Best CC for Travel

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adaml30
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Best CC for Travel

Post by adaml30 » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:28 pm

I know there was a post on the best CCs in general but I am curious what the best CC is for flying and hotel. My wife just accepted a managerial position ($yeah!$) and she will be traveling a couple of times a month. What is the best CC for her to get?

bluebolt
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by bluebolt » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:36 pm

Chase Sapphire Reserve if you can apply in a branch and still get the 100K points bonus. Even if not, the 50K point bonus for applying online is not bad combined with the $300/yr travel credit and effective 4.5% on travel & dining (when redeemed for travel). $450 annual fee is due up front.

livesoft
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by livesoft » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:38 pm

Her company should provide her with a credit card.
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adaml30
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by adaml30 » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:42 pm

They will provide her with one but she said she can use her own to get reimbursed, which I think is the best idea to get some rewards.

ResearchMed
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:58 pm

adaml30 wrote:They will provide her with one but she said she can use her own to get reimbursed, which I think is the best idea to get some rewards.
This is what DH has done over the years, and we've added a huge bundle of awards/points from those charges over the years.

If she travels a lot, that should add to those awards pretty quickly.

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blueblock
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by blueblock » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:59 pm

Congrats to your wife!

"The best" credit card will depend on your goals and priorities.

Me, I preferred, and still do, Chase's Mileage Plus Visa, where you earn one air mile for every dollar charged. There's an annual fee, but I've flown first class for the cost of Economy more times than I can count, by drawing on the miles earned in that program. (I charge everything.) Next up, business class to London paying not one red cent.

enki
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by enki » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:59 pm

The two best mainstream CCs for people who travel frequently are the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Personally, I favor the latter, though in some situations the Amex Platinum might be better. As bluebolt mentioned, they just stopped the initial 100k sign-up offer for online apps but you can still get it in a branch office. Amex Platinum will routinely have 50k point offers and sometimes 75-100k.

Whakamole
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Whakamole » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:02 pm

bluebolt wrote:Chase Sapphire Reserve if you can apply in a branch and still get the 100K points bonus. Even if not, the 50K point bonus for applying online is not bad combined with the $300/yr travel credit and effective 4.5% on travel & dining (when redeemed for travel). $450 annual fee is due up front.
You also get a Priority Pass with the CSR which lets you use certain airport lounges for free. You can visit https://www.prioritypass.com/ for more information and a list. I've already used this benefit a few times, usually the lounges have free snacks/beverages as well as more comfortable seating.

carguyny
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by carguyny » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:05 pm

I prefer the City National Crystal Visa Infinite to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. No fee in the first year, also your additional card holder gets the travel cost reimbursement. Really net cost positive + 3% rewards on all travel related categories (fuel, fast food, restaurants, hotels, groceries etc.)

Only card I've ever found really worth the annual fee - the negative is you need to open in branch now I believe.

b4nash
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by b4nash » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:24 pm

I'd stick with a cash back card. Who knows if she will actually travel that often and like the job enough to stay. I have been traveling for 3.5 years and the turnover is amazing.

NoGambleNoFuture
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by NoGambleNoFuture » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:48 pm

adaml30 wrote:They will provide her with one but she said she can use her own to get reimbursed, which I think is the best idea to get some rewards.
Yeah, same here. Have a corporate amex here myself but book all flights, hotels, and auto on the CSR. Expense and get reimbursed a week or two later while racking up status on airlines/hotels and points on the CSR...

adaml30
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by adaml30 » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:09 pm

The CSR kind of scares me with it having a 450 annual fee. I know many of you are high on it at BH. We have 3 kids and like to travel, but not sure we would be able to use the points for travel well enough. We live in Central IL and use regional airports, with Chicago, STL, and Indy all being 2.5-3 hours away.

Any cards where u get a high % on flying/hotel back as cash back?

Our personal CC is chase freedom, and after reading the last post about CC I thought about switching but I think we will just keep our CC as chase freedom.
Thanks for all of your help, I have lurked around here for a long time and finally created an account!!

enki
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by enki » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:11 pm

carguyny wrote:I prefer the City National Crystal Visa Infinite to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. No fee in the first year, also your additional card holder gets the travel cost reimbursement. Really net cost positive + 3% rewards on all travel related categories (fuel, fast food, restaurants, hotels, groceries etc.)

Only card I've ever found really worth the annual fee - the negative is you need to open in branch now I believe.
Yeah, that is a good card. Too bad its very hard to get unless you live in the handful of states with branch offices.

The reason I like the CSR better than the Amex Platinum is because of the better point value (up to 3%) and redemption (up to 50% bonus), the easy $300 annual travel credit (negating the annual fee down to $150), and other various benefits. The Platinum gives you some other perks like Centurion Lounge access (in the two airports they have it) and some other point transfer partners, but if you are looking for cash back or travel redemption outside of that, the value is pretty low in comparison. And, outside of rare examples, their "free companion pass" is a joke.

enki
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by enki » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:16 pm

adaml30 wrote:The CSR kind of scares me with it having a 450 annual fee. I know many of you are high on it at BH. We have 3 kids and like to travel, but not sure we would be able to use the points for travel well enough. We live in Central IL and use regional airports, with Chicago, STL, and Indy all being 2.5-3 hours away.

Any cards where u get a high % on flying/hotel back as cash back?

