Top Credit Cards

Unlike many other miles and points blogs I receive no monetary compensation from any of the credit card companies. You can always expect me to give the best, unbiased advice. Listed below are the top credit cards available. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Credit Cards to get started!

The first question I always get about the points game is, don’t all those credit cards ruin credit score? In my experience, your score will go down 5 points, per application. The drop is usually short-term and should rebound within 1-2 months. The key to your credit score is not how many cards you have, it’s paying them on time.

Thrifty Tip #1:  Never carry a balance from month to month as the interest charges negate any rewards you may receive. You must be organized and debt free otherwise you could further harm your credit score.

Thrifty Tip #2: Always monitor your credit score to see any impacts new openings or closures of cards have had on the your score. I recommend Credit Karma’s free service.  I review my score every couple weeks and closely monitor my score. Read more on how to get your free credit score.

 

Personal Cards

Sapphire Preferred by Chase TOP STARTER CARD

Chase-Sapphire-Preferred

  • 50k Ultimate Rewards bonus after $4,000 spend in 3 months ($500 or more towards travel)
  • No annual fee the first year, then $95
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • Can book Flight Deals with points! (our #1 way to book deals)
  • 2x points when spending on travel and dining at restaurants
  • Apply for this card first! New Chase limits on this card! –> Read here first!

Starwood Preferred Guest by American Express – (Card Review) – TOP STARTER CARDSPG Card thrifty traveler

  • 25k bonus after $3,000 spend in 3 months 
  • No annual fee the first year, then $95
  • If you transfer over 20k miles to an airline program you receive a 5k bonus (25% points bonus)
  • Spending over $30k per year will earn you SPG Gold Status
  • New: No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • New: Receive free in-room, premium internet access
  • New: Free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1 million Boingo hotspots worldwide
  • Provides 5 nights towards status per year
  • This is my everyday spending card when I’m not working towards a spending bonus

Gold Delta Skymiles Card by Amex 
Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.32.40 AM

  • 50k miles after $2,000 spend in 3 month (Limited Time Offer)
  • No annual fee the first year, then $95
  • $50 statement credit after Delta purchase in first 3 months
  • Priority Boarding
  • Free checked bag
  • No foreign transaction fees

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card by Amex delta-platinum thrifty traveler

  • 70k miles and 5k MQMs after $3,000 spend in 3 months (Great for earning MQMs) – (Limited Time offer) 
  • $195 upfront annual fee
  • $100 statement credit after Delta purchase within your first 3 months.
  • Make $25k in purchases on the Card in a calendar year and earn 10k MQMs and 10k bonus miles
  • Make $50k in purchases on the Card in a calendar year and earn 10k more MQMs and 10k bonus miles
  • Priority Boarding
  • Free checked bag
  • No foreign transaction fees

Arrival Card by Barclay (Card Review) – TOP STARTER CARDBarclay-Arrival-Plus-World-Elite-MasterCard

  • 40k miles after $3,000 spend in 3 months (Worth $400 towards travel statement credits)
  • No annual fee for the first year, then $89
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Complimentary FICO Score
  • Receive 5% of your points back when using travel statement credits
  • The flexibility of using the travel statement credits makes this a great starter card
  • Want to know what qualifies for a travel statement credit?  Check out Flyertalk.

Amex Premier Rewards Gold premier rewards gold thrifty traveler

  • 25k Membership Rewards points after $2,000 spend in 3 months ($500 or more towards travel)
  • No annual fee the first year, then $195
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • $100 annual reimbursement for flight incidentals (Make money for applying!)
  • No interest charges, must be paid in full each month
  • Points are transferrable 1:1 to many airlines or hotels including Delta
  • Points can also be used for gift cards, statement credits, or booking flights directly but it is more lucrative to transfer the points to an airline loyalty program

American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select by Citi Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.17.51 AM


Southwest Airlines Card by Chase 01868_card_t0001_rsp

  • Two personal cards available (Plus/Premier)
  • 50k miles after $2,000 spend in 3 months (Limited Time Offer!)
  • Up front annual fee of $99
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No change fees when you cancel and rebook a flight
  • Companion Pass (Allows companion to fly for free when redeeming or paying with points.)
    • Quite possibly the most valuable item in the points game!

United Explorer Card by ChaseScreen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.31.03 AM

  • 30k miles after $1,000 spend in 3 months 
  • No annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Free checked bag
  • Priority Boarding
  • Two United Club passes per year
  • No foreign transaction fees

IHG Rewards Club Select Card by Chase – (Card Review)Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.34.13 AM

  • 60k points after $1,000 spend in 3 months
  • No annual fee the first year, then $49 (Cheap annual fee)
  • Annual Free night anywhere in the IHG chain (Huge value)
  • Automatic Platinum Elite IHG Status
  • Very valuable card with a low annual fee!

