Current Recommended Cards, Q1 2024

Current Recommended Cards, Q1 2024

Check out the best options at this moment in time here. Full disclosure, I do have referral links to some of these cards, but I fully want you to get the best offer regardless of referrals, so will be listing any cards without referrals that I think are worthwhile as well. If you do use a referral though, would love for you to shoot me an email so I can track it on my end.

IF YOU HAVE BIG DINNERS/WEDDINGS/EVENTS SKIP AHEAD TO THE AMEX RESY PLAT

1) Amex Gold

75,000 Amex points for $6k spend in 6 months via Resy with 20% back up to $250

Would you spend $1,250 in dining over the next 6 months? If so, this is a great, low commitment intro offer. You get the Amex points, plus the card is effectively free after the promotional 20% back on dining over 6 months, up to $250, as the card's annual fee is $250.

Low investment, not a ton of spend, and a great way to get started in the Amex ecosystem. Highly recommend this card for anyone - also, importantly, Amex just changed the rules so that you can get this card now, then the Platinum later, but you can't do the reverse. IF you are considering both, get this first.

PROS:

4x on dining, normally, after the promo period/cap

In addition, you get $10/month in Uber credits and $10 in Grubhub/Seamless credits.

CONS

Not the absolute highest offer ever - 90,000 + $200 back, but that was a while ago

Chase points can be slightly easier to use - see below.

2) Chase Sapphire Preferred

Spend $4k in 3 months to get the sign on bonus of 60,000 Chase UR points

$95 annual fee

This is a pretty standard offer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and in the past I have thought that you should hold off for an increased 80k offer, but it's been a long time and not sure if/when we would see that again. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the BEST introduction to the world of points (better than the Amex Gold) , and thus is a great first step on your road to free travel.

It is very straightforward to get your points, does not have a large annual fee, and is very easy to redeem points as well.

PROS:

60,000 Chase points after $4k spend - worth $750 at a minimum through the Chase travel portal, but potentially worth much more when transferred to partners

Very flexible points - Chase points, aside from straight travel redemptions, can be transferred to Hyatt, Marriott, United, and more. Of these, Hyatt is without a doubt the best transfer partner, and your 64k points get you 7-8 free nights at the Hyatt Cottonwood in SLC for skiing or snowboarding, for example, or almost 2 nights at the Park Hyatt Kyoto, where cash rates can be between $2k-$4k PER night. Insane value.

Minimal annual fee, and super easy to use points

Can combine your points from this card with the Ink card (see below). You can really supersize your point earning with one of each, and there are opportunities for even more.

CONS:

The current, longstanding 60,000 point offer is not the absolute best out it has ever been, but thinking about this a lot, it's better to get this and get started, and then grab an Ink potentially, than just sit by idly waiting for a higher offer that may never come. Of course, you can just get an Ink for now and wait, if you'd like (more on that below).

3) Chase Ink Unlimited (Business card)

Spend $6k in 3 months to get 75k Chase UR points

$0 annual fee and 0% intro APR for 12 months

Even though this is a business card, it’s one of the absolute best options out there right now. 

Chase points are very valuable, but you do need a Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, or Ink Preferred, to really take advantage of them.  If you don’t have one, I would still encourage you to get the Ink Unlimited now and bank the points, then potentially get a Sapphire later.  Then, you’ll have a nice chunk of points ready to go, this bonus plus the Sapphire bonus.  There is no question that the Ink Unlimited bonus is one of the best ones at the moment, if you are not looking to travel immediately (or if you have a Sapphire already, are).  If you apply, make sure you choose the Ink Unlimited and NOT the Ink Preferred or Ink Cash.  The bonus has dropped from a previous all time high of 90k Chase points, but has kept the lowered $6k minimum spend, which is pretty great and offsets the slightly lowered bonus.

