Category: Upgrades

Benefits of MVP Gold

As you know, I visit my wife who is pursuing her career in Nashville twice a month. So when I myself chased a career opportunity out of state, I was faced with an overwhelming amount of useless pre-booked flights. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of my MVP Gold status with Alaska Airlines to solve that problem.

Logistics

Regardless of your Elite status, Alaska allows you to cancel and change flights online without speaking to a representative. However, some of my itineraries were complicated in nature (I had used companion fares and needed partial rather than full changes), so I opted to call the MVP Gold line for assistance. The team was great to work with, and in no time, my 16 flights were cancelled or changed accordingly with the refunds deposited as a credit to my Alaska account.

Using those credits, I was able to rebook my flights as needed and when all was said and done, I was able to complete all of my changes and cancellations within an hour.

Benefits

Besides the MVP Gold line for customer service, the major benefit I received as an Elite flyer with Alaska was the waived change fees. With 16 reservations to modify, I would have been charged $2,000 in change fees! Instead, I paid nothing – and even saved money since my new flights were cheaper than my old ones; allowing me to book a few extra trips for the same price!

Loyalty

I always say I’m not a loyalist, but I am a planner. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re flying a lot, or staying in a lot of hotels, do yourself the favor of sticking to one brand when possible. Not only will you earn miles or points that are cohesive and accumulate, you may even earn Elite status! You never know what life will throw at you, and having elite status with a brand will make life’s curve balls that much easier to manage.

The AMEX Power Couple

If you’re like me, you have a credit card for each facet of your annual budget because the value is just too good to pass up. That said, for many of my accounts, the physical cards themselves have been locked in the safe for years since they are simply on record with my merchant of choice. That’s because when it comes to what cards you carry with you in your wallet each day, it is important to keep it simple. So today, I’m here to tell you why two, yes two, premium credit cards may be the perfect arsenal for your daily spending: The AMEX Power Couple – Gold and Platinum cards.

Costs Incurred

Let’s get this out of the way because it is the hardest to stomach. The annual fee on the Gold card is $250; the Platinum is $550. Yes, that’s $800 in annual fees. But keep reading: There are three reasons this annual cost is well compensated:

  1. Statement Credits
  2. Earnings on Spend
  3. Benefits

Let’s get to it.

Statement Credits

The Platinum Card grants you Uber VIP status and $200 annually in Uber credits that can be used in the United States. The credits are issued $15 per month with an additional $20 credited each December for a total of $35. Whether you utilize rideshare apps to get to the airport, or home after a night with friends, the credit can supplement your budget and become cash back in your savings. If you don’t use rideshare, you can alternatively use the credits to order from the Uber Eats food delivery service.

A newer benefit offered by the Platinum Card is the $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (including the online store). Issued semiannually in $50 increments, these statement credits are applied to any purchase you make with Saks. Though their prices are generally higher, there are deals to be found both in clearance as well as within the fragrance department that allow you to purchase something without exceeding the $50 statement credit.

The Gold Card offers $120 in annual dining credits ($10/month) when you use your Gold card to pay for meals with Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations.  Personally, I find that Grubhub is the easiest way to redeem this benefit since one meal delivery a month is a nice benefit to commit to; they are also one of the only delivery services that do not charge delivery fees!

Both cards offer an annual Airline Fee Credit as well. After selecting one qualifying airline, you receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as baggage fees and more, are charged by the airline to your Gold Card; you receive $200 per year on incidental fees charged to your Platinum Card. That’s a total of $300 per year that can be used on seat upgrades, baggage fees, lounge memberships and change fees!

Earnings on Spend

The average value of an American Express Point is two cents ($0.02) per point. So for the purposes of the assessment below, 1X points = 2% back; 4X points = 8% back; etc.

The Gold Card offers an astounding 8% back at restaurants worldwide and US supermarkets (up to $25,000).

The Platinum Card is worth its weight in airline purchases: 10% back. In the form of 5X points, this is my favorite earning reward because it can be used on ANY airline rather than the branded credit cards that require loyalty. So not only can you shop around for the best fare, you can take 10% off of that once you find it. Brilliant!

Both cards earn 2% back on all other purchases in the form of 1X points.

