Is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Worth it?

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a well-known travel rewards credit card due to the high amount of publicity and celebrity endorsements it receives on a constant basis. But is this card actually a valuable card that’s worth applying for or is it just a bunch of hype? This article will answer that question by looking at the different benefits and perks it has to offer.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

Early spend bonus

  • The current early spend bonus is for 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months.

That means that once you hit the minimum spend you’ll have earned 56,000 miles worth $560.

That also means this card (which comes in metal, btw) offers a very valuable early spend bonus. 

While there are many great cash back cards out there that earn a similar 2% return, most don’t offer such a high early spend bonus and and that’s one of the main reasons I include the Capital One Venture in my Top 10 Travel Credit Cards.

Use the Venture to cover stays at hotels like the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Annual Fee

  • $95, waived the first year

The Venture also comes with an annual fee of only $95 and it’s waived the first year. If you can put a few thousands dollars of spend on this card each year, you stand a good chance of getting your annual fee waived year after year. That means you could receive over $500 worth of value without ever paying an annual fee which is a fantastic opportunity!

Obviously, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the annual fee waived but even if you don’t, the $95 annual fee is very reasonable when compared to what you receive with the $500+ early spend bonus.

Bonus earning potential 

The Capital One Venture card doesn’t earn extra points for special categories like dining but it does earn 2X miles on every single purchase. While other cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card earn 2% they don’t come with valuable early spend bonuses and since you can get the annual fee waived on the Venture, it could definitely make sense to go with the Venture card over alternative options. 


The Venture card offers a much simpler alternative for using reward points than other cards.

Unlike Chase, Citi, and American Express cards, where you earn points that are transferred to frequent flyer programs or hotel loyalty programs, the Capital One Venture works in a different fashion. For the Venture, you earn “miles” (which are really just points) through spending at a rate of 2 miles/per dollar spent. So if you spend $3,000 you earn 6,000 miles.

These miles can then be redeemed at one cent per mile after you make a qualifying travel purchase. So for example, let’s say you booked a hotel for a total of $400. You would then log in to your online account after the charge posts in order to use the Capital One “Purchase Eraser” feature. You’d then select to have your miles credited to your account for that $400 hotel stay and if you had at least 40,000 miles, the statement credit would be applied to your account within 2 to 3 business days, cancelling out your hotel expense.

This means you don’t have to worry about black out dates or transferring your points to certain programs which can get quite confusing or frustrating at times. The simplicity of the this process is very attractive to many. 

Save money and see more of the world.

Extended time to redeem your points 

You are technically required to redeem your statement credit within 90 days from the date of purchase. That doesn’t mean that your miles expire, just that you won’t be able to get reimbursed for a charge if you wait longer than 90 days from the date that it posts to your account. 

A lot of people don’t know this but you can actually call and request an extension for up to 6 months on this time restriction. Of course, it’s always better to play it safe and redeem within 90 days, but at least there’s an option for you in case you find yourself in a bind.

No minimum redemption amount!

One of the best perks of the Capital One Venture card is that there is no minimum requirement for redemptions. This is a huge benefit because it allows you to use this card to cover any of the random travel expenses you will incur as you travel, such as parking, taxis, busses, etc.

If you’re truly trying to travel for free, the Capital One Venture is one of the best cards to supplement your other “heavy hitter” travel credit cards with.

If you want to make partial redemptions for expenses the minimum requirement is $25 (or 2,500 points).

What constitutes “travel” for the Capital One Venture?

In order to redeem your miles toward a purchase, it needs to be coded as a “travel” purchase. This might sound like it would be very limiting but that’s actually not the case at all because the travel category for the Capital One Venture is very broad.

Here are the terms taken straight from Capital One’s website: 

Purchases made from airlines, hotels, rail lines, car rental agencies, limousine services, bus lines, cruise lines, taxi cabs, travel agents and time shares are generally considered to be travel purchases and availability for redemption is based on the merchant category code assigned to them by the merchant.

It all comes down to how the merchant codes the purchase. You can pretty much always expect purchases on things like airlines, hotels, and rail lines to properly code as travel but things get a little less clear when when you try to redeem on things like campground purchases or excursions, so sometimes you might have to do a little bit of research to see how a merchant codes a purchase. 

Still, because this travel category is so expansive, it makes the Venture a solid card that’s easy to use.

I use the Venture to cover high fuel surcharges like those found on British Airways first class awards.

Redeeming for non-travel items

You can also redeem your miles for cash in the form of a check or account credit, gift cards and more. The redemption rate remains at 1 cent per point for gift cards and charitable redemptions but if you’re trying to redeem for a check or statement credit, it drops down to .5 cents per point.

This means you want to do your best to redeem for travel purchases so you don’t lose 50% of your value! 


The Venture comes with a number of nice travel benefits.

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud coverage
  • Security alerts
  • Travel upgrades and savings
  • 24 hour concierge service

Since this is a Visa Signature card, it also comes with all of the Visa Signature benefits, some of which include:

  • Purchase protection
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Auto rental insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Roadside dispatch

Final Word 

Overall, the Capital One Venture card is a great travel rewards card that offers a lot of value especially when you can get the annual fee waived by doing some spending on the card. I personally recommend the Venture as my go to credit card for covering miscellaneous travel expenses with rewards due its high early spend bonus, so I definitely think the Capital One Venture is worth it. 

7 Reasons Why I Love American Express

Offers contained within this article maybe expired.

American Express is one of the major rewards programs that I think everyone should try to get on board with at some time. There’s an enormous amount of value to be had with American Express cards and plenty of ways to save with special Amex Offers. Here are 7 reasons why I love American Express.

1) Great transfer partners

American Express Membership Rewards has some of the top transfer partners.

They’ve got partners from every major alliance: Star Alliance, oneworld, and SkyTeam and even have prized airlines like Emirates and Etihad that don’t belong to a major alliance.

Three airlines that help Amex stand out are:

Amex has some other powerhouse programs like Asia Miles, Singapore Airlines, Flying Blue, Virgin Atlantic, and Avios now that it’s back at a 1:1 ratio. In fact, Amex runs so deep with quality airline partners that I’ve argued that they probably have better transfer partners than Chase.