Our personal CC is chase freedom, and after reading the last post about CC I thought about switching but I think we will just keep our CC as chase freedom.
Thanks for all of your help, I have lurked around here for a long time and finally created an account!!
In the end, it really is only $150 since you are basically guaranteed to get $300 back as travel credits. Does Priority Pass have clubs in those airports? If so, it could be pretty beneficial. If you can still score the 100k sign up bonus in branch, that is an easy $1500 in travel value, negating the AF and quite a bit more. Even if you just keep it one year, since the $300 credit is calendar based, you could double up ($600 back) and cancel -- though personally I plan on keeping mine indefinitely.

The CSP has 3% travel cash back, as do many other cards. The AF is only $95, but that is technically $55 less than the CSR and much less benefits.

The only real downside to the CSR is the high AU fee with very little benefits from it. I ended up just getting a second account for my wife so we would get 200k miles in total ($3000 travel money).

J_Markov
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by J_Markov » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:18 pm

blueblock wrote:Congrats to your wife!

Me, I preferred, and still do, Chase's Mileage Plus Visa, where you earn one air mile for every dollar charged. There's an annual fee, but I've flown first class for the cost of Economy more times than I can count, by drawing on the miles earned in that program. (I charge everything.) Next up, business class to London paying not one red cent.
That's great. But how many miles do you usually need for an upgrade? about 10,000? You'd need to spend $10,000 for every upgrade?

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by grabiner » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:39 pm

blueblock wrote:Congrats to your wife!

"The best" credit card will depend on your goals and priorities.

Me, I preferred, and still do, Chase's Mileage Plus Visa, where you earn one air mile for every dollar charged. There's an annual fee, but I've flown first class for the cost of Economy more times than I can count, by drawing on the miles earned in that program. (I charge everything.) Next up, business class to London paying not one red cent.
This is worthwhile only if United miles are particularly valuable to you, because you fly United regularly. If you live in a United hub city, then United nonstops will make it easier to turn your miles into flights, and the free checked bag and lounge access will cover the annual fee. (That is why I have this card, I used to fly regularly out of Newark and now often fly out of Washington Dulles, both United hubs. I don't use my miles to upgrade, but often spend 25,000 miles rather than $400 to fly cross-country.)
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Cruise » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:53 pm

OP: If you value travel points at $.02 per point, and if your wife is spending more than $7500 in travel-related and dining purchases each year, the CSR is a no-brainer.
Last edited by Cruise on Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

CodeMaster
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by CodeMaster » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:12 am

Dont forget Charles Schwab card which lets you pull out your money from any ATM in world and they cover any and all ATM fees, even $10 fees from a strip club!!! The exchange rate is fair as well, and no foreign transaction fees. Its a total win.

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Watty
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Watty » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:17 am

If she will be frequently flying the same airline or staying in the same hotel chain then you can often get double miles or more for paying with their credit card.

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siamond
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by siamond » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:42 am

I just signed up for the Expedia+ Voyager credit card as my regular travel credit card. If you book all your travels (or at least the flights and some hotels) via Expedia, then it seems to be well worth it. Here is are two solid reviews, although somehow they seem to ignore the very basic math that the lowest return you get on points is around 2.4x, and that is higher than the 2x reward you get from the better known Barclaycard Arrival Plus or from Chase Sapphire Preferred. I also really like the simple process (book on Expedia, get points, redeem on Expedia bookings, etc) *AND* the $100 bonus for the incidentals (which essentially repay the annual fee).

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/expedia ... ti-review/
https://www.valuepenguin.com/expedia-pl ... redit-card

This being said, I will probably go with Barclays and Chase as well for the next large travel expense (Galapagos!), if only to benefit from the impressive bonus, without planning to keep such card on the long run (once the bonus is redeemed).

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blueblock
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by blueblock » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:17 am

J_Markov wrote:
blueblock wrote:Congrats to your wife!

Me, I preferred, and still do, Chase's Mileage Plus Visa, where you earn one air mile for every dollar charged. There's an annual fee, but I've flown first class for the cost of Economy more times than I can count, by drawing on the miles earned in that program. (I charge everything.) Next up, business class to London paying not one red cent.
That's great. But how many miles do you usually need for an upgrade? about 10,000? You'd need to spend $10,000 for every upgrade?
I have a few hundred K miles banked from when I was working. And given that my periodontist recently relieved me of $2,600, which I charged, $10K isn't hard to hit.
grabiner wrote:
This is worthwhile only if United miles are particularly valuable to you, because you fly United regularly. If you live in a United hub city, then United nonstops will make it easier to turn your miles into flights, and the free checked bag and lounge access will cover the annual fee. (That is why I have this card, I used to fly regularly out of Newark and now often fly out of Washington Dulles, both United hubs. I don't use my miles to upgrade, but often spend 25,000 miles rather than $400 to fly cross-country.)
Yes, I should have mentioned that, while I live in the sticks, I'm only 45 minutes from O'Hare.

adaml30
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by adaml30 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:53 am

Can you earn cash back with the CSR card, or is it only a good deal if you redeem it for travel? We actually do travel a good amount, and I would assume that would continue, however I don't want to be "trapped" to only travel to redeem our points. Also, does the CSR site where we redeem use most airlines, and not just the major ones? We like to go with the cheapest flights, and don't always want to drive 2.5 hours to get to a large airport to fly with the big airlines.

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by midareff » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:28 am

adaml30 wrote:They will provide her with one but she said she can use her own to get reimbursed, which I think is the best idea to get some rewards.
I'd give a 2% cash back card consideration.