Benefits

The Platinum Card offers:

  1. A Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. So whether you have been holding out until now, or your renewal is coming up soon, the fee credit will take care of that $85-100 expense.
  2. A Priority Pass Lounge Membership which gives you access to 1,000+ lounges across 500+ airports in 120 countries. 
  3. Gold Status with Hilton Honors
  4. Gold Status with Marriott Bonvoy
  5. Secondary Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance

Both cards offer:

  1. No Foreign Transaction Fees: Travel abroad without incurring the 3% fee other card issuers charge when the card is used internationally.
  2. Purchase Protection: Your eligible purchases can be covered when they’re accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost for up to 120 days from the date of purchase with your Card.
  3. Extended Warranty: Can extend the original manufacturer’s warranty for up to two extra years for eligible purchases made on your Card.
  4. Free ShopRunner Account: This membership allows you to receive free 2-day shipping and returns at 140+ stores online.
  5. Premium Roadside Assistance: Not only will they cover eligible breakdowns and mishaps, American Express will coordinate response in your time of need!
  6. Baggage Insurance: Provides coverage for lost, stolen or damaged baggage when traveling on a Common Carrier when the entire fare has been charged to your Card.

Bottom Line

When looking at what a card actually costs you, we will take the annual statement credits from the annual fees and associate the remaining cost with the earnings on spend for their respective categories:

  1. The Gold Card has a $250 annual fee offset by a $120 annual dining credit and a $100 annual airline fee credit leaving $30 remaining. You will earn $30 in rewards after $375 in annual spend ($31.25/month) on dining and groceries with the 8% back in those categories.
  2. The Platinum Card has a $550 annual fee offset by a $200 Uber credit, a $200 annual airline fee credit and $100 in annual credits when you shop at Saks, leaving $50 remaining. You will earn $50 in rewards after $500 in annual spend on airfare with the 10% back in that category.

For arguments’ sake, even if you never spend enough to reclaim the $30 (Gold) and $50 (Platinum) remainders, holding the two cards only costs you a total of $80 annually and in return, you receive all of the benefits listed above.

Sign-Up Bonuses

Though the sign-up offers vary based on timing and your specific account, the acquisition of both of these cards would net you a minimum of 100,000 points worth $2,000 in travel rewards. For this reason, I always tell folks who are on the fence about whether or not they would get enough from the cards to justify the annual fees, that the first year is a no-risk trial with the sign-up bonus considered!

Referrals

My blog content is provided free of charge. If you decide to apply for one or both of these cards, please consider using my referral links below and we will both receive a reward from American Express! Thanks for reading!

  1. American Express Gold Card (link)
  2. American Express Platinum Card (link)

The Hotel Upgrade

Preparing For Your Trip

When planning your vacation, I hope you develop a budget: I hope you identify how you will travel to your destination, where you will stay once you get there, which attractions you wish to visit, where you will dine out, any other incidentals expenses you will incur such as ground transportation and parking and how much all of that will cost. Then as your trip progresses, I hope you reconcile your expenses against your budget and ensure you are using the credit card that gives you the best redemption for your spend-categories. Easy!

But we forgot a budget: The Hotel Upgrade Budget – $20.00.

Tipping at Check-In

Though it may seem cliché, I have had incredible success with tipping at check-in over the years. In fact, I’ve only been denied ONCE because the hotel truly had no way to upgrade me and refused to accept my tip as a result. Every other time I’ve tipped $20 at check-in, I have received room upgrades and other perks that I would not have otherwise. $20 may seem like a steep tip, but while it may be generous, it is a small price to pay for an enhanced experience on your vacation.

Execution

The last thing you want to do is be awkward during this interaction. Execution is key: Every time you check-in to a hotel, you are required to provide a credit card for incidentals and a deposit. Fold the $20 numbers-up and hand the folded bill over with your credit card as you kindly ask the staff member: “Are there any room upgrades available today?” Be prepared to tip them that $20 just for looking without receiving an upgrade: Being entitled will get you nowhere, and you are owed nothing in exchange for the request.

What’s $20 Worth?

During our recent trip to New York City, I made this request and not only received a suite upgrade ($70/night value) but two drink tickets for the lobby bar ($30 value). Because we stayed at an independent property, I did not have elite status with the property chain and the $20 investment in our stay made all the difference. Though suite upgrades are often offered (based on availability) to us as elite members with Hilton, Marriott, SPG, IHG, etc., nothing is guaranteed. And your willingness to be generous in the uncertainty not only makes a positive difference for the staff member, it increases your chances that they will make an otherwise-difficult accommodation available to you.

