- Our No. 1 credit card Chase Sapphire Reserve is now offering an online signup bonus of 50K points, down from 100K that was offered since its introduction in August 2016. However, you can still receive the 100K bonus when you walk into a branch and apply. Note that the infamous 5-24 rule (you will be denied the new account when you have opened 5 or more new credit cards in the past 24 months) still applies when you do that. Hurry up if you haven't got this amazing card - source says the in-branch 100K offer will last through March but you never know if Chase decides to pull it earlier.
- Barclays has made American Airlines Aviator Red MasterCard available to new customers, with a signup bonus of 40K. This means Citi is no longer the sole issuer of American Airlines' credit card products. We welcome the competition.
- We are very sad to see one of our favorite card for perks Chase Fairmont Visa has been discontinued for new applications due to Accor's acquisition of Fairmont, Raffles, Swissotel. Fairmont Visa has been offering an amazing signup bonus (two free nights, possibly in a suite, plus breakfasts) and is also one of the credit cards to keep paying annual fees without spending a dime.
- Chase Southwest Plus Visa's 50K offer is back. While the higher annual fee Southwest Premier Visa has been offering 50K, it has been a while since last time we saw Plus Visa's 50K offer.
- Citi has increased the signup bonus of Citi Prestige from 40K to 50K, while decreasing the signup bonus of the ThankYou Premier from 40K to 30K.
This is Sean, aka Dr. Credit Card. First of all, I would like to wish every reader of the site a happy 2017! It is pretty crazy that the last blog post was almost two months ago - I bought a new house and moved in recently and have been unable to keep up. Even though there have been updates on the site here and there, I wish more could have been done. Now we have been slowly settling in, the site should be back to normal. Here are some highlights of the recent updates.
There has been much discussion on rumored changes on Citi Prestige for quite a while, and now we all have received the official email from Citi regarding these changes which will kick in as of July 23, 2017.
"As a valued cardmember, we want to inform you of changes to your Citi Prestige card. As of July 23, 2017 , some of your existing benefits will no longer be offered or will be changed.
Access to American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges will no longer be offered with your Citi Prestige® Card.
You will continue to have complimentary access to Priority Pass TM Select Lounges and Citi® Proprietary Lounges. You, your authorized users, immediate family or up to two guests will continue to enjoy access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide.
Redeeming ThankYou® Points for Flights
You will only receive 25% greater value versus gift cards on all airfare redemptions with your ThankYou® points. For example, 50,000 ThankYou points will now be redeemable for $625 in airfare on all airlines available at thankyou.com.
Complimentary International Golf
The three complimentary rounds of golf will no longer be offered with your card for reservations made on or after July 23, 2017. You'll continue to have access to over 2,000 celebrated and legendary golf properties around the world with access to select TPC properties provided by MasterCard.
Complimentary 4th Night *
The Complimentary 4th Night benefit will be calculated based on the average nightly rate of your complete stay for reservations made on or after July 23, 2017. Please see the reverse side of this letter for examples of how the benefit will be calculated. Taxes will no longer be included within the statement credit. You will still be able to enjoy your benefit at any hotel with no restrictions on the number of times you can use this benefit. All other terms of the Complimentary 4th Night benefit will remain unchanged. "
This is definitely huge devaluation for our #1 best credit card! However, since the changes are a year away, the scores that Prestige has for Points, Perks, and Protection won't change until next July. It may receive a lower score for Promotion as the official offer is now 40K instead of the previous 50K. As the 50K offer's landing page is still alive, we will wait and see when it will be pulled. We expect Prestige will still be our #1 card for quite a while. We will adjust the scores next July.
Now let's look at these changes in details. (1) Loss of Admirals Club access is bad. However, it is not surprising as Citi and American Airlines just signed a new agreement on their co-branded credit cards. It makes sense to make Citi AA Executive WEMC, which carries the same $450 annual fee as Prestige, to be the sole credit card that offers Admirals Club access. We have always thought AA Executive is under-performing, especially compared to Prestige. (2) Taking away flight redemption at 1.6 cents/point on AA flights and 1.33 cents/point on other airlines essentially makes Prestige's redemption option exactly the same as ThankYou Premier's. If no other major change occurs between now and next July, we will need to adjust our value of ThankYou points earned on Prestige from 1.6 to 1.4 cents/point - our current valuation for ThankYou points earned on ThankYou Premier. This value is based on transferring ThankYou points to miles of partner airlines such as Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Air France/KLM, and Etihad, rather than the fixed 1.25 cents/point for flight redemption. We are actually very curious to see if American Airlines will be added as a transfer partner as part of the new deal between Citi and AA, and if that is indeed the case, we will again adjust the valuation of ThankYou points. (3) Loss of the golf benefit is bad. No questions about it. While we feel that not many cardmembers are taking advantage of this benefit, for those who are it really hurts. (4) Currently, 4th Night Free is based on the actual rate of the 4th night and some travelers may take advantage of this to score some good saving. However, you may also argue that taking the average rate of your complete stay is a fairer approach.