Here are all of the current airline and hotel transfer partners:

  • Aeromexico 1:1.6
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan) 1:1
  • Air France KLM (Flying Blue) 1:1
  • Alitalia (Millemiglia) 1:1
  • ANA 1:1
  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) 1:1
  • British Airways 1:1
  • Delta Air Lines (SkyMiles) 1:1
  • El Al Israel Airlines 1,000: 20
  • Emirates 1:1
  • Etihad 1:1
  • Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
  • Iberia Plus 1:1
  • JetBlue Airways 250: 200
  • Singapore Airlines 1:1
  • Virgin Atlantic 1:1

Hotel Transfer Partners:

  • Choice Privileges Rewards (1:1)
  • Hilton Honors (1:1.5)
  • Starwood SPG (1000:333)
The Etihad Apartment.

2) Bonus transfers

One thing I really love about American Express is its bonus transfer specials.

On occasion, Amex will allow you to transfer Membership Rewards to other partners with bonus transfer rates that increase the transfer rate up to 50%. Amex doesn’t offer bonus rates for all of their partners and some bonuses are much rarer than others, so you may not know when the next bonus is coming. However, you can view the breakdown of these bonus offers over the past few years on this thread on Flytertalk, where you’ll be able to pick up on some patterns and trends with the bonuses.

3) Many options for earning Membership Rewards

It’s true that in the vast majority of cases, you’re only given one bonus per lifetime for an Amex card and that would appear to be severely limiting. However, one thing that sets Membership Rewards apart from other programs is the buffet of options that Amex gives you for earning Membership Rewards. Compared to Chase or Citi, American Express blows them out of the water in terms of quantity offered.

Here are a number of different examples of Membership-earning cards.

  • EveryDay Card (25K)
  • EveryDay Preferred Card (30K)
  • Green Card (25K)
  • Gold Card (25K)
    • Different versions of this card available
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card (50K)
  • Platinum Card from American Express (100K)
    • There are about 6 versions of this card, although not all offer such great sign-up bonuses
  • Business Platinum Card from American Express (100K)
  • Business Rewards Gold Card (75K)

Now that Chase limits you to one Sapphire bonus and Citi limits you to one sign-up bonus per brand per two years, the number of earning options available from American Express is a significant advantage to the program that also goes along with my reason #6 below.

4) Amex Offers

Amex cards provide you with many special “Amex Offers” which can save you on everything from hotel stays to contact lenses.

Each year, between me and Brad, we easily recoup over a couple of hundred bucks in value from purchases of products and services we would normally make. So in some instances Amex Offers alone can offset the annual fee for an American Express card.

5) No hard pulls for rejections

Amex is known for only making a soft pull on your credit when they reject your card application. This helps to mitigate any damage done to your credit score and take some stress out of applying for new Amex cards.

Amex also usually allows you to receive credit limit increases without any hard pull to your credit so once again, Amex makes it easier to preserve your credit score.

6) Generous Approvals

This might be my #1 reason for getting on board with Amex.

Once you get on board with Amex and maintain a good relationship with them (along with a solid credit score), it’s incredibly easy to get approved for their credit cards and charge cards.

You just need to remember to play nice. If you take advantage of their kindness and hit them too hard or abuse them you might be hit with a financial review or have your points clawed back. But if you reciprocate the respect, Amex can be very good to you over the long-run.

7) Solid customer service

A lot of people complain that Amex customer service just isn’t where it used to be a several years ago. That might be the case in many instances but over the past three years, Amex has still surpassed the other major credit card issuers I’ve had to deal with.

While Chase is probably a very close second, Amex has gone out of their way to help me sort out some account issues and I’ve found them to be very reliable and willing to always give me the benefit of the doubt when something goes down. They also have been very knowledgable more times than not which is something that can get old very fast when a phone rep is misinformed.

Final word

I still think American Express is a terrific rewards program. You can’t beat all the options it gives you for earning sign-up bonuses and their approval policies are easier to contend with than some of the other issuers who are often more inconsistent with their approvals. I’ve received a ton of value from Amex over the past few years, and I think they are arguably the most lucrative rewards program for people looking to earn points primarily with sign-up bonuses.

Are Discover Credit Cards Good Cards?

Discover is like American Express in that it acts as the credit card issuer and also its own payment network. Over the years, Discover has emerged as one of the best options for people seeking cash back credit cards that come with great earning rates and some solid perks. Here are some reasons why I think Discover credit cards are worth your consideration.

Accepted in many places

Discover cards are being accepted at more and more establishments each year. In fact, Discover cards are accepted at more places in the US than American Express cards. According to the Nilson Report, Discover was accepted by 9.3 million merchants nationwide in 2014, which is not very far behind the 9.5 million merchants that accepted Visa and MasterCard. So Discover is very close to being on par with both Visa and MasterCard domestically.

Internationally, Discover is accepted at fewer destinations, however. You can use their own map to see where they might be accepted. Just because a country is highlighted, that doesn’t mean all or even most merchants will accept your card. While some places like China and Japan accept Discover widespread, it’s always a good idea to keep a back-up Visa or MasterCard on deck when traveling abroad.

Keep in mind that you can use Discover cards where some of their partners are accepted, such as Diner’s Club. If you see any of the logos below while abroad you should be able to use your Discover card at that merchant.

One fantastic thing about Discover cards is that they don’t require you to pay foreign transaction fees, even for cards with no annual fees.

Easier to get approved for

Many Discover cards are easier to get approved for than many other credit cards issued by other large banks. Discover offers secured credit cards and students credit cards for people who might have low credit scores or thin credit profiles, so Discover is often a fantastic way to begin to build up your credit profile.

Great cash back cards

Discover cards were originally an invention by Sears in the 1980s back when Sears was on top of the world. In fact, Discover actually pioneered cash back rewards when it started offering them in 1986 and so it’s no surprise that Discover is still offering some of the best cash back credit cards.

My favorite Discover credit card is the Discover it, which comes in several different varieties. The two I value the most are the Discover it® Cashback Match™ and the Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card.