Calculated Risk

Especially when you have an extended-stay planned, $20 can make a big impact to the person behind the counter while making very little impact on your vacation budget. Remember: You’re not entitled to anything for asking and acting otherwise will get you nowhere. But good things come to those who put good out there and the chances of your $20 being worthless is unlikely. So add $20 to your next vacation budget, and bring it in the form of a crisp bill ready for check-in. Worst case, you will be gratuitous.

2018 Rewards in Review

Another Year Gone

2018 was a wild year for us with big changes including the relocation of my wife who is now working in Nashville completing a postdoctoral appointment while I have remained in Seattle. As a result of our anticipated increase in travel, we increased our monthly spending for annual fees this year to an average monthly budget of $187. With that, we not only supported a bicoastal living arrangement but even fit in some personal vacations as well, all thanks to our reward points.

As in previous years, I meticulously tracked every dollar in and out with regard to credit card annual fees and reward redemptions in 2018 and I’m pleased to say we more than quintupled our budget by using the appropriate mix of cards and redemptions over the last twelve months.

500% Return on Investment

By budgeting $187/month for travel, and using it to pay for the annual fees on our credit cards in 2018, our monthly vacation budget became worth five-times that: $947/month. From an annual standpoint, we redeemed rewards valued at over $11,300 in 2018! For the second year in a row, the most frequent returns were from our AMEX Platinum Card which accounted for nine transactions and nearly 50 airport lounge visits; but that’s no surprise when you consider the list of benefits. The big return in 2018 came from our combined Alaska Cards where we not only used companion fares, but redeemed miles as well.

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Trip Summary

Here’s a look at some of the ways we put these points to work: Phoenix and Peoria for Spring Training; Maui, Hawaii; South Beach Miami and Key West; Nashville and Seattle trips; Lihue, Hawaii; and two trips to Las Vegas.

Where will you go in 2019?

No matter how you plan it, you’re sure to come out ahead when you strategically manage your point and mile redemption. Use signup bonuses to skyrocket you to a top-level redemption, and ensure you’re using the correct cards on your daily spending so you never miss out on a point – don’t be afraid to label your cards to keep yourself organized!

Happy New Year!

Why I’m Using the Hilton Aspire Card

Recently, Hilton increased all of their signup bonuses for their American Express cards including the Aspire Card; the high-end version of the branded card. This piqued my interest and caused me to consider the card’s addition to my wallet in 2019. The new sign up bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points seemed to make it worth my while alone.

In reviewing the details of the card, I ended up applying for the card that same day. As is typical for American Express, the card was express-shipped to me and I received it just two days later via UPS. The Aspire card carries a $450 annual fee without any trial period; however the signup bonus is valued at $1,200 which more than pays for the card in its first year. Here’s what else the card will do for you, and why you may decide to renew it in future years:

Diamond Status

Aspire cardholders receive complimentary, and immediate, Diamond Status with Hilton Honors; the top tier of the membership reward program. In addition to a myriad of inherited benefits, Diamond members are guaranteed Executive Lounge Access at properties offering them; and up to 1-bedroom Suite room type upgrades (up from Executive room types offered to Gold members).

$250 in Airline Incidentals

Similar to American Express’ other cards that offer airline incidentals, you must choose a single airline each year that you will redeem your incidentals with. Since I fly Alaska Airlines almost exclusively; they’re my choice. The $250 in airline incidentals will cover baggage fees, seat upgrades, change fees and in-flight food and beverage.

$250 in Hilton Resort Credits

Don’t be tricked by this one like I was! This is not a credit that can be used at just any Hilton. It is an annual credit reserved for one of 72 Hilton Resort properties listed here. However, with locations in the continental US, Hawaii, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, you’re sure to find a resort that fits nicely into your travel plans. Personally, I’m looking forward to using it during a future trip to Las Vegas.

14x Hilton Honors Bonus Points

With TPG’s latest valuation of 0.8 cents/point, Hilton points are far from the most valuable on the market. But with 14x bonus points on Hilton purchases, you are receiving 11.2% back on your Hilton purchases; this return can’t be beat with any other card on the market. The card also offers 5.6% back on dining (7x points), but this redemption is less attractive if you’re using the American Express Gold or Chase Sapphire Reserve cards which offer a higher redemption on dining.

$100 On-Property Credit

Hilton offers a $100 credit when you book a two-night-minimum stay at select properties. This isn’t the most straight-forward perk to redeem and therefore I wouldn’t consider it too heavily when weighing the worth of the card.

