Top 7 Travel Cards for January 2017

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Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to travel more, you’ll be happy to know there are some exciting sign-up offers in the miles & points world!

Certain credit cards are offering great sign-up bonuses and perks including airline credits, airport lounge access, and more.  And a few of them can be worth $1,000 or more! 

Top 7 Travel Cards For January 2017

Picture Yourself In a Hammock on the Beach In the Maldives! With Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses, This Could Be You!

I’ll share my top 7 travel credit cards to get Big Travel with Small Money.

My Top 7 Picks for Travel Credit Cards

Link:   Hot Deals

Whether you’re new to miles & points or have been in the hobby for years, these 7 credit cards will help you achieve your travel goals!

1.   The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Link:   The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Link:   My Review of the 100,000 Point AMEX Business Platinum Offer

If you apply by January 25, 2017, for The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN card, you can earn up to 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements!

That’s worth at least $2,000 toward Business and First Class airfare on ANY airline, or coach tickets on your selected airline.  That’s because you’ll get 2 cents per point when using Pay With Points for ticket purchases through the AMEX travel portal.

And the sign-up bonus can be worth even more if you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline partners like Delta or Singapore Airlines!

After you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, you’ll earn 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.  And you’ll earn another 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the same timeframe.

Top 7 Travel Cards For January 2017

Complete the Tiered Spending Requirements on the AMEX Business Platinum Card and You’ll Have Enough Points for 3 Round-Trip Tickets From the US to Hawaii!

You’ll also get:

The card has a $450 annual feeNOT waived the first year.  But the thousands of dollars in travel you’ll get from the sign-up bonus combined with the $200 in statement credits more than make up for it!

The good news is, it’s also relatively easy to be approved for this card.  I applied and was instantly approved!

Plus, AMEX small business cards will NOT hurt your chances of being approved for Chase cards.

Just remember, American Express only allows folks to get the sign-up bonus ONCE per person, per lifetime on ALL their cards.  So if you’ve had this card before, you will NOT be eligible to earn the sign-up bonus again.

2.   Chase Ink Business Preferred

Link:   Chase Ink Business Preferred

Link:   My Review of the Chase Ink Business Preferred

When you sign-up for the Chase Ink Business Preferred, you’ll earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

You’ll also get:

  • 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)
  • 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all other purchases
  • Up to $500 in cell phone insurance when you pay your cell phone bill with the card
  • 25% bonus when you redeem points through the Chase travel portal
  • Primary auto rental insurance (CDW) when renting for business purposes, plus purchase and extended warranty protection
  • $95 annual fee (waived the first year when you apply in-branch)

The sign-up bonus alone is worth at least $1,000 towards travel after you meet minimum spending requirements.  That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when you redeem for travel through Chase’s travel portal.

Top 7 Travel Cards For January 2017

I Transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United Airlines for a Free Business Class Ticket to Australia!

Or, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners like United Airlines or Hyatt, where they can be worth even more!

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my favorite kind of points because they’re so flexible.  For example, I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines for a Business Class ticket to Australia!

But don’t forget about Chase’s 5/24 rule.  If you’ve opened 5 or more credit card accounts (from any bank) in the past 24 months, it’s VERY UNLIKELY Chase will approve you for their Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Ink Business Preferred (with the exception of certain small business cards).

That said, there are still 6 Chase credit cards you can be approved for, even if you are over the 5/24 rule.

3.   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   My Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.  

That’s worth $1,500+ in travel.  Because when you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents each on travel booked through Chase.

You’ll also get perks like:

  • 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel & dining (it can add up quickly!)
  • $300 statement credit for any travel purchases (like Airbnb, airfare, car rental, Uber, etc.) each year
  • Priority Pass Select for access to airport lounges
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry
  • No foreign transaction fees

The card comes with a $450 annual fee, but can be offset with perks like the $300 statement credit and airport lounge access.

Plus, you can get more value from your points by transferring them to valuable partners, like Singapore Airlines or Hyatt!

Top 7 Travel Cards For January 2017

Use the Chase Sapphire Reserve Sign-Up Bonus for Free Nights at the Beautiful Hyatt Regency Maui

Emily and I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for free nights stays at the Hyatt Regency in Maui, and the luxurious Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome.

We don’t earn a commission on this card, but we’ll always tell you about the best offers.  Because we love our readers!

4.   The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

Link:   The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

Link:   My Review of The Business Gold Rewards Card from AMEX

You can earn 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points with the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

This card also earns:

  • 3X AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 you spend in 1 of 5 categories of your choice
  • 2X AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 you spend on the 4 remaining categories
  • 1X AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 you spend on other purchases
  • Terms & limitations apply

The normal sign-up bonus for this card is 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.  So this is a great deal!

But note, some folks receive targeted offers through the mail for a sign-up bonus of 75,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.  So check to see if you have a higher offer before applying for this 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus!

Top 7 Travel Cards For January 2017

The AMEX Business Gold Rewards Sign-Up Bonus Can Earn You a Round-Trip Ticket from the US to London When You Transfer Your AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Airline Partners!

Emily was approved for this 50,000 point offer.  And she’s excited to get Big Travel by transferring her AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline partners like Delta or Flying Blue.

