Top 10 Travel Credit Cards for March 2017

[This post may contain expired offers]

Right now is a perfect time for jumping on a number of different credit card offers. That’s because there’s a hand full of credit cards offering their highest offers in recent memory and many of these cards are extremely valuable. Below is my list of what I consider to be 10 of the best travel credit card offers right now and some insight on why I’m such a fan of these cards.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • 100,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months (only in branch)
  • Annual fee: $450 (not waived first year)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is still king for the time being, even though it’s 100,000 Ultimate Rewards offer is only available in-branch and through March 11, 2017. 100,000 Ultimate Rewards is a lot and there’s not many cards that can even compete with the Reserve’s complete package: sign-up bonus, benefits, bonus categories of 3X on dining and travel. You might be turned off by the $450 annual fee, but with its $300 travel credit and easy bonus category earning potential, this card can easily turn you a profit in credit card earnings.

2. Chase Ink Preferred

  • 80,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (not waived first year)

The Chase Ink Preferred another solid offer that I think people should consider. 80,000 is a lot of Ultimate Rewards but the bonus categories for the Ink Preferred are strong as well, with the 3X per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services, and
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

If you’re any kind of entrepreneur who spends a lot on advertising, this could be one of the best credit cards for you. The same is especially true for so-called “digital nomads.”

*You may want to hold off on applying for this card because there are rumors that this sign-up bonus might be increasing to 100K!

Read more about the Chase Ink Preferred here.

3. The Sapphire Preferred 

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months (plus 5,000 Ultimate Rewards after adding an authorized user)
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is still one of the best cards available to the public. It earns 2X on a broad travel category and 2X on dining and offers primary rental car insurance. While not as impressive as the Sapphire Reserve, its annual fee is waived the first year and after that it’s only $95. For many people paying $450 for the Reserve is just asking too much, regardless of the potential return in value, and so the Sapphire Preferred is the more practical option for a lot of consumers.

4. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

The all-time highest offer is back for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. I value this card a lot because you can can use SPG points for free nights at SPG properties, transfer them at a 1:3 ratio to Marriott, transfer them out to over 30 airlines at a 1:1.25 ratio when transferring 20,000 points or more, and utilize them in a number of other different ways, such as SPG Moments.

There’s always a chance that this could be the last time we see this offer for this card since Marriott acquired Starwood. Thus, if you’re on the fence about this card, you may want to act sooner rather than later.

Read more about this offer and the similar offer for the business version here. 

5. Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard®

  • 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard® is back at 50,000 miles with the annual fee waived. What’s more, many people have luck matching the 50,000 miles bonus to 60,000 miles!

These offers are said to expire any day now but there are still live links for the 50,000 offer with no 24-month limiting language. There’s also a business version to this card offering 50,000 miles (currently w/out 24 months language), so consider jumping on both credit cards to accumulate 100,000 American Airline miles. This 50,000 miles offer comes and goes but considering the annual fee is waived and you could potentially come up on 60,000 AAdvantage miles, I think this is a great offer. The fact that there are offers without 24 month restrictions is huge, too.

6. United MileagePlus Explorer

  • 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • 70,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months [Targeted]
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

The United MileagePlus Explorer card is offering 50,000 mile offers along with targeted offers for 70,000 miles. Some of these targeted offers also come with a $50 statement credit. The 70,000 miles offer with a $50 statement credit is one of the top offers for any co-branded airline credit card I’ve ever seen. Thus, if I were targeted and under 5/24, I would pick this card up in a heartbeat. Read more about the offer from my article here and see if you’re targeted.

7. Barclaycard Aviator Red 

  • Earn 40,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase
  • Annual fee $95 (not waived)

This card also comes with perks very similar to the Citi Platinum Select including:

  • First checked bag free for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
  • Group 1 boarding for the primary cardmember on domestic flights operated by American
  • 25% inflight savings on food, beverages, and headsets on American Airlines-operated flights
  • 10% of your redeemed miles back on redemptions (up to 10,000 miles per calendar year)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Sign-up bonuses don’t get much easier than these, as all it takes is making a single purchase to earn your bonus! It’s essentially like paying $95 for 40,000 AAdvantage miles, which is a deal I’d go for just about any day.

8. Southwest Premier Business Credit Card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (not waived first year)

You have to earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards in one calendar year in order to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. Typically, the best offers are for 50,000 Rapid Rewards so even when you get approved for two of the best Southwest cards and meet their minimum spend requirements (usually $2,000), you still have to spend an additional $6,000 if you’re relying on credit card spend to earn the bonus. 

But with this rare business credit card offer plus a 50,000 personal Southwest credit card, you’ll hit the Companion Pass threshold with the sign-up bonuses alone! So for a lot of people, this business credit card makes it a lot more practical to obtain the Companion Pass and that’s why it’s one of my top cards. The Southwest personal credit cards are also offering bonuses at 50,000 right now so it’s a perfect time to jump on this card (although all Chase Southwest cards are subject to 5/24). 

9. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard®

  • 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard® offers you maximum flexibility when redeeming your “miles” since they effectively act as a travel credit that can be used on any purchase that codes as travel. Factoring in the purchases needed to meet the minimum spend requirement, you’ll be left with $560 worth of travel credit with this card. Having the flexibility to use your miles on any travel purchase makes it a lot easier to purchase airfare and hotels and put your itinerary together.

While I would normally recommend applying for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card card since it has lower redemption minimums, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard® has the extra $100 in travel attached to its sign-up bonus right now so I’d have to give it the nod.

Read more about my comparison between the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit versus the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard®.

10. Marriott Rewards Card 

  • 80,000 Marriott points after $3,000 spend; 7,500 points when you add an authorized user
  • $85 annual fee (not waived)

The Marriott Rewards card found itself here given the flexibility of the bonus. First off, 87,5000 Marriott points can get you a couple of nights at some high quality properties. But I like the fact that you can transfer these 87,500 Marriott points to SPG for nearly 30,000 SPG points, which can be transferred to nearly 30 different airlines as approximately 35,000 miles (due to the 25% SPG transfer bonus).

Plus, you get a free anniversary night each year at category 1 through 5 hotels. And while the card earns bonus category points on restaurants, car rentals, and airlines, it’s probably best to put your spend on the SPG to earn more Marriott points.

It’s important to note that while the personal version of this card is subject to 5/24, the business version of this card is not.

2 comments

  1. I just left a Chase branch where I applied for the Sapphire Reserve, and unfortunately the min spend is $4k.

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