Comparison Table of Fixed-Value Bank-Point Cards

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Recently, United and Delta have devalued their award charts. At the same time, the banks have really stepped up their offers for fixed-value bank-point cards that earn rewards ideal for economy class travel. Several of these cards now offer sign up bonuses worth over $400 in free travel, and they can’t be ignored.

I see the big cards in the fixed-value space as the:

  • Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases
  • Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Each of these six cards–with over $2,000 total in sign up bonuses–are different, but the first five listed all earn proprietary bank points that can be used for free flights on any flight, any time, on all (or almost all) airlines with no blackouts.

The number of points needed for the free flight redemption depends on the price of the cash ticket for the underlying flights. For instance, a $250 flight would cost 20,000 ThankYou points getting 1.25 cents per point. A $1,000 flight would cost 80,000 Arrival miles, getting 1.25 cents per point.

For this reason, I call the first five “fixed-value bank-point cards.”

Fixed-value bank-point cards are ideal for economy flights and atrocious for premium cabin flights because economy flights are cheap with cash and premium cabin flights are expensive with cash. In particular, I liked to use fixed-value bank points for very cheap flights and flights over peak holidays like Christmas and summer vacation.

The last card on the list is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which doesn’t exactly fit because it earns cash back not bank points. But fixed-value bank points and cash back are similar enough that I wanted to include it on the chart.

How do the six cards sign up bonuses, category bonuses, annual fees, other perks, and drawbacks compare? See the tables after the jump!

I couldn’t easily fit everything onto one table, so I made three to compare:

  • Sign Up Bonuses
  • Category Bonuses
  • Annual Fees and Other Features

Sign Up Bonus Table

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card has the best sign up bonus of the bunch, followed closely by the Arrival and FlexPerks cards. The Blue Cash Preferred and Venture Card lag badly.

CardHow to Earn Sign Up BonusSign Up BonusWorth in Airfare
Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember.50,000 total bonus ThankYou points over the first 15 months. See How to Earn Sign Up Bonus for full details.$625 over the first 15 months as explained in How to Earn Sign Up Bonus, but you must pay one $125 annual fee to get the full bonus. Net $500.
Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All PurchasesEarn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.40,000 Arrival miles$444.00
US Bank FlexPerks PersonalGet 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in net purchases in the first 4 months20,000 FlexPointsUp to $400
U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® CardGet 20,000 Bonus FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in net purchases in the first 4 months20,000 FlexPointsUp to $400
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressEarn 100 Reward Dollars after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months100 Reward Dollars$100
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardEarn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in the first three months10,000 Capital One miles$100

Category Bonus Table

This table shows the category bonuses of each card, which I multiply by the value of one point to determine the effective rebate percentage. “Effective rebate percentage” is a concept I use to determine which card gives me the best return for spending on a given purchase.

The cards have such different category bonuses and point values that each card is the best for something except the Venture card.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is great for 6% back at grocery stores. The FlexPerks cards are great for 3x points on charitable donations and 2x on cell phone costs plus the rotating category in which you spend the most money. The Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card shines with a 3x dining and entertainment category.

The Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases has the best non-category bonus earning 2x miles on all purchases. The Venture card earns the same 2x on everything, bu the Arrival card’s miles are more valuable.

CardCategory BonusesWorth of 1 PointEffective Rebate
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% other purchases.Not applicable, cash back card6% at supermarkets, 3% at gas stations and dept. stores, 1% on all other purchases
US Bank FlexPerks PersonalEarn Triple FlexPoints for your charitable donations, Earn two FlexPoints for every $1 spent on gas, grocery or airline purchases – whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle – and on most cell phone expenses
Up to 2 cents toward airfareup to 6% on charitable donations, up to 4% on cell phones and gas, grocery, or airline purchases, up to 2% on all other purchases
U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® CardEarn Triple FlexPoints for your charitable donations, Earn two FlexPoints for every $1 spent on gas, office supplies or airline purchases – whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle – and on most cell phone expensesUp to 2 cents toward airfareup to 6% on charitable donations, up to 4% on cell phones and gas, office supplies, or airline purchases, up to 2% on all other purchases
Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment. Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for airfare and hotel.
1.25 cents toward airfare3.75% on dining and entertainment, 2.5% on hotel and airfare, 1.25% on all other purchases
Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All PurchasesNo category bonuses. 2X Arrival Miles on all purchases
1.11 cents toward travel2.22% on all purchases
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card2 miles per dollar on every purchases1 cent toward travel2% on all purchases

Annual Fee and Other Features Table

The third table shows the cards’ annual fees and other features. All the cards have their annual fees waived for the first 12 months of cardmembership except the Blue Cash Preferred. The cheapest annual fee in year 2 is the $49 annual fee on the U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card.

The other features are hard to summarize. I love the $25 credit you get with each FlexPerks award that you can use on the day of travel for baggage, on board food, or even lounge access.

I love that the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card‘s ThankYou points are worth 1.25 cents toward travel.

I love free TripIt Pro from the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases. And I like that the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns statement credits which are more versatile than points.