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Watty
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Watty » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:39 am

midareff wrote:
adaml30 wrote:They will provide her with one but she said she can use her own to get reimbursed, which I think is the best idea to get some rewards.
I'd give a 2% cash back card consideration.
I had forgotten that The Costco credit card has 3% on travel, that would be hard to beat.

remomnyc
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by remomnyc » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:17 am

adaml30 wrote:Can you earn cash back with the CSR card, or is it only a good deal if you redeem it for travel? We actually do travel a good amount, and I would assume that would continue, however I don't want to be "trapped" to only travel to redeem our points. Also, does the CSR site where we redeem use most airlines, and not just the major ones? We like to go with the cheapest flights, and don't always want to drive 2.5 hours to get to a large airport to fly with the big airlines.
If you can't find the flight or hotel you want through the CSR rewards program, you can also transfer points to United, Southwest and Hyatt for the most bang for your buck. You can also use CSR points on Amazon, gift cards, and cash back 1:1 (but remember you earned 3:1 pts for travel).

Strictly for cash back, I use Citi Double Rewards (2% cash back).

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by gunn_show » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:55 pm

adaml30 wrote:The CSR kind of scares me with it having a 450 annual fee. I know many of you are high on it at BH. We have 3 kids and like to travel, but not sure we would be able to use the points for travel well enough. We live in Central IL and use regional airports, with Chicago, STL, and Indy all being 2.5-3 hours away.

Any cards where u get a high % on flying/hotel back as cash back?

Our personal CC is chase freedom, and after reading the last post about CC I thought about switching but I think we will just keep our CC as chase freedom.
Watty wrote:If she will be frequently flying the same airline or staying in the same hotel chain then you can often get double miles or more for paying with their credit card.
Watty's response is really the key to strategy for work travel, which I do a lot of. If possible, you need to pick 1 airline and 1 hotel chain to use at least 75% of the time or more if possible (some regional travel you don't have a choice, you take whatever you can get). That is how you rack up mega points, and also start climbing the status ladder (ie Marriott Gold, gets you free wifi, free breakfast, concierge lounge access, free parking, etc). Thus, the answer on what additional CC's to get depends on the chain/carrier she will use. For me, I have the Chase Southwest CC for flights and Chase Marriott (and Ritz) CC for my hotel, and I have high six figure points for both thanks to double dipping (as Watty pointed out) thanks to getting points for staying and points on the CC spend.

I also have the CSR as many others mention, because you get $300 back no matter what, and the 100k signup was worth 5x that anyway. I use that card for all other travel related items like food, uber or lyft rides, or any flights or hotels that are not SW or Marriott branded (ie Vegas conferences where most hotels have no related rewards program). Between using the CSP and CSR and spend I am already over 215k miles in chase points in one year.

It's a game, and if done right with some effort, can result in a lot of free points and travel.
"I love competition. And I want to win." R. Murdoch

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by rjbraun » Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:06 pm

carguyny wrote:I prefer the City National Crystal Visa Infinite to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. No fee in the first year, also your additional card holder gets the travel cost reimbursement. Really net cost positive + 3% rewards on all travel related categories (fuel, fast food, restaurants, hotels, groceries etc.)

Only card I've ever found really worth the annual fee - the negative is you need to open in branch now I believe.
I'm not at all familiar with the City National Crystal card. I assume this is the card you're referring to:

https://www.cnb.com/lending/cards/indiv ... t-card.asp

If I already have the CSR I guess that's not necessarily a deterrent from getting the City National card as well, given you say no fee in the first year.

It looks as if they have locations in NYC (400 Park Ave, 6th Ave, Vesey St). Can I just pop into one of those offices or do I need to have an existing banking relationship before they will consider issuing a credit card?

Bfwolf
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:02 pm

adaml30 wrote:Can you earn cash back with the CSR card, or is it only a good deal if you redeem it for travel? We actually do travel a good amount, and I would assume that would continue, however I don't want to be "trapped" to only travel to redeem our points. Also, does the CSR site where we redeem use most airlines, and not just the major ones? We like to go with the cheapest flights, and don't always want to drive 2.5 hours to get to a large airport to fly with the big airlines.
I don't know exactly which airlines are on the Chase travel portal, but here's a post talking about 4 airlines that aren't on it that you can still book with your Chase URs by calling them. http://millionmilesecrets.com/2016/10/3 ... ds-points/

You can get cash back from URs at a penny a point, so worst case scenario is $1,000 in value. But I suspect you'll have no issue getting the 1.5 cents/point value from the travel portal. Don't forget the travel portal also has hotels and car rentals.

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by ZeroWealth » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:07 pm

If you aren't loyal to a specific hotel or airline chain, I would highly recommend the Barclaycard Arrival+. Their point system works like a credit to your account after your trip, so you essentially cover your qualifying travel costs with the points you've built up. Also it's one of the few cards that rewards 2x points on everything you spend across the board.
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ChiefIlliniwek
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by ChiefIlliniwek » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:47 pm

ZeroWealth wrote:If you aren't loyal to a specific hotel or airline chain, I would highly recommend the Barclaycard Arrival+. Their point system works like a credit to your account after your trip, so you essentially cover your qualifying travel costs with the points you've built up. Also it's one of the few cards that rewards 2x points on everything you spend across the board.
Why would you use this over the Citi Double Cash or the 2% Fidelity card? This way you don't have to just redeem for travel.

