- Centurion Member
- Posts: 1176
- Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:55 am
- Location: US
If you're still looking for a card, consider the Amex EveryDay. I was/am in a very similar situation as you and that is what I ended up applying for, but the previous posters raise very good points.
If you know you can be loyal to an airline or hotel company, a cobranded card could be a good option. I wanted a general purpose "travel" card and had no brand loyalty. Chase's UR or Amex's MR points programs may be better options, but you need to look at their partners and be reasonably confident you can make use of them. I knew I wouldn't be taking a trip every year but wanted to "save up" points over the longer term. The EveryDay let me accumulate MR points with no annual fee to worry about offsetting. Just about any travel card will have an annual fee, and when you're going over a year without redeeming points making the overall value of the card positive (not to mention higher than cash back alternatives) will be harder. I'm aware the program is always at risk of changing. Points can be devalued and travel partners can even be eliminated. I went in knowing the worst-case scenario is I wouldn't be able to transfer to a partner when I was ready, but I could take a hit on redemption value and just cash out if need be.
It's true that for lower levels of spending, it may be best to just use a cash back card and apply the rewards to your travel expenses. A Citi Double Cash card will earn a reliable 2% back; while you CAN earn a higher return on rewards by redeeming travel points, there are a lot of restrictions. The certainty and simplicity of a cash back card might make it preferable. Personally, if I were you and decided a cash back card was my best option, I would go for either the Discover It or Discover Miles (which is branded as a travel card but is really more like the Capital One Quicksilver). The introductory bonus is simply unbeatable, even for lower spenders. Instead of getting $X back for spending $Y within Z months, all the cash back you earn in the first year is doubled at your 1-year anniversary. Since you're planning on "saving up" rewards anyway, the delay shouldn't be an issue. Citi's Double Cash (which has no introductory bonus) may give 2% regularly, but with a Discover it you'd get 2% on everything and 10% on category spending for an entire year.
Ultimately, you'll have to evaluate whether a true travel card is worth the hassle and risk of changing redemption options. A cash back card may be better, but it depends on your personal preferences.
EX - 805 (12/16) | TU - 803 (12/16)
American Express EveryDay - $20,000 (10/14)
Discover it - $23,000 (2/14)
AU on Barclay Sallie Mae - $10,000 (8/15)
plus several store accounts of varying usefulness now