What better way to start off a Monday than with the AYP List of Top Credit Cards for March 2016?!
There are many great cards out on the market, but these are the ones currently on my radar for potential applications, or are already in my wallet! If you are new to credit cards, it may be wise start with the AYP Starter Guide before diving straight in. Everyone else, follow me!
- Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card (American Express) – With its all-time high sign-up bonus, the Starwood Preferred American Express takes the top spot for the month of March! The bonus is now 35,000 Starpoints through 3/30/2016 and from my experience, the points earned from this card are the most valuable reward currency out there! Starpoints can be redeemed directly Starwood (SPG) brand hotels including W, Westin, Le Meridien, St. Regis, and Sheraton or can be transferred to over 30 airline partners. SPG will even tack on an extra 5,000 miles when you make a transfer of 20,000 to an airline partner! The current sign-up bonus is an all-time high 35,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, presenting you with some amazing opportunities for free travel! In my opinion, the real value lies in the redemption of Starpoints for luxury hotel stays or transferring points to airline miles at a bonus. The card comes with $0 fee the first year, then $95 annually.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (Chase) – Down a spot from my February Rankings, the CSP is still a favorite among travelers. The current offer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred is at its highest in almost 5 years and will earn you 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, with an additional 5,000 bonus points awarded after adding an authorized user. If this card is not already in your wallet, then check out why you NEED the Chase Sapphire Preferred! The card comes with $0 fee the first year, then $95 annually.
- Chase Marriott Rewards (Chase) – New to the list this month (and already in my wife’s wallet) is the Marriott Rewards credit card! The current sign-up bonus for the Chase Marriott Rewards Credit Card is as strong as ever, weighing in at 80,000 Marriott Rewards points (plus an additional 7,500 for adding an authorized user)! The total bonus amount of 87,500 is yours after meeting the $3,000 in minimum spend in 3 months! This is the perfect offer for you if you are looking to boost your points in the Marriott Rewards program. My favorite redemptions for Marriott Rewards Points (and all hotel points in general) are for high value hotels like JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton Brand Hotels! There is an $85 annual fee (not waived the first year) – but this is essentially offset by fact that you also receive an annual free night stay in a category 1-5 hotel each year after your account anniversary.
- Hilton HHonors Surpass Card (American Express) – Another new card to make my list this week! The current sign-up bonus for the Hilton HHonors Surpass has increased from 60,000 to 85,000 HHonors points after meeting $3,000 in spend in the first 3 months! These points are perfect for high value luxury hotel redemptions (I used HHonors points for my all-time favorite hotel property – the Waldorf Astoria Amesterdam!) that would otherwise cost hundreds dollars. This card is a bit different from a card I mentioned last month (Citi Hilton Reserve) in that you receive actual Hilton HHonors points, rather than Free Night Certificates, which means that the bonus is much more flexible. Another perk of being a cardholder is the automatic Gold Status at Hilton – which can mean extra bonus points for paid stays, upgraded rooms and free internet, among other things. The card comes with $95 fee annually.
- The Hyatt Credit Card (Chase) –The Hyatt credit card offers a very lucrative sign-up bonus of 2 Free Night Certificates (for stays at any Hyatt worldwide) after spending $1,000 in 3 months from account opening, with an additional 5,000 bonus points awarded after adding an authorized user. Certificates can be redeemed at top tier Hyatt properties – like for my latest stay at The Park Hyatt Paris Vendome – which can cost $639 – $1,217 per night (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room). In addition to the sign-up bonus, cardholders will receive 1 free night every year after your cardmember anniversary at any Category 1-4 property – which makes the card more than worth the $75 annual fee ($0 fee for the first year). Keep in mind that for everyday spending (outside of meeting the minimum spend of $1,000), Hyatt is a transfer partner of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which means that it is much easier to accumulate Hyatt Gold Passport points by spending on the CSP and transferring to Hyatt, rather than the spending on the Hyatt Card. The card comes with $0 fee the first year, then $75 annually.
Cards not on my list – although the following cards are some of my favorites, the sign-up bonuses are at low levels (reduced from limited time promotional offers), and should give you reason to delay any applications until the promotional offers reappear:
- Delta Gold American Express – Current bonus at 30,000 miles, so hold out for the 50,000 mile offers (hopefully in the months to come). My wife was actually targeted for a 60,000 mile offer and if you were as well then that is definitely worth an application! Those 60,000 can get you and a friend to Paris!
- Premier Rewards Gold American Express – Current bonus is 25,000 Membership Points, check here for targeted offer for 50,000 Membership Points, otherwise probably best to hold off.
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card – The current public offer is for 30,000 MileagePlus miles, but this card often reaches 50,000 so best to hold off. I have seen people being targeted for 50,000 offers when booking United flights, so if you are interested in this card then perhaps you can get the increased offer this way.
Note: I didn’t include links to these cards above because I don’t recommend them just yet!
Bonus: The new Jet Blue Barclays Credit Cards (formerly affiliated with American Express) links are now live! There are two personal cards available (one is a no-fee card and the ‘Plus’ version has a $99 annual fee) and one business card ($99 annual fee).
The sign-up bonus for the no-fee JetBlue Barclays card is 10,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and the sign-up bonuses for the JetBlue Plus Barclays card and the JetBlue Barclays Business card are 30,000 bonus points each after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
Personally, I am debating whether one of these cards should be in my wallet, since I have only flown JetBlue one time, but for those avid JetBlue fans this seems like a great option!
All of the offers above are “public offers” and are available to all applicants. There are often larger more select offers out there – so if you are targeted for these then go for the targeted offer rather thank the links above!
As always, if you have any questions/comments or if you would like more information on the cards above (or any other credit cards you may be considering) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.