Bfwolf
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:58 pm

ChiefIlliniwek wrote:
ZeroWealth wrote:If you aren't loyal to a specific hotel or airline chain, I would highly recommend the Barclaycard Arrival+. Their point system works like a credit to your account after your trip, so you essentially cover your qualifying travel costs with the points you've built up. Also it's one of the few cards that rewards 2x points on everything you spend across the board.
Why would you use this over the Citi Double Cash or the 2% Fidelity card? This way you don't have to just redeem for travel.
The Arrival+ has an excellent introductory bonus.

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by patrick » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:03 pm

adaml30 wrote:Can you earn cash back with the CSR card, or is it only a good deal if you redeem it for travel? We actually do travel a good amount, and I would assume that would continue, however I don't want to be "trapped" to only travel to redeem our points. Also, does the CSR site where we redeem use most airlines, and not just the major ones? We like to go with the cheapest flights, and don't always want to drive 2.5 hours to get to a large airport to fly with the big airlines.
You can use the CSR for cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point, giving you "only" 3% cash back on travel and restaurant purchases. Redeeming through the travel portal gives a 1.5 cents per point, so you get the equivalent of 4.5% cash back on travel and restaurant purchases that way. The Chase travel portal seemed rather comprehensive when I last looked at it. I'm not sure what airlines you are interested in, but if you want to use regional flights like United Express or American Eagle to connect to smaller airports, those are definitely included.

brajalle
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by brajalle » Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:58 am

I don't think we have enough information to determine the right card. There's some good cards discussed, but it's just that - a bunch of good cards (and a few mediocre in there). As a few others have mentioned, we really need to know -
1. Can your wife pick an airline or hotel chain typically?
2. How long is the typical stay?

b4nash
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by b4nash » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:46 am

brajalle wrote:I don't think we have enough information to determine the right card. There's some good cards discussed, but it's just that - a bunch of good cards (and a few mediocre in there). As a few others have mentioned, we really need to know -
1. Can your wife pick an airline or hotel chain typically?
2. How long is the typical stay?
+1. I would say use a 2% or higher cashback card for the first 6 months. Once she gets a sense of how often she will be traveling, how far the travel is (maybe some are driving distance and only require a rental car), if someone else dictates hotel choices, then reevaluate.

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by traveltoomuch » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:56 am

It sounds like you're uninterested in playing point games, but I still recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve, even if you just use the points as $ credit toward travel. The net annual fee is $150/year, it allows Chase UR points to be redeemed for 1.5 cents each when booking travel through Chase, and it awards 3x points on all travel spending. That's a 4.5% rebate on her reimbursed spending for a $150 (net) annual fee, with the constraint being that redemptions need to be on travel booked through Chase's site. You still have the option of 1 cent each (3% total rebate) v. other purchases. My second choice might be the new Costco card, with it's 3% cash back on travel. Third choice is a simple 2% cash back card like one of the Fidelity-branded cards or Citi Double Cash.

If you're willing to play point games: I would go for one of the three $400-500 annual fee cards that earn transferable points, either Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on all travel), Citi Prestige (3x air & hotel), or Amex Platinum (5x air, no hotel bonus). Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x travel) and Amex Premier Rewards Gold (3x air, no hotel) are credible alternatives. I would pick based on which loyalty programs she'll want to redeem from. Personally, I'm happiest with Chase UR points, and I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. (I also have the Citi Prestige, but it predates the CSR card, and I'll probably use CSR going forward.) I redeem a fair number of United, Hyatt, and British Air points, all of which are Chase UR transfer partners. Singapore's KrisFlyer program is appealing, too, and they're partners of all three programs.

There are more complicated strategies, but I think the high-fee cards above are hard to beat.

They also all offer good insurance products, which can themselves be quite worthwhile.

ChiefIlliniwek
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by ChiefIlliniwek » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:33 am

Bfwolf wrote:
ChiefIlliniwek wrote:
ZeroWealth wrote:If you aren't loyal to a specific hotel or airline chain, I would highly recommend the Barclaycard Arrival+. Their point system works like a credit to your account after your trip, so you essentially cover your qualifying travel costs with the points you've built up. Also it's one of the few cards that rewards 2x points on everything you spend across the board.
Why would you use this over the Citi Double Cash or the 2% Fidelity card? This way you don't have to just redeem for travel.
The Arrival+ has an excellent introductory bonus.
True but after that there is no reason to use the card since it has an annual fee. The only plus is that it is a true chip and pin card, or so I am told, and doesn't have a FTF but you can also downgrade to the straight Arrival and get both of those.

adaml30
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by adaml30 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:30 am

brajalle wrote: As a few others have mentioned, we really need to know -
1. Can your wife pick an airline or hotel chain typically?
2. How long is the typical stay?
Thanks.
1. She can usually pick the air line but generally will be flying in the Midwest. So either a direct flight from regional airport. Or, fly to Ohare and then to destination.

2. I would say once or twice a night every couple of weeks, but like others have said, we really don't know right now exactly.

After listening to you suggestions and doing research, I think we are going to do the CSR card because of the travel for us as a family but for her as well. We are planning a trip to the Caribbean, just the two of us in the next couple of months. That would get us over or around the 4,000 in the first 3 months while getting the 3% back. I told her she needs to go apply at chase so we get the 100k miles. With all that, we would be well on our way to a "free" vacation a month into using the card, and that doesn't even take into account her using it for work!

