This page is an assembly of a variety of credit cards you may want to have in your wallet to maximize your earning potential for miles and points.
The majority of miles and points aren’t earned flying from point A to point B or staying at a hotel. Credit cards are the fuel you need to drive to those once-in-a-lifetime trips. Having the right credit card is pretty darn important, especially when you consider some of the sign-up bonuses the banks are offering.
And, everyone’s “right card” is different. It truly depends on your circumstances. One person may want to go to Europe in business class while someone else wants to take their family of 4 to Disney World. Both are great goals and may require different types of credit cards to help you get there.
Similarly, what you spend on a day-to-day basis will influence the credit cards you should carry. Someone who buys supplies for work likely needs a completely different card than someone who buys gas and groceries.
Some of these links offer me a referral credit, most of them do not. In those cases where I earn a referral credit, it’s at no cost to you. I only reference the most rewarding sign-up bonus I’ve found out there for each of these cards, regardless of whether that’s a referral link for me. I’ll do my best to keep this updated with the most rewarding offers for all of these cards. Feel free to send suggestions if I’ve missed anything.
You can e-mail at ed -at- milepoint.com for advice on which cards are the best for your specific situation.
Credit Cards That Earn Hotel Points:
Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card: The Starwood card has long been a stalwart for its flexibilty. Before there were Chase cards that produced the wonderful Ultimate Rewards points, there was Starwood. Their current sign-up bonus is 25,000 points, but the requirements for this have changed here and there over the past year. While there are lots of good features to this card, the feature that sets this card apart is the transfer to airline partners. With very few exceptions (United being one of them) you can transfer Starpoints on a 1:1 ratio to most of the airlines. And, any time you transfer 20,000 points, Starwood gives you a 25% (5,000 point) bonus. This is truly the workhorse in my credit card wallet. Not as sexy as Chase Sapphire or Ink Bold, but a strong earning card.
Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card From American Express: Same thing as the card above, right? No, this card has some hidden value. American Express made popular the OPEN network and a suite of benefits. Where I see the most value from this card is in the discounts. 5% discounts from merchants you’re probably already using like FedEx, Hertz and even Hyatt (though the Hyatt benefit goes away in 2016). This card has all the same benefits as the SPG Amex for personal use, earning Starpoints. But, you can also earn an extra 5% back on a nice chunk of transactions. The current sign-up bonus is 25,000 points as well.
All-Purpose Mile/Points Cards: These are cards that are not tied to a specific airline or hotel chain. They offer varying degrees of flexibility and earning potential for a variety of different travel styles.
Chase Ink Bold: 50,000 point sign-up offer. One of my favorite cards. The sign-up bonus kicks in when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. Where the rubber meets the road on Ink Bold is the 5 points per dollar you earn on all cell phone, cable and internet services as well as purchases at office supply stores. There’s a cap of $50K on this category, but that’s 200,000 extra points if you max out this category. The card also awards 2 points per dollar for all hotel charges and gas station purchases.
Chase Sapphire: 40,000 point sign-up offer. This card is good for the general consumer/traveler. It offers 2 points per dollar for a wide variety of travel categories (airfare, hotels, rental cars, etc). The same bonus holds true for restaurant charges as well.
Cash Back Cards: These are cards that offer straight cash back, no points or miles. For some, this is the best course of action. It’s not my chosen path, but I’ve outlined a few cards that should help with this strategy if you choose this path.
Fidelity Investment Rewards Card: This card offers a straight 2% cash back. While not my favorite option, this beats a lot of cards out there from various credit unions or smaller banks that advertise “rewards”. Unless you’re using Ultimate Rewards or Capital One, the rest of the generic rewards cards are hard to navigate for outsize value. So, a card like this gives you 2% back which you can spend whatever way you want.