Best travel reward card if I don't travel often

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clokwise
 
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Best travel reward card if I don't travel often

Postby clokwise » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:39 pm

So I want to get a card that will allow me to get cheaper flights and occasionally hotels. I know everyone speaks for the Chase Sapphire card, but the bad part for that one is it's only 1point per $1 spent except on travel. Thing is I don't travel much as is. I would like a card that is great for everyday use (grocery stores, gas station, etc) and these points are good for travel. I am confused. Thanks!


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CarefulBuilder14
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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:31 pm

Most (if not all) airline and hotel-specific cards will have annual fees which may not make sense if you don't spend a lot on travel.

If you want a card that is great for everyday use, look at Barclaycard's Arrival Plus (aka Arrival+). It doesn't give frequent flyer miles / hotel loyalty points the way the Chase UR, Amex MR, and hotel and airline-specific cards do. You get travel credits instead - you get 2.2% of all spending in the form of points you can apply to travel purchases you make with the card. It's somewhat flexible, since you're not tied to a specific airline or hotel brand.

The no-AF edition of Chase Sapphire is not very popular. Perhaps you're thinking of the AF version (CSP) that also gives 2x points on dining (as well as travel)? You need a CSP to transfer UR points into FF miles / hotel loyalty points.

Which airlines do you fly, and which hotel brands do you stay with? If you're not loyal to one or two companies, I'd suggest getting an Arrival+ as a general-purpose card.

I don't know enough about your credit history to estimate your approval chances, though.
Very useful: SchwabPlat, CSP, IHG, Costco (was AA Plat), Freedom, SPG, Prestige (retention)
Somewhat useful: Discover, ED (was EDP), BCE, Hyatt
SD with activity alerts, might close: Arrival

Might add: Proper business card, CSR, Ritz, Delta Gold, First Tech, BofA Travel PH, Aviator Red

CCRider
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Postby CCRider » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:04 pm

I have a Marriott Rewards card and I don't spend or travel a lot. It had a pretty huge signup bonus at the time - good enough for about 7 free nights at a category 1 - 4 hotel, so that's what sold me. The annual fee was waived the first year and I had planned to cancel after that but decided to keep it because I get free night each year, which more than offsets the annual fee. Hyatt also has a card that gives a free night each year. If you end up getting a card with an annual fee just make sure it gives you something to justify it. Otherwise you need to spend a fair amount each year to earn sufficient rewards to offset the fee.

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CarefulBuilder14
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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:10 pm

Be aware that most hotel cards use the free night on a 'use it or lose it' basis. If you stay at hotel X for three straight nights once every three years, only one of those nights is free. You can't save up free nights for future years.

A lot of travel cards have good signup bonuses, so you might look at those if you can handle the complexity and don't mind a lot of inquiries / a short AAoA after you cancel the cards to avoid extra AFs.
Very useful: SchwabPlat, CSP, IHG, Costco (was AA Plat), Freedom, SPG, Prestige (retention)
Somewhat useful: Discover, ED (was EDP), BCE, Hyatt
SD with activity alerts, might close: Arrival

Might add: Proper business card, CSR, Ritz, Delta Gold, First Tech, BofA Travel PH, Aviator Red

takeshi
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Postby takeshi » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:01 am

Don't just assume that wanting to travel means that a travel card is the best option for you. If you don't travel often or have large volumes of spend then a travel card may not be best. With the way that rewards tend to get nerfed over time I don't recommend letting miles or points sit around in an account for a long time. A cash back card may actually be better suited to you.

As with any request for card recommendations you need to provide a lot more information for us to use to narrow down the options. What are your major spend categories and what volume do you push through them? What travel companies do you use and not use?

clokwise wrote:I know everyone speaks for the Chase Sapphire card

People vary so everyone does not. Chase makes sense if you can make use of the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners since transfer is generally the best way to make the most value per point.

Similarly MR can be a good fit if you can make use of MR's transfer partners.

Again, if you don't have a lot of spend going through either program then you might want to look elsewhere. You can take a look at the redemption rates for UR and MR transfer partners (as well as the earn rates for the cards you're considering) to see how long it would take for you to be able to accumulate enough miles/points to redeem.

clokwise wrote:I would like a card that is great for everyday use (grocery stores, gas station, etc) and these points are good for travel

Just looking at those categories there are plenty of good cash back cards to choose from but, again, your spend will determine what would be best suited to you as that would determine which card you give you the maximum rewards.

If you can make use of MR points then an AmEx Everday card could be good for those categories.

The Arrival mentioned above could also be a good choice though it functions differently from cash back or most other miles/points cards. We really just need more info from you to help guide you.

