Which credit card should I get?

October 29, 2012 - 8 Responses

Now that I’m about to go back to work (and start traveling again) my mind has returned to maximizing my points and miles. Since I haven’t been able to travel for the last several months I have lots of ground to make up!

The first step for us is a new credit card. We have had the Citi Aadvantage card for six years. Overall we’ve been pretty happy with it, but due to American Airline’s continuing issues we think it’s a good idea to change to a non AA focused card. We’re considering three cards right now, and I am very interested in your input.

Amex Platinum. The benefits? Numerous. Access to lounges, $200 credit for incidental airline fees, membership in global entry, and 25,000 in points with $2000 spend in the first two months (among others). The cons are the hefty annual fee of $450, they’re not accepted everywhere, and the fact that you have to pay your bill in full every month. (We pay our bill in full every month, but it’s nice to know that you don’t have to if something crazy happens.)

Chase Sapphire Preferred. The benefits for this card are the double points on travel and dining, 40,000 points with a $3,000 spend in the first three months, it’s a Visa so it’s accepted virtually everywhere, and there is no annual fee the first year. The cons are the $95 annual fee after the first year (right now we pay $75), the high interest rate, and, well, it’s not the Amex Platinum so there’s no lounge access.

Chase Southwest Premier. This is the only airline-specific card we are considering. The benefits are the 25,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first three months, tier qualifying points, an anniversary bonus, and it’s a Visa so it’s accepted everywhere. The cons are the high APR (15.24% right now) and the $99 annual fee.

So, Readers, which card do you think is best? Do you think we should keep our Citi Aadvantage card around? Or are there other cards we should consider?

And speaking of travel rewards, don’t forget to enter our current contest! You could win two free nights from Country Inns & Suites!

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Travel Perks I Love

April 19, 2012 - 3 Responses

I love perks. Of course, who doesn’t? I collect them as much as possible—from airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, and anyone else who will pass them out. Not only are they a nice little reward for all the time and money I spend on their services, they make travel that much nicer. Since I travel so much, I am constantly striving to make every trip as easy and streamlined as possible, and am always on the lookout for perks to make that happen. Here are a few of my favorites.

Executive lounges in hotels. I have enjoyed the lounges on executive floors in Hilton and Marriott hotels, and think they are well worth the higher room cost. I usually make the extra cost back by enjoying the breakfast offerings. It is also very nice to have a hotel employee nearby, dedicated to helping business travelers. My best experience with a hotel lounge was the Edsa Shangri-La Garden Wing in Manila. Not only was there a fantastic breakfast and happy hour spread, guests in the Garden Wing had expedited check in and check out, a back door entrance, and fast and easy money exchange. I will always, always stay there when traveling to Manila in the future. (I’ve also noticed on Executive floors the toiletries are often upgraded, which I love.)

Priority security line at airports. Going through the priority security line by having a first class ticket or having elite status with an airline loyalty program is the biggest time saver. I have seen airports (I’m thinking specifically of Chicago Midway, although this has happened all over the place) where the  normal security line is backed up all the way to the entrance, and there are fewer than five people in the priority line. If I ever lost status this is the perk I would miss the most, even over boarding first.

First class upgrades. The other great thing about elite status with an airline is getting upgraded to first class on a regular basis. The extra room alone makes it wonderful, but of course the extra attention and free drinks don’t hurt!

No check in when renting cars. Many car rental companies don’t make their frequent renters check in, therefore avoiding long lines. This is a huge time saver, allowing me to simply walk from the airport gate to my car, and go.

Points. Of course, points. Who would pass up free stays in hotels, free flights, and free car rentals? I make sure I am registered for the loyalty program for all airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies I use. I also keep an eye out for double points or other promotions, to make sure I maximize my points.

Readers, what perks make travel easier for you? What are your favorite travel perks?