Hyatt Card by Chasehyatt credit card

  • 2 FREE NIGHTS at any Hyatt Property after $1,000 spend in 3 months (One of our favorite bonuses)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum Status
  • Annual Free night at any category 1-4 property
  • No foreign transaction fees

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.37.46 AMHilton HHonors Reserve Card by Citi

  • Two free weekend nights at select hotels after $2,500 spend in 4 months
  • $95 annual fee per year
  • Automatic Gold Status
  • No foreign transaction fees

Hilton HHonors Surpass by Amexhilton-hhonors-surpass-american-express-033116

  • 75k Hilton HHonors Points after $3,000 spend in 3 months
  • $75 annual fee per year
  • Automatic Gold Status
  • Earn 12 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at Hilton properties
  • No foreign transaction fees

thrifty traveler

Chase Freedom  – CASH BACK CARD

  • 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories, 1% on all other purchases
    • Limited time 10% Cash Back at Amazon
  • No annual fee
  • Card earns cash back or Ultimate Rewards (If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred)
  • Great card to keep open forever
  • New Chase limits on Ultimate Rewards program –> Read here first!

Citi Double Cash Card – CASH BACK CARDCiti Double Cash

  • Earns 2% cash back all the time (Highest cash return!)
  • No annual fee
  • Simple, high rewarding cash back card
  • Great card to keep open forever!

 

Business Cards

You may be asking yourself, “Am I eligible for a business credit card?“. If you own a business or even sell items on craigslist or eBay you should qualify. If you don’t have a Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business then select Sole Proprietorship for the business type on the card application. In fact it’s generally easier to get approved for a business card if you don’t have an EIN, since the credit card companies ask fewer questions! You rarely receive instant approval with business credit cards, so you should call the reconsideration lines listed at the end of this step. I recommend doing this immediately after application. If you do not call the reconsideration lines it is unlikely you will be approved. Don’t miss out on business cards! They are significant source of points!

Ink Plus Card by ChaseScreen Shot 2015-04-11 at 12.08.26 PM

  • 60k Ultimate Rewards bonus after $5,000 spend in 3 months ($650 or more towards travel)
  • $95 annual fee
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • Earn 5X points on the first $50k spent on purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • Earn 2X points per $1 on the first $50k spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • Check out the best uses of Ultimate Rewards and a listing of travel partners. 
  • New Chase limits aka 5/24 rule –> Read here first!

Starwood Preferred Guest Business by American Express – (Card ReviewSPG Card Thrifty traveler

  • 25k bonus after $5,000 spend in 3 months 
  • No annual fee the first year, then $95
  • If you transfer over 20k miles to an airline program you receive a 5k bonus (25% points bonus)
  • Spending over $30k per year will earn you SPG Gold Status
  • New: No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • New: Receive free in-room, premium internet access
  • New: Free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide
  • New: Free access to the Sheraton Lounges
  • Provides 5 nights towards status per year

Business Gold Rewards by American Expressflat-cardart-111

  • 25k Membership Rewards points after $10,000 spend in 3 months ($750 or more towards travel)
  • $0 annual fee the first year, then $175
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • No interest charges, must be paid in full each month
  • 3X points on airfare, gas, advertising, shipping, or computer purchases
  • Points are transferrable 1:1 to many airlines or hotels including Delta
  • Points can also be used for gift cards, statement credits, or booking flights directly but it is more lucrative to transfer the points to an airline loyalty program

American Airlines AAdvantage Citibusiness Platinum SelectScreen Shot 2015-04-11 at 12.13.44 PM

  • 30k miles after $1,000 spend in 3 months 
  • No annual fee the first year, then $95
  • 2x points on phone, gas, and car rentals
  • 1st checked bag is free for you and four companions
  • Early boarding in Zone 1
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

United Mileageplus Explorer Business Card by Chase

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 12.15.19 PM

  • 30k miles after $1,000 spend in 3 months 
  • No annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • 10k mile bonus for $25k annual spend
  • Free checked bag
  • Priority Boarding
  • Two United Club passes per year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Gold Delta Skymiles Business Card by Amex 

  • Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 12.21.17 PM50k miles after $2,000 spend in 3 months (Limited Time offer)
  • No annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • $50 statement credit after Delta purchase in first 3 months
  • Priority Boarding
  • Free checked bag
  • No foreign transaction fees

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Card by Amex 

  • delta medallion thrifty traveler70k miles and 5k MQMs after $1,000 spend in 3 months (Great for earning MQMs)
  • $195 upfront annual fee
  • $100 statement credit after Delta purchase within your first 3 months.
  • Make $25k in purchases on the Card in a calendar year and earn 10k MQMs and 10k bonus miles
  • Make $50k in purchases on the Card in a calendar year and earn 10k more MQMs and 10k bonus miles
  • Priority Boarding
  • Free checked bag
  • No foreign transaction fees

Southwest Airlines Premier Business Card by Chase swa_premier_biz_card

  • 50k offer after $2,000 spend in 3 months
  • Up front annual fee of $99
  • 6k bonus after your cardmember anniversary
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • Companion Pass (Best deal in the points game!)

Call if you are not instantly approved:

American Express Credit Card Reconsideration

  • 877-399-3083 (new accounts) 8am-midnight EST M-F, 10am-6:30pm Saturday

Barclays Credit Card Reconsideration

  • 866-408-4064. (credit analyst) 8am-5pm EST Monday to Friday

Chase Credit Card Reconsideration

  • 888-245-0625 (personal credit analyst, 7am-10pm EST M-F; 8am-10pm EST Sat. and 9am-9pm Sun.)
  • 800-453-9719 (business credit analyst, 8am-10pm EST M-F)

Citibank Credit Card Reconsideration

  • 800-763-9795 (personal and business card application status/analyst) 7am-midnight EST 7 days a week

 

 

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