Even though we hate these negative changes in general, we will suggest not canceling your Prestige that fast - at least wait until the next time you renew or next July. We all know that Citi likes making changes much more often than other card issuers - this is already the fifth major change Citi announced on this card in the last three years! It won't be surprising if Citi brings out some new benefits in the future (e.g. by adding American Airlines as a ThankYou transfer partner). We certainly hope that is the case, especially we are sure that Citi, just like us, is eager to see what Chase will do in introducing a premium Sapphire card to compete with Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige in August.
© 2016 DrCreditCard.net All rights reserved.
Please check out our Promotions page for currently the best offers including four new offers: 60,000 miles on Citi AA Executive WEMC, 60,000 miles + 10,000 MQMs + $100 credit on Amex Delta Platinum SkyMiles (personal or business), 50,000 miles + $50 credit on Amex Gold Delta SkyMiles (personal or business), and 30,000 miles + $100 credit + a $99 companion certificate on BofA Alaska Visa.
Our Points page has been updated to reflect our revised recommendations for the Best Two-Card Combos, which we copy below:
Best Rewards Credit Card Combos
Theoretically you need way too many cards to maximize rewards - one for gas, one for groceries, one for dining, one for airfare, one for hotels, one for general spending, and so on. In real life, most of us can't manager that. That is why here we will recommend the best two-card combos that will hand you much bigger rewards than a single card while still keeping things manageable.
Citi is enhancing travel and consumer protection across its credit card products effective May 15, 2016
When I was writing the featured review "All About Credit Card Travel and Consumer Protection", like millions Citicard members, I received emails from Citi informing me of changes of protection benefit provider coming May 15, 2016. After I went through the documents I was surprisingly pleased to learn that there are HUGE improvement across the board. First of all, please find links to the new benefit guides effective May 15, 2016:
Now let's look at the improvements that will kick in as of May 15, 2016.
As you can see, these improvements are very exciting, and we hope that other issuers follow suit. We will be re-evaluating our ranking of credit cards for protection in May once the new benefits kick in.
© 2016 DrCreditCard.net All rights reserved.
Hello, this is Sean aka Dr. Credit Card. This is probably the most interesting post I have written since I started this website and blog in 2011. Most previous posts were about credit card offers, and a few were my analysis of value (and changes) of miles/points. I never really talked about how to use miles/points, since I figure that is really up to each individual to decide. What works for me might not work for you. However, I have been debating about that approach a lot. I was already touching on the value of miles/points quite a few times as it is inevitable, and each time I tried to make it clear that it was our valuation and “your mileage may vary”. Basically the value comes down to how much I would pay for an airline ticket or a hotel night if I don’t have miles/points, rather than how much the airline/hotel charges. For example, if a round trip long haul business class ticket retails at $6,000 but will cost 120,000 miles to redeem, my miles value is not 5 cents per mile ($6,000/120,000 miles), but rather 1.8 cents per miles since I am willing to pay ~$2,200 for that ticket. I have realized many of you got confused about that part, and I think sharing some personal experience may help you understand it better and also showcase how credit card offers could be extremely lucrative.
Note that many of the programs I used in the examples have devaluated or were even discontinued after our trips, but I think the moral of the story is how credit cards enabled me and my family to have some amazing experience that we wouldn’t have afforded otherwise.
Earning: 38 cards, 2.5M miles/points, and 12 free night certificates in five years
In the past five years, between my wife and I we opened 38 new credit card accounts, and earned about 2,500,000 miles/points in 18 different programs, plus 12 free night certificates. These miles/points were all from signup bonuses and did not include the miles/points we earned through spending or other program promotions. Since 4 of the cards offered free nights in lieu of miles/points as signup bonus, we earned an average of ~74K miles/points per card for the remaining 34 cards. All these may seem a lot, we are not considered aggressive at all - we each opened about 2 cards every 6 months to ensure our credit scores stayed excellent - in fact our credit scores gradually improved over these years. There are many people out there, including some of our readers, opened much more cards per year. If you visit our Deals page, you will see that all offers we recommended have at least 40K miles/points bonus, and over the years there have been quite a few offers in the 75K-100K range. What I am trying to say here is that if we could do it, you can do it.