The Discover it® Cashback Match™ offers rotating categories just like the Chase Freedom where you can earn 5% back each quarter on up to $1,500 in spend. And the Discover it® Miles – Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card functions just like the Chase Freedom Unlimited except that it allows you to earn 1.5% back on all purchases to go towards travel.

What makes both of these cards special is that Discover doubles all of your earnings for the first year you have the card. So it’s like earning 10% back on quarterly purchases or 3% back on all purchases. Both of those offers are hard to beat and are terrific options for people just getting started with credit card rewards.

Additional perks

Discover also offers additional perks for the Discover it cards like free FICO scores (TransUnion) and also allows you to freeze your credit card instantly with the app. They also offer 100% U.S.-based customer service which can make resolving issues a lot easier over the phone. If you shop online, the Discover Deals shopping portal is a great way to earn additional cash back on many of your purchases.

Read more about that amazing shopping portal here.

0% APR

And finally, a lot of their cards offer 0% intro APR for various periods. For example, the Discover it will give you 14 months of 0% APR. Once again, these type of perks are ideal for people just starting out with credit cards since they allow you to get used to paying monthly bills and while not penalizing you with interest in the first 14 months just in case you overspend.

Final word

I think Discover cards care great options for many people, especially if they are looking for cash back. The first year doubling on all cash back earned is hard to beat and makes the Discover it cards extremely competitive. Since Discover credit cards are accepted at so many places in the US, I think they are definitely worth considering.

Is The New Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card Worth It?

The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card is one of the newest travel credit cards available on the market and many might be wondering if it makes sense to apply for this card. Although this card is marketed as a premium rewards card, I see this more of a standard cash back travel card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard®. Still, although the marketing is a bit off in my opinion, this is still one of strongest credit card options for those looking to offset a large chunk of travel expenses.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

The offer

  • 50,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 (worth $500)
  • Tiered bonus earning structure (see below)
  • $95 annual fee
  • $100 for airline incidentals, (baggage fees, in-flight drinks, etc. but excludes airfare)
  • $100 Global Entry credit

50,000 sign-up bonus

This 50,000 points sign-up bonus is worth $500 of cash back which is very nice, especially since the Arrival Plus just had its sign-up bonus drop to 40,000 and it might be harder to get approved for these days due to new credit card restrictions.

This card can essentially take the place of the Arrival Plus and offer people a great option for earning a nice chunk of cash back. There aren’t many cards offering such a high amount for a cash back sign-up bonus so this card is offering some great value that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Bonus earning structure

The bonus earning on this card is tiered and increases based on the size of your assets with Bank of America/Merrill. If you have assets that qualify for a certain tier and you sign up for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program, you’ll be able to earn the corresponding rates on certain purchases.

Here are the different tiers:

Bonus earning for those without a Bank of America account or less than $20,000 in assets (what most people will probably have):

  • 2X on dining and travel
  • 1.5X on everything else

For those with $20,000 to $50,000 in assets

  • 2.5X on dining and travel
  • 1.875X on everything else

For those with $50,000 to $100,000 in assets

  • 3X on dining and travel
  • 2.25X on everything else

For those with over $100,000 in assets and enrolled in Preferred Rewards Program

  • 3.5X on dining and travel
  • 2.625X on everything else

So if you’re just an average Joe with no assets or assets under $20,000 with Bank of America, you’re looking at a bonus structure of 2X on dining and travel and 1.5X on everything else. This is not an amazing earning rate considering that no annual fee cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card earn 2X on ALL purchases. So the cash back earnings for this card are average for most. If you do qualify for one of the higher tiers, then this can become one of the top-earning cash back credit cards, however.

$95 annual fee /$100 travel credit

The $95 annual fee is NOT waived but because this comes with a $100 travel credit the annual fee can easily be offset.

The travel credit is based on calendar year so there are certainly opportunities to double dip which is great news for the value of this card. The downside is that this is one of the more restrictive travel credits. Check out the key terms and conditions below:

Qualifying transactions are those purchases made on domestic-originated flights on certain U.S.-domestic airline carriers that include: preferred seating upgrades, ticket change/cancellation fees, checked baggage fees, in-flight entertainment, onboard food and beverage charges, and airport lounge fees affiliated with eligible airline carriers. Airline ticket purchases, mileage point purchases, mileage point transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases, award tickets and fees incurred with airline alliance partners do not qualify. Airline incidental fee transactions must be separate from airline ticket charges.

The key here is to examine if you would normally make $100 worth of such purchases in a calendar year. If the answer is yes then this is essentially a no annual fee cash back card. The card also offers $100 in credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check which adds more value and gives the card a more premium feel.


The card also offers a number of solid travel and purchase protections. While these are pretty solid they are not as good as the protections offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve which I consider to be the benchmark of premium travel cards.

Final word

This is a solid travel card considering how hefty the sign-up bonus is. I”m not crazy about the earning structure and the annual fee that’s not waived cuts down some excitement, but the $100 travel credit issued per calendar year is pretty huge for this card and makes this card an attractive option for anyone looking to cut out a large portion of their travel costs.

Should I Apply for the Citi Prestige® Card with a 75K Bonus?

The Citi Prestige® Card application link for 75,000 is finally live, via DOC. 75,000 is a lot of points but there are some questions you might want to think about before applying for this card. Here’s a rundown of some things to consider before applying.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

New changes

If you’re not aware, the Prestige just lost a lot of benefits it previously had like Admirals Club access but did receive from positive changes, such as a higher sign-up bonus and a new way to utilize the 4th night free benefit.

Have you earned a Citi ThankYou Point sign-up bonus in the previous 24 months?

If you’ve picked up a sign-up bonus from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card or the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card in the previous 24 months you are not eligible to receive the sign-up bonus for this card.

This rule also applies if you have closed or product changed a ThankYou Point earning card within the past 24 months. If you have done that, then you reset the 24-month clock from the date you closed the card or product changed it.

As far as I can tell, there is no way around this rule (besides finding applications in the future that don’t include the 24-month language). Thus, it’s very important to know how long it’s been since you were approved for another ThankYou Points earning card or closed/product changed.

If it’s been less than two years, don’t bother applying. 

Also, just to be safe, I’d probably wait an additional 30 days from the 2-year anniversary from the approval date because Citi’s IT tends to get things mixed up.

