Specific Travel Card vs Travel points on generic travel card

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mmorrison
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Specific Travel Card vs Travel points on generic travel card

Postby mmorrison » Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:20 pm

Hi,
Which, in your opinion, is better a branded travel credit card (I.e. Amex Delta Skymiles) or a card that just gets you redeemable points towards travel (like the CapitalOne Venture One) particularly for people who only travel 2-4 times a year. Is a branded card even worth it if you don't travel a lot?


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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: Specific Travel Card vs Travel points on generic travel card

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Tue Jun 23, 2015 12:15 am

To begin with: establishing what is, and is not, a travel card can be fairly subjective.

Amex PRG has had special airfare rewards and hotel perks for a long time, but until very recently charged FTFs.
Venture and QuickSilver are marketed differently, but neither has FTFs.
QuickSilver is better than Venture One as a travel card after the better VO bonus.
Discover Miles is advertised as something of a travel card, even though it's really just an unrestricted cash-back card with a wifi credit.
Amex EDP isn't really a card to use much while you travel, but it can generate a lot of MR points in every-day spending to fuel travel later.
Most people can probably agree that Amex Platinum is a travel card due to its travel-related perks, but a lot of cards are in a grey area.

I do think that if you're going to get a card with an annual fee, and you plan to keep it in the long run, that you should get something of significant value that lasts. Hotel/airline elite status...free rooms/checked bags/points...generous travel credits and perks...or just excellent rewards. A sightly-above-average base rate of cash back isn't going to do it.

One downside to "travel cash back" doesn't get enough attention: Even if you travel a fair amount, to actually redeem your rewards, you need to put travel expenses onto the card. Sure, you earn rewards on that spending, but you're also giving up the opportunity to use a better card for that spending.

*My AF travel/semi-travel cards make sense for me under the following logic:
CSP: I earn good rewards for travel that isn't airfare or an IHG hotel, and can transfer Freedom points to Hyatt,
EDP: Lots of MRs from gas and groceries.
IHG: A free room, chosen well, can offset the AF for a few years. Little extras here and there are good, too.
PRG: It's a slightly older account, and as long as I can break even from offers and credits, I'll keep it. I may want to PC to Platinum later if I fly more.
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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Re: Specific Travel Card vs Travel points on generic travel card

Postby takeshi » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:06 am

+1 to the above. There are many vagaries. "Travel" is broad category and there are some miles/points cards out there generally referred to as "travel" that are really restricted cash back cards. Additionally, spend, situations, preferences, etc vary and they all make terms like "better" and "worth" highly subjective.

I find both types that you mention useful. I fly mostly on United but that's because Houston is a United fortress hub city with United monopolizing 3 of the 5 terminals at our larger airport and occupying some gates at the 4th as well. If that wasn't the case and I regularly used multiple airlines I might use a completely different set of cards for travel rewards. I have the MileagePlus Explorer mainly for its United benefits. The free checked bags usually end up offsetting the AF for me and priority boarding (though everyone seems to be in group 2 these days) and club passes are gravy. However, I actually earn most of my miles on other UR cards and transfer points to my MileagePlus account. That said, I also have cash back cards that I use.

You really have to carefully analyze your situation and run the numbers to get the answer you're looking for versus relying on some sort of broad generalization. Amount of spend and spend categories matter. Generally speaking, for lower amounts of spend cash back cards and fewer cards tend to be a better fit. If you have a lower amount of spend then you probably don't want to spread it out among multiple rewards programs. Amount of travel can play a part but it does not solely determine whether or not a "travel" card is a good fit. A single premium international cabin redemption, for example, could outweigh the value of many domestic economy redemptions.

In short, you have to look at where you're spend is going, how much is going to different categories, how much you can earn on that spend, how redemptions and how you specifically redeem affect the value of those rewards and how long it takes you to redeem with the amount of spend that you have versus the redemption requirement. Earning points/miles is great but if takes you a long time to accrue enough to redeem then you have determine whether it's worth the wait to you. Additionally, rewards programs can be devalued or nerfed over time.

On any topic if one option was universally best then everyone would use that option and no one would use the alternate. We can definitely give you some feedback but we would need a lot more information from you in order to make meaningful and relevant recommendations. Where is your spend going and in what volumes? What travel companies do you use? Do you tend to use one company or multiple? What other preferences and priorities do you have that would play a part in selecting a solution for you? Are you only looking to add one card or multiple? Are you looking for any specific benefits or are rewards the only concern? We need to understand your situation and your sense of worth.

kdm31091
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Re: Specific Travel Card vs Travel points on generic travel card

Postby kdm31091 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:11 pm

I will chime in that I think the Venture One/Arrival type cards are completely useless, especially the AF versions. Paying a fee for a restricted cashback card makes no sense when you can get the same thing elsewhere for free.

Even the free versions are worse than many regular cashback cards which are again unrestricted. Don't fall for marketing. The Venture One/Venture is no more of a travel card than a Quicksilver. It's just a more restrictive card period.

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CarefulBuilder14
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Re: Specific Travel Card vs Travel points on generic travel card

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:15 pm

kdm31091 wrote:I will chime in that I think the Venture One/Arrival type cards are completely useless, especially the AF versions. Paying a fee for a restricted cashback card makes no sense when you can get the same thing elsewhere for free.

Even the free versions are worse than many regular cashback cards which are again unrestricted. Don't fall for marketing. The Venture One/Venture is no more of a travel card than a Quicksilver. It's just a more restrictive card period.

Arrival+ and Venture (the AF versions) usually don't make sense to keep in the long run. Both Arrival versions (and I think some other Barclaycard products) have access to RewardsBoost, though, which can make them more lucrative than some other cards. I saved 32.4% on a pair of sneakers using my Arrival a few weeks ago. That beat even a double-rewards Discover! I'll put up with a travel credit restriction as long as there is no AF.
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

rockyrock
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Re: Specific Travel Card vs Travel points on generic travel card

Postby rockyrock » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:49 am

This has all of the sudden become an issue for me, I no longer have a "generic" or specific cards for lodging. Over the past year I have closed my CSP, Marriott and SPG cards. With my current spread, I have all cats but lodging covered. In the past if it wasn't Starwood or Marriott I would use my CSP. I'm not looking to get any more AF cards so I may just have to put in the extra effort and shop through portals to get bonus points/miles on the front end. If I plan far enough ahead I can always buy hotel gift cards from the supermarket as well--they sell them right?

Anyone else have any thoughts? :confused:
American Express (2005): Green & Blue Cash Everyday
Chase: Freedom & UA Club USAA: Signature Visa & American Express
Discover it Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines WEMC Synchrony Sam's MC
Navy FCU Platinum Visa Citi Double Cash & AT&T Access MC



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