Experience: long haul first class/business class flights, luxury hotel rooms/suites, and many amazing memories
I will use some of our most amazing miles/points redemptions as case studies. They are not in order of time/card/program, but rather random.
© 2016 DrCreditCard.net All rights reserved.
Changes in the travel industry that will have major impact on credit cards - our thoughts on American Airlines, Starwood, and Fairmont
We saw several major changes in the travel industry in late 2015, which certainly had and will continue to have major impact on the credit card market. Yes, we are talking about American Airlines’ award chart devaluation, Marriott-Starwood merger, and Accor’s acquisition of FRHI (Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissotel).
1. American Airlines’ Award Chart Changes
On November 17, 2015, American Airlines announced several changes in its 2016 AAdvantage program, including massive devaluation in its award charts, which will kick in for awards booked on March 22, 2016 or later. To be honest, this wasn’t that surprising since in the past several years, American has had more lucrative award charts than its major competitors United and Delta, and we had anticipated that it would devaluate its miles after the merger with U.S. Airways. But the devaluation is still quite bad. The best redemption options under the old charts - longhaul business and first class awards are hit the hardest, as expected. The required miles on some of our favorite routes increase by 4%-27% for longhaul business class awards, and by 20%-63% for longhaul first class awards. Our value for American miles is thus adjusted from 1.8 cents per mile to 1.6 cents per mile, and obviously your mileage may vary. If you have a substantial balance of American miles, remember to book your flights before March 22, 2016.
Let’s see how this affects the credit cards after March 2016. This obviously made Citi or Barclays AAdvantage cards (see Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage, Citi Executive / AAdvantage, Barclays Aviator Red, Barclays Aviator Silver) less valuable in terms of earning miles; however, our recommendation for earning American miles through credit card spending has always been one of our Top Listers, Amex SPG, which returns 1.25 miles when transferring points to miles in bulks of 20K. Even though SPG still has 30+ other partners to transfer to, such as Alaska Airlines whose miles we still value at 1.8 cents per mile, the value of SPG points certainly take a hit with American’s devaluation. This combined with the fact that the SPG program will be no more within a couple of years (see section 2 for details) makes us adjust the value of SPG points to be 2.1 cents per point, down from 2.25.
2. Marriott-Starwood Merger
On November 16, 2015, Marriott International announced that it would acquire Starwood Hotels and Resorts to create world’s largest hotel chain. This announcement was somewhat a surprise and will have a huge impact on the hotel industry in years to come.
Obviously it will take some time for the two chains to integrate as well as their loyalty programs, and we expect that Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) will continue to run separately at least through 2016 and eventually will merge into one single program sometime beyond 2016. SPG is one of our favorite hotel programs out there not only for its elite benefits but also for its revolutionary redemption options including points transfer to 30+ airline partners at up to 1:1.25 ratio. For travelers who have a large balance, they probably need to start planning ahead to burn these points, since even though Marriott promise it would keep the value of SPG (points), we highly doubt that they will be the same level of value when SPG points eventually turn into Marriott points. For those who are not very sure of their value, our current valuation for these two currencies are: 2.25 cents per point for SPG, and 0.65 cent per point for Marriott. We don’t think when the two programs finally merge, SPG points will be turned into Marriott at 1: 1 ratio, but we expect it won’t be 1:3 either. However, for those who has a SPG points balance less than 150K, we will suggest not worrying about them too much, since it will be plenty of time to put them to good use.
Now let’s look at the merger’s impact on credit cards. Firstly, as mentioned in section 1, our value of SPG points will be adjusted from 2.25 down to 2.1 cents per point considering American Airlines, one of the best transfer partners of SPG, will devaluate after March 2016, and the fact that you probably won’t be stockpiling SPG points as you might used to due to the uncertainty of this program beyond 2016. Secondly, Amex SPG, one of our favorite credit cards, not only returns slightly less value than before but will be completely nonexistent in a few years (it will probably be converted to another Amex product for existing customers). This will leave a huge hole that won’t be filled for a long time, since not only is Amex SPG a well-rounded product but also there will be one less program that allows flexible points transfer to airline miles. Please see our featured review SPG vs. MR. vs. UR. vs. TY vs. CR for this type of programs and you will see why we love them so much. Lastly, the impact on Chase Marriott and J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton credit cards will remain unknown. You may expect more hotels (SPG currently has 1,200+ hotels) be available for redeeming points, but we are not sure how SPG hotels will be categorized in Marriott’s system and if Marriott will again devaluate their points after the merger. You may expect the Gold or Platinum status earned through Ritz-Carlton Visa be more beneficial for similar reasons, but again we are not sure if Marriott will adjust the elite benefits after the merger.