Priority Pass Select

If you don’t already have it with another card, the Aspire will also offer you unlimited airport lounge visits for you and up to two guests as allowed by Priority Pass.

A Free Weekend Night

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you will receive one free weekend night each year after renewal. This free night turns into two if you place $60,000 in charges on the card each calendar year. Depending on your travel plans for the year, even a single free night’s stay could pay for the card itself.

Referral

For the reasons above, and with Hilton reservations already on my itinerary in 2019, I was motivated to add the Aspire card to my wallet. If you’re interested in applying for the Aspire card yourself, please consider accessing the American Express site by using my referral link here.

Earning Elite Status

As you may be aware, I travel every two weeks while my wife and I maintain our lives in two states over the next few years. The journey officially began two months ago, and despite the abrupt halt to our “normal lives,” the upcoming travel presented an interesting opportunity: Earning elite status with an airline.

While it is very easy to “buy” status with hotels by having the right credit card in your wallet, the same is not true for airlines. The only way you can achieve elite status with an airline is to complete their flight-based requirements each year in order to earn and maintain the status. So naturally, I was very excited at the prospect of playing this through. Here is how I approached planning for this process:

Be Intentional from Day 1

There’s nothing worse than coming up a few hundred miles short on earning elite status; especially when you could have earned it had you done something differently! For that reason, all of your planning must be completed in advance of booking your first trip. After you know when and where you’re going, you must outline how you’ll do it and ensure you’re pleased with the end result.

Identify Where You’ll Be Flying

For me, this was easy. But for you, you may have multiple destinations you’re frequenting. Draft a spreadsheet with your origin cities and final destinations. Then research and document which airlines fly nonstop or with connecting flights between those destinations. You can use a service such as Expedia to research this rather quickly.

Compare the Contenders

In my case, Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines were the two options I had to fly nonstop between the two states. This was a nice list from the start given that Alaska’s mileage program is one of the true mileage-based programs left. Others, such as Delta, require that you not only fly a certain number of miles, but that you also spend a specific amount of dollars with the airline in order to earn elite status. This devalues flash-sales and other bargain fares which could cause you to spend more than you needed to in the first place.

In my case, I am traveling between Seattle and Nashville most frequently, with some outlier destinations scattered throughout, that fortunately, are served by both Alaska and Delta. My starting line couldn’t have been cleaner! I mapped out all of my planned itineraries both for the end of 2018, and through 2019 and pulled in data from both Alaska and Delta’s programs including dollars spent, elite miles earned, reward miles earned and flight times.

Considerations

For simplicity’s sake, there are three tiers of elite status comparable to one another between the two airlines both in terms of earning requirements and associated perks:

  1. MVP (Alaska) / Silver Medallion (Delta)
  2. MVP Gold (Alaska) / Gold Medallion (Delta)
  3. Gold 75K (Alaska) / Platinum Medallion (Delta)

Interestingly enough, after mapping out how my intended bookings would do for me, the same flights earned me higher status with Alaska Airlines than they did with Delta. The reason for this goes back to Alaska’s mileage-based program. When I traveled 3,944 miles round-trip between Seattle and Nashville, I earned that many elite miles with Alaska. When I flew that many miles with Delta, I only earned 2,270 elite miles (an arbitrary number). This resulted in a lower elite status with Delta due to “miles” flown. Additionally, even if I earned enough qualifying miles, if I hadn’t spent the required amount of dollars on those trips, I would not achieve that elite status. Alaska on the other hand, provides a mathematical and straightforward approach to their program and your ability to earn elite status.

Creative Compromise

For what it’s worth, I also considered splitting the difference. The main driver for this was that the ONLY airport lounge I have access to in Nashville is a Delta Sky Club, which only admits me when I’m flying Delta (using my AMEX Platinum card). So I considered an approach where I earned a lesser Elite Status with Alaska by only departing with them, and then booking all of my return flights with Delta to take advantage of the lounge. However, what ultimately dissuaded me was the terrible flight time for their nonstop departure (5:00 AM Seattle time) which would have all but prevented me from enjoying the lounge anyway. Just to be sure, I tested this out on a recent itinerary and confirmed it was undesirable. For reference, Alaska’s departure flight that day is an afternoon flight.

