Does Blue Sky from American Express, a CreditCardForum advertising partner, really have worthwhile benefits for travelers, or is it just another credit card that doesn't deliver? This updated review (January 2015) shows you the facts.
Travel rewards aren't always a preferred choice. Why? Many programs use sneaky tricks like blackout dates and limited availability – which make it nearly impossible to use your hard-earned miles and points when you want to. Because many of those cards also charge annual fees, many customers might find themselves paying for a card and not being able to redeem their rewards. So when the Blue Sky credit card came out, a lot of suspicion was in order. Dozens of travel credit card offers have been reviewed on this site and many of them are less than rewarding. Was the Blue Sky going to be any better?
Since making its debut in 2008, the American Express Blue Sky card has proven itself a rewarding option. Here are several reasons it's a solid choice if you're seeking travel rewards:
#1 – The Point Value
A return of 1 percent on spending is generally considered pretty standard when it comes to rewards cards. If your card consistently earns less than that, you should look at other options.
At first, the Blue Sky appears to be pretty standard: You earn 1 point for virtually every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. But you get a little extra value when you redeem: Every 7,500 points that you earn can be redeemed for a $100 statement credit toward airline tickets, hotel stays and other types of travel.
That means the American Express Blue Sky offers rewards that can be worth 1.33 percent on your spending.
And right now you can earn a welcome bonus of 7,500 points (which can be redeemed for a $100 statement credit) after you use your new card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. You also get a 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 17.24 percent, 20.24 percent or 22.24 percent.
#2 – Rewards Redemption
With the Blue Sky card, you don't have to worry about things like peak and off-peak, blackout dates and other tricks. In fact, you don't even have to worry about which airline has the better deal on the ticket you want, or when you book your ticket. Instead this is how it works...
- American Express allows you to book your own travel many different ways. You can buy from a site like Expedia or even directly with an airline or hotel.
- Then just redeem your points to offset your eligible travel purchase and American Express will give you a $100 statement credit for every 7,500 points! This is a huge benefit; you can choose the best deal out there from any airline, hotel or other travel service provider and get reimbursed in increments of 7,500 points.
- The rewards on Blue Sky are flexible. You can use them for many travel purchases, such as airline tickets, car rentals, cruises, hotel stays, and more. You can also redeem for gift cards and merchandise. Keep in mind that, because this card is meant for travel rewards, you'll get the best return when redeeming for travel.
It's important to remember, though, that when redeeming for travel you have to redeem at least 7,500 points and redeem in increments of 7,500 points. Those thresholds are higher than those on similar cards – but, in exchange, you get additional value out of each point.
#3 – Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
Why pay extra for insurance when you rent a car? When you use your Blue Sky credit card to reserve and pay for an eligible auto rental, you can be covered if the card is damaged or stolen. Consult the issuer for Terms and Conditions. This is one of the most valuable card perks since it can save you around $30 a day on rental car insurance fees. The coverage you get with the card is secondary coverage – which means it kicks in after your personal auto insurance pays. Even so, it can save you money when you file a claim, since it covers your primary auto insurance deductible and any loss-of-use fees charged by the rental agency.
#4 – Travel Accident Insurance
This benefit is one you hope you'll never have to use – but it can make a trip a lot less stressful knowing your loved ones would be covered if something happens to you. Travel Accident Insurance provides accidental death and dismemberment coverage while you're traveling on a Common Carrier Conveyance (plane, train, ship, helicopter, or bus) when the entire fare has been charged to the eligible card. Consult issuer for exclusions, terms and conditions.
#5 – Extended Warranty
Have you ever purchased something only to have it break down right after the warranty expires? The computer industry seems to have figured out how to expertly manage planned obsolescence (maybe it's some kind of software bug that causes them to self-destruct at some predetermined date). For example, let's say you used your card to buy a new iPad that came with a one-year manufacturer's warranty. After you have it a year and a half, the screen goes bad.
[imga=extended warranty"]http://creditcardforum.com/images/cards/misc/extended-warranty.png[/imga]Replacing that part would normally cost you several hundred dollars. But if it was an eligible purchase made with your AmEx Blue Sky, the extended warranty benefit might save the day. Consult issuer for terms and conditions.
#6 – Purchase Protection
Accidentally damaging something after you buy it is extremely frustrating, but it doesn't have to be. With the Blue Sky credit card, you have Purchase Protection on eligible purchases. If an eligible purchase is accidentally damaged or stolen within the first 90 days, you may qualify for reimbursement of up to $1,000 per occurrence. Consult issuer for terms and conditions.
So if you accidentally break that new pair of shades by dropping them on the concrete, you might be covered if you bought them with your American Express Blue Sky.
#7 – Return Protection
Returning merchandise isn't always easy. Maybe you lost the receipt, the store just doesn't accept returns or you've missed the store's 30- or 60-day return window. Perhaps the store claims the item isn't in the same condition as it was sold. Whatever the reason, you are left dissatisfied with your original purchase.
When you make eligible purchases with your Blue Sky card, you will have the Return Protection benefit, as long as the purchase is still in "like new" condition.
If you try to return an eligible item purchased fully with your eligible American Express Card in the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won't take it back, American Express can refund the purchase price – up to $300 per eligible item, excluding shipping and handling, and up to $1,000 annually per card account. This is a sweet perk that not many people are aware of or utilize. Consult issuer for terms and conditions.
#8 – No Annual Fee
After reading all these benefits, you were probably guessing this card carried a hefty annual fee. Guess what? There's no annual fee! Zip!
#9 – The Current Bonus (as of January 2015)
At the moment they're running an excellent promotion on this card. A while back I remember this card didn't come with any bonus whatsoever, so now is definitely a good time to apply.
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Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.