Do you just want to earn ThankYou Points?

The Prestige now offers a great sign-up bonus of 75,000 points. This is one of the best sign-up bonuses for a premium credit card but it comes with one of the highest minimum spend requirements of $7,500.

If you’re just trying to earn Citi ThankYou Points then I would recommend looking at the Premier Card. It offers a 50,000 sign-up bonus right now after spending $4,000. It also comes with one of the best bonus earning rates at 3X on travel including gas and 2X on dining and entertainment. You can also get it with the $95 annual fee waived for the first year.

It might still be worth it to pursue the 75K bonus if you can hit the $7,500 spend requirement without any problems and can take advantage of the other perks, such as the $250 travel credit and 4th night free benefit. It’s just a good idea to at least consider the Premier.

Are you going to use the 4th night free benefit?

The most valuable perk out of all of the Prestige benefits is the 4th night free benefit.

This can end up saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on how often you use it. At the same time, if you’re the type of traveler that rarely stays in one place for four or more nights or perhaps exclusively book hotels with points then this perk may not bring you much value and could even be worthless.

If this perks is worthless to you and you already have Priority Pass with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve then you might want to really consider going with the Premier instead.

What’s your effective annual fee?

The $450 annual fee is not waived for this card but there are two reasons why this annual fee is not as bad as it sounds.

First, the Prestige comes with a $250 travel credit that you can use on a broad range of airline expenses.The Prestige specifically states that  “Airline Fees are defined as purchases made with airlines including Air fares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in–flight purchases.” So if you’re already planning on spending at least $250 on airfare, your effective annual fee is only $150. 

If you’re able to double-dip with the statement credit, then it’s even sweeter since you’re coming out $50 on top.

It’s worth also noting that sometimes when you apply in-branch you can receive the $350 annual fee.

Do you want airport lounge access?

The Citi Prestige offers Priority Pass that can get your immediate family or two guests into over 1,000 lounges world wide. This is nice but if you’re primarily concerned with lounge access you might want to consider other cards. The Platinum Card® from American Express offers broader lounge access than the Prestige and the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers Priority Pass access that allows you to bring in unlimited guests. Thus, if you’re looking for a card with great lounge access, the Prestige might not be the best option.

Final word

The Citi Prestige at 75K is a valuable sign-up bonus but it comes with a high spending requirement. It might make a lot more sense to go with the Citi Premier for a lot of people, since that card comes with a lower annual fee, lower spending requirement, and still comes with a solid 50K bonus.

Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve Is Still King

We’ve seen an onslaught of new premium cards enter the market in the last year. And for the premium cards that were already here, we’ve seen them undergo significant changes. With so much competition and the high annual fees, it’s getting harder to choose which premium card is best. But even with a market that’s becoming more saturated, I still think that the Sapphire Reserve is king.

A recap of the premium credit card market

Last year we saw the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which came in guns blazin’ offering 3X on dining and travel, a $300 statement credit, $60 DoorDash statement credit, and an introductory bonus of 50k.

What was interesting about the Sapphire Reserve is that it drew unprecedented attention for a premium credit card. I could barely count all of the articles and mentions I found of the Reserve during the fall of 2016. Forbes, Bloomberg, Business Insider — everyone was talking about it. Chase created an overnight frenzy, and I don’t even think Chase saw that coming.

It didn’t take very long for American Express to respond (albeit in waves) with big changes to The Platinum Card® from American Express. Amex gave the Platinum card new 5X earning opportunities on airfare and hotels (booked through Amex Travel), a bigger sign-up bonus at 60K, and a $200 Uber credit, though we saw the annual fee go up to $550.

Then came the Altitude Reserve from US Bank, offering an market-leading $325 travel credit and a unique 3X earning structure on mobile wallet purchases. We’ve also seen the introduction of other premium cards like the UBS Visa Infinite Card and rumors about Bank of America rolling out a new premium card expected to hit the market in just a couple of months. And finally, Citi just revamped the Citi Prestige® Card with a 75K sign-up bonus and some other tweaks to its benefits.

Things will probably only continue to heat up as credit card issuers are spending more than double the amount on their rewards programs right now than they did in 2010

With all of these new players in the premium card market, I still believe the Chase Sapphire Reserve is king. And here’s why.

Flexible currency

First, having the option to earn outsized value by transferring your points to airlines and hotels will always trump standard travel redemptions like those offered by the Altitude Reserve, UBS Visa Infinite Card, etc. For that reason, the Sapphire Reserve has a leg up on many other cards.

I think I probably prefer the transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards over Chase Ultimate Rewards, but Chase still has great partners with United, Southwest, Korean Air, British Airways, Singapore, Flying Blue, and Virgin Atlantic. And Chase has the best hotel transfer partners out of any program with Hyatt and Marriott/Ritz-Carlton.

Singapore Suites first class.

The ability to cash in your points for first class experiences like Singapore First Class Suites or stay at all-inclusive Hyatt hotels is a major perk of the Sapphire Reserve.

Travel portal redemption rates

Sometimes you just don’t want to transfer your points out to travel partners and you want to utilize a travel portal to book your airfare and hotels. Many of these premium cards offer redemption rates for their travel portals for rates between 1 cent per point and 1.25 cents per point. The Sapphire Reserve, meanwhile, offers 1.5 cents per point on all travel bookings, including airfare and hotels.

This 1.5 cents per point rate often makes booking economy flights a better deal than transferring points and makes it much easier to find availability since you’re not restricted to award inventory. With the Reserve you can use your points to cover a portion of the travel cost and pay the rest with a card, while other cards like the Altitude Reserve require you to cover the full cost of your airfare. Also, some other cards utilize confusing tiered-pricing structures which are not ideal for a lot of people and can make it inconvenient to maximize award value.

For these reasons, the Sapphire Reserve is a much more practical and valuable option for many.

Sign-up bonus

The Sapphire Reserve has the lowest sign-up bonus out of the Platinum and Prestige but it also come with a more comfortable $4,000 spending requirement that’s more obtainable to the masses than Citi’s $7,500 spend requirement. 50,000 Ultimate Rewards also isn’t a shabby bonus, especially when you can combine your application (and hard pull) with the Sapphire Preferred and net another 50,000 points with no annual fee the first year.

