Top 10 Credit Cards: February 2019


There are a lot of reasons to collect miles and points.

  • For free First Class flights and luxury hotel stays
  • To travel to more places than you could otherwise afford (like the arctic circle of Norway, pictured above)
  • To take your family on vacation
  • To visit home for the holidays
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending

And the amazing thing is you don’t need much money to achieve your goal. Focus your spending on unlocking sign up bonuses, and anyone with good credit can take a dream trip anywhere in the world.

Whatever your reason for coming to MileValue, there is a rewards card that suits your needs. In fact, there is probably more than one. That’s what makes the miles and points game exciting and ongoing.

Below are the top ten travel credit card offers right now. If you want personal recommendations tailored to your travel goals, fill out this form for a credit card consultation. Interested in a travel card for your small business? Read our Top 10 Business Cards list, also updated monthly.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

BONUS: 60k Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, Hyatt, and more.

The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on dining and travel. Dining includes bars, restaurants, and fast food. Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, tolls, parking, and much more.

The Sapphire Preferred is a great card, arguably the best, for those just dipping their toe in the travel credit cards rewards pond: The points are versatile, category bonuses solid, and the annual fee isn’t significant. It’s also the best choice for someone with a lower credit score than the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Preferred’s more sophisticated and  overall more valuable older sister. Average credit score approval range for the Preferred is 670 and up, while the average for the Reserve is 740 and up.

Annual Fee: $95

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve

BONUS: 50k Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to travel partners including United, Singapore, British Airways, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, Hyatt, and many more.

Sapphire Reserve holders get a $300 travel credit each cardmember year (not calendar year), as well as a $100 credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSAPre √ every four years. Those two benefits alone almost totally make up for the pricy annual fee. Regular travelers will get a a ton of value out of the free Priority Pass Select membership benefit–which grants access to over 1,200 lounges around the world and guest access for two fellow travelers.

The Sapphire Reserve offers 3x Ultimate Rewards on travel and restaurants. Travel and restaurants are broad categories and include flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, tolls, parking, Uber, taxis, restaurants, bars, fast food, and night clubs.

Annual Fee: $550

3. The Platinum Card from American Express

BONUS: 60k Membership Rewards, or 100k if you’re targeted through the CardMatch Tool.

The regular offer for the Platinum Card from American Express comes with 60,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Sometimes Amex targets customers for 100k bonuses (see below), and sometimes referral bonus offers can be higher.

Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, All Nippon Airways, Singapore, and British Airways.

The card has a $550 annual fee. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, hotel status, and a 5x category bonus for purchases directly from airlines. For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card. The annual fee recently increased on this card, but it comes with new benefits like $200 in Uber credit annually to make up for it. Read all about them in Amex Platinum Annual Fee Jumps to $550.

Before applying for this offer, read 100k Amex Platinum Targeted Offer to learn about the massive targeted bonus available to some through the CardMatch Tool. Check if you’re targeted for the 100,000 Membership Reward bonus offer on the Platinum Card (for spending the same amount of $5,000 in three months).

4. Citi Prestige

BONUS: 50k ThankYou Points

The Citi Prestige comes with some of the best perks of any credit card and a sizable bonus as well. Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou points after $4,000 in purchases are made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. It has an expensive $495 annual fee, but with all the benefits it’s easy to see how you can quickly make that money back. 

You’ll get a $250 travel credit each calendar year, which can be applied twice within the first year of card membership–before the annual fee is due–for a total of $500 in travel purchase credit (for charges like flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, subways, ride share services, parking, etc.)

The real clincher with this card is its category bonus earning :

  • 5x points on air travel and restaurants 
  • 3x on hotels and cruises

For avid travelers, those are unbeatable compared to any other single card. 

You’ll also receive a statement credit every 5 years worth up to $100 as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √, a complimentary 4th night for up to two separate hotel stays, and a free Priority Pass Select membership (you + two guests get lounge access).

Travel transfer partners include Avianca, Etihad, Flying Blue, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, and more. 

