I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.
There are a lot of reasons to collect miles and points.
- For free luxury hotel stays and First Class flights
- To travel to more countries than you could otherwise afford
- To take your family on vacation
- To visit home for the holidays
- To earn big rewards for everyday spending
Whatever your reason for coming to MileValue, there is a rewards card or cards that suit your needs.
In the last few years, I’ve been to dozens of countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:
- A traditional sauna in Estonia
- Going to the mid-Summer bonfire on an island near Helsinki
- Tapas in Madrid
- Spelunking in Cuba
- Watching sunset on Ka’anapali Beach on Maui
- Trekking four days in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile
- Biking 25km around Bogota as part of the original Ciclovia
- Hiking the Great Wall of China with my brother
- Straddling the border between North and South Korea
- Watching dragons dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong
- Eating more steak than anyone should in Brazil and Argentina
- Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Leading an “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” cheer in Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia
- Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
- Eating Thai-hot Thai curry in Thailand at Thai prices
- Biking in the Lake District of Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina
- Spending three days at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
- Seeing Angkor Wat near Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Getting some home cooking from my mom who lives 5,000 miles away
If you don’t have the money to take your dream trips, the good news is that you don’t need much money. By maximizing the sign up bonuses on rewards cards, anyone with good credit can take a dream trip anywhere in the world.
1. Citi Prestige Card
The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open, $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, the fourth night free on paid hotel stays, three free rounds of golf per year, and a $450 annual fee.
I got the Citi Prestige when it only offered 30,000 bonus points for its amazing benefits. Now that it also has one of the biggest sign up bonuses on the market, it shoots up my rankings. I value the current sign up bonus at $1,250.
The Citi Prestige® Card is premium card that is designed to give travelers huge benefits to offset the big annual fee. For the first 12 months of holding the card, you are guaranteed to get more than $450 from the card if you maximize the $250 worth of statement credits for purchases of airline tickets or airline fees each calendar year (that’s $500 worth in the first 12 months), a $100 statement credit to offset Global Entry, and Priority Pass and American Airlines lounge access.
Beyond the 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Citi Prestige® Card earns:
- 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
- 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
ThankYou Points transfer to 11 airlines and one hotel. Or you can use the points for 1.33 cents off any flight on any airline with no blackouts or 1.6 cents off American Airlines and US Airways flights. Here’s how to use ThankYou Points.
Click these links for a full explanation of the card’s benefits and for a comparison to the American Express Platinum Card.
Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card
2. Ink Plus
The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.
The Ink Plus earns 5x points on internet, phone, and cell phone bills; 5x points on purchases at office supply stores; 2x points on hotels and gas; and 1x points on everything else.
The annual fee is $95, though it is waived for the first year.
3. Citi ThankYou Premier Card
The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 50,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
ThankYou Points transfer to 11 airlines and Hilton or can be used like cash for 1.25 cents each toward any flight on any airline with no blackouts. I get more value out of transferring the points to airline miles.
My favorite transfer partner is Singapore Airlines. For 50,000 Singapore miles, you can book a roundtrip award to South America with two free one ways to Hawaii, all on United flights.
My second favorite partner is Flying Blue. Flying Blue miles can book Promo Awards that cost only 12,500 miles each way to Europe or Israel. You can also use Flying Blue miles to book one way awards on Delta like 15,000 miles to Hawaii, Central America, or the Caribbean.
The card offers 3x points on travel (broadly defined) and gas plus 2x on dining out and entertainment.
The card has no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.
Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
4. Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 40k Ultimate Rewards after spending $3k in 3 months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.
You also get 5k bonus points for adding an authorized user while applying, so I think of this as a 45k bonus point card. (Adding an authorized user does not prevent that person from getting the card at the same time or in the future as a primary account holder and getting the full sign up bonus.)
The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on dining and travel. Dining includes bars, restaurants, and fast food. Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, tolls, parking, and much more.
The Sapphire Preferred has no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.
5. American Airlines Card
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
The card offers a free checked bag on American Airlines flights, priority boarding to get overhead bin space for your carry on, and a 20% discount on inflight purchases.
It has a weak earning rate like most airline cards–2x on American Airlines purchases and 1x elsewhere–but it has one killer benefit that means you should keep the card year-after-year,
The card offers a 10% rebate on American Airlines miles used for award bookings, up to 100,000 American Airlines miles redeemed, 10,000 rebated per calendar year.
There is no annual fee for the first year, then $95.
7. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is the best card for giving you free luxury hotel nights. The card comes with two free weekend nights at Hiltons worldwide after spending $2,500 in the first four months. The free nights are best spent at top-tier Hiltons and Conrads that can go for $1,000 or more per night.
This card is perfect to get aspirational stays at top tier properties like the Conrad Koh Samui that goes for 95,000 Hilton points per night and costs more than $1k per night.
The card also comes with Hilton Gold Status, so you can enjoy free internet and breakfast on those free stays.
The card earns 10x points on Hilton stays, 5x on airlines and car rentals, and 3x on all other purchases.
There card has no foreign transaction fee. The annual fee is $95.
Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card
8. Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, Singapore, and British Airways.
The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status.
For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.
Some people will consider the Platinum Card from American Express for Ameriprise Financial to be a better offer. (Hat Tip Ted)
The card has a smaller sign up bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months, but the card waives the annual fee for the first 12 months ($450 thereafter.)
Otherwise the card has nearly identical benefits to the Mercedes-Benz Platinum.
The “regular” Platinum card is worse than both offers because it has the smaller sign up bonus of the Ameriprise version, but with the annual fee not waived.
9. British Airways Card
The British Airways Visa Signature card comes with 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months on the card.
The card comes with 3 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios per dollar on other purchases.
British Airways Avios are perfect for short, direct, economy flights on British Airways partners that do not levy fuel surcharges like these partners.
For instance, the west coast to Hawaii on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights for 12,500 Avios or only 4,500 Avios between New York and a dozen destinations are two of many sweet spots.
The card has a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first 12 months.
10. Club Carlson Visa
The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers up to 10 free hotel nights after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days.
The basic idea is:
- 50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points after first purchase
- 35,000 more Club Carlson Gold Points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days
- Earn 5 points per dollar on all purchases (and 10 on purchases at Carlson Rezidor hotels), so you’ll earn at least another 12,500 points from meeting the minimum spending requirement. After meeting the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have at least 97,500 Gold Points.
- Free nights at Radisson, Park Plaza, and other properties start at 9,000 Gold Points
The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is a must have if you are traveling near the 1,000 participating Club Carlson hotels. I picked up the card in 2013 and don’t ever plan on canceling it because of the 40,000 points I earn every year on my card’s anniversary upon paying the $75 annual fee.
Application link: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card