Bonus earning potential

The Sapphire Reserve also has an amazing bonus category earning scheme with 3X on dining and travel. 3X on dining is killer. So many spend a ton of dining (and bar outings that code as dining) that other cards just don’t compete with that.

Then there’s the broad travel category where almost everything travel related codes as 3X. I’ve even earned 3X on scuba diving on multiple occasions. Other premium cards limit their bonus earning on travel to smaller categories — sometimes only hotels and airfare. So with the Reserve, it’s a lot easier to earn more points.

Also, you can combine your point earnings with no-annual fee cards like the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited, allowing you to earn 1.5X and 5X on a lot of purchases. I don’t know of any other issuer that has as powerful as a trifecta as Chase (with no annual fees involved).

3X on scuba diving is a possibility with the Sapphire Reserve.

$300 travel credit

The $300 travel credit for the Sapphire Reserve is a huge game-changer. It is applied to any purchase that codes as travel making it way easier to use than credits from American Express and Citi that limit it to airline expenses. This simplicity appeals more to the masses and makes the $550 annual fee an effective $190 with no hoops to jump through.

The drawback for some is that it’s going to be applied on an anniversary year basis rather than calendar year.

$60 DoorDash credit

The DoorDash credit is an automatic statement credit that will hit your account after you make a DoorDash purchase.

You don’t have to worry about some special balance showing up in an app — you simply use your card and the credit is automatically triggered. It’s also worth mentioning that this is issued on an annual basis and that you don’t have to worry about a monthly credit expiring like you would with the Gold Card.

Lounge Access

The Sapphire Reserve comes with Priority Pass lounge access and allows you to bring in unlimited guests who are traveling with you (subject to availability of the lounge). I’m not crazy about this policy because these Priority Pass lounges are getting too crowded but it’s worth noting that most of the other cards don’t offer this.

I still think the Platinum Card is the best premium card for lounge access but with unlimited guests, the Sapphire Reserve is up there.

Priority Pass lounge in South Africa.

Outstanding travel and purchase protections

The Sapphire Reserve offers primary rental car insurance while other premium cards like the Platinum only offer secondary rental car insurance. In addition, the Sapphire Reserve has superb purchase protections and travel protections.

In an overall comparison with other popular premium cards, the Sapphire Reserve probably offers the most comprehensive set of protections available.


You can utilize the Chase Sapphire Reserve refer a friend program to earn up to 50,000 Ultimate Rewards per year. The referrals can be worth up to $750 or more if you take advantage of them so this is a strong perk of the Sapphire Reserve. You can read more about the Chase refer a friend program here.   

Customer service

I still love calling Chase because I have a live representative pick up the phone as soon as I call. Plus, they are truly professional when you have them on the line. I haven’t had that experience with other issuers on as much of a consistent basis as I have had with Chase and really value that.

Final word

Choosing the right premium card can come down to your specific preferences, such as airport lounge use and your favorite transfer partners, but I think that when we’re talking about the masses, the Sapphire Reserve probably offers the best universal value out of any travel credit card. For that reason, the Sapphire Reserve is still king.

Is the Citi Prestige® Card Now Better Than The Platinum Card® from American Express?

With new changes coming to the Citi Prestige® Card,  a lot of people will be wondering how the new Prestige holds up to a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express, which also recently underwent some changes. There are a lot of different factors to consider, but here’s my take on the comparison with a final winner chosen at the end.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

Charge card vs Credit Card

The Citi Prestige is a credit card the American Express Platinum is a “charge card.” A charge card must be paid off in full each month or else you face a hefty monthly fee. The benefit to a charge card like the Platinum is that you’re not restricted to a credit limit and so you have a little more flexibility — you just need to be able to keep yourself in check to make sure you’ll pay off your balance in full each month.

To me, the added flexibility for spending is a nice plus for the Platinum, although if you don’t make large purchases, this probably doesn’t mean much to you.

Transfer partners

The Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards, which transfer out to several partners. Here are the transfer partners of Membership Rewards.


  • Delta Skymiles
  • Club Premier AeroMexico
  • Aeroplan Air Canada
  • Flying Blue Air France/KLM
  • MilleMigilia Club Alitalia
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Avios British Airways
  • El Al
  • Emirates Skyrewards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • KrisFlyer Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Atlantic


  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton HHonors
  • SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest)

Citi Thankyou Points

The Citi Prestige earns Thankyou Points and Citi has fairly recently added a lot of new travel partners. These partners are:



  • Air Jet Privilege
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • EVA Air
  • Eithad Guest
  • Flying Blue (Air France, KLM)
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club


    • Hilton HHonors (Get 1,500 HHonors Bonus Points for 1,000 pts)

Typically, the transfer partners are one of my first considerations when considering a travel rewards card but with two cards like these, which are heavy in the benefits department, more weight should probably go to which benefits will fit better into your travel lifestyle.

Still, although I’d give more consideration to the benefits, I would have to say that Membership Rewards edges out Thankyou Points here. Specifically, having ANA, Aeroplan, and now British Airways and Iberia Avios at a 1:1 ratio makes Membership Rewards stand out. And even though I can’t stand Delta SkyMiles, it does help having a legacy carrier as a partner. Citi still has decent partners but their best partners overlap with Membership Rewards, such as Asia Miles, Singapore, Flying Blue, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, and Etihad. Thus, the Platinum Card takes this one.

Both programs can get you closer to flying in Singapore Suites.

Sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card

The Platinum Card offers a standard public sign-up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. The 60K offer is the standard offer available to the public, but it’s also possible to receive 75K or even 100K offers.

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige is now offering a 75,000 sign-up bonus after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months.

Both of these sign-up offers are great but I’d go with the Platinum.

Even though the standard public offer is higher for the Prestige (for the time being), it’s still possible to get a 75K or 100K sign-up bonus offer on the Platinum and the minimum spend requirement is $2,500 lower.

Something else to think about is the Citi 24 month rule which prevents you from earning another ThankYou point earning card for 24 months. While American Express imposes a once per lifetime rule for bonuses, there’s many other ways to earn Membership Rewards, so earning the bonus on the Platinum Card doesn’t limit you from other earning opportunities like the Prestige does.

