Best Rewards Cards

Credit cards are a great way of quickly acquiring travel awards points, which can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, and more.  The following credit cards feature great rewards programs and sign-up bonuses so that you can get to your next destination faster and for less!

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire preferred card is worth having if you spend a significant amount on travel and dining. For every dollar you spend on things like airfare, cabs, parking, and restaurants (just to name a few) you'll receive two Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. These points can be transferred to a number of popular rewards programs, including United, Southwest, Hyatt and Marriott, where they can be redeemed for free travel!  Ultimate Rewards Points can also be used like a cash voucher to redeem travel directly (with no blackout dates), but transferring to a rewards program usually provides a much better value.  The Chase Sapphire Preferred card currently has a great sign up bonus of 50,000 points (up from the usual 40,000) after spending $4000 within 3 months of opening, and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Citi Thank You Premier

The Citi Thank You Premier Card is similar to the Chase Sapphire preferred, but offers slightly enhanced rewards options.  Earn 3 Citi Thank You points for every dollar spent on travel (including gas), 2 points on dining out and entertainment, and 1 point on everything else.  Like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You points can be easily transferred to a number of rewards programs and redeemed for travel.   

United Mileage Plus Explorer

If you frequently fly United, the United Mileage Plus Explorer Card is for you.  Earn double miles for all United purchases, as well as free checked bags and priority boarding when you use it to book your flight.  Earn 30,000 miles just for signing up when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, and you’ll be on your way to redeeming your miles for free flights (note: the bonus sometimes increases to 50,000- be patient if you can).  And to earn even more miles, try using Mileage Plus Shopping when making purchases online.

Citi Platinum/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard

Like the United card, this option is worth considering if you frequently fly American.  In addition to earning 2 AAdvantage points for every dollar spent on American purchases, cardholders can enjoy Group 1 boarding and one free checked bag on domestic flights.  The 50,000 point sign-up bonus is a great start, and the annual fee is waived for the first year. And remember to use the AAdvantage Shopping Portal to earn points for online purchases!

Marriott Rewards Premier

Hotels can be an expensive part of trips, so a hotel rewards card can be a good way to keep costs down.  And if you already spend significantly on one of Marriott's many worldwide brands, what better way to reward yourself than by earning Marriott Rewards points.  With the Marriott Rewards Premier card, you’ll earn 5 points for every dollar spent on Marriott-related purchases, 2 points on flights and restaurants, and 1 point on everything else.  In addition, each year you’ll get a free night at a Category 1-5 Marriott location on your cardholder anniversary.  Apply now and earn 50,000 points when you spend $2000 in the first 3 months, and a waived annual fee for the first year.

There are many cards out there, and making a decision can be difficult.  The Points Guy and Flyer Talk are great sources for additional information.  With a little research, choosing the right card can go a long way.