Travel Benefit Cards

The following cards tend to provide shortcuts for elite status, travel perks and/or discounts. Other than the Platinum cards, they are most interesting for someone that utilizes or intends to utilize that particular hotel or airline significantly.

Card Name Upfront Bonuses Spending Benefits Other Key Benefits Annual Fee How to Use
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card 50k points (UA, BA, SW, Hyatt, etc. or $750 Cash) after spending $4k in 3 mos. 1 point/$3x for Travel and Dining(directly book travel at 1.5c/pt)
  • Priority Pass lounges
  • $300 tvl credit
  • Global Entry
  • Global Evac.
  • Pur. protection
  • No FTF's
$450 General, Travel, Dining
The Platinum Card® from American Express 40k points after spending $3k (personal card only) 1 point / $
  • Centurion, lounges with guests
  • DL. Priority Pass lounges solo
  • $200 toward 1 airline''s fees
  • Global Entry
  • Global Evac.
  • Pur. protection includes loss
  • No FTF''s
$450 Keep in carry-on for travel benefits
Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve card 2 weekend nights after spending $2.5k in 4 mos. + 1 more/yr after spending $10k 3 points / $5x on airfare and car rentals10x at Hiltons
  • Auto Gold
  • Diamond status after spending $40k
  • No FTF's
$95 Keep in safe and pay $95/year for a Saturday night at an expensive hotel (e.g., The Bentley on South Beach)
Chase Hyatt Card 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt hotel worldwide after spending $1k in 4 mos. + 1 more (cat <=4) each year 1 points/$2x for restaurants, airfare (direct) and car rentals3x at Hyatts
  • Auto Plat.
  • No FTF's
  • Chip
$75 General Spend, Restaurant, Air, Car Rental
United MileagePlus Explorer Card (Chase) 30k after spending $1k in 3 months + 5k for add. cardholder + 10k/yr after $25k 1 point /$2x on United
  • No FTF's
  • free bag & priority board on United
  • 2 lounge passes/yr.
  • No inv. controls on redeeming mileage
$0 1st Yr.,then $95
Delta Amex 30k miles after spending $1k in 3 mos (most of my readers would be better off holding out for more) 1 point /$ 2x on Delta
  • 1st bag free
$0 1st Yr.,then $95
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card 80k points after spending 3k in 3mos, free night @renewal (<=cat 5) 1 point /$2x for airfare, dining and car rental5x for Marriott
  • Auto Silver Elite
  • 15 elite nights + 1 night/$3k spent (auto gold at $105k, auto plat. at $180k)
  • No FTF's
$0 1st Yr.,then $85 Only good for big marriott spending.