I like Amex’s transfer partners more than Citi’s so I’d rather have 60K Membership Rewards with plenty of chances to earn more Membership Rewards to use on travel partners I love, than 75K ThankYou Points with no chance to earn more ThankYou Points until 24 months later.

For all of these reasons, the Platinum Card wins out.

Bonus Categories

The Platinum Card

  • 1X on all purchases
  • 5X on airfare purchased directly with the airline
  • 5X on hotel stays booked through the Amex Travel Portal
  • 1X on all other purchases

Citi Prestige

  • 3X on air travel and hotels
  • 2X on dining and entertainment
  • 1X on all other purchases
Both cards offer bonus earning potential on hotel stays but only the Prestige gives you bonus points on direct bookings.

I’d wager that the Citi Prestige offers the better overall bonus earning potential for most people. It’s nice that you can earn 3X on hotels purchased directly with the hotels (thus retaining elite perks) and the 2X on dining and entertainment is nice. The Platinum’s 5X on airfare is fantastic but for people who fly with points most of the time and eat out a lot, there’s not much earning potential with the Platinum, so the Prestige wins this.


Platinum Card

Las Vegas Centurion Lounge.

Citi Prestige

  • $250 airline credit (which can be used for broader expenses, such as airline tickets)
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access for you and up to two guests for free
  • Complimentary night at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4-consecutive-night booking (now bookable with points at 1 cent per point)
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check
  • Rental car benefits like express check-in, free upgrades, and discounts with status
  • Add authorized users for $50 each
  • Concierge service

In my opinion, the Platinum Card is superior here. The Prestige has two main perks going for it. It’s got a $250 airline credit that can be used on just about any airline-related expense, making the annual fee an effective $200 for many. The 4th night free benefit has the potential to be extremely valuable but only if you would be able to put it to use.

On the other hand, the Platinum Card offers probably the best lounge access out of any credit card. Together the $200 airline credit and $200 Uber credit knock down the $550 annual fee to an effective $150 but that’s only if you can put those perks to good use. But the Platinum card also offers elite status with Hilton and SPG (and thus Marriott), so there’s a lot of additional value there.

It really comes down to how you utilize each of the perks but I’d say that for me, I value the lounge access and hotel elite status that I put to use way more than a 4th night free benefit, which I rarely do. I also easily use up 100% of the Platinum’s Uber and airline credits making the true effective annual fee of the Platinum $150. So the winner here is the Platinum, although if I used the 4th night fee benefit a few times a year, the outcome might be different.


Protections for purchases and travel aren’t usually a priority for many but these protections can be extremely valuable when things go wrong. The Amex Platinum has a number of quality protections but not as many as the Citi Prestige. Specifically, the Citi Prestige offers protections on baggage delay, trip delay/cancellation, and price protection. Since the Prestige offers more protections, it easily takes this category.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Both cards have no foreign transaction fees.

Annual Fee

Platinum Card

  • $550, not waived

Citi Prestige

  • $450, not waived

As already shown, the effective annual fees of these cards can be as low as $150 for the Platinum and $250 for the Prestige when you factor in travel credits. This slants in favor of the Platinum Card but it’s admittedly much easier to use the $250 airline credit of the Prestige versus the $200 airline and uber credits of the Platinum. Another plus for the Prestige is that some have had success with getting a $350 annual fee when they apply in-branch. Because the annual fee is lower for the Prestige, it wins this.

The winner

I think it’s a pretty tight race between the Prestige and the Platinum Card (tighter than most give it credit for). Personally, the winner for me is the Platinum Card because I love all of the benefits and its effective annual fee is only $150 for me. I also prefer the Membership Rewards transfer partners more.

However, you might choose the Prestige over the Platinum Card if you don’t have use for the $200 Uber credit, Centurion Lounges, and/or can put the 4th night free benefit to use each year to save hundreds on hotel stays.

So because these cards are so close, it all depends on how you will make use of the cards but for me, I’m rolling with the Platinum Card for now.

Should I Get an American Airlines Credit Card?

American Airlines is unique in that it offers credit cards with two separate issuers: Barclaycard and Citibank. Both of these issuers offer great sign-up bonuses and make these cards some of the most valuable travel credit cards available. Here’s a look at the American Airlines credit card offered and some of their highlights.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!


Barclaycard offers the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® which comes with the following offer:

  • Earn 50,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase (standard offer is 40,000)
  • Annual fee $95 (not waived)
  • 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
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 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)
  • Reduced Mileage Awards — Fly to great destinations on American Airlines operated flights for up to 7,500 fewer AAdvantage miles for flights in the US and to/from Canada.
  • No foreign transaction fees

I’m a big fan of the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® because you don’t have to worry about hitting a “true” spending requirement.  All you have to do is make single purchase, and just like that, you’ve earned the sign-up bonus. The drawback is that the $95 annual fee is not waived. But that means that this offer is essentially like paying $95 for 50,000 AAdvantage miles which is a deal that I would take any day.


Citibank offers the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite MasterCard®  which comes with the following offer:

  • 60,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening (standard offer is 30,000)
  • $95 annual fee waived the first year
  • 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
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage miles back – up to 10, 000 AAdvantage®miles each calendar year.
  • 25% inflight savings on food, beverages, and headsets on American Airlines-operated flights
  • Reduced Mileage Awards — Fly to great destinations on American Airlines operated flights for up to 7,500 fewer AAdvantage® miles for flights in the US and to/from Canada.
  • No foreign transaction fees

Citibank also offers a business version of this card called the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®. This card is substantially the same as the personal version but earns 2X on select business categories including telecommunications, car rental merchants and gas stations. The business version does not come with the 10% rebate, however. ‘

Citibank also offers a premium American Airlines card called the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard® which comes with a $450 annual fee. You can read more about that card here.

Citi has the advantage (no pun intended) of offering the bigger bonus (sometimes — this 60,000 offer is not always around) and the annual fee is waived the first year. So if you can hit the minimum spend for the personal and small business versions, you’re able to score up to 120,000 AAdvantage miles without paying an annual fee, which is very impressive. And if you factor in the 10% rebate (up to 10,000), that’s a total of 130,000 AAdvantage miles in your account for free.

