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We’ve explicitly left out hotel bonuses, as we're constantly asked a ton of questions about air travel redemptions and wanted to make sure we cover options that focus on flights. These cards all provide a tremendous value — just make sure they line up with your travel goals before you dive in. We'll hit on a couple of bullet points and pros/cons to consider.

Flexible Points Rewards Cards to Earn 50,000+ Points

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Pros: Huge welcome offer. Earns American Express Membership Rewards, which are some of the most flexible travel rewards available. Tons of benefits, including lounge access and hotel / rental car elite status.
Cons: Hefty annual fee of $595 (Rates & Fees). Big spend required for the welcome bonus. You must be a business owner to obtain this card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Pros: Tons of lucrative benefits just for being a cardmember
Cons: Very similar to Business version but a higher annual fee $550 – Rates & Fees

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Combine points with other Ultimate Rewards earning cards
  • No fees for additional card users and no foreign transaction fees
  • Our Card Review

Pros: Gigantic 80,000 point signup bonus. Points easily combine with other Ultimate Rewards earning cards. 3x bonus category of travel, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, train tickets, and taxis
Cons: You must be a business owner to obtain this card. This card is subject to the 5/24 Rule.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year

Pros: Huge signup bonus and a $0 annual fee. We challenge you to find a better overall deal
Cons: You must be a business owner to obtain this card. This card is subject to the 5/24 Rule. You must have a premium Ultimate Rewards earning card (including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card) in addition to this card to be able to transfer points to travel partners. You can combine the points earned on this card with another Ultimate Rewards earning card, and then transfer to a travel partner. Check out our thoughts on the Ultimate Rewards Ultimate Combination.

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Then a variable rate of 15.49% - 21.49%
  • Essentially, the Ink Business Unlimited earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards (marketed as 1.5% cash back) on all business purchases with no cap on the number of points you can earn.
  • Our Card Review

Pros: Massive $500 signup bonus, $0 annual fee, and the card earns 1.5% points on every purchase all-day every-day!
Cons: You need to have a business to obtain this card and is subject to the 5/24 Rule. You must have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card in addition to this card to be able to transfer points to travel partners.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Pros: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants. Earns valuable Ultimate Rewards and we think it is the best travel rewards card in 2019.
Cons: If you’re a really big spender on travel & dining you might be better off with the Sapphire Reserve which earns 3x points on travel and dining. This card is subject to the 5/24 Rule.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Pros: 3x points on travel + dining and a high-value signup bonus. Lots of perks including $300 annual travel credit, TSA Precheck/Global Entry fee reimbursement, lounge access, and great travel protection.
Cons: Big upfront annual fee ($450) even if the $300 travel credit helps offset it significantly. This card is subject to the 5/24 Rule.

Citi Premier Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment

Pros: Solid new cardmember bonus and 3x earning on Travel. With Gas included in 3x travel earning, this is our favorite card for fuel purchases.
Cons: Limited transfer partners with ThankYou Rewards

Airline Cards Earning 50,000+ Points/Miles

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

  • Earn 4 Avios for every $1 spent on all purchases within your first year up to $30,000. That's up to 120,000 bonus Avios
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • 4 Avios for every $1 spent on all purchases up to $30,000 in the first 12 months from account opening, you will then earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Pros: Avios are a flexible rewards currency, which is great for shorter distance flights. Recent data points indicate that this card is now subject to the 5/24 Rule. Check out Sweet Spots for British Airways Avios Awards.
Cons: Avoid flights on BA; specifically those across the Atlantic

Iberia Visa Signature® Card

Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ MasterCard®

  • Limited-Time 60,000 Bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Perks with AA which include free checked bags and priority boarding
  • Our Card Review

Pros: 60,000-mile signup bonus. Perks with American Airlines when you fly AA.
Cons: Saver award availability on American-operated flights has been a challenge for a while. Be flexible!

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

  • Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary

Pros: 60,000 points signup bonus.
Cons: If don't regularly fly on Southwest you might be better off with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns 2 points per dollar on travel & dining, and Ultimate Rewards can be transferred 1:1 to a Southwest Rapid Rewards account at no cost in 1,000-point increments. You must be a business owner to obtain this card. This card is subject to the 5/24 Rule.

JetBlue Business Card

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points each year after your account anniversary

Pros: 50,000-point welcome bonus
Cons: You be a business owner to be eligible for this card

Which Card Is Best?

