Is that junk mail or your ticket to ride? Take a look at the season’s latest cards and maximize your perk potential per dollar spent.
The latest credit card offers and new updates can help fill that miles and points void just in time for summer travel. Many frequent travelers will tell you that travel rewards credit cards are now the most lucrative way to earn miles, annual travel credits, and ultimate rewards points since airlines slimmed down earning potential for most people. There’s something ironic about looking to your wallet if you want to score priority boarding, a cheaper hotel stay, a free checked bag, or even a free trip. Still, travelers enthusiastic about loyalty programs and reward rates should keep these new credit cards on their radar.
United Explorer Credit Card
A new United Explorer Credit Card will replace the former United MileagePlus Explorer card effective June 1; existing cardholders will be transitioned over to the new card. You can earn 40,000 MileagePlus miles for spending $2,000 within the first three months of having the card if you apply before May 31. Some notable changes to the new card include both pros and cons.
The good news is that you continue to earn two miles per dollar spent on United, but will also earn double miles on dining and hotels, which is a huge win. There will also be a $100 credit to be used for Global Entry or $85 credit for TSA Pre-Check, and 25-percent off onboard purchases, including snacks and Wi-Fi access.
However, the 10,000-mile bonus for spending $25,000 in a calendar year is going bye-bye. A free checked bag for up to two travelers, two United Club passes per year, Group 2 boarding, and no mileage expiration for account holders will remain perks going forward.
Choose this card if . . . you are a frequent United flier who spends a lot at restaurants and hotels. A solid alternative is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which ups the ante with three Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all travel and dining, Priority Pass membership, and the opportunity to transfer points back to United. It has a $450 annual fee versus the $95 fee for the United Explorer Credit Card.
Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard
The Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard comes with big rewards in the form of two Arrival miles per dollar spent on everything, making it a lucrative rewards card for those who charge everything. The card comes with Global Entry credit, access to Lounge Key airport lounges, and up to 25,000 loyalty bonus miles for keeping the card and meeting the spend threshold each year. Another unique feature of the card is that members can contribute to Barclays Travel Community to earn additional miles for sharing stories in the forum.
Choose this card if . . . you tend to charge everything you buy to one card. Offering two points per dollar on all purchases, it’s a fast way to score lots of miles, especially if many of your purchases do not fall into the travel or dining category stipulated by other cards with bonuses.
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
As part of the merged program between Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, the new Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card will offer to Marriott Rewards members an impressive six points per dollar spent at some 6,500 hotels across 30 brands. All other spending is rewarded with double points, and those who spend $5,000 within the first 90 days can earn a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points.
If hotel status is your jam, it comes with automatic Silver Elite status and a free hotel night (up to 35,000 points) each year you renew the card. Starting next year, the card comes with 15 elite-qualifying nights and Gold status for spending $35,000 per year. The annual fee is only $95, which means that the perks could easily outweigh the cost of the card fee.
Choose this card if . . . you value hotel points and elite status above frequent flier miles. With 6,500 hotels across 30 brands in 127 countries and territories, there are a lot of Marriott Rewards properties to redeem those hotel points.
Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
It’s not all about miles and points. Fans of Lyft will find that the new Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express can be a winner, too. You earn double miles on Delta purchases and visits to U.S. restaurants. There’s a 20 percent savings on inflight meals, drinks, and headsets. People who sign up for the card between now and October 18 can earn two miles per dollar spent and up to $50 in statement credits on eligible Lyft purchases in the United States during the first six months of having the card. Plus, if you spend $500 on the card within the first three months of having it, you earn 10,000 SkyMiles.
Choose this card if . . . you’re a frequent Delta flier, Lyft user, and SkyMiles fan. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card provides more points on many purchases, but it comes with a $450 annual fee. The Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, on the other hand, is free.
Uber Visa Card from Barclays
The Uber Visa Card from Barclays is a solid cash-back card giving you 4 percent back on dollars spent on dining, bars, and UberEATS; 3 percent cash back on airfare, hotels, and vacation home rentals; 2 percent cash back on Uber rides, online shopping, and video or music streaming; and 1 percent back on everything else. If you spend $500 within the first three months of having the card, you score a $100 bonus. Other perks include mobile phone protection and foreign transaction fee waivers.
Choose this card if . . . you value cash in hand more than miles and points.