identified Prestige as best Citi card. Two different banks. Apples and oranges.

    Cheers.

  5. It’s rare to see a blogger notice the BofA 2.6% “cash back” card, and so kudos for writing about it.

    On the Prestige, Citi private bank clients get an annual 25% TYP bonus.

  6. If you have a spare $50k laying around, instead of depositing it at BofA, open a Bank Direct miles account and earn 60,000 AA miles per year tax free (and interest earning free unfortunately)

  7. The US Bank Flexperks cards are a good niche product. The Visa offers 3x points on charitable contributions; the new Amex 3x on restaurants. Since you can redeem the points for up to 2 cents each toward paid airline tickets, I rate these 3x rebates at an effective 5-6% – better than most other cards offer.

    (You need to understand how the redemption bands works, and use them appropriately. For example, an air ticket costing between $1 and $400 requires 20,000 points; a $401-$600 ticket requires 30,000 points. So you want to use the points toward airfares in the $350-$400 and $550-$600 range to get maximum value.)

  8. Gary re your comment, “$100,000 in investment assets held in a Bank of America account gets you a return of 2.625% with the no fee travel rewards card, which is one of the strongest returns out there.”

    Is there a card with a return better than this for individuals that can afford to have $100k invested in a BofA account?

  9. Also, is 1.5 points per dollar spend for the Amex everyday preferred card better than 2% cash back for the Citi Double Cash back card?

  10. @jonathan yes and by a lot — since I consider a single membership reward point to be worth about 1.8 cents, 1.5 membership rewards points are worth 2.7 cents.

  11. @Jonathan re BofA not that I am aware of, in terms of cash back [though for a first year only and waiting a year, discover it miles has had a doubling of their 1.5% rebate] … though i think that amex everyday preferred + 30 purchases per billing cycle is equivalent and chase freedom unlimited + chase sapphire preferred combo nets slightly higher IMHO

  12. what do you mean when you say chase freedom unlimited + chase sapphire preferred combo — is there some way you need to couple spending on the two chase cards to get a higher rebate/reward rate? if so, can you provide the link to your prior explanation of that subject?

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