The Top 10 Travel Credit Cards for April 2017

[Offers contained in this article may no longer be available]

Below is my list of what I consider to be 10 of the best travel credit card offers for April 2017. I don’t employ a purely scientific approach for these rankings but instead I weigh a number of factors, such as the value of sign-up bonus, benefits, limited time nature of the offers, flexibility of using points, ease of obtaining the bonus, and potential for maximum value. In the end, these rankings are highly subjective but should serve as good guiding posts to help you shop around for some of the hottest travel credit cards.

1. Chase Ink Preferred

  • 80,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (not waived first year)

The Chase Ink Preferred takes the #1 spot because of its high sign-up bonus and great bonus categories. 80,000 is a lot of Ultimate Rewards and a 2.1 cents per point, comes out to around $1,680 worth of value. The bonus categories for the Ink Preferred are strong as well, with the 3X per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services, and
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

If you’re any kind of entrepreneur who spends a lot on advertising, this could be one of the best credit cards for you. The same is especially true for so-called “digital nomads.” I’d recommend trying to apply in-branch if you’re interested in this card because you might be eligible for a 100,000 sign-up bonus offer.

The obvious drawback to this card is that it’s a business card so this card won’t be for everybody. Also, this card is subject to 5/24. 

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months (only in branch)
  • Annual fee: $550 (not waived first year)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve lost its ridiculously high 100,000 point intro sign-up bonus in March, 2017 but 50,000 Ultimate Rewards is still around $1,050 worth of value. But this card has much more going for it that its signup bonus, with bonus categories of 3X on dining and travel.

You might be turned off by the $550 annual fee, but with its $300 travel credit and easy bonus category earning potential, this card can easily turn you a profit in credit card earnings.  Also, this card is subject to 5/24. 

3. The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • 60,000 miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months (75K offer in Google Incognito)
  • Annual fee: $550 (waived first year)

The changes to The Platinum Card® from American Express are finally here. It’s got a higher sign-up bonus, better lounge access (for some), and now comes with $200 in Uber credits and a sleek new metal design. If you’re able to utilize the $200 annual travel credit and the $200 in Uber credits, you’re looking at an effective annual fee of $150, which is fantastic considering the benefits.

You get Priority Pass access for you and two guests, Centurion lounges access for you and two guests, Gold elite status at Hilton, SPG (and therefore Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, and rental car status as well. And now you get 5X on airfare and 5X on hotels booked through the Amex Travel portal.

If you were able to catch the 75,000 Incognito offer and value Membership Rewards at 2 cents per point, you’re looking at $1,400 in value from the sign-up bonus alone.

Of course if you don’t regularly use Uber and/or looked forward to getting access to your family of four into Centurion lounges this new Platinum Card® from American Express may not appeal to you so much.

4. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Offre expired 

  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

The all-time highest offer is back for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card but it’s going to expire April 5, 2017. At 2.4 cents per point, a 35,000 sign up bonus will net you $840 in value but the real value with this card is in its flexibility.

You can can use SPG points for free nights at SPG properties, transfer them at a 1:3 ratio to Marriott, transfer them out to over 30 airlines at a 1:1.25 ratio when transferring 20,000 points or more, and utilize them in a number of other different ways, such as SPG Moments.

There’s always a chance that this could be the last time we see this offer for this card since Marriott acquired Starwood. Thus, if you’re on the fence about this card, you may want to act sooner rather than later.

5. The Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months (plus 5,000 Ultimate Rewards after adding an authorized user)
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is still one of the best cards available to the public and at 2.1 cents per point, its sign-up bonus and authorized user bonus can bring in $1,155 worth of value. It earns 2X on a broad travel category and 2X on dining and also offers primary rental car insurance. Depending on your level of spend on these categories, the Sapphire Reserve might be a better option but you can read this article to find out if that’s the case.

While not as impressive as the Sapphire Reserve, its annual fee is waived the first year and after that it’s only $95. For many people paying $450 for the Reserve is just asking too much, regardless of the potential return in value, and so the Sapphire Preferred is the more practical option.

6. United MileagePlus Explorer

  • 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • 70,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months [Targeted]
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

The United MileagePlus Explorer card is offering 50,000 mile offers along with targeted offers for 70,000 miles. Some of these targeted offers also come with a $50 statement credit. The 70,000 miles offer with a $50 statement credit is one of the top offers for any co-branded airline credit card I’ve ever seen. Thus, if I were targeted and under 5/24, I would pick this card up in a heartbeat.

7. Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

  • 100,000 Honors points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • Annual fee $75 (not waived)
  • Free weekend night award after your first anniversary of Card Membership.
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status.

This card is offering its best ever sign-up bonus and it now comes with a free night after your first anniversary. That free night can be used for almost any Hilton property including those at the top, meaning that it could hold value near $1,000! So if you combined that free night with your 100,000 Hilton points from the sign-up bonus for maximum value, you could be looking at close to $2,000 in value. 

I think this card is perfect for couples looking to plan a trip around two years in advance and hoping to stay at top Hilton properties.

8. Barclaycard Aviator Red 

  • Earn 40,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase
  • Annual fee $95 (not waived)

This card also comes with perks very similar to the Citi Platinum Select including:

  • First checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
  • Group 1 boarding for the primary cardmember on domestic flights operated by American
  • 25% inflight savings on food, beverages, and headsets on American Airlines-operated flights
  • 10% of your redeemed miles back on redemptions (up to 10,000 miles per calendar year)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Sign-up bonuses don’t get much easier than these, as all it takes is making a single purchase to earn your bonus! It’s essentially like paying $95 for 40,000 AAdvantage miles, which is a deal I’d go for just about any day. And if you want to compound your earnings, you can also go got the 50,000 miles sign-up bonus from the Citi Platinum Select Card.

9. Southwest Premier Business Credit Card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (not waived first year)

You have to earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards in one calendar year in order to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. Typically, the best offers for these cards are for 50,000 Rapid Rewards so even when you get approved for two of the best Southwest cards and meet their minimum spend requirements (usually $2,000), you still have to spend an additional $6,000 if you’re relying on credit card spend to earn the bonus. 

But with this rare business credit card offer plus a 50,000 personal Southwest credit card, you’ll hit the Companion Pass threshold with the sign-up bonuses alone! So for a lot of people, this business credit card makes it a lot more practical to obtain the Companion Pass and that’s why it’s one of my top cards. The Southwest personal credit cards are also offering bonuses at 50,000 right now so it’s a perfect time to jump on this card (although all Chase Southwest cards are subject to 5/24). 

10. Marriott Rewards Card

  • 100,000 Marriott points after $5,000 spend; 7,500 points when you add an authorized user
  • $85 annual fee (not waived)
  • Free anniversary night at category 1-5
  • Automatic Silver status

This offer for the Marriott Rewards card first came around as a targeted offer but is now offered to the public. At .08 cents per point, this total sign-up bonus is estimated at around $860 of value. Plus, you get the free anniversary night at category 1 through 5 hotels, which can add another couple of hundred of bucks in value each year (although you have to pay the annual fee).

100,000 Marriott points can definitely get you a couple of nights at some high quality properties. But I like the fact that you can transfer these Marriott points to SPG for nearly 33,000 SPG points, which can be transferred to nearly 30 different airlines as approximately 38,000 miles (due to the 25% SPG transfer bonus).

And while the card earns bonus category points on restaurants, car rentals, and airlines, it’s probably best to put your spend on the SPG to earn more Marriott points.

It’s important to note that while the personal version of this card is subject to 5/24, the business version of this card is not.