Just remember, you can only earn the sign-up bonus ONCE with each American Express card.  So if you’ve had this card before, you will NOT be eligible to earn the sign-up bonus again.

5.   Merrill Lynch Merrill+ Visa

Link:   Merrill Lynch Merrill+ Visa

Link:   My Review of the Merrill Lynch Merill+ Visa

The Merrill Lynch Merrill+ Visa is offering a sign-up bonus worth between $500 and $1,000, depending on how you use it!

You’ll get 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening (worth up to $1,000 in travel!).

Plus:

  • 1 point per $1 on all purchases
  • Your choice of free Delta Sky Club lounge membership or $200 credit for travel incidentals (including Global Entry) after spending $50,000+ in 1 year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
Top 7 Travel Cards For January 2017

The Merrill Lynch Merrill+ Card Sign-Up Bonus Can Help You Visit Spots Like Madrid, Spain. So Start Planning Your Trip Now!

The value of your points depends on what you redeem them for.  You’ll get a value of:

  • 2 cents per point when booking flights on American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, and United Airlines
  • 1.67 cents per point on all other airlines
  • 1 cent per point when you redeem for cash back
  • Generally 1 cent per point when you redeem for gift cards (redemption value varies)

But be sure to read my full review of the card here, because there are conditions to these awards.

And don’t forget, 15% of your credit score is determined by the length of your credit history.  So everyone should have a no annual fee card they can keep forever, to help boost your credit score.

Emily and I don’t earn commission on this card, but we’ll always tell you the best offers.

6.   Chase Marriott

Link:   Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Link:   Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card

Link:   My Review of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

The Chase Marriott personal and small business cards are offering 80,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.

And the personal version of the card offers an additional 7,500 Marriott points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months of account opening.  So you’d have more than 90,000 Marriott points after you complete minimum spending requirements!

With both cards you’ll also get:

  • 5X Marriott points at Marriott hotels
  • 2X Marriott points on restaurants, car rentals, airline tickets purchased directly from airlines, office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone
  • Free night each card anniversary at Marriott category 1 to 5 hotels
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee, NOT waived the first year ($85 for personal card, $99 for small business card)

The sign-up bonus is enough points for a night at a luxurious Tier 5 Ritz-Carlton hotel, like the The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park.  Or 2 free nights at a Category 8 Marriott hotel, like the Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection, in Sydney, Australia.

Top 7 Travel Cards For January 2017

Treat Yourself to 2 Free Nights Overlooking the Sydney Harbour at the Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection With the Sign-Up Bonus From the Chase Marriott Card

And don’t forget, you can now use Marriott points at Starwood hotels because of the merger between the 2 chains.

So if you don’t want to use your 90,000 Marriott points at a Marriott hotel, you can transfer your Marriott points to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio.  So you’d get 7 free nights at a Starwood Category 2 hotel like the Aloft Cancun, for example.  Or a free night at a Starwood category 7 hotel like the The St. Regis Aspen Resort.  Ski trip anyone? 😉

7.   Chase Ritz-Carlton

Link:   Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Link:   My Review of the Chase Ritz-Carlton Card

With the Chase Ritz-Carlton card, you’ll earn 3 free nights at participating Ritz-Carlton Tier 1 through 4 hotels after meeting minimum spending requirements.

This sign-up bonus can save you thousands of dollars, depending on where you use your free nights.  For example, a night at the Ritz-Carlton Aruba, can cost $866+!

Top 7 Travel Cards For January 2017

You’ll Save Nearly $900 per Night Using Your Free Night Certificates at the Beautiful Ritz-Carlton Aruba

The $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year.  But it comes with great perks like:

Plus, you’ll get automatic Gold elite status that you can match instantly to Starwood and earn Starwood Gold elite status, too!  You’ll have elite status with over 5,700 hotels around the world, and enjoy perks like late checkout and room upgrades.

You can also get this card even if you’ve been approved for more than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months, because it is NOT impacted by Chase’s 5/24 rule.

And if you need ideas for where to use your free night certificates, read my top picks for the best hotels to use your free nights in the USSouth America, Europe, and Asia!

Bottom Line

My top 7 travel credit cards for January 2017 are:

These cards come with excellent sign-up bonuses and will help you get lots of Big Travel with Small Money!

For example, 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points with the AMEX Business Platinum Cardworth $2,000 when you use Pay With Points.  Or 3 free nights at participating Ritz-Carlton Tier 1 through 4 hotels after meeting minimum spending requirements on the Chase Ritz-Carlton card.

Not all these cards earn us a commission, but we’ll always tell you about the best offers.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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5 responses to “Top 7 Travel Cards for January 2017

  1. Great stuff, but it would be nice if i didn’t have to read through the whole sale pitch to find out that I’m not eligible because I had the card some years back. Why not start the blurb with saying don’t read further if you don’t qualify!?

  2. I resized the image of the telephone booth. What happens now?

  3. For Marriott Card, it no longer can help you get SW Companion Pass

  4. I’d like to see some cards that offer big points with only a $3,000-$5,000 spend in the first 3 months and no annual fee. Thanks!

  5. How do you keep track of your cards? Do you have a template that works best for you? Easy enough to create a spreadsheet, but just wondered if there is something simple out there to emulate. Thanks for all the great info you provide!