- 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.
October 21, 2016 Updates - Wyndham Visa devaluated & 2x points at small businesses on Amex cards through 2016
We have been continuing to make updates throughout the site. Here we would like to highlight a few important ones:
In addition, you may find the following news interesting.
© 2016 DrCreditCard.net All rights reserved.
We have been working on numerous updates throughout the site during the last couple of weeks. Here I would like to highlight some updates.
This week, we have three new reviews going online: Barclays Luxury Card MasterCards (Titanium, Black, and Gold), Barclays Miles & More MasterCard (Lufthansa etc.), and Barclays JetBlue MasterCards (non-annual fee version, JetBlue Plus, JetBlue Rewards, JetBlue Business).
JetBlue Plus World Elite MasterCard is a new product introduced earlier this year and wasn't included in our original analysis to produce the Top 10 Best Credit Cards by Dr. Credit Card list that was published the first time earlier this month. After a thorough analysis, we were pretty surprised that JetBlue Plus Card takes home the #3 spot in the rewards category and is rated #4 overall. That is an amazing feat. Let's see why.
Unlike legacy airlines, JetBlue has a revenue based frequent flyer program, and its TrueBlue points can be redeemed for JetBlue flights at an almost fixed-value rate of around 1.4 cents per point. Here you won't get an exciting redemption like an international long haul business/first class award, but you also avoid a lot of hassles trying to find an available seat and maximize points value, as TrueBlue points are very straightforward. JetBlue Plus Card has a unique feature that returns 10% points each time you redeem for JetBlue flights, essentially increasing the value of TrueBlue points to 1.55 cents a piece. In addition, JetBlue Plus offers a very competitive 6-2-1 earning structure for JetBlue, dining & groceries, and other purchases (9.3%, 3.1%, and 1.55% respectively) and several valuable perks that easily justify the annual fee, including 5,000 anniversary bonus points, first bags free, and a potential Mosaic status after $50K annual spending. Our biggest concern is that we are not sure if JetBlue will suddenly devaluate its points, as we have seen in many times in the airline/hotel industry. That is exactly the reason why we always recommend miles/points cards with transfer partners over those affiliated with a certain airline or hotel chain, as the former is much more devaluation proof than the latter. For now, however, this card makes a lot of sense for JetBlue flyers, considering its good signup bonus, amazing rewards and travel perks, and decent protection.
© 2016 DrCreditCard.net All rights reserved.
Our website 2.0 is finally online - we have been busy working on revamping our website in the last several weeks. As you may have noticed, the site's home page now shows a Top 10 Best Credit Cards list. The ranking was based on a comprehensive analysis considering four "P" factors - Promotions (signup bonus), Points (rewards earned through spending minus effective annual fee), Perks (travel benefits), and Protection (travel and consumer protection). If you are interested in a particular factor, our top recommendations for each "P" could also be found on each of the four pages.
How did we come up with the list? Each card is rated an individual score (0-100 points) for each of the four "P" factors, and then a final comprehensive score (also 0-100 points) is calculated by adding up all scores with the following weights for each factor: Promotion (15%), Points (55%), Perks (20%), and Protection (10%). Now we are copying the Top 10 list below and will also discuss our findings.
Top 10 Best Credit Cards by Dr. Credit Card (2016)
Citi Prestige takes the #1 spot without too much of surprise, since it is not only highly rated in "Points" (#7 card for rewards) but also very strong in "Promotions", "Perks" (#3), and "Protection" (tied at #2). All other cards on the final Top 10 list all offer pretty strong rewards for spending. Amex EveryDay Preferred, the #1 card for rewards, comes down to #7 on the final list, due to relatively weak signup bonus, perks, and protection. Two excellent cash back cards - Citi Double Cash and Fidelity Visa, fall off the final Top 10 due to similar reasons. On the other hand, Chase Sapphire Preferred, United MP Club Visa, and United MP Explorer Visa, which did not make to the Top 10 Cards for Rewards, all make a strong come back to the #5, #7, and #8 spots on the final list, due to very strong performance in at least two of the three following categories: signup bonus, perks, and protection. JPM Ritz-Carlton Visa, the #1 card both in perks and protection, is way down the final list, as the rewards are poor. Amex Platinum, another strong performer in perks and protection, fails to make to Final Top 10 due to a similar reason.
© 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 offers Experian FICO score to most cardholders && A summary of credit card issuers that offer free FICO scores
Since early August, Amex has started offering free FICO score to most of its cardmembers. When you log into your account, you will see on the right hand side, there is a link "My Free FICO Score (NEW)". The FICO score offered by Amex is from Experian, one of the big three credit reporting agencies. Amex started running a pilot program that gave this score to select card members since late 2014, and Chase has been giving this score to only Slate card members.
FICO scores used to be available to paid customers only, and they are the real scores that are used by your lenders (versus "fake" scores or FAKO offered by many credit monitoring services). In the recent years, banks have started offering FICO for free for their customers. Here we would like to give a summary of which major card issuers are giving them for free and which reporting agencies they are using.
Barclays: all cards offer free TransUnion FICO scores.
Discover: all cards offer free TransUnion FICO scores.
Citi: many Citicards including AAdvantage and ThankYou credit cards offer free Equifax FICO.
Amex: most cards now offer free Experian FICO.
Chase: only Slate cardmembers receive free Experian FICO.
© 2015 DrCreditCard.net All rights reserved.
Wyndham Rewards' big revamp in May 2015 and increased signup bonus for its Visa Signature cards (three free nights at signup + one free night at each anniversary)
Wyndham Rewards just a revolutionary revamp of its program earlier this month - it used to require 5,500 to 50,000 points per night across its 9 tiers of hotels, but effective May 11, 2015, each hotel will require the same 15,000 points per night. This is the most interesting change among hotel royalty programs in the recent years, because it is against the normal "add a new category/tier and require more points" type of devaluation we have witnessed. Obviously it will be a bad deal if you want to redeem points for lower end hotels, but it dramatically increases the value for high end hotel redemptions. In our book, the value of Wyndham Rewards points actually double, increasing from 0.4 to 0.8 cent per point! Barclays Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature that returns 2x points for general spending will be equivalent to 1.6% cashback.
What is more exciting is that Barclays and Wyndham have increased signup bonus for both versions of the Visa Signature cards.
We will recommend signing up the $69 version, because you will receive 3 free nights instead of 2 free nights upon signup, and the annual free night (15,000 points) is totally worth the $69 annual fee.
Landing page for both offers
(May 21, 2015)
Barclays US Airways Premier MC or American Airlines Aviator Red MC 50% bonus miles through June 30, 2015
With the merger between the two frequent flyer programs - American Airlines AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles, Barclays is rebranding its US Airways Premier MasterCard as American Airlines Aviator Red MasterCad. To keep the existing customers, Barclays is running a promotion from March 1, 2015, to June 30, 2015 - you will receive 50% bonus miles for your spending on its MasterCard, up to 10,000 bonus miles. You need to register for the promotion in your online account to receive the bonus miles. Basically, if you spend $20K on this MasterCard in the promotion period, you will be receiving a total 30K AAdvantage miles. Without this promotion, the best earning rate for AAdvantage miles has been through Amex SPG at 1.25 mile per dollar spent when transferring SPG points in bulks of 20K. So we think Barclays's promotion is extremely nice if collecting AAdvantage miles is your priority.
Dr. Credit Card helps you to find the best cards and the best signup deals for you!