BeneIRA
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by BeneIRA » Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:26 pm

NoGambleNoFuture wrote:
adaml30 wrote:They will provide her with one but she said she can use her own to get reimbursed, which I think is the best idea to get some rewards.
Yeah, same here. Have a corporate amex here myself but book all flights, hotels, and auto on the CSR. Expense and get reimbursed a week or two later while racking up status on airlines/hotels and points on the CSR...
Is the amount you get reimbursed taxable? I have something similar, but my significant other had an issue where we thought her expenses would be reimbursed to her post-tax, but she was taxed on it, so we were out quite a bit of money. Well, okay, not a ton, but more than I would have liked (zero).

OP, if she is going to travel twice a year, I would get the CSR and apply in a branch which you should have in your area. It is going to make sense because the annual fee is basically $150. If you put the flight on the card, there will be at least $300 worth of flights and/or hotels. You get the $300 travel credit back. Thus, a $150 annual fee. And yes, you get the 3X points even when you get reimbursed. It also comes with limited travel insurance and car rental insurance if that matters to you. With the 100,000 bonus point offer, you can't beat it. No foreign transaction fees are a bonus.

I'm not sure if you need the tolls where you are, but reload your I-Pass with it and get the 3X points and the reimbursement. Same with parking if you ever go into Chicago. The Ultimate Rewards portal gives you a guaranteed 1.5%, but some partners can do better. If you are where I think you are, then Midway Airport is closer to you than O'Hare, and Midway is a Southwest hub.

Exterous
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:34 pm

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Exterous » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:57 am

adaml30 wrote:
brajalle wrote: As a few others have mentioned, we really need to know -
1. Can your wife pick an airline or hotel chain typically?
2. How long is the typical stay?
Thanks.
1. She can usually pick the air line but generally will be flying in the Midwest. So either a direct flight from regional airport. Or, fly to Ohare and then to destination.

2. I would say once or twice a night every couple of weeks, but like others have said, we really don't know right now exactly.

After listening to you suggestions and doing research, I think we are going to do the CSR card because of the travel for us as a family but for her as well. We are planning a trip to the Caribbean, just the two of us in the next couple of months. That would get us over or around the 4,000 in the first 3 months while getting the 3% back. I told her she needs to go apply at chase so we get the 100k miles. With all that, we would be well on our way to a "free" vacation a month into using the card, and that doesn't even take into account her using it for work!
If you want to accumulate points I'd actually look into getting two cards. One for her preferred hotel accommodation chain and another for airline points. If she's traveling that much it can be nice to have a higher status level at the hotel she stays at and many cards offer X towards elite status (or even outright give a level), not to mention the higher point earnings.

While it depends on her options I found Hilton to be a very good option. They get a lot of flack for high point redemptions but their earning can be insane and they have a large footprint so its easy to find one where you will be traveling to to use your points at. As an example of their high point earnings they have been running a promotion for 3x points on mobile app bookings (For 4 months now?). Since you get 10 base points per $ that turns into 30 + 5 points for Points+Points. Then I have the Hilton Amex so I get another 12 points/$ and stay enough for Diamond status for another 5 points/$ (The card gives you gold by default)
So thats 52 points/$ for Hilton. Good luck getting anywhere near that with any other chain. So yeah Hiltons downtown city redemptions might be 10-20k higher than Marriott since you can only get ~18-22 Marriott points/$ I've found Hilton generally works out to be the better chain per dollar spent

As for flying and, again, assuming you are looking into point travel I would look into something that earns Chase Ultimate rewards. Lots of cheap airfare to certain locations (ie Europe) so booking through Chase's portal and using their UR can be less points than transferring the miles to an airline and looking for 'saver' awards.

If you do want to transfer Chase has the added benefit of being a United partner. There could be a long discussion on which airline is better but United IME has the best reward options and availability. Delta's redemption options are usually very high so its tough to get enough points to make them viable (and I saw this as a DTW captive). AA has been very stingy on premium award space and they play a ton of games with their economy award space. For example if the economy section is a 2-3 seat configuration you can't use miles to book the 2 seat side. You can only book seats on the 3 seat side. Does the airplane taper off in the back so there are only 2 seats back there? Too bad. Can't book them. Does that seat have extra leg room because of a bulkhead or missing seat in front of it? Can't book it.

United, meanwhile, will let you book any seat in economy if its available. They also open up way more award availability in premium cabins. I've flown to Australia and, late this year New Zealand on United not because I didn't have enough miles to use AA but because AA basically never releases that award space. We were looking to head to Chile, San Jose, or Panama and 0 AA premium award space to be found. Meanwhile I had plenty of United premium cabin options. And this is being willing to make my own way to a hub\gateway city too. Another big plus to United is that they let you upgrade seats paid for with points.

ResearchMed
Posts: 5857
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:51 pm

Exterous wrote:
adaml30 wrote:
brajalle wrote: As a few others have mentioned, we really need to know -
1. Can your wife pick an airline or hotel chain typically?
2. How long is the typical stay?
Thanks.
1. She can usually pick the air line but generally will be flying in the Midwest. So either a direct flight from regional airport. Or, fly to Ohare and then to destination.

2. I would say once or twice a night every couple of weeks, but like others have said, we really don't know right now exactly.

After listening to you suggestions and doing research, I think we are going to do the CSR card because of the travel for us as a family but for her as well. We are planning a trip to the Caribbean, just the two of us in the next couple of months. That would get us over or around the 4,000 in the first 3 months while getting the 3% back. I told her she needs to go apply at chase so we get the 100k miles. With all that, we would be well on our way to a "free" vacation a month into using the card, and that doesn't even take into account her using it for work!
If you want to accumulate points I'd actually look into getting two cards. One for her preferred hotel accommodation chain and another for airline points. If she's traveling that much it can be nice to have a higher status level at the hotel she stays at and many cards offer X towards elite status (or even outright give a level), not to mention the higher point earnings.

