cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

Established Contributor

Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

 I can easily see the value of some higher fee cards, like the Sapphire Reserve.  I am trying to understand the value of cards like the Amex Delta Gold and Citi ThankYou Premier:  midtier travel cards with annual fees (in these cases, both are $95).  With the Delta Gold, it comes with other benefits that I think are useful (e.g., discounted in-flight purchases, priority boarding, etc).  The ThankYou Premier redeems at more than 1 cent per point for airline purchases if you use the ThankYou travel center. 

 

Most of what I heard about the value of travel cards is the use of transfer partners which can yield higher earnings.  Let's assume someone doesn't use transfer partners; other than the additional benefits, why would a Delta Gold be better than a 2% cashback card (for example)?  Are the miles earned worth more than 1 point, like the ThankYou Premier?  Or, am I not being fair by excluding the additional benefits in the card's value?  Is the additional value of ThankYou points worth it to use the ThankYou Premier over a cashback card?

 

I'm pretty open-minded and would consider cards like these if I understood the value - which is not as clear as a cashback.

Message 1 of 19
18 REPLIES
New Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

For us the Delta Gold is basically a free luggage card. My wife and duaghter can't grasp traveling light so the luggage credit more than covers the annual fee for us. The priority boarding etc. is just gravy.

 

You don't have to use your Delta Gold card to pay for the ticket if you have a better card. The benifit is tied to your Delta Skymiles acct.

Message 2 of 19
Valued Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

The Citi Thankyou Premier offers 3x points on Travel including gas and 2x points on Dining and Entertainment.  As OP mentioned, you can get better than 1c per point (maybe around 1.3-1.5 would be fair).  So for travel and gas, you can probably get around 4-4.5% rewards, and for dining around 2.5-3%.  These are generally the biggest catetories for frequent travelers so there's definitely value above and beyond a 2% card when used this way.

 

The Thankyou Premier also offers a 30k sign-up bonus which would be worth $400-450, depending on how you value the points.  Most cash back cards to not offer sign-on bonuses in that neighborhood (for example, I don't think the Citi DC generally if ever offers a sign-on bonus).

 

So, you have to decide whether these perks offset the $95 AF.  Certainly the 30k sign-on points makes it worthwhile to have the card for a while at least.  Whether you keep it long term probably depends on how much you spend on travel.  Of course, if you travel a whole lot, a high-end travel card might be more valuable.

Message 3 of 19
Regular Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

I think there are two main subcategories under "midtier travel" cards: cobranded cards and general travel cards. Cobranded cards include things like Delta AMEX, JetBlue Barclay, United Chase, AA Citi, etc. General travel midtier cards include things like CSP, Arrival+, Venture, etc.

 

For cobranded cards, I think the main appeal is special airline perks. I have the JetBlue Plus card which gives me free checked bags for my party, priority bording, anniversary miles, 50% off inflight purchases, etc. If you fly primarily with one or two airlines, a cobranded card can pay for itself with just the perks. Then the rewards for using that card for airline purchases is usually pretty good. My JetBlue card gives me 6x on JetBlue purchases and I value points at 1.2-1.4 cents. This means I get 7.2-8.4% back on JetBlue bookings with my card.

EQ: 750 TU: 757 EX: 734 Goal: 800+
Total Credit: $34,800 | Utilization: $900 / 2.6%
Message 4 of 19
Frequent Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

Another mid-tier travel card with no AF.

3% on travel spend as cashback, No FTF, $100- discretionary spend/yr, Fico-Credit Score, $250 sign up bonus.

 

First National Bank - TravElite - American Express Card

 

http://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-Cards/First-National-Bank-TravElite-American-Express-Card/td-...

 

 

Message 5 of 19
Valued Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


Kforce wrote:

Another mid-tier travel card with no AF.

3% on travel spend as cashback, No FTF, $100- discretionary spend/yr, Fico-Credit Score, $250 sign up bonus.

 

First National Bank - TravElite - American Express Card

 

http://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-Cards/First-National-Bank-TravElite-American-Express-Card/td-...

 

 


I don't travel all that much and I've been thinking for a while that I might end up getting CSP (I know reserve grants more back but I don't hit enough cat spend...even with using Freedom and FU often)...but I never considered a specific carrier card as I'd be limited in the event I did actually take a flight somewhere (I've taken 3 airplane-involving vacations in my whole life). This card seems perfect for me. I can just hoarde points for 2-3 years at a time and use them when I finally decide to take a trip (if this allows you to?) and use the global entry basically for free.

I have BCE...does this card limit cashback in the same way? IE: You have to have $25 to redeem in $25 incriments (50, 75, 100 etc)?

"Show your thanks with action! Hit the "Kudos" button (the stripe with the star) for every post you find helpful to show your appreciation to the community of great individuals who help you on these forums" -Me
Message 6 of 19
Established Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

I think there are only a few cases where co-branded cards are worth it. These days it seems the earning rates are better on the other cards. I canceled my Delta card a while ago but where it really shined was free bags and discounts on in flight purchases. I now have two co-branded cards, Hilton and JetBlue, but they are both no annual fee. I don't mind paying an annual fee, but I like to make sure I'm getting enough value from it. Those that check bags/fly a lot may find the AF pays for itself.

