I am easily a newcomer to the credit card side of the world of miles. Though we have held cards for many years, April was my first true go at it. There are only a few cards I will be going for and only a couple offered by UPGRD.com. Full disclosure, some of the links I post will earn a commission for me, but I will note which do with an asterik. It does not influence my decisions about what to post, nor should it influence for which cards you should apply. Look at your own travel plans and make the best decision for you. This is a pretty cavalier approach, but I feel like there is only one truly amazing offer right now. Let’s see if you can pick out which one it is.
1) US Airways Mastercard for Business –
I should just come clean, I am kind of an AA fanboy. While I DO NOT like the service of US Airways, I do love American and now that I can use miles on both, this card is just one more way to get more miles into my AA account. I also love the routing rules from US Airways (very liberal allowing you to route practically any way you like) and the current redemption costs which will only increase over time. For example, between the business card, the personal card and a little bit of spending, you could fly any US city to Hong Kong via Qatar or Cathay Pacific in business for just 110,000 points. That’s an outsized value that will not survive the merger, so collect the points now and book well into the future.
2) Barclay Arrival World Mastercard
I don’t advise applying to the same bank for any two credit cards on the same day (possible exception being Chase) but I am trying an experiment. I just received a Federal Tax ID number for my business and before I was simply using my social security number in its place. It worked well to obtain business credit cards for my small business in the past, but I want to see if there is any difference in having it.
I am going to apply for this consumer credit card along with the above business card and see if they deny me. Knowing Barclays, I am sure they will, but I want to try it anyway. With the rebates this card offers, the Arrival card is likely my better choice if I can only have one, but that’s not really the point of the experiment. For those who do not yet know, the Arrival World Mastercard allows you to use your points as a direct 1 point = $.01 rebate on your statement for any selected travel expenses (either airfare, hotel, rental cars, or a combination). The airline still treats it as a cash ticket, letting you earn miles for the flights and you also get a 10% rebate on the miles redeemed. At $400 to cover out of pocket expenses, this is an easy yes, for me.
3) American Airlines CitiBusiness Card
I already said I am a big fan of AA miles and have a couple of Citi products already, but not a business product yet. On the business side, their consumer mobile app is useless but customer service on the phone is great. At this point I would probably follow Citi down a dark alley if they told me their were some Aadvantage miles at the end, so this is kind of a no brainer… unless…
4) Business Extraa American Express
…unless I get this one! Business Extraa (sometimes branded with just one “a” at the end of extra and sometimes with two) is one of my favorite programs. It is in addition to the miles you regularly receive for flying on American but awards points on a basis of 1 point per $5 in spend. It has been around before spending-based frequent flyer programs were in vogue and is just a cherry on top of your other miles. They earn at a lower rate and spend at a lower rate.
I value each point at $.25 because you can use these points for all of the contiguous US + Canada and Mexico. Mexico City is a short but very expensive (relatively speaking) flight from most northern US states, the same high pricing goes for Vancouver or Montreal. At only 2,500 business extraa points that ticket is a lot easier to swallow. My math works out as follows: $625 for a ticket from PIT-MEX (on dates I want to go) / 2500 points = $.25/point. Business class to Asia (Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai – HKG has not yet made the list) is just 7400 points. Depending on how highly you value that flight (base fare of around $3000) the points could be worth as much as $.40/per or even higher.
This very strange card is as corporate as it gets and may be too big for my britches. I will find out with either an approval or denial. It provides a 2500 point up front bonus, but then also gives back 4% of your AA purchases made with the card (about another $160-300 for us) and then awards a $50 AA gift card for every $5k in spend… but no additional point accrual. It should be interesting.
5) Chase Ink Plus
This is my top priority and I have saved it for last. The consumer “sister” card to this one (Sapphire Preferred) is metal and gets tons of compliments but that’s not why this is my primary card. The flexibility of their Ultimate Rewards points allows us to convert 1:1 with four airline partners, a bunch of hotels and even cash. The best value is converting the points to BA for short expensive flights (like Chicago-Montreal, 9,000 points round trip instead of $400 on a typical revenue ticket) or converting 10,000 points to Hyatt +$125 for an upcoming cash and points stay at the Shanghai Park Hyatt ($400+/night). The offer I have seen in the branches are now up to 70,000 which is staggering, but I want to apply online for many reasons. I know someone personally who signed up for the 50,000 offer currently kicking around online (and linked below) and simply messaged Chase requesting the 70k offer to be matched. One was granted the match, one was denied as the 70k offer does not waive the $95 annual fee, the 50k does. I am going to apply online anyway, because I am a rebel like that, and take my chances, but even at 50k for no annual fee, this is the best deal out there in my opinion.
Depending on my mood, I may also give the AMEX SPG business card a try given that I have the personal card and really like the service and whether or not I end up going for the Business Extra/a card. I will also try for the LifeMiles card, because why not? I am passing on the Citi Thank You points card that everyone seems to love so much because the “50k bonus” is split over 15 months of having the card. I really don’t want to encourage that kind of behavior in the banks, so I will give it a pass (I am sure I will be teaching them a lesson by my defiance). I still love my Citi Exec and if the 100k offer was out, I would apply for my 2nd version, but at 75k for $350 net and no additional benefits (since I still hold the card) I would rather grab the 50k business card for no annual fee.
This was a pretty “jeans and t-shirt post”, but I wanted to get my thoughts out there as I have a lot of readers and friends itching for new cards in their wallets. Post your questions or comments below as you wish.