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nismoZtuner
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Postby nismoZtuner » Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:57 pm

hotel hmm i would say marriot (dont know if you like marriott hotels)- their annual fee is $85 but they issue annual free hotel stays certificates. i reserved a stay a while ago that would had cost me $169- DO THE MATH!
TU 752 (+4) - [5/9/2014] CK 726 - [11/24/14] EX 725 - [11/20/14] EQ 710
BankofAmerica Cash Rewards [2k] I American Express Blue Cash Everyday [3K] l Discover IT[2.5]
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wiivile
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Postby wiivile » Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:57 pm

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:Most (if not all) airline and hotel-specific cards will have annual fees which may not make sense if you don't spend a lot on travel.

If you want a card that is great for everyday use, look at Barclaycard's Arrival Plus (aka Arrival+). It doesn't give frequent flyer miles / hotel loyalty points the way the Chase UR, Amex MR, and hotel and airline-specific cards do. You get travel credits instead - you get 2.2% of all spending in the form of points you can apply to travel purchases you make with the card. It's somewhat flexible, since you're not tied to a specific airline or hotel brand.

The no-AF edition of Chase Sapphire is not very popular. Perhaps you're thinking of the AF version (CSP) that also gives 2x points on dining (as well as travel)? You need a CSP to transfer UR points into FF miles / hotel loyalty points.

Which airlines do you fly, and which hotel brands do you stay with? If you're not loyal to one or two companies, I'd suggest getting an Arrival+ as a general-purpose card.

I don't know enough about your credit history to estimate your approval chances, though.


I don't understand the appeal of the Arrival+ over the Citi Double Cash. Is the $89 annual fee really worth 0.2% extra points and no foreign transaction fee?
    Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature: 11/2013, $15,000 CL
    Chase Freedom Visa: 11/2009, $4,700 CL
    U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature: 11/2013, $11,200 CL

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CarefulBuilder14
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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:42 pm

A big signup bonus does a lot to offset future annual fees. There may be better options available in the future.

There are some international locations where a Chip+PIN card like Arrival+ is required (or less of a hassle to use) than a Chip+Sig card. I believe Double Cash works as Chip+Signature.

Foreign transaction fees are extremely unattractive in any travel card, so if the Double Cash has them, I would say it is not appropriate as a travel card.

I generally value convenience and good customer service above squeezing every last cent out of my rewards. The OP values simplicity, and that factored into my advice.
Very useful: SchwabPlat, CSP, IHG, Costco (was AA Plat), Freedom, SPG, Prestige (retention)
Somewhat useful: Discover, ED (was EDP), BCE, Hyatt
SD with activity alerts, might close: Arrival

Might add: Proper business card, CSR, Ritz, Delta Gold, First Tech, BofA Travel PH, Aviator Red

Brad Bishop
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Postby Brad Bishop » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:41 am

Alright Delta Gold SkyMiles Card - you just got another year...

I'm much like the original poster in that I travel just a few times a year and it's kind of random. Sometimes I drive. Sometimes I fly.. It all just depends on the cost and which is easiest.

I got a Delta Gold SkyMiles card in early Spring and I just booked a trip with the bonus miles given and I should get free bags when I board. That more than covers the upcoming year's fees (well, still 7 or so months away). That's how I see this card: As long as it at least covers it's own fees through the services used, then I'm OK with it getting another year. As soon as it doesn't then it gets the axe. It's a year-by-year thing, though, and not cumulative. Don't think back 5 years where you got a bunch of bonus SkyMiles or free bags and use that to justify this year's annual fee - either it justified itself in the last year or it didn't.

So, basically, my rule is: Don't pay an annual fee for a card. If you do, then it should be made up for completely by services you'd otherwise pay for - meaning, if you'd never fly Delta except because you're trying to justify the Delta Gold SkyMiles card, then don't get the Delta Gold SkyMiles card.

You can apply this method to hotel cards or anything else.

Brad Bishop
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Postby Brad Bishop » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:43 am

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:A big signup bonus does a lot to offset future annual fees. There may be better options available in the future.

There are some international locations where a Chip+PIN card like Arrival+ is required (or less of a hassle to use) than a Chip+Sig card. I believe Double Cash works as Chip+Signature.

Foreign transaction fees are extremely unattractive in any travel card, so if the Double Cash has them, I would say it is not appropriate as a travel card.

I generally value convenience and good customer service above squeezing every last cent out of my rewards. The OP values simplicity, and that factored into my advice.



All good advice. I second the "valuing good customer service" bit. Don't put up with crap from any of these companies and, more importantly, don't put yourself in a position where you must put up with their crap because of the amount of debt you've accrued. You should be able to pay them off in a month or two and tell them to pound sand.

Be a customer, which they need, not a slave, which they own.



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