While it depends on her options I found Hilton to be a very good option. They get a lot of flack for high point redemptions but their earning can be insane and they have a large footprint so its easy to find one where you will be traveling to to use your points at. As an example of their high point earnings they have been running a promotion for 3x points on mobile app bookings (For 4 months now?). Since you get 10 base points per $ that turns into 30 + 5 points for Points+Points. Then I have the Hilton Amex so I get another 12 points/$ and stay enough for Diamond status for another 5 points/$ (The card gives you gold by default)
So thats 52 points/$ for Hilton. Good luck getting anywhere near that with any other chain. So yeah Hiltons downtown city redemptions might be 10-20k higher than Marriott since you can only get ~18-22 Marriott points/$ I've found Hilton generally works out to be the better chain per dollar spent

As for flying and, again, assuming you are looking into point travel I would look into something that earns Chase Ultimate rewards. Lots of cheap airfare to certain locations (ie Europe) so booking through Chase's portal and using their UR can be less points than transferring the miles to an airline and looking for 'saver' awards.

If you do want to transfer Chase has the added benefit of being a United partner. There could be a long discussion on which airline is better but United IME has the best reward options and availability. Delta's redemption options are usually very high so its tough to get enough points to make them viable (and I saw this as a DTW captive). AA has been very stingy on premium award space and they play a ton of games with their economy award space. For example if the economy section is a 2-3 seat configuration you can't use miles to book the 2 seat side. You can only book seats on the 3 seat side. Does the airplane taper off in the back so there are only 2 seats back there? Too bad. Can't book them. Does that seat have extra leg room because of a bulkhead or missing seat in front of it? Can't book it.

United, meanwhile, will let you book any seat in economy if its available. They also open up way more award availability in premium cabins. I've flown to Australia and, late this year New Zealand on United not because I didn't have enough miles to use AA but because AA basically never releases that award space. We were looking to head to Chile, San Jose, or Panama and 0 AA premium award space to be found. Meanwhile I had plenty of United premium cabin options. And this is being willing to make my own way to a hub\gateway city too. Another big plus to United is that they let you upgrade seats paid for with points.
Regarding the stingy AA award space, we've had very good luck with AA *partner* airlines, which for international premium travel, are much nicer anyway.
There is a separate "awards chart" for the partner redemptions, and there isn't any "extra point" charge for different travel dates, etc.

We were really surprised by this. and how easy it was to get the seats/beds, but we are more than happy to use those artners.

(As a strategy, we also accumulate Amex Plat rewards points, which can be used for a different network of airline partners. Between the two, we can get just about anywhere we want. And then there is the strategy of using, say, Amex points to book through one of their partners, but for travel on that partner's partner... )

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

Exterous
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:34 pm

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Exterous » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:44 pm

ResearchMed wrote:Regarding the stingy AA award space, we've had very good luck with AA *partner* airlines, which for international premium travel, are much nicer anyway.
There is a separate "awards chart" for the partner redemptions, and there isn't any "extra point" charge for different travel dates, etc.

We were really surprised by this. and how easy it was to get the seats/beds, but we are more than happy to use those artners.

(As a strategy, we also accumulate Amex Plat rewards points, which can be used for a different network of airline partners. Between the two, we can get just about anywhere we want. And then there is the strategy of using, say, Amex points to book through one of their partners, but for travel on that partner's partner... )

RM
It depends on your destinations. AA has several partners that are very stingy with their premium award spaces as well (Qantas, LATAM, BA on many routes, Airberlin, Fiji Airlines) and two of their biggest trans atlantic partners incur some pretty heft fees on award flights (BA and Iberia). In comparison none of United's partners do that. (United has some pretty nice international partners as well)

I'm not saying AA miles are useless and I earn a bunch of both. I've just found it much easier to get to places I want to go on United&Co from the Midwest than on AA&Co (Unless I want to pay $500 on my 'free' flight to connect through LHR on BA)

WhyNotUs
Posts: 1193
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:38 am

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by WhyNotUs » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:46 pm

Depends what airline she will be flying on.
If she will use lots of different airlines, the CSR could be a good fit.
Where I live, I almost have to fly United so the Chase Mileage Plus card is good.
Study the travel benefits if you are paying an annual fee- trip interruption, primary car rental insurance, travel medical/evacuation, free bags, etc. vary by card.
If she is flying SW frequently, then bone up on the cc tricks to get a companion pass.

The Starwood Amex card is pretty good if she will use lots of hotel rooms.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

ResearchMed
Posts: 5857
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:56 pm

Exterous wrote:
ResearchMed wrote:Regarding the stingy AA award space, we've had very good luck with AA *partner* airlines, which for international premium travel, are much nicer anyway.
There is a separate "awards chart" for the partner redemptions, and there isn't any "extra point" charge for different travel dates, etc.

We were really surprised by this. and how easy it was to get the seats/beds, but we are more than happy to use those artners.

(As a strategy, we also accumulate Amex Plat rewards points, which can be used for a different network of airline partners. Between the two, we can get just about anywhere we want. And then there is the strategy of using, say, Amex points to book through one of their partners, but for travel on that partner's partner... )

RM
It depends on your destinations. AA has several partners that are very stingy with their premium award spaces as well (Qantas, LATAM, BA on many routes, Airberlin, Fiji Airlines) and two of their biggest trans atlantic partners incur some pretty heft fees on award flights (BA and Iberia). In comparison none of United's partners do that. (United has some pretty nice international partners as well)

I'm not saying AA miles are useless and I earn a bunch of both. I've just found it much easier to get to places I want to go on United&Co from the Midwest than on AA&Co (Unless I want to pay $500 on my 'free' flight to connect through LHR on BA)
Obviously, it depends upon the route one wishes, and probably a lot upon which airlines are at airports nearby.

