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Such a Thing as a Good Travel Rewards Card

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8 replies to this topic

#1 Andrew W

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 07:29 PM

Most of the good travel rewards cards I see are for moderate to high spenders. Are there any for low spenders? The total monthly expenses that I could potentially put onto credit cards at this time would be around $750. I currently use various credit cards to maximize credit rewards for specific categories such as gas, groceries, etc, however, if there is a good card out there for low spenders such as myself, I'd be interested in going for it to round out my collection.

This only popped into my mind as I recently got a new set of pre-approvals from Penfed. The only options that interest me: 1) I can choose a new $9200 credit card, 2) a $9200 CLI on my current card, or 3) an $18k PLOC. I currently have the Platinum Rewards card with a $23.5k limit. Now I only use this card for gas and groceries, which amounts to no more than $400 monthly spending. So I really don't need a higher limit on this card, which is why I thought that perhaps I could go with the $9200 Penfed Amex if it is a good card for such limited spending.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks everyone,

#2 Repairerer


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Posted 01 April 2012 - 07:39 PM

I think Penfed Amex is a good card. I want to apply for it but I don't think I quite qualify yet. No AF, 5x points on airfare and no FETF. The bonus right now is 20K points but you only have to spend $650 in the first three months to attain it.

I don't know what hotel chain(s) you like but Amex has good options of hotel rewards cards, some with no AF.

#3 Andrew W

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:09 PM

I looked at the Penfed Amex a bit more closely, and it seems like it is geared toward people who travel/spend a lot. $15,000 minimum annual spend to get free airport lounge access, and aside from the 5x points on airfare charges, it is otherwise just a flat 1 point/1% card like everything else out there.

Perhaps I'm missing something? I hate to give up this new set of pre-approvals I have, but I'd also hate to be adding more credit to a card that really doesn't need it (and ultimately wouldn't really do me any good).

#4 bostonte

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 09:34 PM

You said the most you can put on the cards per month is $750. That's $9,000 a year. If you were able to find 5% cash back on every single purchase, that's only $450. And you aren't going to find that.

You would be far better off using your good credit to chase sign up bonuses rather than on going benefits -- i.e. one of the $400 offers from Chase, etc. Do two or three offers per year, plus whatever rewards those purchases earn on the card of the month (probably 1-5% depending on the card and purchase type), and you'll do much better than rewards with your current spending. Barclay has been doing $200 for the NFL card with the only requirement being a single purchase of any amount. From time to time Discover floats $300 offers, etc.

#5 patz2009

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 09:58 PM

I'd second the looking for promotional offers, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

If that's not something you'd want to do and would be looking for something more long-term, your best bet might be something like the Capital One Venture card or, without the annual fee, Capital One VentureOne rewards or the AmEx Blue Sky. The Venture outclasses the Venture One after $7866.67 of spending in a year, disregarding signing bonuses, taking into account annual fee and rewards rate differences. The Blue Sky has about a 1.33% rewards rate, bringing the break-even point against the Venture to $8850.00 annual spending, about as close as you had specified in your original post. Plus, you'd get the perks of being with AmEx vs. Capital One.

If you're looking for something a bit more specialized, you can definitely find some various hotel or airline specific cards out there without an annual fee.

All this said, my recommendations stand at: Chase Sapphire Preferred for the short-term, AmEx Blue Sky for the long-term.

Edited by patz2009, 01 April 2012 - 09:58 PM.

#6 EvoX

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:38 PM

Are you looking for:

1. A card that will reward you for travel
2. A card that will upgrade your traveling experience
3. A card with rewards you can redeem for travel
4. A card with no FETF

Various cards have various benefits, but it is important to clarify what you want from this card.
The PenFed Amex is a great card to get. The SPG Amex is also pretty good, but it's hard to justify the AF at your spending level.
The AMEX platinum is also a great card, and I would argue that the card's benefits aren't for high spenders.

IF I had an AMEX Platinum, I think I would still swipe my Fidelity AMEX most of the time because it has a rewards program that is 2X as good, and most of the same protection the Platinum has. To me, the main reason to get the AMEX is to be a cardholder with access to all the benefits they will offer you.

The Venture is also a decent product, and the Priceline 2% visa should be considered.

#7 Andrew W

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 11:21 PM

I'm mainly looking for a card with rewards that I can redeem for travel, as I feel like this is the only major hole I have in my current portfolio. Aside from an ING LOC I now regret opening in August of last year, I have not added any new cards to my collection since September of 2009, so I thought my portfolio could use a second look as I feel I've been neglecting it. Perhaps, however, there is no such thing as a good travel rewards card for a low spender such as myself?

I've looked at the SPG Amex and a few other travel rewards cards, and also came to the conclusion that the AF would eclipse any rewards I would be earning. For this reason, I'm trying to stay away from any card that carries an AF.

Lack of an AF is the main reason that the Penfed Amex caught my attention. However, I don't see myself racking up a significant amount of rewards on the card without much spending or traveling.

Maybe I shouldn't even be bothering with any travel/airlines rewards cards until I win the lotto and can afford to travel 24/7 hm?

#8 EvoX

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 11:40 PM

Sounds like you should be getting airline branded cards with signup bonuses.
Chase/Southwest had a killer deal for a free roundtrip plus $500 in vouchers with minimum spending.
Make sure you cancel before the AF hits!

#9 hegemony


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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:15 PM

can the points from penfed platinum rewards be used for travel? $250 sign up bonus and 5 points for gas might add up for you.

if you want lounge access, the $150 annual fee Ameriprise world elite mastercard might work for you.

if you buy a lot of airfare the penfed amex is the best card in the world.

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