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The Top 3 Cards To Help You Start Earning Travel Rewards - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sites

April 19, 2018 1:56 pm
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Forbes has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. Forbes and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.

Taking the plunge and picking your first travel rewards card to open is no easy task. If you survive the initial barrage of slang and acronyms- UR, MR, and SPG just to name a few- you’re still left with the important task of figuring out what you actually want out of your rewards. There’s no one size fits all answer, some people want purely travel rewards, some only want cash back, and some want a bit of a hybrid.

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Thankfully there are options to suit every taste under the sun. Depending on what path you decide to pursue, here are 3 of the best starter rewards cards on the market:

Card Signup Bonus Minimum Spend Requirement Bonus Categories Unique Benefits
Chase Sapphire Preferred  50,000 points  $4,000 in 3 months  2x points on travel and dining  Trip and baggage delay insurance, primary rental car insurance, and many others
Capital One Venture Rewards 50,000 miles $3,000 in 3 months 2x miles on all puchases  10x miles on hotel stays booked through Hotels.com/Venture
Amex EveryDay 10,000 points $1,000 in 3 months  2x points at supermarkets  20% points bonus when you make 20 transactions in a month

Chase Sapphire Preferred

No matter what changes in the travel rewards landscape, the Chase Sapphire Preferred stays the same. And why change a card that’s already so close to perfect? The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers an enticing signup bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points plus another 5,000 for adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase within the first 3 months. That alone is worth over $1,000 based on the valuations we use at TPG, thanks in large part to Chase’s excellent transfer partners like Hyatt, United, and British Airways.

It doesn’t stop there- Sapphire Preferred is incredibly rewarding over the long term as well. From double points on travel and dining to rental car, baggage, and trip insurance and no foreign transaction fees, this checks every box you want in a starter card. Add in the fact that the annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year and it’s a no-brainer!

While there are a few other cards that can make sense for beginners, there’s one important point that needs to be made: Chase cards, and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, are some of the most valuable out there. Chase has instituted the “5/24” rule where they’ll automatically deny new applicants who’ve opened 5 or more cards in the last 24 months. For this reason it’s almost always best to start with a Chase card (especially one that waives the annual fee for the first year), unless one of these other options really speaks to you.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

If all this talk of transfer partners and flexible points is giving you some analysis paralysis, consider the Capital One Venture Card to simplify your life. The card earns 2 miles per dollar, and miles can be redeemed as a “Purchase Eraser” to give you statement credits against any travel purchase you make. Miles are worth a fixed one cent each, making the 50,000 mile signup bonus worth a nice even $500.

This earning structure makes the Venture card perfect for travelers who aren’t committed to a single airline or hotel chain. In keeping with that, Capital One recently added a very exciting perk: 10 miles per dollar on all hotels.com reservations (booked at hotels.com/venture and paid for with your Venture card). This 10x bonus is one of the highest offerings on any card. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, and there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

Amex EveryDay Card

The Amex EveryDay card is unique in that it’s the only no annual fee card on the market to earn a transferable points currency, namely Amex Membership Rewards. You’ll still have access to the same transfer partners and redemption options, as well as Amex Offers which can save you money on purchases you were already going to make.

While the signup bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points is on the smaller side, you’ll earn 2x points on your first $6,000 a year of US supermarket purchases, as well as a 20% bonus on all points if you make 20 purchases a month. The Amex website even has a tool to help you track your progress.

While the lack of annual fee is enticing, just remember that this card charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so you should leave it at home before you head out for vacation.

Bottom Line

Most aspiring points junkies will be best off starting with a Chase card like the Sapphire Preferred to avoid the nasty 5/24 rule. If that fees like too much too fast, or it doesn’t match your travel goals, there are some other options worth considering. Just make sure they make sense for your spending patterns.

Forbes has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. Forbes and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.