A veritable cottage industry has formed in recent years around travel hacking, mostly focusing on how to accumulate as many miles as possible for airline reward redemption. The whales of these strategies are the giant mileage bonuses offered by bank and co-branded airline credit cards.
But, given the depth of card choice, which card is the most rewarding?
After combing through the deep, dark depths of the reward cards’ terms of service, IdeaWorks, in Switchfly-sponsored research, has come to the following conclusion based on some serious calculator jockeying:
American Express, Barclays, Chase, Citibank and Southwest are the most rewarding. American, Delta, US Airways and United cards offer travel perks but higher reward thresholds.
Here’s the breakdown of the average value of these rewards credit cards:
As you can see, there are some very clear differences in mileage rewards delivered by the various cards – especially after considering any sign-up bonuses offered.
These differences show very clearly that the co-branded cards are better for frequent flyers looking to redeem international premium travel, while the bank rewards cards are ideal for mostly domestic travel.
When considering the average domestic flight round-trip cost of $367 (third quarter 2012), the redemption value of the bank rewards cards allows faster purchase for those seeking domestic travel. Chase Sapphire offers over 2 domestic ticket rewards, and even the lowest value card, the AMEX Blue Sky, provides the equivalent of 1.5 domestic flights.
When considering international premium travel, the picture changes drastically as the airline co-branded cards really show their value: Read more