Author Topic: Which types of credit card rewards are the best?  (Read 2422 times)

onehappypanda

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Which types of credit card rewards are the best?
« on: April 03, 2012, 11:38:51 AM »
So my upcoming trip to Vancouver has me thinking about credit cards and travel.

I've heard of people using credit card reward points from regular spending to take a free or drastically reduced cost trip once a year or so. This idea is appealing to me, as I travel for conferences 1-2x a year (this year is Vancouver, next year there are conferences in San Fran and Hawaii). If a card had enough rewards to shave a few hundred dollars off the cost of each trip, it seems like it would be worth it.

So my first question is, do any of you do something along those lines? If so, what cards do you use and what are the benefits?

I have a few reservations about this. Namely, would it be difficult for someone who isn't a huge spender to build up that many points? And would the benefits of the card outweigh those of a regular cash back card?  I have a Discovercard that gives me 1% cash back on everything and 5% in certain categories that change every few months. I'm thinking of getting another card anyway because Discovercard has some drawbacks (like limited use outside the U.S.), but I'm wondering if something with a travel points system would be better than something with a regular cash back system, since I know I have to travel once or twice a year anyway?

Also, how do you all feel about annual fees? I've noticed, for example, that AE Blue Cash has two levels of cards- one with an annual fee and one without. The one with the fee has higher cash back in certain categories. In your experience, would you prefer a card with no fee and less rewards, or a $75-95 fee and better rewards? Of course, I'm sure to some extent that depends on your spending and whether your rewards would outweigh the fee.

So basically, any general thoughts on credit cards and rewards system, and which are the best card options out there today? Especially for someone who travels a small-to-moderate amount.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 11:46:32 AM by onehappypanda »

nondualie

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Re: Which types of credit card rewards are the best?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 03:09:45 PM »

Also, how do you all feel about annual fees? I've noticed, for example, that AE Blue Cash has two levels of cards- one with an annual fee and one without. The one with the fee has higher cash back in certain categories. In your experience, would you prefer a card with no fee and less rewards, or a $75-95 fee and better rewards? Of course, I'm sure to some extent that depends on your spending and whether your rewards would outweigh the fee.


I'd go with the higher-reward Blue Cash for everyday spending.  They give you $150 bonus up front that pays for two years of fees.  And you get higher cash-back awards (6% on groceries is killer) and great service IMHO.

Then I'd get an airline rewards card that has the smallest downside and works for your travel requirements.  Check out Chase Mileage Plus that gives you great access to United/Continental.  You'll get bonus miles up front and bonus miles when you book your travel.  Usually the first year's fees are waived.  And you get some other small bonuses.  Just watch out for how much you have to spend to get the bonus, how soon, and make sure you can meet that.  When you sign up a spouse, you'll get an extra bonus.  When you get to the end of your first year, call up and ask to cancel, they'll waive your fee for the next year...or cancel...and just continue to use your frequent flyer account to rack up miles even when using your Amex card to pay.  With minimal work, you'll have 50K miles pretty quick and be able to take a cheap vacation or visit family if you so desire.

If you want to go the Blue-Cash route, PM me.  I'll split the referral bonus with you.

PS - I highly recommend the "Alibi" pub in Gastown.  Amazing beers and outstanding organic eats...just watch yourself after dark in the neighborhoods around there.