For us, it was $5.60 each way per person (so 4x that) for first class seat/beds to Asia from the USA East Coast, on JAL and Cathay Pacific.

We had to change the date to a day or two different each direction (so we left a day later, and returned 2 days later than originally planned).

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

Exterous
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:34 pm

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Exterous » Sat Jan 28, 2017 4:31 pm

ResearchMed wrote: Obviously, it depends upon the route one wishes, and probably a lot upon which airlines are at airports nearby.

For us, it was $5.60 each way per person (so 4x that) for first class seat/beds to Asia from the USA East Coast, on JAL and Cathay Pacific.

We had to change the date to a day or two different each direction (so we left a day later, and returned 2 days later than originally planned).

RM
Just out of curiosity I looked up some routes to Asia from the east coast on both as I am not as familiar with AA availability to Asia. These are the total number of days with saver award seats available combining Business and First added together for 1 person from Feb 1 through May31 and counting the partners for both airlines. Sure you can book pretty much any dates with both airlines if you want to pay 2 and 3x the number of points as a saver level but then the number of points required becomes significantly harder to reach. AA goes from 70k miles in business class to 145-200k per person

NYC -> Tokyo
United: 43
AA: 27

NYC-> Seoul
United: 113
AA: 4

DC-> Hong Kong
United: 30
AA: 4

DC-> Shanghai
United: 71
AA: 2

I was curious to see if perhaps AA domestic availability was hurting their numbers so I chose some routes from their major West Coast hub to try and help

LAX-PVG
United: 118
AA: 0

LAX-Tokyo
United 108
AA: 2

Ok so a giant hub that also has AA partner flights is out. Lets try DFW. Since thats a major AA hub that should give them a huge edge over the significantly more limited United presence there

DFW-Tokyo
United: 47
AA:2

Ok...at this point it was morbid curiosity to continue. JAL has regular flights to Tokyo out of SFO. Maybe they have some good award availability there.

SFO-Tokyo:
AA: 2
I didn't bother counting all of United's flights since they had 20 in Feb alone

Edit: Ok - lets try the major fortress hub at Charlotte.
Charlotte to Tokyo: 2

Doesn't seem promising so lets give Cathay Pacific a try out of SFO
SFO-HNK: 2

So their availability to Asia is matching the issues I see trying to use them to get to Europe (while avoiding BA) or South America. Most of those open slots on AA&Co came Feb 1 and 2 and there was some availability in Jan so if you never want to plan ahead it might work out. Sometimes they open up decent availability for a short periods but I don't see any reason to change my view that trying to use miles on AA is significantly more difficult than on United

I am curious about when you booked your flights? I wonder if you got lucky or just that AA&Co has clamped down on availability. It used to be much easier to find awards to Europe and South America but that went away in early 2016 (aside from the previously mentioned sudden window openings which quickly becomes a feeding frenzy and gets completely booked shortly after opening) and it looks like its also gone away for Asia as well

Bfwolf
Posts: 1662
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:19 am

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Bfwolf » Sun Jan 29, 2017 2:49 pm

Exterous wrote:
ResearchMed wrote: Obviously, it depends upon the route one wishes, and probably a lot upon which airlines are at airports nearby.

For us, it was $5.60 each way per person (so 4x that) for first class seat/beds to Asia from the USA East Coast, on JAL and Cathay Pacific.

We had to change the date to a day or two different each direction (so we left a day later, and returned 2 days later than originally planned).

RM
Just out of curiosity I looked up some routes to Asia from the east coast on both as I am not as familiar with AA availability to Asia. These are the total number of days with saver award seats available combining Business and First added together for 1 person from Feb 1 through May31 and counting the partners for both airlines. Sure you can book pretty much any dates with both airlines if you want to pay 2 and 3x the number of points as a saver level but then the number of points required becomes significantly harder to reach. AA goes from 70k miles in business class to 145-200k per person

NYC -> Tokyo
United: 43
AA: 27

NYC-> Seoul
United: 113
AA: 4

DC-> Hong Kong
United: 30
AA: 4

DC-> Shanghai
United: 71
AA: 2

I was curious to see if perhaps AA domestic availability was hurting their numbers so I chose some routes from their major West Coast hub to try and help

LAX-PVG
United: 118
AA: 0

LAX-Tokyo
United 108
AA: 2

Ok so a giant hub that also has AA partner flights is out. Lets try DFW. Since thats a major AA hub that should give them a huge edge over the significantly more limited United presence there

DFW-Tokyo
United: 47
AA:2

Ok...at this point it was morbid curiosity to continue. JAL has regular flights to Tokyo out of SFO. Maybe they have some good award availability there.

