First of all, I apologize for the long post and multiple questions but I truly am interested in the feedback. See it as a challenge post, who is willing to take the challenge ? Even if you don't get all the way through the post, any answers here would be great. I will cross post in the AMEX forum as well as questions relate to both initially.
I am looking to start adding some rewards, services, cash back and concierge additions to my portfolio. Currently have a few cards through CUs or standard bank that have great APR's but no real perks. With that in mind the cards that came to mind were:
AMEX Premium Rewards Gold
AMEX Blue Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Any others that I should consider ?
I want something that maximizes the points or cash back but at the same time is not a pain to manage which for me makes me believe that Chase Freedom or something with changing categories may be out
Groceries - Whole Foods or similar, Walmart, Target, Costco although I may be switching back to a Safeway or Kroger based on rewards from card etc making that more beneficial.
Dining Out - Coffee Shops, Restaurants (fine dining & regular), Fast food on occasion
Gas - Primarily standalone but also kroger and costco gas
Travel - Primarily local at this time so more hotel, local events (concerts, shows etc) and things locally although again with some of the perks by the cards listed above and others may use that to motivate further travel including international.
Entertainment - Movies, local events, concerts (would love to understand what the pre-sales and concierge services can REALLY help with here, their stated position is interesting but what do they actually deliver ?).
Clothing - Mix of department stores and brand stores (any lists on which of these are supported/eligible for AMEX, Chase etc ?)
Some questions about AMEX Platinum
1) Can you still get immediate Starwood Elite/Gold Status ?
2) Can you still get Avis, National, Hertz Elite/Gold Status ?
3) I read that a lot of the perks are diminishing, can anyone state what has been removed and more importantly if anything is being added ?
4) As am a corporate green card customer (given to me by work) can I still qualify for the bonuses when I sign up for a Plat card etc ?
Some questions about Visa/MC
1) Is there a better option with Chase Sapphire Preferred, Visa or MC for perks, rewards etc ?
2) Are the Sapphire Preferred cards Visa Signature by default when opting for Visa ?
3) Is there a list of hotels/travel partners/department stores that are eligible for these cards ?
General Questions on AMEX & Chase
There are a lot of details about the stated benefits (reviews, card company websites) but my question is are you (those that have these cards) actually seeing these benefits ?
1) For example companion tickets sound great but with so much fine print are they a reality ?
Hotel room upgrades, do these actually happen at check in and for most of the time or are you finding this happens once in a blue moon and most of the time they are 'unavailable' ?
Concierge services do these add any value, are they coming through for you with pre-sales access or some other requests or more often than not are you finding better deals yourself ?
Travel & Hotel services booked through provider a good deal or cheaper elsewhere ?
2) If I want to apple for both BCP and AMEX Plat (not sure the initial for that
) what should I apply for first and how long should I leave it between them ?
3) Lastly, is there a better time to sign up or a better time to get a bonus (holidays, start or end of year etc) ?
Thanks all for sticking with me this far. I really appreciate your input.