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:
- Shooting a crossbow at Trakai Castle in Lithuania
- 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
- 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
- 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 AAdvantage Executive
Just improved July 1: For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. American Airlines miles are the best for super-cheap economy redemptions and ultra-luxury redemptions.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. New membership in the Admirals Club normally costs $500, but it is included in the $450 annual fee of Executive card.
For those who want American Airlines status, the card offers 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year.
The card offers a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® has no foreign transaction fees, and earns two miles per dollar on American Airlines and US Airways purchases.
Once the card is associated with your American Airlines number, you and up to eight companions on the same reservation will get your first checked bag fee on all American Airlines and US Airways itineraries.
- This card is so awesome for its huge bonus of American Airlines miles, which are currently the most valuable miles, and its lounge access.
Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®
I recently used 90,000 American Airlines miles to book myself a First Class award from India to Los Angeles that will fly two amazing First Class products, including one with an onboard shower and a couch in my suite.
2. Citi Prestige Card
For a limited time, 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
3. Citi ThankYou Premier Card
For a limited time, 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 types of airline miles, or
- ThankYou Points 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 30,000 Singapore miles, you can book a one way award to Hawaii in United First Class.
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. 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, 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, and it is waived for the first year.
Application Link: Ink Plus
5. Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 40k Ultimate Rewards after spending $4k in 3 months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, 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.
Application Link: Sapphire Preferred
6. 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
7. 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.
The “regular” Platinum card is worse than this offer because it has a smaller sign up bonus and only a $25 lower annual fee.
8. 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.
Application Link: British Airways Visa
9. Citi Hilton HHonors
Just Improved 7/7/15: For a limited time, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card offers 75,000 bonus Hilton HHonors Points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
The card has no annual fee ever, and comes with automatic Hilton Silver Status, which means you get the fifth night free on all award stays.
Award stays start at 5,000 points per night. With the fifth night free, 80,000 Hilton points can book 20 free nights (as four five-night stays)!
Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
10. Club Carlson Visa
The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 85,000 bonus Club Carlson points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days.
The card earns 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
Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.
Earn 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.