Perks of Loyalty

So I’m flying Alaska! By committing to the single airline, I will achieve MVP Gold in 2018 and Gold 75K (their highest elite status) in 2019. In addition to early boarding and seat upgrades, I will earn a 100% bonus on reward miles in 2018, and 125% bonus on flights in 2019. These miles will serve us well with free flights throughout the year and even allow us to redeem two round-trip tickets to Auckland, New Zealand for a future vacation!

Platinum or CSR? Why You May Choose Both.

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Choices

The American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve: These two cards are the power couple of the premium credit card world. Deciding which one is right for you can be tricky; so why not choose both?

I’m Not Crazy

While applying for not one, but two premium metal credit cards with a combined $1,000 annual fee may seem absurd to you, I’m here to provide you with the alternate narrative and tell you why we’ve decided to hold both cards in our wallet in 2018. Read on, and I will explain how $25/month will unlock a plethora of travel benefits for you and your loved ones this year.

Sign Up Bonuses

With the sign up bonuses offered by both cards, the rewards more than compensate you for the annual fees you incur in that first year. At the laziest redemption level, using points to purchase travel through the respective travel portals, you earn $1,350 from sign up bonuses in exchange for the $1,000 in annual fees; a $350 profit if you plan to travel this year.

Annual Fees vs. Credits

The American Express Platinum card carries a $550 annual fee, while offering $200 back in Uber credits and $200 back in airline incidentals. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card carries a $450 annual fee, while offering $300 back in travel credits. If you assume you will spend money with Uber or Uber Eats, the airlines and by traveling anyway, then each card only costs you $150.

Takeaway

For the two cards, it will cost you just $300/year, or $25/month, while affording you these benefits all year long:

What is the perk? How will I use it? Where did I earn it?
$200 worth of airline incidental reimbursements Lounge passes, in-flight food and beverage, baggage fees and seat upgrades
$200 worth of Uber /
Uber Eats reimbursements
Whether you need a ride, or want dinner delivered to you, you can use these credits to accomplish that
$300 worth of travel reimbursement The most generous of benefits: Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, etc.
Priority Pass Membership with up to two guests Great for Alaska Air and The Club Lounges
Priority Pass Membership with unlimited guests The Club Lounges…now with more friends!
Centurion Airport Lounge Access My favorite lounge in Las Vegas
Sky Club Airport Lounge Access when flying Delta My favorite lounge in Seattle
Primary Rental Car Insurance This can be better than your own auto policy with the $75K coverage including Loss of Use
10% back on airfare purchases 5X Points valued at $0.02 each
6.6% back on dining (restaurant, bar) purchases  3X Points valued at $0.022 each
6.6% back on travel (hotel, taxi) purchases  3X Points valued at $0.022 each
Boingo Wifi Membership Unlimited access to over a million WiFi hotspots
 SPG Gold Status Room upgrades and more with Sheraton, Westin and other SPG Hotel Brands
Marriott Gold Status Marriott honors SPG status so add them to your list of elite partners
Hilton Gold Status In case that wasn’t enough, you’ll also be covered at Hilton properties too
Trip Cancellation Insurance Up to $10,000 per trip
Baggage Delay Credit $100/day per bag
Trip Delay Credit  Up to $500 per ticket
Price Protection  Up to $500 per item

Referral Links

Well, what do you think? If you decide to apply for one or both cards, please use my referral link below to net me some bonus points in addition to the ones you’ll receive!

Click here to apply for the American Express Platinum Card and earn 60,000 points!

Chase Changes Terms on the IHG Card

As I’ve told you before, one of my “keepers” has been the IHG Card from Chase due to it offering a free hotel night at any of their properties in exchange for the $49 annual fee each year. Earlier this week, I received a letter from Chase explaining that the “Anniversary Free Nights issued after May 1, 2018 will [only] be redeemable at eligible IHG hotels with a redemption value up to and including 40,000 points. In addition, a “premier card” is hinted at for the future. My supposition is that Chase would ultimately like to offer two IHG card options: The original $49 card with lower value; and a premium card with a larger annual fee and better benefits for frequent guests. While I don’t have a problem with the addition of a premium card, it is very disappointing that Chase is downgrading the perks on customers’ existing cards. Especially since it will require many card holders to cancel these long-held accounts if the benefits no longer offer value for their situation.

Update: Just days after receiving this notification, I was contacted by Chase to help develop the “IHG Card of the Future.” I’m looking forward to that opportunity!

