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Best Travel Credit Card Offers: July 2017

By: Bryce Conway – Founder, 10xTravel

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Hi Travel Junkies,

The peak summer travel season is typically filled with many of the best credit card offers of the year and July 2017 is no different. There are a ton of great offers to choose from right now.

And while the best offer for you will vary depending on a number of factors, I am going to rank the top 10 offers based purely on their value.

If you are a fan of the NFL Draft, consider this to be “Todd’s Big Board” of the best available picks without factoring in team need.

As always, feel free to email me with questions about your own situation.

Here we go!

 

1) Chase Ink Business Preferred

Current Offer:

  • 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites each account anniversary year.
  • $95 annual fee not waived first year

Commentary:

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are widely considered to be among the best points in the industry thanks to their ability to be transferred to 7 airline partners and 4 hotel partners.

You can also redeem Ultimate Rewards to book travel via the Chase travel portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point, meaning the 80,000 bonus points offered by this card are worth $1,000 toward travel. Your points can be worth even more in the travel portal when you pair this card with the Chase Sapphire Reserve (see below for more details).

Transferring them to Chase’s many transfer partners can provide even more value if you know where to look. One such example is round trip to Hawaii for just 25,000 Korean SKYPASS miles.

This is certainly the best business credit card on the market (we use it for all things 10xT) and also one of the best overall cards. If you’re not sure what you do qualifies as a business, let us help guide you through the process.

 

2) Chase Sapphire Preferred

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year

Commentary:

Just as with the Chase Ink Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be used a number of different ways to book travel.

The 50,000 bonus points are worth $625 of travel when booked through the Chase Travel Portal and can also be transferred to Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

To put things in perspective, you can find United Saver Awards to Europe for just 30,000 United miles each way*. With 55,000 bonus points (50,000 + 5,000 for adding an authorized user), you almost have enough to fly round-trip to anywhere in Europe for just taxes and fees.

*United is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. Subject to award availability, of course.

 

3) Chase Sapphire Reserve

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • $300 annual travel credit, good for any form of travel
  • Priority Pass Membership, giving you access to 900+ airline lounges worldwide
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every 5 years
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance
  • $450 annual fee not waived first year

Commentary:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is simultaneously one of the most popular and most misunderstood credit cards on the market right now. Most popular with points and miles enthusiasts, very misunderstood by those who can’t get past the massive $450 annual fee.

So let’s start with that fee. It’s $450, it is not waived for the first year, and it is an absolute bargain for what you get with this card.

For starters, 50,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards Points which we have discussed above.

One thing to note though, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents per point when you have the Sapphire Reserve (vs 1.25 cents each with Sapphire Preferred or Business Ink) if you redeem them through the Chase Travel Portal.

So, the 50,000 bonus points are worth, at bare minimum, $750 of travel.

Because you can combine all of your Chase Ultimate Rewards point under the Chase Sapphire Reserve, all of your Chase points are worth 1.5 cents per point when you have this card.

Next, the $300 annual travel credit. This credit works for just about any form of travel and the statement credit is applied automatically. Simply pay with your Sapphire Reserve and Chase will reimburse you for the first $300 spent per 12 months of being a cardholder.

I used $27.43 of my $300 travel credit to take an Uber to get tacos and margaritas. Thanks Chase.

Finally, the Sapphire Reserve comes with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you access to more than 900 airport lounges worldwide. You can also bring guests with you.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also gives you a $100 credit every five years to cover your application fees for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, as well as some of the best trip interruption and rental car insurance coverage on the market.

No, the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is not cheap but the value offered by this card is incredible.

 

4) The Business Platinum Card from American Express

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus American Express Membership Rewards Points after you spend $10,000 in the first 3 months.
  • 25,000 additional bonus points after you spend an additional $10,000 in the first 3 months
  • 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels book on amextravel.com
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • $200 annual airline fee credit
  • $450 annual fee, not waived

Commentary:

Like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards are incredibly valuable because of their ability to be transferred to 17 airline partners and 3 hotel partners or use to book with Amex Travel

The spend required to earn the bonus on this card is one of the highest on the market but the 5x on travel bookings with Amex is a great perk for business owners who need to book a significant amount of travel.

Amex Business Platinum cardholders also get complimentary access to the Amex Centurion Lounges, which are some of the best airport lounges in the US.

Cardholders also receive Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Hilton. When you link your SPG and Marriott accounts, you will then have Gold status with Marriott as well.

 

5) The Platinum Card from American Express

Current Offer:

  • 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • $200 in annual Uber credits
  • $200 in annual airline incidental fees with one airline
  • Priority Pass + Centurion Lounge access
  • $100 TSA Precheck/Global Entry fee credit
  • $550 annual fee, not waived first year

Commentary:

Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Platinum Card from American Express is another example of a high-annual fee card that comes with a ton of great benefits.

Many people can’t get past the $550 fee, but the benefits more than make up for it.

The 60,000 bonus points can be transferred to 17 hotel and 3 airline partners or redeemed to book travel directly with American Express for a minimum of $600 of travel. You’ll get the most value by transferring to airline partners.

