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This is a weekly post from Mr Credit Card from www.askmrcreditcard.com. He has been writing here regularly recently and today he is going to talk about the complexities of choosing reward cards for travel. While you should obviously check out our offers here, you can also apply for a credit card at Mr Credit Card’s site.
If you are in the market for a really low interest rate credit card or one that offers a 0% rate to transfer a balance, all you have to do is to do a quick comparison and as long as you are aware of a few fine prints, picking the right card should not be too much of a problem.
One of the hardest cards to get right are reward cards. The reason is because there are so many types, and so many nuances that you really have to understand your habits and how the reward program works to see if it is a fine match for you.
Let’s take frequent flier miles as an example. If you are a person that flies a lot due to your job, then perhaps you have the easiest task. For example, if you fly just on Delta airlines, then you would think that you would just get a Delta Credit Card. However, things are not as simple as that. If we looking at Delta credit cards as an example, we will find that American Express issues them and has various levels. For example, there is the Gold Version, the Platinum Version and even a high end $450 annual fee Delta Reserve Card. Each comes with a different level of perks.
To choose a right card even for what seems like a simple task, you have to:
- Know how much you spend on the card every year
- Know how many miles you fly because different cards allows you to get upgrades on frequent flier status if you spend a certain amount on your card even if you do not meet the flight requirements
- Understand the differences in perks between the various card levels
So what seems like choosing a card for your favorite airline can turn into something more complicated. But it gets more complicated when you fly a few airlines and are a a member of a few frequent flier programs and perhaps even a few hotel programs. What do you do then? You have several choices.
Firstly, you could see if the airlines you fly are part of an alliance. If they are, then you could get away with using just one airline card. If they are not, then you would have to consider getting a card with a reward program that allows you to transfer points into air miles. And they would have to do it preferably at a one to one ration. Two examples of such programs are the American Express Membership Rewards or the starwood preferred guest program and diners club rewards.
The thing that you have to watch out for is whether the airline you fly is part of their program. United Airlines for example, is not available on Membership Rewards. But even then, choosing a card is not so straight forward. For example, there are tiers to the Membership Rewards program. Amex offers a green charge card, a gold charge card and the famous American Express Platinum Card. They all come with different annual fees and different reward tiers. So once again, doing research is a must.
To be honest, this isn’t really the end of the reward card saga. There are even more types of reward credit cards that that offer travel rewards in different ways that it will b another post altogether. I’ll sum up by saying that choosing a reward card takes more effort and research than say a cash back credit card or a gas credit card.