CardAnnual FeeOther Features
US Bank FlexPerks PersonalNo annual fee the first 12 months, $49 thereafterReceive an airline allowance of up to $25 with every award travel ticket to use toward baggage fees, in-flight food or drinks and more. Earn 3,500 bonus FlexPoints each year when you spend $24,000 in Net Purchases. Earn 5,000 FlexPoints when you refer a friend who acquires and uses the card.
U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® CardNo annual fee the first 12 months, $55 thereafterReceive an airline allowance of up to $25 with every award travel ticket to use toward baggage fees, in-flight food or drinks and more. Earn 5,000 FlexPoints when you refer a friend who acquires and uses the card.
Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All PurchasesNo annual fee the first 12 months, $89 thereafter
Free TripIt Pro subscription worth $49; Redeem points toward flights, cruises, hotels, car rentals, and more at the same 1.11 cent rate
Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card $125; fee waived for the first 12 months*You can combine ThankYou points between accounts. You can transfer less valuable ThankYou points from a Citi Preferred card to your Citi Premier to get the full 1.25 cents of value from them.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardNo annual fee the first 12 months, $59 thereafterRedeem miles for flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, gift cards, and more, no foreign transaction fees
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express$75.00Free year of Amazon Prime (a $79 value)! Redeem cash back for statement credit

Overall

All of these cards have at least one feature better than the other cards, whether it’s a better sign up bonus, more generous category bonuses, or a lower annual fee.

Except the Venture Card. When people ask me why I never write about Capital One cards, these charts should make it clear: it’s because they stink. All the cards had a better sign up bonus, and the Arrival card has an 11% better earning rate on all purchases.

Among the other cards, which card would be best for you? That depends on which cards’ category bonuses align best with your spending and how long you plan to keep the card. Right now I love the increased sign up bonus on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and the simplicity and generosity of 2.22% back on everything from the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases (waived the first year).

But I also think that these cards complement each other really well. Think of getting two to leverage the benefits of each one more fully. For instance, the Arrival has a great sign up bonus and return on every day spending, but no category bonuses, so it would pair well with a card that had a category bonus in a category where you spend a lot.

Key Links

  • Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases
  • Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Offer Details for All Six Cards

Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases with 40,000 miles after spending $1k in the first three months and no annual fee for the first year

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $1,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next trip!
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, variable APR, currently 14.99% or 18.99%, based upon your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use miles for a statement credit toward any airline purchase to any destination with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits toward flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels and more
  • Complimentary subscription to TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer – a $49 annual value!
  • Complimentary FICO® Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card with 20,000 bonus FlexPoints after spending $3,500 in 4 months

U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards Visa® Card with 20,000 bonus FlexPoints after spending $3,500 in 4 months

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express with $100 sign up bonus, 6% cash back on groceries, and 3% cash back on gas

  • Get 100 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $100 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Plus, get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period.
  • As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • 2 miles per dollar on every purchase
  • One-time bonus of 10,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited miles that don’t expire
  • Redeem miles for flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, gift cards, and more
  • $0 intro for the first year; $59 after that

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.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. The Arrival card is the only double points card that offers 0% APR. Earlier this year, I had a single $45K purchase. Quickly opened 2 Arrival cards to take advantage of the promo rate. Not only am I getting 2.2% CashBack, I am also saving 5% or so I would have paid in interest if I had put it on my LOC. That’s a huge deal. This is a great card for folks considering large purchases that they need to pay off in 12 months.

    • I didn’t even look at their interest rates because I am so focused on paying off every month, but I see why the interest rate can matter every once in a while if you have a big purchase on the horizon.

  2. Another nice thing about all the cards on this list is that they give a person a break from applications with Chase.

    • Yes, I guess the comparable Chase card is the Freedom, but I don’t think of it as fixed-value because I transfer my Freedom UR to my Ink Bold account to transfer to hotels and airlines.

  3. Although I collect Flex Points and Thank you points, I previously signed up for Capital One Venture Card when they offered the 100k sign-up bonus. With a simple phone call, Cap 1 waives the annual fee (I think it’s been 3 times so far) every year. Their 2% travel rewards are just so easy. Unlike Flexperks or Thank You where you need to book the airline flights with the cards, my Capital One card compliments it so well, because I can book ski lift tickets, or taxicab rides, and then, after the fact, choose that charge for rewards to be applied if I so choose. And Capital One customer service has been easy to convince that a Taxi Cab ride was travel related in case it isn’t categorized that way. I do not have the Arrival Card (since I’ve been churning US Airway / Frontier cards and hope to apply for the Lufthansa card the first week of December) so I am wondering if it is as easy as Capital One for the crediting of your rewards/points???

      • He means 100k. They had that sign up bonus a few years ago briefly. They ran it again last year, but it was so restrictive, it was hard to get the 100k.

        • Yes. 100k sign up about 3 or 4 years ago. So long as you could show Capital One that you had at least 100k in miles in an American Frequent Flyer program. It had a few hoops to jump through, but my wife and I both qualified without any hiccups. So, for now, so long as they keep waiving my annual fee, I find it a reasonable card for non-bonus spend (restaurants, office supply, etc)

  4. Ah, the good old days are long gone!! Between 1996 and 2001 there were programs (Old Kent Cardmiles, Centura Travelsmart, Webmiles, others) which would buy you any nonrefundable ticket in the lower 48 states for $25,000-$30,000 in cred card purchases. It was great sport figuring out how to purchase a $2,000 ticket for 25,000 points (I used ITA to figure out “highest cost routings”), then exchange it for the trips you really wanted to take (getting airline vouchers for any residual value, which allowed you to buy multiple tickets for yourself and others until the full ticket value less one $75-$100 change fee was exhausted).

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