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Million Mile Secrets reader, Gia, writes:
Which card(s) have the most benefits for annual spending? I spend more than $5,000 a month on credit cards these days, but I feel like I ran out of options for sign-up bonuses as I’ve had most of the cards in the past.
What do you use as your default credit card for everyday purchases to build points? Could you give me couple of suggestions?
When I’m not working to meet the minimum spending requirements to earn sign-up bonuses for Big Travel, there are 2 cards I keep in my wallet for everyday spending.
Which Cards Do I Recommend for Everyday Spending?
The AMEX Starwood and Chase Sapphire Preferred are my default cards, when I’m not working towards earning sign-up bonuses. That’s because with both cards, I can transfer points to most airline and hotel partners.
This is a great way to top off my account when I need extra points to book an award.
1. AMEX Starwood
And you get other perks:
- 2X Starwood points per $1 you spend at Starwood hotels (includes Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meridien, Sheraton, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin and W brand hotels)
- 1X Starwood point per $1 you spend on everything else
- Unlimited use of Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots (excluding in-flight)
- 2 stay credits or 5 night credits toward Starwood Elite Status
- $95 annual fee, waived for the 1st year
- No foreign transaction fees
- Terms & limitations apply
Starwood’s transfer partners include:
|Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfer Partners|
|Air China||Air New Zealand||Alaska Airlines|
|Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)||Asiana Airlines||British Airways|
|Etihad||Flying Blue||Gol Smiles|
|Hainan Airlines||Hawaiian Airlines||Iberia|
|Japan Airlines||Jet Airways||Korean Airlines|
|LifeMiles (Avianca)||Miles & More (Lufthansa)||Qatar Airways|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines||Singapore Airlines||Thai Airways|
|United Airlines||Virgin Atlantic||Virgin Australia|
And when you transfer to an airline partner in increments of 20,000 points, you’ll get a 5,000 point bonus. That makes this card more useful for non-bonus spending than many airline branded cards!
I like using my AMEX Starwood card for purchases that don’t normally earn extra miles and points in bonus categories, like car repairs, insurance, or doctor visits.
But for travel, dining, and online shopping, there’s a better card to use!
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
As most folks who’ve read this blog for a while already know, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is 1 of my favorite cards. And if I could only have 1 credit card in my wallet it would be this card!
You can earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred account.
And you also get:
- 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within the 1st 3 months
- 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 you spend on travel and dining
- Primary car rental insurance – Covers damage or theft to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card
- Trip delay reimbursement – Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours
- No foreign transaction fees
What I like about this card is you can earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel (2 categories where I do a lot of spending!) and the points are flexible.
And it’s easy to earn lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points for online shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. For example, you can currently earn 7X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on clothing at Saks 5th Avenue.
You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel with access to most airlines and hotels through the Chase Travel Portal. Plus, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners|
|Aer Lingus||British Airways||Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)|
|Iberia||Korean Air||Singapore Airlines|
|Southwest||United Airlines||Virgin Atlantic|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners|
When you transfer your AMEX Starwood or Chase Ultimate Rewards points to an airline, you can use the miles to book flights on their partners as well. With these 2 cards, you can cover all 3 major airline alliances.
Here are a few examples:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards Points – United Airlines (Star Alliance), British Airways (oneworld), Korean Air (SkyTeam)
- Starwood Points – All Nippon Airways (Star Alliance), American Airlines (oneworld), Delta Airlines (SkyTeam)
So with both cards you have options!
When deciding which card to use for a purchase, you’ll most likely want to choose your newest card to finish meeting your minimum spending requirement!
But when you’re in between new cards, I recommend using the AMEX Starwood and Chase Sapphire Preferred for your regular spending.
That’s because, between these 2 award programs, you’ll be able to transfer points to airlines in all 3 major alliances and to many hotel chains.
Which cards do you use for everyday purchases?