PROS:

82.5k points after minimum spend

No annual fee

Chase points, when combined with a Sapphire, are very flexible and really useful

CONS:

Need a Sapphire to really take advantage of Chase points

It is a business card, which some people are hesitant to apply for.

4) Capital One Venture X

Spend $4k in 3 months to get the sign on bonus of 75,000 Capital One miles + $300 annual travel credit.

$395 annual fee.

Don’t get daunted by the annual fee!!!

While large, it is mostly offset by the travel credit, which you can utilize on the Capital One travel portal.  You can use the miles on the travel portal (effectively $1,000 combined with the travel credit), but you can get outsize value by transferring them to partners such as Singapore Airlines, Aeroplan, and Wyndham, among others.  Furthermore, for those who own cars already, the Venture X provides primary rental car insurance, so in case of accidents/claims, you don’t have to take any hits to your personal insurance.  Not even Amex provides this free (you have to pay extra per rental).  Aside from the sign up bonus, that's one of the biggest benefits of this card, though it also provides great trip protection benefits and access to (admittedly limited, for now) Capital One lounges.

In addition, there have been increasing number of events that have Capital One ticket presales, so this is a nice way to access those presales.  

PROS:

Easy to use miles

Primary rental car insurance

Visa - accepted more places than Amex, especially overseas

CONS:

Not as many transfer partners as Amex and Chase, though there is some overlap

Capital One can be weird with approvals - they have their own unique system

They pull all three credit bureaus, but are fine with two, so freeze the one you value most BEFORE you apply.

5) Amex Platinum

150,000 Amex points for $8k spend in 6 months - you have to search for this.

100,000 Amex points for $8k spend in 6 months via Resy - the 100,000 points by themselves are not necessarily worth it, but this card comes with 10x on restaurants for 6 months, so if you spend more than $5k in 6 months on restaurants, I'd encourage you to choose this option. ESPECIALLY WORTH IT if you have big dinners, weddings/events and the like that are coming up - my wife and I got 9x + sign on bonus on our wedding brunch cost - an insane number of points.

$695 annual fee

The Amex Personal Platinum is one of the cards I think everyone should have, at least once, if not hold for a while.  I similarly encourage you NOT to get discouraged with the hefty $695 annual fee - the points, combined with the various airline/Uber/digital entertainment/Saks credits and the travel and shopping protections and benefits make it well worth having an Amex Platinum in your wallet.  

For instance - the Amex Platinum offers return protection, so if you try to return something in the first 90 days and the merchant doesn’t take it back, you are covered up to $300 per purchase and $1,000 per year.  It also offers purchase protection, which even covers lost items in the first 90 days.  Even if you don’t use these protections (of which there are more), it’s really great for peace of mind, especially for larger purchases.

Points-wise, 150k is enough to go roundtrip to Japan in first class via ANA (+$500 in fees), two roundtrips to Japan in business class, one way business class to or from Australia to the US, and many other potential uses as well - Amex points transfer well to all kinds of partners, with arguably better options than Capital One (including Qantas, Avianca, and Air France), as well as an ability to book travel 1:1, though you’ll generally get better value out of transfers.

PROS:

The spend is a lot, but spread out over 6 months

If you have big dinners/weddings/events coming up, as mentioned above, you can really SUPERCHARGE your points - 10x on that spend, plus the sign up bonus. I heavily encourage you to choose the Resy offer linked above in that case.

Very flexible points - most useful for business/first class airfare, but also can transfer to Marriott and others to top off a hotel stay, or for cheap economy flights, and can also use to purchase travel directly with amextravel.com

The shopping and travel protections are top notch - the best in the business, and Amex makes them super easy to use if you need to.

CONS:

$695 annual fee is a big hurdle for people, though more than offset by all the above

Amex changed their rules recently, so you can't get the Amex Personal Gold after you get this card, so I recommend potentially getting that one first, and then the Platinum.

If you have any questions about any of these cards, hit me up! I'm happy to guide you through.