3. Accor’s Acquisition of FRHI
On December 9, 2015, AccorHotels announced that it would acquire FRHI, the parent company of Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissotel. Accor, which may be an unfamiliar name to a lot of Americans due to its very limited footprint in North America, is actually a giant in the hotel industry with near 3,800 hotels worldwide, including brands such as Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Mercure, etc.
Even though we haven’t know the timeline yet, we suspect that some time beyond 2016, Fairmont President’s Club will be integrated into Le Club AccorHotels. At that point, we will be very sad to say goodbye to one of our favorite hotel credit cards, Chase Fairmont Visa, which is also on the list of cards worth paying annual fees without spending. The generous signup bonus (two free nights at a luxury hotel with breakfasts, possibly in a suite), Fairmont Premier status (suite and room upgrades, third night free certificate, $50 dining/spa credit), an annual free night after $12K per year, and Lounge Club membership with two free passes per year, all contribute to this card’s uniqueness. If you haven’t had this card, we definitely recommend getting it before this program gets folded into Accor’s. Even if you had this card before, you may still get the signup bonus if the last time you received the bonus was more than 24 months ago per terms and conditions.
Right now, we don’t know if Accor will partner with a U.S. financial institute to offer a co-branded credit card in the future but we think it is very likely. At that point, we will evaluate it and definitely hope it will be a competitive product.
© 2016 DrCreditCard.net All rights reserved.
Amex has offered increased signup bonus to 30,000 points (from the regular 25,000 points) for its Amex SPG, for several summers in a row. Now it is back through September 14, 2015. This time, you will need to spend $3,000 within 3 months to receive 30K points for the personal card version, and you will need to spend $5,000 within 3 months to receive 30K points for the business card version. Our current valuation of Starpoints is 2.25 cents per point, thus the signup bonus for each card will be $675. If you sign up both personal and business cards, you will receive 60,000 points.
Also note that even though the annual fee is waived for the first year, it has been increased from $65 to $95 effective today. However, Amex does bring a few new perks to justify the increase in annual fees: waived foreign transaction fees, complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi plan, complimentary premium internet at participating Starwood hotels, and finally access to Sheraton Club Lounges for business cardholders. We have updated our review to reflect these changes.
Landing page for personal card
Application page for personal card
Landing Page for business card
Application page for business card
© 2015 DrCreditCard.net All rights reserved.
One of the best signup offers in 2014 was the 100K offer for Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Executive WEMC. We haven't seen an offer as good for a little while; however, Citi has introduced a decent deal for the same card - you will receive 75,000 miles after spending at least $7,500 within 3 months of new account opening. You will need to pay the $450 annual fee, but you receive some exclusive benefits including Admirals Club access.
[Updated November 19, 2015] The Business links have been updated - the same 50K offer.
[Original May 1, 2015] This is to update the 50K signup links for Citi AAdvantage MasterCards - one for personal and one for business. If you open both, you will receive 100,000 miles. For each card, you will receive 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 3 months. As always, the $95 annual fee will be waived for the first year.
Landing page for personal card 50K offer
Application page for personal card 50K offer
Landing page for business card 50K offer
Application page for business card 50K offer
Citi has upped the signup offer for its Prestige World Elite MasterCard, one of our favorite cards, from 30,000 points to 50,000 points. 50,000 ThankYou points can be redeemed for $500 giftcards, $800 in airfare on American Airlines/US Airways, or $665 in airfare on other airlines, or transferred to more than ten airline/hotel partners. You will need to spend $3,000 within 3 months to get the signup bonus. Even though the card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee which is not waived for the first year, it does come with several benefits that make it worthy, such as the annual $250 air credit which is set up in a way that Citi will automatically reimburse you up to $250 a year for any airline purchases including airfare and incidentals and essentially puts the effective annual fee down to be $200, complimentary access for you plus two guests in 50+ American Airlines/US Airways lounges and 600+ Priority Pass Select lounges worldwide, a 3-2-1 ThankYou point earning structure with a potential 15-25% annual relationship bonus, hotel privileges and other luxury perks. Also note if you have a Citigold checking account, your annual fee will be reduced by $100. Currently there is a signup bonus of $400 for opening a Citigold account in branch.
Landing Page for 50K offer
Application Page for 50K offer
Even though there is still an ongoing 60,000 points offer for Citi Prestige when you apply in branch, the online 50K offer is actually better for most since the 60K in-branch-only offer requires a total spending of $15,000 within 6 months.
Dr. Credit Card helps you to find the best cards and the best signup deals for you!