Throw in the  $200 annual Uber credits ($15 per month and $35 in December). Simply add your Platinum Card to your Uber account and it’s automatic.

Like the Business Platinum from American Express, you will also receive Gold status with SPG and Hilton, an annual $200 airline fee credit, Priority Pass Select and Centurion Lounge access, and you’ll earn 5x points per dollar on hotel and airfare bookings via Amex Travel.

One key difference is that you can also earn 5x points per dollar on airfare when booking directly with an airline.

 

6) Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 3x points per $1 in a category of your choice, 2 points per $1 on other bonus categories, 1 point per $1 on everything else.
  • $175 annual fee, waived first year

Commentary:

The real benefit of the Business Gold card is the ability to choose your 3x points category. You can choose from airfare, advertising, gas stations, shipping, and computer hardware and software.

And of course you are earning 2x points on all the categories that you did not choose.

See the Business Platinum card commentary for details on why Membership Rewards points are so valuable. Personally these are a close second in my book behind Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Another great perk of this card is the fact that the fee is waived for the first year. A rare feature for premium cards like this.

 

7) United MileagePlus Explorer Cards (Personal and Business)

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • The personal version earns 2x miles on United purchases and 1x on everything else
  • The business version earns 2x miles on United, gas stations, restaurants, and office supply store purchases and 1x on everything else
  • $95 annual fee, waived first year

Commentary:

Be sure to check your United MileagePlus account, as many people are being targeted for a 70,000 bonus point offer for the personal card.

The standard sign-up bonus on these cards is 30,000 United miles so the 50,000 is a nice opportunity to stock up on United miles. To put things in perspective, United Saver awards are just 30,000 miles each way to and from Europe (subject to availability).

These cards also comes with the usual airline card perks such as free checked bags and priority boarding. You’ll also receive two United Club passes after approval and every 12 months as long as you hold the card.

 

8) Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Current Offer:

  • 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 2 points per $1 spent with American Airlines, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee, waived first year

Commentary:

Like the United card, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card usually offers a sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles so now is a good time to grab one if you need American miles. This card also gives you 10% of your redeemed miles back, up to 10,000 miles per year.

This card also comes with the usual free checked bags and priority boarding benefits.

I would have ranked this card higher on the list but AA award availability on their own flights has been absolutely awful lately. There is still plenty of value to be had on partner awards though.

As a general rule, American miles are best used to book with one of their oneworld partners or their Etihad. You can even book a trip to the Maldives in Etihad’s famous first class known as The Apartments.

There is also a business version of this card that has an identical sign-up bonus.

Special Note: If American Airlines miles are your thing, you might also consider the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard, which offers 50,000 American Airlines points after first purchase. The $95 annual fee not waived first year.

 

9) Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Current Offer:

  • 25,000 bonus Starpoints after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent at Starwood and Marriott properties l, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee, waived first year

Commentary:

The Starwood card is another card that is often overlooked by casual points and miles enthusiasts because it “only” offers 25,000 bonus points.

(Note that some people have reported being targeted for a 30,000 bonus point offer on this card)

What many fail to see is just how valuable these Starpoints can be.

For starters, you can use Starpoints to book Starwood hotels for as little as 3,000 points per night. Personally I used 25,000 Starpoints to book 6 nights at the beautiful Le Meridien Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I booked Le Meridien Chiang Mai for just 3,833 Starpoints per night

With the Marriott merger now taking place you can also transfer your Starpoints to Marriott (and vice versa) at a rate of 1 Starpoint to 3 Marriott Rewards points.

You can also transfer Starpoints to more than 30 airline partners, receiving a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints.

Many people I talk to are hesitant to give Starpoint a try, but often end up emailing me a month or two later asking how they can earn even more of this valuable rewards currency.

Note that there is also a business version of this card that offers 25,000 bonus Starpoints after $5,000 spend in the first 3 months.

 

10) Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

Current Offer:

  • 80,000 Marriott points after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • 7,500 bonus points for adding an authorized user and making a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 5 points per $1 spent at Starwood and Marriott properties, 2 points per $1 spent on airfare purchased directly from the airline, rental car agencies, and restaurants plus 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • One free night at a Marriott Category 1-5 hotel each year after your account anniversary
  • $85 annual fee, not waived first year

Commentary:

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is one of the best hotel cards on the market thanks to the generous 80,000 point sign-up bonus, the ability to transfer those points to and from Starwood (which gives you access to airline transfer partners), and the annual free night at a Category 1-5 Marriott hotel just for being a cardholder.

 

Other cards to consider:

British Airways Visa Signature Card: 50,000 bonus Avios after $3,000 spend in 3 months, 25,000 more Avios after $10,000 in spend in the first year, and an additional 25,000 (up to 100,000 total) after you spend $20,000 in the first year. $95 fee not waived.

Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard: 50,000 bonus miles, worth up to $500 in travel credits, after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months. $89 fee waived first year.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: 40,000 bonus miles, worth up to $400 in travel credits, after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months. $59 fee waived first year.

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