Wednesday Hump Day with the AYP List of Top Credit Cards for April 2016!
There have been some great credit card offers so far this year, which explains why the wife and I have added 5 credit cards in 2016 to our already fully stocked wallets! The AYP List of Top Credit Cards for April 2016 is a rundown of top credit cards either already in my wallet or currently on my radar for potential applications! 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!
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- Chase Sapphire Preferred (Chase)– Back on top this month is my old favorite, the CSP! 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. This is my go-to card when I am not meeting the minimum spend on a recently acquired card and always has a spot right in the front of my wallet!
The current bonus has been available for some time now and I have not heard of any changes coming in the near future, but remember – anything can change at any point in time… If this card is not 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.
- Hilton HHonors Surpass Card (American Express) – Up 2 spots in this month’s rankings is the Surpass! The current sign-up bonus for the Hilton HHonors Surpass is at an increased 100,000 HHonors points after meeting $3,000 in spend in the first 3 months! These points can be redeemed for high value luxury hotel redemptions, or on mid-level redemptions – which allow for your points to go a bit further for longer stays! This card is a bit different from the other Hilton co-branded card (Citi Hilton Reserve) in that you receive actual Hilton HHonors points, rather than Free Night Certificates (which are awarded as part of the Citi Hilton Reserve sign-up bonus), 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.
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa (Chase) – Southwest is one of my favorite airlines (who doesn’t love “bags fly free”!?) and is definitely the airline I travel with the most. The current sign-up bonus on the Premier Card is at an increased 50,000 Rapid Rewards Points – which equates to about $700-$800 in Southwest flights – upon spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. The co-branded card offered by Chase is a great card to have in your wallet as a Southwest flyer, considering it offers 2x points on Southwest Purchases (and 2x on hotel and rental car partners)! Though the annual fee is $99 (not waived the first year), the card provides great upfront value, as well as a 6,000 Rapid Reward Point annual card member bonus (earned following payment of the 2nd year annual fee). Although historically this higher bonus comes around a couple times a year, I suggest taking advantage of the bonus now if you have been considering the card at all, as the past does not always predict the future!
- (TIE) Chase Marriott Rewards (Chase) – Steady on the list this month (and already in my 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 (like the AC Hotel Carlton Madrid) each year after your account anniversary.
- (TIE) The Hyatt Credit Card (Chase) –Steady as it goes is the Hyatt credit card – remaining on the list due to the 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 my latest stay at The Park Hyatt Paris Vendome – which can cost between $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 (like the Andaz Savannah)– 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 card and transferring to your Hyatt loyalty account, rather than the spending on the Hyatt Card. The card comes with $0 fee the first year, then $75 annually.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card (American Express) – Down from the all-time high sign-up bonus, the Starwood Preferred American Express just squeaks into the list for the month of April! The bonus is now 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in 3 months, but in my opinion, the points earned from this card are still the most valuable reward currency out there! Remember, Starpoints can be redeemed directly Starwood (SPG) brand hotels including W, Westin, Le Meridien, 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! While the bonus is back to its normal level, the card still presents 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.
Did you miss out on the all-time high bonus point offer and feel that 25,000 points is just not going to cut it? You may be in luck… With the SPG acquisition by Marriott coming in the future, I would be surprised if we did not see that 35,000 bonus pop up again this year as a last ditch effort by American Express to gain new cardholders…
- Cards (still) not on my list – Although the following cards are some of my favorites, they have been on my DO NOT APPLY list for some time now due to the sign-up bonuses hovering at low levels (reduced from limited time promotional offers), giving 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 a beautiful destination – like Paris!
- Premier Rewards Gold American Express – Current bonus is 25,000 Membership Points, check here for targeted offer for 50,000 Membership Points and be on the lookout for snail-mail targeted offers, otherwise it is probably best to hold off on that application for now.
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card – The current public offer is for 30,000 MileagePlus miles, but this card often reaches bonus offers of 50,000, so it’s best to hold off for now. I have seen people targeted for 50,000 bonus point offers when in the process of 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 as I don’t recommend them just yet!
BONUS THOUGHT – High Annual Fee Card: Many people shy away from cards with high annual fees, but I am not one of those people… and you shouldn’t be either! So I decided to feature a card with a high annual fee in my April Top Cards list in order to show people that there is nothing to be afraid of!
The Citi Prestige – This card will earn you 50,000 ThankYou Points upon $3,000 in spending in the first 3 months. Citi advertises that these points are worth up to $800 in flights on American Airlines, $665 in flights on any other airline, or $500 in gift cards. In addition to that great value, the points are flexible and can be transferred to Citi ThankYou transfer partners (including Singapore Airlines – consistently ranked as one of the top airlines in the world)! While the annual fee amounts to $450 per year (stay with me here), here are just some of the benefits you earn as a cardholder that make the annual fee worth the investment:
- Annual $250 Air Travel Credit – can automatically be applied to flight-related expenses charged to your card, including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades (that cuts the annual fee to $200 right there!)
- Lounge Access – Complimentary access to American Airlines Admirals Clublounges, plus hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass Select
- Complimentary 4th Night Free at any hotel of your choice after a minimum 4-consecutive-night booking
- Free Global Entry/TSA PreCheck – the card earns you a $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Once approved for Global Entry by the U.S. Government, you can bypass long lines and enjoy expedited entry into the U.S
The card may not be for everyone, but for those of you that value lounge access and many other great perks, begin to consider the Citi Prestige…
All of the offers above are “public offers” and are available to all applicants. There are often higher, more select, offers out there – so, if you are targeted for these higher offers, then apply for the targeted offer rather than the links above!
Did I miss one of you favorite current card offerings? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!