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 (like Norway, pictured above, where Sarah Page traveled last July)
- 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.
But before you rush to sign up for new cards, remember to take into account that some miles are better than others for getting to specific destinations–not to mention issuing bank rules concerning eligibility if you’ve had rewards cards in the past. If you need help deciding which card is the right one for you, try our Free Credit Card Consultation Service. We’re happy to help guide you in the right direction towards effectively and efficiently collecting the appropriate rewards. Need help redeeming your miles efficiently? Try our Award Booking Service. You send us your goal and current balances, and we do the work making sure your miles are stretched just as far as possible.
Without further ado…below are, in my opinion, the top ten rewards credit cards right now.
1. Ink Preferred
The Ink Preferred is a business card that offers 80,000 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 Preferred earns 3x points on travel; shipping; internet, cable, and phone services; and search engine or social network advertising and 1x points on everything else.
You’ll also get up to $500 in coverage per claim in cell phone protection against theft or damage for you and your employees (for every cell who’s bill you with the Ink Preferred).
The $95 annual fee is not waived.
2. Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.
Chase Sapphire Reserve holders get a $300 travel credit each cardmember year (not calendar year), as well as a $100 credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSAPre √® every five years, and a free Priority Pass Select membership–which gives you access to over 900 lounges around the world and free unlimited guest access to those lounges for anyone you’re traveling with.
The Sapphire Reserve offers 3x Ultimate Rewards on travel and restaurants. Travel and restaurants are broad categories and include flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, tolls, parking, Uber, taxis, restaurants, bars, fast food, and night clubs.
The $450 annual fee is not waived, but you can see how the benefits more than make up for it.
3. 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.
4. Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 60,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 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 $550 annual fee. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, hotel status ,and a 5x category bonus for purchases directly from airlines. For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card. The annual fee just increased on this card, but it comes with new benefits like $200 in Uber credit annually. Read all about them in Amex Platinum Annual Fee Jumps to $550: Changes Coming March 30.
If you qualify for business credit cards, consider the Business Platinum card from American Express OPEN as well. The minimum spending requirement is higher–$10,000 within three months of opening the card will get you 50,000 points, and another 25,000 for spending another $10,000 within the same three month period. But a 75k bonus is a big chunk of points, and the card comes with many of the same valuable perks that the personal Platinum doesas (well as some unique ones like 5x points on airfare and hotels booked through Amex’s travel portal). The annual fee is also $100 cheaper than the personal card’s.
5. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
The SPG Amex offers 25,000 SPG points after spending $3k in the first three months
When you transfer SPG points to airline partners, you get a 5k mile bonus for each increment of 20k SPG points transferred. So the 28k SPG points you’ll have after meeting the minimum spending requirement for the bonus is really like 33k airline miles (and SPG has TONS of airline transfer partners, more than any other transferrable point type).
The card comes with other benefits like category bonuses of 5 points per dollar spent at SPG properties and 2 points per dollar spent at Marriott properties. You’ll also get complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide.
Read about why both of the SPG credit cards (personal and business) should be on your immediate radar for credit card applications.
6. Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express Open now comes with 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 on your card in the first three months the account is open.
The normal offer for the Business Gold Rewards Card is 25k Membership Rewards after spending $5,000. This improved offer is twice is good as it was before, and the best we’ve seen in years. Since you can only earn the sign-up bonus from a publicly available American Express card offer once per lifetime, that is significant when we say it’s the best sign up bonus we’ve seen in years.
It also has customizable category bonuses with unique options to choose from and the annual fee is waived the first year. You’ll get 3x Membership Rewards on one category of your choice out of the following five choices…
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
…2X Membership Rewards on the four remaining categories, and 1 Membership Reward per dollar spent on all other purchases. Read a full breakdown of the Business Gold Rewards card here.
7. Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
For a limited time, the Citi / AAdvantage card comes with 60,000 American Airlines bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening the account. Benefits include:
- Free checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and four companions
- Preferred Boarding on American Airlines flights (this means after Business/First/elite passengers and before economy)
- 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights
- Double AA miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
- 10% rebate of all redeemed AAdvantage miles, capped at 10k miles each calendar year
- Access to American Airlines’ domestic Reduced Mileage Awards
- No foreign transaction fees
The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. Citi also has a business card co-branded with American Airlines, the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard, and it too has a limited time sign up offer of 60,000 miles for spending $3,000 in three months. The rest of the benefits are pretty similar, although not identical, to the personal card.
8. Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard
The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard offers 60,000 American Airlines for putting just one purchase on the card and paying one $95 annual fee! That means you’d effectively be paying $95 (or .15 cents a mile) and a hard credit pull for 60,000 American Airlines miles.
Other benefits include two American Airlines miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases, free checked bag, discount on inflight purchases, 10% rebate on all American Airlines miles redeemed per year (capped at 10k returned each year), access to American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards, and no foreign transaction fees.
Note that this AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard is a separate product from the AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard, also issued by Barclaycard, which is what most of you who used to have the U.S. Airways card were converted to back in early 2015. So if you have the AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard, you should still be eligible for this card.
9. Chase Southwest Rapid Reward Visas
If you live and travel often to destinations served by Southwest, now is a prime time to sign up for a Southwest co-branded credit card from Chase. There are are two personal versions and one business card, and all of them come with big sign up bonuses.
- Personal Plus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in three months, $69 annual fee NOT waived for the first year, 3,000 bonus points each year you renew
- Premier Plus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in three months, $99 annual fee NOT waived for the first year, 6,000 bonus points each year you renew
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card: 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in three months, $99 annual fee NOT waived for the first year, 6,000 bonus points each year you renew
More importantly, it’s the beginning of the year, meaning it’s the ideal time to earn a Southwest Companion Pass. A Companion Pass is one of the best deals in travel. It allows you to designate a companion who flies for just the taxes on every Southwest flight you fly. That’s $5.60 each way within the United States and a bit more on Southwest’s international flights. You qualify for a Companion Pass by earning 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards from credit cards during a calendar year. The easiest avenue to take right now is opening one personal Southwest card and the business Southwest card. The 110k Rapid Rewards are worth about $1,1540 in free travel on Southwest on any flight, any time with no blackout dates at all. And you can fly basically free with your significant other, friend, family member–whoever–for all of 2018 and 2019 by earning the Companion Pass now.
Each Southwest card earns two Rapid Rewards per dollar on Southwest purchases, and one Rapid Reward per dollar on all other purchases.
I love Southwest because of its two free checked bags, no change or cancellation fees, and efficient boarding process. Southwest Rapid Rewards can be very valuable for domestic redemptions/redemptions to Mexico or the Caribbean if you can book it far enough ahead of time (award prices are based on the cash price of the ticket, unlike most award pricing schemes that are region based).
10. Asiana Visa Signature Card
You will earn 30,000 Asiana miles after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening it. We value Asiana miles very highly at 2 cents each, making this sign up bonus worth approximately $600. You’ll also earn 3 Asiana miles per dollar spent on Asiana purchases, 2 per mile spent on gas station and grocery store purchases, a 100$ rebate on Asiana purchases annually, and a 10k Asiana mile bonus after every account anniversary. The $99 annual fee is not waived the first year.
Asiana has the best award chart in the Star Alliance. That means that you can book any of the 27 Star Alliance airlines, including United, for fewer miles on many routes with Asiana miles than with better known programs like United, Lufthansa, LifeMiles, Singapore, and Air Canada. Unfortunately some Asiana awards have fuel surcharges. But not all of them do, and some are worth it anyways because of the dirt cheap mileage price. Learn more in 30k Sign Up Bonus on Asiana Card: What It’s Good For.
This card should be particularly be on your radar if:
- you value Business and First Class awards to Europe and Southern South America, because Asiana miles are extremely valuable to those regions.
- you fly Asiana often, because the annual $100 Rebate on Asiana Purchases and the 10,000 Asiana Mile Bonus Certificate more than negate the $99 annual fee.