American is not a transfer partner of a major rewards program

Unlike other domestic carriers such as United, Delta, Jet Blue, and Southwest, American is not a transfer partner to any major rewards program (SPG aside). You can still book American Airlines flights with miles from partners but there’s no way to earn American miles with cards from issuers like Chase, Amex, and Citi.

This makes the need for American Airlines cards greater since you can’t rely on point transfers from other programs to build up your AAdvantage miles balance. So this should be a big consideration for you when deciding if you should pursue an AAdvantage card.

Should I get the Citi or Barclaycard American Airlines credit card?

There’s really not a big difference between these cards so I think this comes down to your personal preference: do you want to go with Barclaycard or Citibank? One reason you might choose one over the other is if you’re in violation of an application rule. For example, if you’ve opened 2 Citi cards within the past 65 days, you’ll need to hold off on applying for a Citi card because you will get denied due to the Citi application rules.

For people planning an aspirational trip flying all business or first class, I recommend for them to go for the Barclaycard and the two Citi Platinum Select cards (with $95 annual fees waived the first year). Since there’s no minimum spend requirement on the Barclaycard, it’s much easier to hit the sign-up bonuses on all three of these cards than it would be for others. And since the annual fee is waived on the two Citi cards, you get away with only spending $95 for your miles.

This presents you with the chance to earn up to 170,000 AAdvantage miles. With that many miles you can do a lot.

Redeeming possibilities

One reason people don’t pursue these credit cards is that the award inventory on American Airlines is sub-par. It can be really difficult to find decent awards that don’t involve horrendous layovers or red-eye departure times, etc. But to me, the beauty of AA miles is that you can use them to redeem on American partners, which are some of the top airlines in the world.

For example, with 170,000 those miles you could book:

  • Etihad First Class Apartment or Qatar first class for one way to or from the Middle East at 115,000 miles
  • Etihad or Qatar business class roundtrip to or from the Middle East at 140,000
  • Cathay Pacific business class roundtrip to Asia at 140,000
  • Roundtrip business class to Europe at 115,000
  • Roundtrip in business class to Africa at 150,000
  • Two roundtrip business class tickets to Hawaii at 160,000
The Etihad Apartment, booked with AA miles.

Final word

American Airlines offers four different credit cards available to the public. By jumping on a couple of these at the right time, you can earn up a ton of AA miles that you can use on premium redemptions on airlines like Etihad, Qatar, and Cathay Pacific. What’s more, you can do all of this while paying minimal annual fees since the first year annual fees on the Citi Platinum Select cards are waived.

The Best Cash Back Credit Card for Beginners

There are so many choices to choose from when choosing a cash back credit card. Especially if you’re a beginner, all of the many options make coming to a decision a bit of an overwhelming process. However, there is one card that I often recommend to beginners who are simply interested in earning cash back and it’s the Discover it® – Cashback Match.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

There are a number of reasons why I recommend this card:

Approval odds

The Discover it is one of the easier credit cards to get approved for even when you have a thin credit history or lower credit score. While I always really like the Chase Freedom cards for cash back cards for beginners, it’s not as easy to get approved for Chase cards as it is for Discover cards.

What credit score is needed for the Discover it? 

It’s impossible to give hard cut-offs for credit scores needed for approval for any credit cards since so many factors come into play, such as payment history, credit history, negative marks, your relationship with Discover, etc.

However, with that said, I’ve seen data points where applicants have been approved for this card with credit scores around 650 or even a but lower. Once you get into the 650 and below range, it becomes very hard to predict approval odds, but just the fact that approval is a possibility with kind of score is a big plus for the Discover it.

So because this card is one of the easiest to get approved for, I’m big on it for those folks just starting out.

No annual fee

The Discover it comes with no annual fee.

This is big because if you are just starting out you want to be able to keep your account open as long as possible so that you can build up your credit history. By not having to worry about an annual fee, it’s a lot easier to justify keeping your credit card open.


This is the primary reason why this card is so high up on my list.

The Discover it offers cash back on rotating quarterly categories. What does that mean?

It means that every three months, you’ll be able to earn 5% back on certain categories. Only a couple of categories will be active at a time but the categories usually consist of categories like gas, ground transportation, restaurants, movies, home improvement stores, and Amazon.

You’ll just have to remember two things about these categories:

  1. You always have to remember to register for each quarter and activate your 5X earnings (this only takes a few seconds)
  2. You can only earn 5X up to a maximum of $1,500 spent each quarter

I personally think that 5X on a no annual fee credit card is great but there’s something that makes the Discover it even more appealing.

What really makes this card so appealing is that after the first cardmember year, your cash back earnings are doubled. This means that in effect you earn 10X on all of the quarterly categories and 2X on everything else. This only applies for the first year, but it’s a great way to get introduced to the world of cash back.

Discover Deals

You can take your cash back earnings to the next level by taking advantage of Discover Deals. This is a portal where you can do all of your online shopping and earn additional cash back. For example, you might be able to earn 5% at Walmart or Kohls or 15% back at Under Armour. It’s really not difficult to find good deals on those purchases and it’s a great way to supplement your rewards earned.

Redeem cash back for any amount

Some cash back cards set minimums for redeeming your rewards and some of these are quite high. With the Discover it, you can redeem your cash back at any amount at any time, making it very simple to take advantage of your rewards.

Also, another great thing about your rewards earned with the Discover it is that they never expire.

Free overnight shipping

It’s not uncommon for credit card issuers to offer free rush delivery for high-end premium cards that come with expensive annual fees. But it’s not so common for a bank to offer this service for a card with no annual fee but with Discover you can have your replacement card overnighted to you free of charge (anywhere in the US).

The Discover it® – Cashback Match is Forgiving

This is another reason why I love this card for beginners. It’s very forgiving.

Some cards will spike up your APR when you make a late payment but Discover does not do this, so you don’t have to stress out so much if you slip up. In fact, Discover doesn’t even apply a late payment fee for your first late payment. There are also no fees for charging over your credit limit. And finally, you can pay your bill up until midnight of the due date of your bill, allowing you even more flexibility.