The right card is decided by your travel goals and where your rewards balances stand. The key with all of these cards is that you can easily achieve $500+ in value from each one. Depending on the card and how you choose to redeem you could increase your return with little effort. Again, it's all about your goals.

Do you have any questions about the merits of any of these cards? Especially the ones that have big annual fees. Let us know in the comments.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)

Airline & Flexible Points Rewards Cards Awarding 50,000+ Points for New Cardmembers
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Comments

  • These all seem like very good choices. Not happy with the Citi American Airlines card and had a horrible time canceling it. Will never do business with Citi again. I love Chase though. I’m looking for a mastercard with no annual fee. Not out of the question if they have an annual fee just would prefer it not to have one. Just feel like if I have all Visas and a vendor has an issue with them going through I’m screwed. I am wondering though if all you could have is say 3 credit cards, which would they be? Which would be the best to cover travel, money back, etc..in other words 3 credit cards that would give the biggest bang for the buck?

    • Karen, only 3 is tough 🙂 I’d probably focus on the Sapphire Reserve, SPG Amex and something like the Citi Double Cash — but it depends on your travel style and goals. For me SPG points are huge so I need that, but some other hotel card may make more sense for you.

      • Now as far as the SPG credit card, is Marriott transferring people to their card, since the merge? Would it be better to just get the Marriott card? Or would you get the Starwood with the free first year and then wait til they complete the merger?

    • I’d caution you about traveling with only Chase cards. We used to carry several of their cards, but after two disastrous trips being stranded by Chase, I no longer travel with any Chase cards. In one case, a US merchant charged my $32.00 purchase for $32,000.00. They didn’t handle the correction in the manner Chase would have recommended, and I arrived in India to get a notice that our card was over limit and could not be used at our hotel. After an hour on the phone with Chase, discovering that the merchant account was also with Chase, the merchant got on the phone and explained that it was their fault, Chase did nothing to expedite the correction and we were dead in the water for 10 days.
      Next trip to Colombia, and I get notice that our Chase cards have a problem and demanding that we appear at a Chase branch to confirm our identity — but there are no Chase banks in this entire country. Same deal, the cards can’t be used until we make a personal appearance. When I do, upon return to the US, they tell me that my email address must be changed, which I’ve held for 20+ years. They claim I have a virus that caused a problem for them. Complete nonsense. Email addresses that are real don’t cause viruses.

      • I’ve heard this before and it does make me wary. So you carry chase and another when you travel or just other credit cards? I’d probably have to beef up limits on my other cards. What cards do you recommend to travel with?

        • I carry Amex and at least one MC or Visa from any bank except Chase. Surprisingly, in some countries, Visa and MC are not as welcome as here in the US. AMEX has a stronger presence and greater confidence with merchants abroad. You can use the Chase cards to pay for things like airfare, but I ran into problems using my Chase card for hotel reservations and then having it denied once I reached the hotel, so I simply purged my wallet of Chase cards.

  • This will sound weird, but the Ritz Visa Infinite could be construed as an airline card because of the Visa Infinite benefit of a $100 discount on each airline transaction done through the concierge. $100 discount everytime is a pretty good, but not great, way to fly.

  • Lori O'Connor says:

    Thanks for this! I didn’t know Chase Ultimate rewards can be transferred to a southwest cc 1:1 – that’s great news!

  • Thanks for the reminder about still being able to get the 100K Sapphire Reserve bonus by going into the branch office. My wife has qualified for the bonus so I can now apply and start spending to qualify. Plus I can open a checking and a savings account now and still get a $500 bonus by meeting Chase’s conditions.

  • I have the Citi Advantage Platinum and always wins miles to spend them. I always try to book with miles saver and some dates but i cant because the dates never are available. Have any tips to geting those tickets?

    • Marcio, AA has been really stingy with saver award space. The key is to be flexible with your dates and look for flights with partners — within the US try flying on Alaska and internationally look at their Asian partners as they tend to have reasonable award space. Not perfect, but there are options if you hunt. If you’re looking for help with a specific trip our award booking experts can help — go to the “bookings” tab within your AwardWallet profile to start.

  • One missing piece above: Chase Sapphire Preferred is ALSO subject to the 5/24 rule. Leaving this tidbit out might get someone’s hopes up by mistake! So I would suggest adding this notation under the Cons section for that card.

