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By: John Tunningley
This year has already been filled with lots of activity in the points and miles world. From the new Chase rules on the Southwest Rapid Rewards personal cards to the SPG/Marriott merger news and, of course, a slew of new cards.
So, let’s get into the cards, the bonuses and figure out which cards are worthwhile.
New Avios Cards
Avios is the airline currency for British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. All three programs have distance-based award charts—though there are rumors of a switch to revenue-based redemptions in the near future.
Right now, all three Avios earning cards have a 100,000 point sign-up bonus tiered as 50,000 Avios for making $3,000 in purchases within three months of card opening, an additional 25,000 Avios for an additional $7,000 in the first year (for a total of $10,000), and the last 25,000 Avios for making an additional $10,000 in purchases in the first year (for a total of $20,000).
This is very similar to the British Airway bonus that was around last year. With none of these cards being restricted by the Chase 5/24 rule they are very tempting cards to pick up for anyone over 5/24
You can learn more about the British Airways card here.
New Marriott Cards
With the details of the Marriott and SPG loyalty program merger finally being announced, there is a ton to take in but also some new cards coming out. Chase will continue to issue the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card but has also released a new Marriott card, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus.
(Learn more about the Marriott Rewards card here)
The new card has a $95 annual fee but comes with a 100,000-point sign-up bonus after $5,000 in spend in the first 3 months. Like the existing Marriott card, we expect it to be restricted by the Chase 5/24 rule but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Meanwhile, the new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card will come with a $450 annual fee but an extensive list of perks including complimentary Gold Elite Status, a $300 statement credit for purchases at Marriott properties and a Priority Pass Select membership.
While the bonus for this card hasn’t yet been released expect it to be sizeable to try to entice new customers.
Barclays Arrival Premier
This card is one of the more interesting new competitors on the market. While many of you have probably opened a Barclays Aviator Red card to earn American AAdvantage miles or one of the JetBlue cards, this is the first time Barclays has moved into the transferable points world.
Let’s start with the sign-up bonus or, in this case, the lack thereof. The Barclays Arrival Premier has a $150 annual fee and no sign-up bonus. However, the Barclays Arrival Premier instead gives a yearly bonus if you hit certain spending thresholds.
Each cardmember year you spend $15,000 you are rewarded with 15,000 miles and if you spend an additional $10,000 in that same cardmember year you get and additional 10,000 miles. While this is an interesting feature, it isn’t quite as lucrative as some of the sign-up bonuses on the market.
Another interesting aspect of this card is the miles this card earns. You get unlimited 2x miles on everything—if you spend $25,000 exactly in a year you will effectively get 3x miles on all purchases. Unfortunately, unlike the other transferable points program—Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points—in the industry none of the miles transfer at a 1:1 ratio.
Sure, some of the other transferable programs transfer to some partners at ratios worse than 1:1, but these partners are outliers. The following programs transfer at a rate of 1.4 Arrival miles to 1 airline:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- China Eastern Eastern Miles
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
Unfortunately, none of these options are that enticing except Air France/KLM Flying Blue, which is slated for an overhaul this year, and Etihad. You can also transfer miles to Japan Airlines Mileage bank at a ratio of 1.7:1. It will be the best way to earn JAL miles once the current SPG Amex cards change on August 1, but the transfer ratio is very disappointing.
The new Barclays Arrival Premier card earns points that can be transferred to JAL
This card includes many of the perks you may have with other cards like a $100 Global Entry fee credit, no foreign transaction fees, secondary rental car collision damage waiver, trip cancellation coverage, travel accident coverage, baggage delay coverage, purchase protection, and an extended warranty for items bought using the card. It also provides $27 lounge visits through the LoungeKey program.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited
Similar to the Ink Business Cash the new Chase Ink Business Unlimited will be marketed as a cash back card with no annual fee. This card also borrows a lot from the Chase Freedom Unlimited and will earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The card will be pretty good for daily unbonused spend and will feature a $500 sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 on it in the first 3 months.
This card might be an intriguing option if you’re looking for a sign-up bonus and decent ongoing spend opportunities. But, keep in mind that you need the Chase Ink Business Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve to truly make this card worthwhile.
Without one of these cards, the Chase Ink Business Unlimited is just a cash back card. However, with one of these three premium cards, your points become transferable. All you have to do is pool your points under a premium Ultimate Rewards card. It’s that simple..
Applications for this card are scheduled to open May 20th.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (learn more)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (learn more)
- Chase Ink Preferred (learn more)
Starbucks Credit Card
The most underwhelming card of the new bunch for this year is definitely the Chase Starbucks Rewards Visa Card. With a low earning structure and no travel benefits this card is not worth your time.
The new Starbucks credit card is a bad move for any travel enthusiast
While the new Barclays card is interesting and could become a better card if Barclays adds additional transfer partners, the most interesting of the bunch are the new Marriott and SPG cards. With the airline transfer partners and dual issuers there’s a lot of opportunities to earn a substantial number of Marriott points that will be able to help book hotel stays and/or flights.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited is also an interesting option with an enticing sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards and decent ongoing spend in unbonused categories.
Additionally, the increased sign-up bonuses on the Avios cards allow you to earn tons of Avios which can be particularly useful for many intra-region flights.
Lastly, there are few cards we tell our readers to avoid and the Starbucks card will go in there with the likes of the Mastercard Black Card.