[Disclosure: Emily and I get a referral for links in this post, except for the J.P. Morgan Select Card & Barclays US Air card. The links to the American Express Mercedes Benz Platinum & the Citi American Airlines get you a higher sign-up bonus than my referral link.]
As a reminder, in the Big Spender series of posts, I will NOT list cards which give you extra points for spending in certain categories (e.g. gas, groceries etc.), but will cover that in a future post. This series focuses primarily on regular spending with credit cards for Big Spenders
Big Spender Series:
- What can Big Spenders get from spending on credit cards?
- Sign-up bonuses, cash back, and domestic US flights
- Airline & Hotel cards with bonus miles for Big Spending
- Spend your way to airline elite status
- Spend your way to hotel elite status
- Spend your way to lifetime airline and hotel elite status
- Companion passes for Big Spending
- Transferable or “everyday” cards for Big Spenders
Transferable Point Cards
These cards are the best cards to spend large amounts of money on if you don’t really care about earning airline elite status, cash back, companion passes, etc. via credit card spending and want to fly in First or Business class and stay in nicer hotels.
Earning points which can be transferred to airline or hotels (hence the name transferable points) are valuable because they give you more options when it comes time to redeem your points.
However, besides the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card & the J.P. Morgan Select card, none of the transferable point cards offer extra miles for spending a certain large amount on the card. The old Chase Ink Bold offered spending threshold bonuses, but the current version does not.
The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card does offer a 25% transfer bonus for transfers to airline partners in increments of 20,000 points. So you could view this as a 25% bonus for spending in increments of $20,000.
1. Chase Ultimate Rewards
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned on the J.P. Morgan Select, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold & Chase Ink Plus to United Airlines, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Ritz Carlton, Korean Air, Southwest, and Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio.
The best use of Ultimate Rewards to me is to transfer to:
- United which offers 1-way awards and is great for Star Alliance partner flights
- Hyatt where top tier Hyatt hotels (which sell for over $600), can be had for 22,000 Hyatt Points per night
- British Airways for short distance flights
J.P Morgan Select card
Link: J.P. Morgan Select
The J.P Morgan card (unlike the other Ultimate Rewards points cards) doesn’t have a sign-up bonus, but offers 25,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points for the 1st $100,000 in spending in 1 calendar year
This means that you earn a total of 125,000 points (100,000 for base spending + 25,000 bonus points) or 1.25 points per $1 spent for spending $100,000 within a calendar year.
2. Starwood Preferred Guest
• Earn an extra 5,000 points when you transfer in increments of 20,000 SPG points to many different airlines.
The American Express Starwood personal and business card offers a 25% transfer bonus when you transfer Starwood points into their many airline partners in increments of 20,000 points.
For example, transferring 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines gets you 25,000 American Airlines miles – or an earning rate of 1.25 American Airlines miles per $1 spent.
This makes the Starwood card better than many airlines’ co-branded cards (for example Citi American Airlines or Barclays US Air card) for regular spending in increments of $20,000 because you get a 25% bonus which you don’t get with that airlines’ own co-branded card!
Starwood points are also very useful to use for stays in Starwood hotels. See my review of the SPG program here.
3. American Express Membership Rewards
- Link: American Express Premier Rewards Gold
- Link: American Express Business Rewards Gold
- Link: American Express Mercedes Benz Platinum
- Link: American Express Business Platinum
American Express Membership Rewards is the weakest of the transferable point cards, in my opinion, because they:
- Don’t have any nice hotel partners
- Their airline transfer partners charge fuel surcharges on many awards (For example, Aeroplan and ANA)
- It is hard to use Delta miles
British Airways (a Membership Rewards partner) is very useful for short haul flights and should be part of your toolkit, but Delta miles are hard to use for domestic flights because Delta availability at the low-level is poor, though their SkyTeam partners do have good award availability.
Membership Rewards does sometimes offer bonuses for transferring points to airline or hotel partners, which could make up for some of the disadvantages of Membership Rewards points.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold
You get 15,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $30,000 in 1 calendar year.
This means that you earn a total of 45,000 points (30,000 for base spending + 15,000 bonus points) or 1.5 points per $1 spent for spending $30,000 within a calendar year.
Transferable point cards are great way to diversify your points stash and give you more options if you don’t have a specific goal in mind – elite status, companion passes, cash back, etc.