Annual Fee: $495

5. Citi Premier Card

BONUS: 60k ThankYou Points

The Citi Premier Card has a higher than normal 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. That’s the highest bonus this card has ever offered. Transfer points to 15 airline loyalty programs for the most outsized value. Points are also redeemable for 1.25 cents each on any airline’s cash tickets (sign-up bonus is worth $750 redeeming this way).

Category bonuses include a stellar 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on travel and gas purchases, and 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on restaurant and entertainment purchases.

For a card with an annual fee of just $95, that’s a valuable benefits package. You can also use this card abroad or on foreign purchases and no foreign transaction fees are collected. 

Annual fee: $95

6. Citi Double Cash Card

No Bonus

The Double Cash card has offered a competitive cash back rate for a long while now: 1% upfront upon purchase and another 1% upon bill payment, for a total of 2%. But this card just joined the ranks of valuable point-earning travel cards due to a benefit added recently by Citi. The rewards earned by the Double Cash are called Citi Cash Rewards. Now you can morph these Cash Rewards into ThankYou Points (at a 1:1 rate), the reward currency earned by the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige, as long as you have a Premier or Prestige account open to transfer them to. This means the two Cash Rewards earned for every dollar spent and paid off on the Double Cash card translates to two ThankYou points transferrable to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs! Earning two points per dollar on everyday spending is currently unparalleled in the travel rewards card market. If you are capable of maximizing the loyalty programs Citi partners with (think Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Avianca, Etihad, Flying Blue) you should be putting all your everyday (otherwise non-bonused) spending on this card. There is no cap to earning 2x.

Annual fee: $0

7. Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card

BONUS: 40k Alaska miles

Bank of America’s co-branded Alaska Airlines credit card has a sign-up bonus that’s 10k miles higher than normal: 40,000 Alaska miles and a Companion Fare for spending just $2,000 within three months. That may not sound like as many miles as the other bonus’ on this list, but Alaska miles are specifically valuable for international premium cabin awards (that get a free stopover on each direction!) to Asia flying Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, or Hainan, to the Middle East/India flying Emirates, and to Fiji flying Fiji Ariways are just some of the great deals available booking through Alaska MileagePlan.

The other component of the sign up bonus, the Companion Fare, is a $121 ticket for your Companion to fly anywhere with you on Alaska Airlines. If utilized on an expensive flight, this perk could be very valuable.

Other benefits:

  • Free checked bag on Alaska flights for you + six companions
  • Earn 3 miles per dollar spent on Alaska purchases
  • 50% day passes to Alaska’s lounges and 20% off in-flight purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual Fee: $75

8. Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard

BONUS: 60k American Airlines miles

The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard offers 60,000 American Airlines for putting just one purchase on the card and paying the annual fee! That means you’d effectively be paying $95 (or .15 cents a mile) and a hard credit pull for 60,000 American Airlines miles.

Other benefits include two American Airlines miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases, free checked bag, discount on inflight purchases, 10% rebate on all American Airlines miles redeemed per year (capped at 10k returned each year), access to American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards, and no foreign transaction fees.

Annual Fee: $99

9. Capital One Venture Rewards Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card comes with a sign up bonus of 50,000 Capital One miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months. A Capital One mile can be redeemed for one cent in the form of cash back towards travel, or transferred to 12 airline mileage programs at a rate of 1,000 Capital One miles to 750 airline miles. You can also transfer to another three airline programs but at a rate of 1,000 to 500. To translate that bonus into a more digestible value, it’s worth up to 37,500 airline miles. Partners include airlines from all three alliances, including Flying Blue, Aeroplan, Etihad, and Avianca, and more.

As you’ll earn 2 of these Capital One miles per dollar spent on everything you charge to the card, that means your minimum return on spend is 2%, which is great for a card with options to transfer to airline miles. Another cool perk is the $100 credit FOR TSA PRE✔® or Global Entry.

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

10. Avianca Vuela Visa

The Avianca Vuela Visa, issued by Banco Popular, earns 40,000 Avianca LifeMiles after your first purchase. That’s a valuable chunk of LifeMile with no opportunity cost as there is no minimum spending requirement!