  • All good cards. I’d also recommend AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite MasterCard for no spending requirement for getting 40K AA miles.

    • This is a solid card, especially for just one purchase as opposed to tougher 3k/5k spending requirements over 3 months

  • On the Citibank AA personal credit card it has to be 24 months since you opened or closed the card to receive the bonus.

  • Cynthia khawly says:

    I have the Citi AA platinum card and I like traveling on business class on international flights but it’s never available with miles. How can I reserve business class with miles ?

    • Cynthia, AA has become really stingy with award space. You’ve either got to keep hunting and be flexible, or if you want a hand, reach out to our award bookers through the ‘Bookings’ button on the account listing page of your AwardWallet account.

  • Amazing opportunities. Have used my amex business platinum to get a 50% companion ticket

  • How long do these increased Southwest offers typically last? Currently looking at 60k bonus on the business card but wanted to wait another month or two.

  • Shari Kavalin says:

    I too have been looking for a new Awards Card Solution targeting American Flights. Many of these have come up in conversation. In addition it has come up that Starwood Points are the most valuable currency in the hotel points world. Glad I found this forum!

  • These are great choices. Citi AA personal can be matched to 60k if calling in or talking to SM

  • Been trying to get more Chase and Citi cards. At 9/24 and been getting denials from both chase and citi The CSR is so close and yet very far away from me

  • Some decent options here. Haven’t used the Barclay system before.

  • There are a lot of very good cards in that list. It is quite difficult to pick a stand out one, although I must admit that airline lounge access is probably the benefit I value most.

  • Will be applying for the citi/AA and at least one of the chase cards for trip next year. Chase Ink Preferred is another good one with 80K bonus.

  • Already have Sapphire Preferred, does it make sense to get another card Sapphire Reserve. Should I keep both or cancel Sapphire Preferred?

    • Comparing the two, the Sapphire Reserve comes with a more expansive set of benefits and additional earning capability with 3x points on travel/dining as opposed to the 2x on the Sapphire Preferred. That said, you’re also responsible for a higher annual fee on the Sapphire Reserve and authorized users will cost you $75 a piece.

      I don’t think it makes sense to keep both cards, due to the redundancy of benefits — the Sapphire Preferred would be a good candidate to convert to a Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited if you were looking to keep the line of credit and associated history available.

      • Agree. Just downgrade my Preferred to Freedom. But I do ask them reducing my line on Freedom since I have high total credit with Chase. My experience is that if you have relative high total credit with Chase, they will not approve your new card application immediately.

  • I just got the Chase Sapphire Preferred and I’m so excited! I’m going to be moving to Prague in July and hope to have enough miles for a first class ticket!

  • daniel clouser says:

    after many tries to get my wife the chase sapphire card (apparently i had too many chase cards in the last two years), i was successful once i tried after the first of this year! Got the $300 travel credit, now just need to spend the $4000 on the card to get $1500 in travel! What a deal!

  • How does one find the link for the SW card with a 60,000 bonus? Is it a Chase card?

  • Good chioces. Still love CSR the most

  • You make a good point in terms of AA saver space being scarce.. that’s enough to turn me off collecting large amounts of these miles. I think Southwest is my favourite option for that reason.

  • ADAM PARSONS says:

    Thanks, will be applying for the chase sapphire card now.

  • I will try the link for the AA credit card without the 24 month rule. Thank you!

  • John Barker says:

    We are in France and have the Capital One Venture Card. It has worked very well for us. There is no international transaction fee, which has saved us a lot of cost. The first few weeks we were here, we had a few wrinkles to iron out, getting used to the way things work here. Most places take the card easily. Those that do not appear to be flukes related to the equipment, and not the card. We dropped an American Express card in favor of the Capital One Venture and have not regretted it a bit.

  • Brian Gallagher says:

    We’ve been happy with our Chase Sapphire reserved card & also the Southwest card (we got it a few years ago).

    A lot of it is what you do with it though- we were thankful for those southwest points when there was a sudden funeral we had to attend.

  • Just FYI – we received a targeted offer for 60,000 AA miles Citi Advantage card back in November/December. Another one appeared in the mailbox yesterday. So there is a targeted offer for Citibank Advantage card at the moment.

  • daniel clouser says:

    Huge fan of that AMEX card.. Big fee, but the travel credit and lounge access are a big plus!

