Best card for vacation rewards and first class flights?

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Rob587
 
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Best card for vacation rewards and first class flights?

Postby Rob587 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:49 am

I have a Fidelity Amex that gets 2% cashback everywhere and a Discover cash back for anything that doesnt take Amex.

My household income has steadily risen, I have decent expenses, and I want to shift all of my spending to a rewards card. I want to start staying at nicer places and taking some first class domestic flights out of Orlando. I feel like a rewards card would kind of be an easy way to auto save for those things, since points are maximized when spent on travel (as apposed to cash).

I don't mind paying an annual fee or being a little brand loyal if it will save me money on first class and nice hotels (a few times per year). I'm not too concerned with airline loyalty status b/c I want guaranteed first class, not just the chance of an upgrade.

After researching, it looks like the Amex PGR, Amex SPG, or Chase SP would be best for me. For me, I think it comes down to Amex vs Visa acceptance, and how far the reward points will get me.

Which card would you recommend for me?


yfan
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Re: Best card for vacation rewards and first class flights?

Postby yfan » Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:39 pm

As always, the answer is it depends. If you are looking for immediate cash savings, a cashback card is good enough. If you want to start earning free (first class) flights, a loyalty program along with a cobranded card may be a way to maximize points so that you have enough points to redeem for first class more quickly. If you want a broad choice of airlines, Amex MR points or Chase UR points will transfer - although Amex's airline partners are more numerous than Chase's.

Vermonster
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Re: Best card for vacation rewards and first class flights?

Postby Vermonster » Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:52 pm

yfan has some good points.

I just wanted to mention that you should rule out the SPG as its reward structure is in a bit of a state of flux as Marriott just purchased Starwood.
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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: Best card for vacation rewards and first class flights?

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:55 pm

If most of your flights will be award travel (rather than paid), then EDP may make more sense than PRG.
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Rob587
 
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Re: Best card for vacation rewards and first class flights?

Postby Rob587 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:19 pm

yfan wrote: If you want to start earning free (first class) flights, a loyalty program along with a cobranded card may be a way to maximize points so that you have enough points to redeem for first class more quickly. If you want a broad choice of airlines, Amex MR points or Chase UR points will transfer - although Amex's airline partners are more numerous than Chase's.


Assuming specific airline or hotel choices don't matter to me, Chase UR and Amex PGR, which one will get me more? It seems like in general the PGR gets you more after the initial bonus, but the Chase UR will be accepted a few more places because it's a Visa, right? My gut is telling me the PGR will get me farther considering the extra point multiples.

Vermonster
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Re: Best card for vacation rewards and first class flights?

Postby Vermonster » Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:24 pm

It really depends. I don't think either one would be bad for you. And really, you will never know if one would be better than the other for your specific flights.

What you can do is look at spending. The EDP and PRG combo is pretty good, as is the CSP and Freedom combo. Both will earn you some great rewards. You just need to look at how your current spending will pan out. I have not seen the Freedom calendar for 2016 yet, but it generally hits the big areas at least once.
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takeshi
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Re: Best card for vacation rewards and first class flights?

Postby takeshi » Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:24 am

Rob587 wrote:After researching, it looks like the Amex PGR, Amex SPG, or Chase SP would be best for me. For me, I think it comes down to Amex vs Visa acceptance, and how far the reward points will get me.

Which card would you recommend for me?

for any rewards card you have to run the numbers for your spend. For rewards programs like Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards you have to a go several steps beyond that and look at redemptions as well as the specific method of redemption and what you're redeeming for will have an impact on point value. Generally best value is attained with these programs by transferring to travel partners for premium international travel. So you'll probably not only need to look at the rewards programs but into the programs of the travel partners as well. There isn't enough information in your thread to conclusively state that you'd do better with one or the other. A given person could do better with MR while the next could do better with UR.

For me, I live in a United fortress hub city so all my air travel is on United. SInce United is a UR transfer partner it makes the decision easy for me.

Again, you have to run the numbers for your spend and ensure that you can accrue and redeem within a reasonable timeframe. Simply wanting to stay at nicer places and fly first class doesn't mean that a travel card is a good fit.

Rob587 wrote:Assuming specific airline or hotel choices don't matter to me, Chase UR and Amex PGR, which one will get me more?

They do matter because they will have an impact on redemptions. You cannot simply assume that one or other other will get everyone more (if one did then everyone would use that option and no one would use the other) and you need to do your due diligence. It's even possible that neither could be a good fit and that cash back may be your best option. We don't have enough details to make that assessment for you. In order to do that we'd need to know your major spend categories, the sorts of volumes that you're running through them and how you're going to redeem points with each program.

Rob587 wrote:Assuming specific airline or hotel choices don't matter to me, Chase UR and Amex PGR, which one will get me more? It seems like in general the PGR gets you more after the initial bonus, but the Chase UR will be accepted a few more places because it's a Visa, right? My gut is telling me the PGR will get me farther considering the extra point multiples.

Whether or not acceptance is an issue is for you to determine and you cannot rely on Visa being accepted in some more places.

As for the earn rates, they help if you have significant spend in those categories. The PRG isn't the only MR card and you may want to consider a card like the ED or EDP suggested above if you have significant spend in categories offered on those cards. That said, there are other considerations as well such as the PRG's airline credit.

Again, the earn rates are just one consideration. Make sure you're looking at redemptions as well. In my particular case I can get about 0.6 to 0.8 cents per MR point at best. I can do much better per UR point and that's also why I focus on UR.



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