SFO-Tokyo:
AA: 2
I didn't bother counting all of United's flights since they had 20 in Feb alone

Edit: Ok - lets try the major fortress hub at Charlotte.
Charlotte to Tokyo: 2

Doesn't seem promising so lets give Cathay Pacific a try out of SFO
SFO-HNK: 2

So their availability to Asia is matching the issues I see trying to use them to get to Europe (while avoiding BA) or South America. Most of those open slots on AA&Co came Feb 1 and 2 and there was some availability in Jan so if you never want to plan ahead it might work out. Sometimes they open up decent availability for a short periods but I don't see any reason to change my view that trying to use miles on AA is significantly more difficult than on United

I am curious about when you booked your flights? I wonder if you got lucky or just that AA&Co has clamped down on availability. It used to be much easier to find awards to Europe and South America but that went away in early 2016 (aside from the previously mentioned sudden window openings which quickly becomes a feeding frenzy and gets completely booked shortly after opening) and it looks like its also gone away for Asia as well
Very interesting results. I've stopped collecting AA miles just because they are hard to use. I have about 160K...I'm sure I'll spend them eventually but in the meantime I'm focusing on collecting other points.

carguyny
Posts: 192
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:56 pm

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by carguyny » Sun Jan 29, 2017 8:14 pm

rjbraun wrote:
carguyny wrote:I prefer the City National Crystal Visa Infinite to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. No fee in the first year, also your additional card holder gets the travel cost reimbursement. Really net cost positive + 3% rewards on all travel related categories (fuel, fast food, restaurants, hotels, groceries etc.)

Only card I've ever found really worth the annual fee - the negative is you need to open in branch now I believe.
I'm not at all familiar with the City National Crystal card. I assume this is the card you're referring to:

https://www.cnb.com/lending/cards/indiv ... t-card.asp

If I already have the CSR I guess that's not necessarily a deterrent from getting the City National card as well, given you say no fee in the first year.

It looks as if they have locations in NYC (400 Park Ave, 6th Ave, Vesey St). Can I just pop into one of those offices or do I need to have an existing banking relationship before they will consider issuing a credit card?
I just went into the branch and opened one - took a payslip etc with me and was pretty painless. I also opened a checking account simply for the reason to have at least 1 account at a bank with a physical branch.

My relationship manager emailed me this week and they now have a 70,000 free point promotion on the card after spending $5k in 90 days. Considering 105,000 points = a $1000 visa gift card it's pretty close to $700 for free. You get triple points on a lot of categories and that is all i use it for, so essentially it is a 3% cash back card for me and my fidelity card is a 2% cash back card for everything else. I also use the Amazon store card at amazon for 5% back. Not a bad setup for 5%/3%/2% cash back options and only 1 card with a fee.

NoGambleNoFuture
Posts: 253
Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by NoGambleNoFuture » Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:56 pm

BeneIRA wrote:
NoGambleNoFuture wrote:
adaml30 wrote:They will provide her with one but she said she can use her own to get reimbursed, which I think is the best idea to get some rewards.
Yeah, same here. Have a corporate amex here myself but book all flights, hotels, and auto on the CSR. Expense and get reimbursed a week or two later while racking up status on airlines/hotels and points on the CSR...
Is the amount you get reimbursed taxable? I have something similar, but my significant other had an issue where we thought her expenses would be reimbursed to her post-tax, but she was taxed on it, so we were out quite a bit of money. Well, okay, not a ton, but more than I would have liked (zero).

OP, if she is going to travel twice a year, I would get the CSR and apply in a branch which you should have in your area. It is going to make sense because the annual fee is basically $150. If you put the flight on the card, there will be at least $300 worth of flights and/or hotels. You get the $300 travel credit back. Thus, a $150 annual fee. And yes, you get the 3X points even when you get reimbursed. It also comes with limited travel insurance and car rental insurance if that matters to you. With the 100,000 bonus point offer, you can't beat it. No foreign transaction fees are a bonus.

I'm not sure if you need the tolls where you are, but reload your I-Pass with it and get the 3X points and the reimbursement. Same with parking if you ever go into Chicago. The Ultimate Rewards portal gives you a guaranteed 1.5%, but some partners can do better. If you are where I think you are, then Midway Airport is closer to you than O'Hare, and Midway is a Southwest hub.
Nope, not taxable income.

misterno
Posts: 364
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:55 am

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by misterno » Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:07 pm

Watty wrote:
midareff wrote:
adaml30 wrote:They will provide her with one but she said she can use her own to get reimbursed, which I think is the best idea to get some rewards.
I'd give a 2% cash back card consideration.
I had forgotten that The Costco credit card has 3% on travel, that would be hard to beat.
When you say travel, say I travel to Mexico and used Costco credit card all the time. Will the 3% applied to EVERYTHING in Mexico or only to rental car, hotel and airplane?

misterno
Posts: 364
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:55 am

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by misterno » Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:08 pm

The best CC for travel is Capital one Spark card

There is a 50 dollar fee but they waive if you say you want to cancel

No foreign transaction fee and 2% cash back on top of that

Best travel CC ever!!!!

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 17749
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:23 pm

Bfwolf wrote:I don't know exactly which airlines are on the Chase travel portal, but here's a post talking about 4 airlines that aren't on it that you can still book with your Chase URs by calling them. http://millionmilesecrets.com/2016/10/3 ... ds-points/
Million Mile Secrets is a good blog for beginners. Veteran travelers begrudge the owner Daraius Dubash for explaining everything in great detail and getting revenue from affiliated links, but for me his blog was a good starting point and now it's a checklist for the things other bloggers may have forgotten to mention.

I've met Daraius in person at Frequent Traveler University (FTU) in Washington, D.C. in 2014. Of all presenters he was the nicest and most accommodating. I had many questions and he discussed them with me in detail.

By the way, I am thinking of attending the FlyerTalk Seminar in Chicago in October. If any Bogleheads have been there (or are planning to), I'm interested in your take on the event.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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