  • I keep thinking that the Citi Prestige card should offer a bigger sign up bonus to stay competitive.
    IMHO 70K points for spending 5K within the first 90 days sounds more reasonable than the current 50K points for 5K spend or 40K points for 4K spend offers.

  • Ameet Maturu says:

    I didn’t realize the Sapphire Deluxe 100K bonus was still available at Chase branch locations. Wanted to book a trip to Europe this summer. Do you know roughly how long it takes to get approved/card in the mail?

    • Ameet, the approval process depends on the individual. You could be instantly approved or it could take a week or more to provide a final answer. Once approved, based on my personal experience you receive a card within a week. These timelines are not guaranteed by Chase but are rather my personal experience.

  • I thought the British Airways card would be EXCELLENT until you actually try to get a flight award. Although they are partners with American, they never had “agreements” on any route I wanted to go on. Essentially, they seem to have some substandard partner agreement. I tried most every city in South America and nothing, ever.

    LOUSY CARD

    • Doug, I think your frustration is wrongly pointed at the BA card and Avios. Any issue with finding award space on flights by American is not an issue with BA but rather with American not offering up space to their partners. It isn’t BA to blame but rather AA for being stingy with their award space offered up at sAAver and to their partners.

  • Air Flyer says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive list.

  • Here’s a tip… I use the Citi AA card to keep my miles alive. It automatically pays my toll bill.

  • Good roundup. Nice to know there are so many more bonuses to go for!

  • Outstanding one-stop-shop list. The answer to the last question — which card is best? — is clearly, get all of them!

  • Lynn Collins says:

    The cards that offer the added bonuses for adding authorized users, can I get that if I add 2 ppl?

  • Camilla Sauder says:

    I got American Express cards but am very unhappy with them at the moment. They charged me a late fee and interest even though my payment was there on the due date. I tried repeatedly to get them to take these charges off but they won’t. I’m done with American Express.

    • Camilla, if your payment was received on the due date I’m not sure how you would be charged a late fee and interest. This would be the first time I’ve ever heard of this happening.

  • Stu Simon says:

    I have SPG. I am thinking of getting the Marriott with the 80K bonus. Can Marriott miles be used for air travel? Will I be able to combine the two for award miles?

  • These kind of posts which offers very clear and concise summations of what’s out there are SO useful! Thx!

  • Personally, I’ve been true to the 2% cash back and Chase Preferred. I’m carrying the AA Platinum, but considering eliminating it when the annual fee comes and upgrading to Chase Reserve. Any thoughts?

  • Great list – Time to earn some well-deserved points!

  • I guess its all situational. Me, I love the Citi AA card for the 10% miles rebate and free bag. I have no trouble getting Saver Award tickets to Europe if I plan 60 days out. That’s a great deal for either coach or biz class, especially from the western USA. Just returned from a month overseas via AA and partners.

  • Great Thanks!! I just got the Chase Sapphire Reserve.. card and I am working on meeting my spend there. I will be up to renew my TSA precheck this year so I’m considering a car that does reimbursement for that.

    The Sapphire Preferred does, but that $450 fee is hard to take on considering the direct discount is around $130 for the precheck.. it was around that last time.

    Any are cards you can recommend that reimburse TSA precheck?

    Thanks

  • Jacqueline says:

    Love these articles, they always detail points that maybe most of us miss.

  • I’m seeing some great benefits with these cards, especially the travel earning rates!

  • My favorite is Barclays Aviator. They have consistently offered me the best spend bonus offers through out the year.

  • Good line-up of cards. My strategy for now is to put more spend on SPG Card. Waiting to see what new options there are in August.

  • I just read on a different blog that the Chase Ink Business Preferred should increase to a 100 000 point bonus next week for small business week if you apply in person at a Chase Branch. So someone who qualifies would be well advised to make the extra effort to go to a Chase Branch! I’m over 5/24 for two more months and I’m not sure if my start up business would yet qualify through Chase’s requirements anyway, so I’ll have to give this one a miss. But I’m looking forward to getting the Freedom Unlimited soon.

  • Totally agree with @Howie: CSR + FUN is an awesome combo; particularly with the Ink Cash completing the triumvirate. The wide holds the CSR & Freedom too, so we have all the UR bases covered. Now lets just hope for no UR transfer limits!!