 

In most cases, you will get a bigger value redemption out of miles/points than cash back, but as you said you have to understand the value. For low spenders or those with a small miles/points balance, I definitely think cash back cards are better. One thing to keep in mind is that you should always be working towards a goal. I'm fully aware that spending on my Hilton or JetBlue card may not beat out a 2 percent cash back card most of the time, but I have a goal for my miles/points redemptions so it works for me.

Message 7 of 19
Frequent Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


SecretAzure wrote:

Kforce wrote:

Another mid-tier travel card with no AF.

3% on travel spend as cashback, No FTF, $100- discretionary spend/yr, Fico-Credit Score, $250 sign up bonus.

 

First National Bank - TravElite - American Express Card

 

http://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-Cards/First-National-Bank-TravElite-American-Express-Card/td-...

 

 


I don't travel all that much and I've been thinking for a while that I might end up getting CSP (I know reserve grants more back but I don't hit enough cat spend...even with using Freedom and FU often)...but I never considered a specific carrier card as I'd be limited in the event I did actually take a flight somewhere (I've taken 3 airplane-involving vacations in my whole life). This card seems perfect for me. I can just hoarde points for 2-3 years at a time and use them when I finally decide to take a trip (if this allows you to?) and use the global entry basically for free.

I have BCE...does this card limit cashback in the same way? IE: You have to have $25 to redeem in $25 incriments (50, 75, 100 etc)?


Yes: FNBO has (Min $25, $25-increment's) for cashback,

It also has a portal to redeem for gift-cards, travel, etc.

However the portal has no point value multiplier/benefit over cashback.

I just use the statement credit cashback

 

 

Message 8 of 19
Valued Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards



LAKings wrote:

I think there are only a few cases where co-branded cards are worth it. These days it seems the earning rates are better on the other cards. I canceled my Delta card a while ago but where it really shined was free bags and discounts on in flight purchases. I now have two co-branded cards, Hilton and JetBlue, but they are both no annual fee. I don't mind paying an annual fee, but I like to make sure I'm getting enough value from it. Those that check bags/fly a lot may find the AF pays for itself.

 

In most cases, you will get a bigger value redemption out of miles/points than cash back, but as you said you have to understand the value. For low spenders or those with a small miles/points balance, I definitely think cash back cards are better. One thing to keep in mind is that you should always be working towards a goal. I'm fully aware that spending on my Hilton or JetBlue card may not beat out a 2 percent cash back card most of the time, but I have a goal for my miles/points redemptions so it works for me.


Would you still recommend Hilton or JB for one who doesn't travel as much over the Travelite? Is it worth giving up the flexibility of perks on any flight? (I know Hilton and JB can be pricey)

Kforce wrote:

SecretAzure wrote:

I don't travel all that much and I've been thinking for a while that I might end up getting CSP (I know reserve grants more back but I don't hit enough cat spend...even with using Freedom and FU often)...but I never considered a specific carrier card as I'd be limited in the event I did actually take a flight somewhere (I've taken 3 airplane-involving vacations in my whole life). This card seems perfect for me. I can just hoarde points for 2-3 years at a time and use them when I finally decide to take a trip (if this allows you to?) and use the global entry basically for free.

I have BCE...does this card limit cashback in the same way? IE: You have to have $25 to redeem in $25 incriments (50, 75, 100 etc)?


Yes: FNBO has (Min $25, $25-increment's) for cashback,

It also has a portal to redeem for gift-cards, travel, etc.

However the portal has no point value multiplier/benefit over cashback.

I just use the statement credit cashback

 

 


Thanks for the info. Yeah, I tend to just use CB as a statement on my BCE already. The $100 travel perk and global entry are what really are appealing to me...so even if I don't use them (with no AF) I don't feel like i'm losing anything but when I need them, they're there (as long as I enroll). I like that...and the flexibility to use with any airline. Does anyone know if it works for wifi on planes?

"Show your thanks with action! Hit the "Kudos" button (the stripe with the star) for every post you find helpful to show your appreciation to the community of great individuals who help you on these forums" -Me
Message 9 of 19
Established Contributor

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


SecretAzure wrote:


LAKings wrote:

I think there are only a few cases where co-branded cards are worth it. These days it seems the earning rates are better on the other cards. I canceled my Delta card a while ago but where it really shined was free bags and discounts on in flight purchases. I now have two co-branded cards, Hilton and JetBlue, but they are both no annual fee. I don't mind paying an annual fee, but I like to make sure I'm getting enough value from it. Those that check bags/fly a lot may find the AF pays for itself.

 

In most cases, you will get a bigger value redemption out of miles/points than cash back, but as you said you have to understand the value. For low spenders or those with a small miles/points balance, I definitely think cash back cards are better. One thing to keep in mind is that you should always be working towards a goal. I'm fully aware that spending on my Hilton or JetBlue card may not beat out a 2 percent cash back card most of the time, but I have a goal for my miles/points redemptions so it works for me.


Would you still recommend Hilton or JB for one who doesn't travel as much over the Travelite? Is it worth giving up the flexibility of perks on any flight? (I know Hilton and JB can be pricey)


I like to keep things simple and know the points are going into my account, I guess the idea of accruing points that you later use for a statement credit isn't something that interests me. I'd say the Hilton and JetBlue cards are worth it even if you don't travel much, so long as that's the airline/hotel you use when you do travel. Otherwise probably not.

Message 10 of 19