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.
Below are, in my opinion, the top ten rewards credit cards right now.
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.
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.
You get a $300 travel credit each calendar year, which can be applied twice within the first year of card membership for a total of $600 in travel credit.
Chase Sapphire Reserve holders also get 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. 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.
There is another public sign up offer for the Citi Prestige right now. You can earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points for spending $5,000 in three months. If you don’t see that offer when you pull up the application page, try opening it in an incognito window or a different browser. I have seen both the 40k and 50k offer.
You’ll also get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, which can be applied twice within the first year card membership for a total of $500 in Air Travel Credit.
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 √®, a complimentary 4th night for any hotel stay at hotels booked through Citi Prestige® Concierge, and a free Priority Pass Select membership.
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.
5. 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.
6. United MileagePlus Explorer Card
The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card comes with 50,000 United miles after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening it.
You’ll earn 2 United miles per dollar spent on United purchases, as well as restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores purchases.
You also get a ton of perks when flying United.
You and one travel companion can check your first bag for free to save up to $100 per roundtrip flight. You and anyone on your reservation get Priority Boarding, which means you get to board before the majority of people and have a better chance to get your carry on luggage in the overhead bin. You’ll also get two passes for the United Club per year.
The card charges no foreign transaction fees but has $95 annual fee.
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 $3,000 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 Cuzco and Lima, Peru are two of the sweet spots.
The card has a $95 annual fee that is NOT waived.
9. Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
- Free checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and four companions
- Group 1 Boarding on American Airlines flights
- 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 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 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 in three months. The rest of the benefits are pretty similar to the personal card.
Have your eye on an AAdvantage redemption? You can earn another easy 40,000 American Airlines miles by opening, making one purchase, and paying the $95 annual for the new Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard. It’s benefits package is very similar to the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select’s benefits listed above.
10. Barclaycard Arrival Plus
For a limited time, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus comes with 50,000 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 56,000 Arrival miles, which you could redeem to offset a $560 charge. And when you redeem the miles, you get the 5% rebate back instantly, so redeeming 56,000 would offer 2,800 miles back, worth another $28. 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.