  • Nice to see new cards without the 5/24 rule

  • awesome post! I wonder if the in-branch pre-approval for chase business ink is as easy as the personal card’s

  • deerseason says:

    That’s a great bonus for the Ink Business cash! No annual fee! (I mean yes most of these waive the fee the first year but)

  • One last question – why Freedom Ultimate over Citicard 2% Cash Back?

    • Freed Unlimited = 1.5 Ultimate Rewards/dollar earning. Combine with the CSR, you’re effectively earning a minimum of 2.25% towards travel for every dollar. (1.5 cents/point with the CSR and 1.5 Ultimate Rewards/dollar = 2.25)

  • When going overseas I carry my Chase CSR, Citi Thankyou Premier, and Delta Amex Gold. I had a problem once with my CSR being declined on an online train ticket purchase, so I used my CITI without a problem.

  • Can the Avios from the multiple chase cards be merged?

  • The ink business preferred is one of the highest sign up bonuses out there especially since it doesn’t require a 25k spend to get there.

  • I am in the market for a new card, but only a mastercard. So many citi.

  • The Capital One Venture Rewards card offers 50,000 flexible miles. But, since I haven’t seen an increased offer since when it was first offered, except for a misdirected piece of mail apparently offering a targeted $60,000 bonus, I’m holding out.

  • can you get an amex bus platinum if you have a personal card?

  • marcwint55 says:

    waiting for an answer on the aer lingus card

  • If I apply for two Chase cards on the same day, will it be one or two hits to my credit?

  • Can never go wrong with 50k points. That’s about the point that makes these offers attractive

  • I agree with a bunch of the above posts – SPG is a great backup option if you already have a Chase card that can earn you UR points, and you don’t need an Amex (although flexibility based on point redemption bonuses is always nice).

  • Whenever there’s a card offer with either no AF or no AF for the first year, my ears perk up!

  • The point bout the infinite from ritz is helpful. merci.

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred for me!

  • Ross Gerson says:

    Chase Ultimate Rewards points are by far my favorite points to have when traveling. They are perfect for being diversified with hotel points(transfer to Hyatt and Marriott are great), domestic travel(transfer to southwest), and international travel(transfer to United, British Airways, and a number of other great partners for travel all over the world).

  • @Maryjane says: “I just read on a different blog that the Chase Ink Business Preferred should increase to a 100 000 point bonus next week for small business week if you apply in person at a Chase Branch. So someone who qualifies would be well advised to make the extra effort to go to a Chase Branch!”

    Thanks for the heads up regarding the Small Business Week promo. Will try to check out.

  • charles j says:

    If you have an HSBC Premier account and it’s worth the $395 annual fee to you, the HSBC PRemier World Elite Mastercard is worth considering. You get 50,000 points, redeemable for $750 in air travel. Other options include gift cards, hotels and a statement credit if you don’t use their site to book it. It gives you 3 points on travel, 2 on dining, and 1 on everything else, 5 $20 UBER credits a year, a $100 airline credit that, besides the usual incidentals, can also be used for tickets, TSA Precheck rebate, free Boingo WIFI subscription, car rental, baggage, trip cancellation and accident insurance. It also has price and satisfaction, and damage and theft guarantees/refunds and extended warranty.

  • I’m trying to figure out if I should get a new card or stick with what I have. I currently have Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus though Chase. I like it, and it’s worked great for me for the few times I’m able to take a trip. However, I have a timeshare in Hawaii that I’d love to be able to use a rewards program for, and since Southwest doesn’t go to Hawaii my 71,000 points don’t do me a whole lot of good.

    One question I have is if the automatic payments I have set up to be paid by my credit card qualify as “purchases” to earn points. For instance, I have all my utility payments paid this way. I also pay my timeshare maintenance fees with my card. If I were to transfer my balance to a new card, would that count towards earning milage points? My average spending is about $1000 per month.

    Another question is based on my situation, which would be the best card for me if I were to change? Flights to Hawaii would be from PDX. My timeshare is on Kauai. The last time I went, I flew from Portland to SanFrancisco, then changed airlines to Honolulu, then changed again to Kauai. British Airways sounded good as did Chase Sapphire or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

    Last question. What are some of the other benefits of having particular cards, such as free bag check, upgrades, etc.

    Thanks! I could probably find the answers to my questions on my own, if I had hours and hours to do the research. I appreciate any help given. 🙂

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