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Business Insider carries a piece on the two best credit cards for 2017. It contains mostly good advice and even one sort of obvious point that hadn’t occurred to me before.
The piece makes the point – as I often do – that while airline co-brand cards are fine, cards that offer points transfers to several different airlines are more valuable. Why earn 1 United mile when you can earn a point that transfers to United, Korean Air, British Airways, Southwest, Air France and more?
Airline cards are good for flight benefits (checked bags, priority boarding) and for signup bonuses but don’t make sense for most customers to spend money on. The Citi / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 50,000 points after $3000 spend within 3 months, and waives the $95 annual fee the first 12 months. It even exempts you from the more draconian aspects of Basic Economy fares. But you don’t want to use it for ongoing spend.
Oddly, the author consults NerdWallet who compares Sapphire Preferred’s transfer partners with those of Citi Prestige and… Capital One (which has no transfer partners) and Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® which has a nice limited-time bonus offer to earn 50,000 points but which doesn’t have transfer partners either.
“Compared to other options, like Capital One Ventures, Citi Prestige, [and] Barclaycard Arrival Plus… Chase has the best transfer partners [where] you can use those points with different airlines,” McQuay said.
The one argument they make for Capital One Venture is that “you can book a ticket before you earned your sign-up bonus and then retroactively put those points toward your travel costs via a credit on your statement” once you earn the bonus. There’s that. But I certainly don’t recommend Venture for ongoing spend, I’d rather have the equivalent cash back from the no annual fee Citi Double Cash Card than a travel credit.
I certainly agree that Chase Sapphire Preferred should be towards the top of wallet especially as a first, good all-around, entry into miles and points-earning. It has one of the very best signup bonuses at 50,000 points after $4000 in spending within 3 months plus 5000 more points for adding a free authorized user to the account and making a purchase within that same timeframe. It earns points quickly with double points earning in that most valuable of programs on all travel and dining spending. And those are among the very best currencies of any loyalty program.
The transfer options with this card are:
- Airlines: United, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Air France KLM
- Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, IHG Rewards Club
United gets you all of the Star Alliance with no fuel surcharges.
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Suites Class
And Korean Air is fantastic because their first class awards are plentiful, too, and generally not accessible through most partner programs so there’s little competition for the seats.
If you’re considering Sapphire Preferred, most of the people I think it’s most appropriate for would be eligible to get it but look at whether you’ve had 5 or more new cards in the past 24 months. That doesn’t prevent everyone from getting approved, but it does prevent many people. I’ve heard reports of approvals for people with more new cards than that, usually with high incomes and credit scores.