 

2017 Rewards in Review

Annual Fees

In 2017, we spent almost $800 on annual fees for five credit cards. That number may seem staggering, but we used the rewards associated with those cards to redeem nearly $6,000 in travel! Often times, cards that carry an annual fee also carry several benefits that, when used appropriately, can make for quite the lucrative hobby. By budgeting $66.50/month for travel (used entirely on annual fees), our monthly vacation budget became worth $497.48/month thanks to the reward redemption and associated benefits.

spend by card pie
Note: The annual fees associated with the Alaska Air and Citi HHonors credit cards were paid in 2016, but some of the rewards were redeemed in 2017.

Return on Investment

We tracked every dollar spent and earned through this process using Mint, and as you will see from the charts, we netted $5,171.78 in 2017. The largest return was from our AMEX Platinum Card which originated a whopping 36 redemption this year; but that’s no surprise when you consider the list of benefits. A close second was the return from our combined Alaska Cards where we not only used companion fares, but redeemed miles as well.

Note: Our trip to Tokyo that we took last April was funded in 2016 using points so those are not reflected in the analysis above.

Trip Summary

Here’s a look at some of the ways we put these points to work:

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Three Trips to Las Vegas

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Tokyo, Japan

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Hyatt Olive 8 – Seattle

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A Private Island – New Jersey

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New Year’s at the Needle – Seattle

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50 Free Uber Rides

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Victoria, British Columbia – 2018

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Peoria, AZ – MLB Spring Training – 2018

miami
South Beach – Miami – 2018

Where will you go in 2018?

No matter how you plan it, you’re sure to come out ahead when you strategically manage your point and mile redemption. Use signup bonuses to skyrocket you to a top-level redemption, and ensure you’re using the correct cards on your daily spending so you never miss out on a point – don’t be afraid to label your cards to keep yourself organized!

Happy New Year!

Why the AMEX Platinum is Worth $550

I’ve been a happy holder of the American Express Platinum card since the beginning of the year, and despite my original intent to churn the card, I’ve been surprised to realize its value and I expect to renew it in 2018. To tell you more about my perceived value of this card, I’ve developed a Q&A below.

What is a quick summary of the top benefits provided to the cardholder? 

  • $200/year in Uber Credits
  • $200/year in Airline Fee reimbursements
  • Gold status with hotels: Marriott, SPG and Hilton
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre Check
  • $100/year in Saks credits
  • Airport lounge access with Centurion Lounge, Delta Sky Club and Preferred Pass which grants access to the Alaska Airline lounges among others

I’m worried I won’t get the value of $550 I put into the card, should I still apply? Absolutely. Because the first year is risk free with the 60,000 point signup bonus. Though I would implore you to find a more economical redemption, you could technically redeem those points for a $600 statement credit which would more than cover the annual fee.

What sets this card apart from other luxury cards? The status!! Status with hotels, rental cars, and better lounge access.

This card earns 5X reward points (nearly 10% back) on airfare purchases, and travel purchases through AMEX Travel. But is this a card to use for all purchases? All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. I have three main cards, and will use different ones for restaurant and gas purchases when I’m feeling thrifty because much better “points/cash back” exist for those categories. However, the purchase protection on this card is incredible (protect eligible purchases made on your Card – up to $10,000 – when they’re accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost, for up to 90 days from the date of purchase), so I use it for any “big ticket” items I purchase.

How does this card earn you Gold status with Marriott? This one’s harder to identify, but the perks exists because Marriott bought SPG and they are matching status. So the card gets you Gold SPG, and then when you link your Marriott account to your SPG account, your status is matched to Gold Marriott. URL for linking your accounts.

This card reimburses $200 in airline fees a year; I avoid fees. Is this still helpful? The $200 fee reimbursement will credit against baggage fees, seat upgrades and in-flight food and beverage charges. So whether you establish a budget for enjoying a treat in the air, or upgrading your seats before you board, think of it as your annual travel perk budget. The reimbursement is also helpful if you find yourself needing to make a last minute change as change fees will be reimbursed as well.

So what’s the takeaway? When you consider the airline and Uber credits (which can also be used for Uber Eats), this card only costs you $150/year. For that, you’ll likely be upgraded at any Marriott, SPG or Hilton property you stay at, enjoy the best airport lounge access available from a card benefit and receive nearly 10% back on airfare purchases. Going to spend $1,500 on airfare this year? The card just paid for itself.

Thanks for reading. If you decide to pull the trigger, use my referral link which will net me 10K points while getting you the 60K.