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 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:
- Being interviewed for Spanish television and auditioning for an Argentine commercial
- Swimming a few hundred meters into a cave in Vietnam
- Riding an elephant in Thailand
- Attending an Argentina/Brazil World Cup Qualifying Game with my Dad in Buenos Aires
- 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
- 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
And I’ve generally flown Business or First Class between those adventures on tickets that cost me not thousands or hundreds of dollars, but tens of dollars.
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.
Here are, in my opinion, the top ten rewards credit cards right now.
1. Ink Plus
The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 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.
For the reasons presented in this post, this is one of the first three cards I recommend you get if you can get a business card.
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 $95 annual fee is not waived.
While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)
2. AAdvantage Executive
Until August 31, 2016, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® comes with 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
The card also comes with Admirals Club lounge membership, which explains its $450 annual fee. Admirals Club membership means you can access over 90 lounges worldwide for free no matter what airline you’re flying, and you can bring in two guests for free.
You can even add up to 10 authorized users who can get into Admirals Clubs with two guests for free. That’s 33 total people off one card.
The card offers 10,000 American Airlines status miles if you spend $40,000 on it in a calendar year. Cardholders also get a free checked bag for themselves and up to eight companions when they fly American Airlines, priority boarding, 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, and no foreign transaction fees.
Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®
3. Hilton Visa Signature
Until August 31, 2016, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card comes with 75,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months, automatic Hilton Silver status, and no annual fee.
This is a huge sign up bonus for a card with no annual fee.
The card offers 6x points at Hilton hotels; 3x at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations; and 2x on all other purchases. Plus any year you spend $1,000 at Hiltons, you get 10,000 bonus points.
Free night awards start at 5,000 points per night and because the card gives you free Silver status, cardholders get the fifth night free on all awards.
Spending $2,500 on the card (of which at least $2,000 is in the first three months) will give you 80,000 Hilton points, enough for 4 five-night stays at Category 1 hotels, 20 total nights!
Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
4. Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.
For the reasons presented in this post, this is one of the first two cards I recommend everyone get.
You also get 5k bonus points for adding an authorized user while applying, so I think of this as a 55k 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.
While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)
5. Citi Prestige® Card
The Citi Prestige comes with the best perks of any credit card and big bonus points as well. Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. You can read my full review of the Citi Prestige here.
You’ll also receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √®, and a complimentary 4th night for any hotel stay at hotels booked through Citi Prestige® Concierge.
Transfer points to 12 airline loyalty programs or 1 hotel program for the most outsized value. Points are also redeemable for 1.33 cents each on any airline’s cash tickets (sign-up bonus is worth $532 redeeming this way).
The category bonuses are stellar as well: earn 3x points on air travel and hotels and 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment. This is a great card to put the majority of your spending on as I assume all of us as avid travelers spend a good amount within those categories.
Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card
6. 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.
Spend $15,000 in the first 12 months for another 25,000 bonus Avios. The maximum bonus is 75,000 total Avios for spending $15,000 in the first 12 months of which $2,000 came in the first three.
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 Cuzco and Lima, Peru are two of the sweet spots.
The card has a $95 annual fee that is NOT waived.
While I can not directly link to the current British Airways Visa offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)
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. 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
9. Barclaycard Arrival Plus
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® comes with 40,000 bonus Arrival miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
The card earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. You can redeem the miles to offset any travel expense greater than $100 inside your Barclaycard account within 120 days of the purchase. Here is How to Redeem Arrival Miles.
Arrival miles can be redeemed for any travel expense like any flight (no blackouts), taxes and fees on award tickets, hotels, airbnb, car rentals, cruises, and more. You also get a 5% rebate on all redemptions.
After meeting the minimum spending requirement on the card, you’ll have at least 46,000 Arrival miles, which you could redeem to offset a $460 charge. And when you redeem the miles, you get the 5% rebate back instantly, so redeeming 46,000 would offer 2,300 miles back, worth another $23. It’s great for travel as it has no foreign transaction fees and is a Mastercard, which means you will probably pay less in currency conversion fees.
While I can not directly link to the current Arrival Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)
10. Freedom Unlimited
The Freedom Unlimited comes with 15,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $500 in the first three months and 2,500 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user.
For the reasons presented in this post, this is one of the first two cards I recommend everyone get.
The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on all purchases.
Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent each– that’s why all the marketing of the card features cash back language. BUT if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card (#1 and #5 on this list), there is a second way of redeeming the Freedom Unlimited’s Ultimate Rewards: transfer them to your Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus account and from there to airline miles or hotel points. I call this the Freedom Two Step.
I value several of the transfer partners’ miles in the 1.6 to 1.8 cent range, so the Freedom Two Step should allow you to get far more than 1 cent of value from those same Ultimate Rewards.
Check out my full post on the Freedom Two Step for more explanation, screenshots of the process, and high value awards with the partner programs.
The Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee.
While I can not directly link to the current Freedom Unlimited offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)
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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.