The Cards I Am Now Using For Travel Expenses

I have a quandary. I’m no longer sure what card to use for my travel expenses. It used to be pretty clear cut. There was the card I used when I wanted to get travel protection. I had a card that earned the most points for expenses that other cards didn’t cover. I even had a card to use for my tolls and UBER expenses.

Well, things change. Some cards devalue while others become more valuable. So where do I sit right now when it comes to travel charges?

Airfare

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For airfare expenses, I’m going with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This is a change from my previous choice, the Citi Prestige. While the Prestige still earns 5X ThankYou points for air travel (including purchases from Online Travel Agents which are excluded by other cards), they removed all of the travel protections from the card.

The Sapphire Reserve earns 3X for air travel. This is less than the AMEX Business Gold which can earn up to 4X on airfare sold by airlines and the 3X paid by the AMEX Green Card for all travel expenses. However, the AMEX cards only offer baggage insurance where the Sapphire Reserve offers trip delay and cancellation insurance along with emergency evacuation coverage.

Now I don’t have the AMEX Platinum which also offers 5X points on airfare but without the travel insurance coverages, I’d still go with the Sapphire.

While there are several airline co-brand cards I could use for airfare purchases, I don’t find any of them to be more valuable than a transferrable points card.

Hotels

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Hotel spending is the one area where it’s really a toss-up which card to use. There are a bunch of cards that earn 3X points for hotels. Here are just some of them.

That’s not including the hotel co-brand cards that give bonus miles for purchases at their hotels:

This is really a toss-up. I don’t need insurance coverage for hotel stays because I almost never book a non-refundable hotel room. It all comes down to which points I want to earn. While some of the hotel point bonuses are great, transferrable points are worth more to me than ones locked to a single program. I used to pick Chase Ultimate Rewards points over Citi ThankYou points so I used my Sapphire Reserve.

However, now that the AMEX Green Card is earning 3X points for hotel expenses, that’s the card we’re going to start using for our hotel stays. I personally I’d rather earn AMEX Membership Rewards because I’m more familiar with AMEX’s partners for redemptions.

Rental Cars

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This is an easy one. Chase Sapphire Reserve.

It provides primary rental car insurance and earns 3X Ultimate Rewards. Other cards like the United MileagePlus and the Sapphire Preferred also have primary coverage but earn fewer points and the limits of the Reserve are higher.

Mass transit, Ride-Sharing and Parking

This is a category much like hotels where I can just pick a card based on points earning. Several cards earn 3x points in these categories:

An interesting player in this category is the World of Hyatt card which earns 2x points for local transit and commuting, including taxis, mass transit, tolls and ride-share services.

All other things being equal, our charges in this category are going on the AMEX Green Card for the same reason were putting hotel charges on the card.

Final Thoughts

Of course, these calculations will be different depending on which cards you have and how much you value each type of point. I could easily have said I use our JetBlue Plus card for airfare for that airline since it earns 6X TrueBlue points per dollar. If you like to fly on United, you might value Chase Ultimate Rewards more than I do.

I needed to re-evaluate my calculations with the recent changes to the Citi Prestige and the AMEX Green Card. I’ve made some major changes to which cards I use for certain expenses. Maybe your calculations are different than mine.

That’s fine. Your Mileage May Vary. 

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

3 thoughts on “The Cards I Am Now Using For Travel Expenses”

  1. I use the Chase Reserve for the same reasons you do. I would be using the CITI Prestige all the time except for them gutting the travel benefits. Now, like you I would rather get fewer points on the CR in exchange for very valuable protection benefits. It’s a no brainer. I will probably cancel my CITI Prestige next year.

    1. I’m planning on changing the Prestige to a Double Cash. We already have a Premier so I’ll still be able to transfer points to airlines.

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