All of these perks are great for those newcomers to credit cards who are still working on taking the training wheels off.

No foreign transaction fees

It’s not very common for no annual fee cards to offer no foreign transaction fees but the Discover it is one of those cards, so it’s great for travel.

Account freeze

If you ever lose your credit card you can log in online or even through the app and instantly freeze your credit card so that no purchases will go through and you won’t have to go through the process of disputing charges and clearing everything up.

Free monthly FICO score

Discover offers you a free monthly glimpse at your FICO score so you might be able to cancel any of those credit score monitoring services you’ve signed up for.

US-based customer service

If you’ve ever had to work things out over the phone, you know how frustrating it can be to get transferred to some customer service station overseas. Discover keeps things local in that regard and is known for having great customer service.

Final word

The Discover it® – Cashback Match is a great credit card for beginners who want to start earning cash back rewards. With a strong rewards earning program, no annual fee, tons of perks, and easier approval odds than many of its competitors, this card really becomes a no-brainer for many people.

Should I Apply for Southwest Credit Cards?

A lot of newcomers are instantly attracted to the Southwest credit cards. I think this is because so many people fly Southwest and the cards are well marketed. Despite a lot of people holding these cards, I don’t think that they realize how valuable these cards can be. So here’s a close look at the Southwest credit cards and what you should consider before applying.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

The airline basics

Southwest airlines has an expansive route network across the US and it’s growing in Mexico and the Caribbean. They operate a revenue-based award system meaning that the points requirement for award flights fluctuates based on the actual cash price of the ticket. If you time your bookings right, this can result in dirt-cheap redemptions to many places. And what’s great about Southwest is it’s usually pretty easy to find award seats since award seats are often plentiful. For these reasons, many travelers are attracted to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program.

The credit card basics

Southwest credit card are issued by Chase and there are currently three versions available. One is a small business credit card and two are personal credit cards. Since most new applicants will be concerned with the personal credit card versions, I’ll focus on those.

The two personal Southwest credit cards are:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

It is possible to apply and get approved for both of these cards at the same time. By applying for both at the same time, the credit inquiries from the applications will probably be combined and you can diminish the impact on your credit score.

Note: Both of these cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 Rule, meaning that if you have opened 5 or more credit card accounts in the past 24 months, you will be denied.

The differences between the Southwest Premier and Plus

The two cards are very similar but there are a few differences. The three differences that will matter the most to a lot of people are the annual fees, anniversary bonuses, and foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee

  • Premier: $99
  • Plus: $69.

Anniversary bonus

  • Premier: 6,000 Rapid Rewards
  • Plus: 3,000 Rapid Rewards

Foreign transaction fees

  • Premier: None
  • Plus: 3%

There’s also one benefit that the Premier has that doesn’t get discussed as often.

Get A-List quicker

  • Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually which equal 15,000 TQP
This means with the Premier you earn up to 15,000 tier qualifying points per year with your card. You need 35,000 tier qualifying points or 25 qualifying one-way flights per calendar year to qualify for A-List Status, so this helps you achieve A-List much quicker.
 A-List Members enjoy:
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority check-in and security lane access
  • 25% more Rapid Rewards points earned on each flight
  • Free same-day standby
  • Dedicated A-List Member phone line

While it’s nice to get a little bonus towards A-List, I don’t value the benefits of A-List enough to warrant spending tens of thousands of dollars on the Premier card just to obtain A-list a little quicker.

Bonus categories

  • Both cards earn the same bonus rate of 2X on Southwest airfare and hotel partners and 1X on all other purchases.

For most people, I’d venture to guess that the additional $30 annual fee is what will be a big determining factor in choosing the Plus over the Premier. Keep in mind that if you value Rapid Rewards at 1.5 cents per point, then that additional 3,000 Rapid Rewards is worth $45, so for many it could make sense holding on to the Premier.

If someone is interested in one Southwest card, I generally recommend them to pick up an additional card because the sign-up bonuses can be very lucrative when you combine the two cards, as I’ll explain below.

Sign-up bonuses

While some of the perks mentioned above are nice to have, the biggest value to be had with the Southwest credit cards is with the sign-up bonuses. Right now, both cards are offering bonuses for 60,000 Rapid Rewards after spending $2,000 (the business card is offering this, too). I don’t remember ever seeing all three Southwest credit cards offering 60,000 points for a sign-up bonus so this is a fantastic time to jump on the cards.

The standard public offer is 40,000 Rapid Rewards for these cards, although it wasn’t that uncommon to see the 50,000 sign-up bonuses come around.

Getting the Southwest companion pass

The 60,000 offer is significant because it means that you don’t have to do any spending beyond earning the sign-up bonuses to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. If you’re not familiar, the Southwest Companion Pass allows a companion to fly with you for free for up to two calendar years. 

As stated, typically the best offers for these credit cards are for 50,000 Rapid Rewards so even when you get approved for two of the best Southwest credit 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 Companion Pass. This is not always an easy task for many. 

But with these two 60,000 offers, you’ll hit the Companion Pass threshold with the sign-up bonuses alone and have a total of 124,000 Rapid Rewards to spend on your redemptions. If you’re strategic with your Rapid Rewards, 124,000 Rapid Rewards could get you very far. From Houston, 124,000 points could get me a hand full of roundtrips for me and Brad to just about anywhere we wanted to go in the US as well as many Caribbean destinations.

In fact I’ve shown before how it’s possible for the Southwest Companion Pass to be worth more than $3,000 just from using points from sign-up bonuses. But forget the dollar value of the pass, to me it’s the flexibility of being able to fly to so many different destinations for free with a partner that makes the pass so valuable. It’s saved us hundreds of dollars over the past couple of years.  

So should you get a Southwest card?

If you plan on flying domestically a lot then getting one Southwest card can make a lot of sense. But I’d always consider getting two Southwest cards and earning the Companion Pass. If you and your travel partner plan on making some trips around the US and Caribbean, then getting these two Southwest cards might be the best option for you right now, especially if you think you might be surpassing 5/24 in the future.

 Cover Photo by Pieter van Marion

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