Card benefits are outlined below.

  • Category Bonuses:
    • 3 LifeMiles for every dollar spent on Avianca purchases
    • 2 LifeMiles for every dollar spent at gas stations and grocery stores
  • 15% discount when purchasing miles via Multiply Your Miles
  • Two 50% discounts on award tickets redeemed after meeting further spending thresholds
    • one applicable for travel to Central America or Colombia from the United States after spending $12,000 on the card in a year
    • another also applicable for travel Central America or Colombia from the United States after spending $24,000 on the card in a year
  • Free additional piece of baggage for travel between the United States and Central America
  • No foreign transaction fees

LifeMiles are useful for booking awards on United and other Star Alliance carriers around the world for reasonable mileage prices and no fuel surcharges. Want to book a Business Class flight to Europe? The Star Alliance tends to have the most premium cabin award space to Europe.

Annual Fee: $149

Before you rush to sign up for new cards, remember to take into account that some miles are better than others for getting to specific destinations–not to mention issuing bank rules concerning eligibility if you’ve opened rewards cards in the past.

  • Read this blog continuously to learn how to book your own dream trip with miles, or just leave the hard part up to us. MileValue’s Award Booking Service will spend your miles more efficiently to book a better trip than you can, so you can have more miles to go even more places!

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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  1. Greetings,

    Apply for an American Express Green Card with this link to get 35K Membership reward points, $150 in statement credits for purchases made directly with Away and $100 LoungeBuddy Credit We can both get rewarded if you’re approved!

    You can also apply any other Amex personal or business credit card by scrolling down on the page (after you clicked the above link) and clicking on All personal cards.

  2. My credit score is excellent but recently when I applied for the AMEX Sapphinre Premium card, I was acceoted for the card membership but the offered bonous cash reward upon charging the required dollars within 3 months of opening the account. The reason given is because I’ve had had many AMEX cards opened in the past. I never abused the use of any AMEX cards that I got with promotional offers. Always paid on time and never being delinquent or abusive of my card member obligations. I do not understand why AMEX does not offer its loudly advertised cash bonous to me in spite of the fact AMEX is offering the bonous to anybody during the promotional period. I figure that any credit card promotions with bonous cash back with a condition to meet a certain amount of purchases to be charged to the new card within a certain specified period of time after opening the account is to get new card membership; however, I do not understand why the fact one has opened many credit cards from AMEX with such offers has to be the reason why it denies a new applicant to receive the generally offered promotional cash back bonous, and in my instance this time, even willing to pay the new card membership that requires a membership fee to be paid and in spite of that my credit card history is pristine! Any comment?

    • These are the rules of thumb as far as number of cards Amex allows one person to hold at a time (not published by Amex, but hammered out over time by people like us sharing data points):

      You are limited to holding four to five American Express credit cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit. The Gold Delta Skymiles Credit Card from American Express is an example of a credit card.

      Separately, you are limited to holding four to five American Express charge cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit. The Platinum Card from American Express is an example of a charge card.

  3. Gee I got 45K Milevalue this time didn’t have that link so I applied on another link .. LoungeBuddy has nothing for me and Away is for the big $$$$ travelers . The deal with this card to get More is a few times a year AMEX has a transfer bonus and I don’t need the points so I can wait .

  4. Anyone with a mortgage and car payments should get the Double Cash Card (along with the Citi Premier Card) to get those 2x points using Plastiq. I guess it will bring me about 75,000 thank you points over the year for doing pretty much no effort. The outsized value of those points more than offsets the Plastiq fees. Works for me, but maybe not others.

    I use the Blue Bus. Plus that earns 2x on everything up to $50K, for mostly Walmart and Sams.

    • Bryon
      Yes that will get u 2 rt’s to Hawaii for $11+ which I have done like 8x ..If I just have my ink ($95) and just paying my bills plus the Airport fees like $200rt to the EU .Then one flip a year or more(me) u can see the world for Cheap.
      Have fun.


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