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Travel What credit cards with annual travel credits are still useful during the pandemic?

10:25  03 april  2021
10:25  03 april  2021 Source:   thepointsguy.com

Best cash back credit cards of 2021

  Best cash back credit cards of 2021 Put one of the best cash back credit cards in your purse or wallet and make sure you're earning bonus cash back in all the places you shop the most every day.The old saying "Cash is king" might never have been as true as it is right now. While many people like to use their credit card to earn travel points or miles that they can redeem for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, those plans are on hold for many at the moment thanks to the pandemic.

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. Citi is a TPG advertising partner.

Travel rewards credit cards entice new cardholders with flashy sign-up bonuses and waived annual fees during the first year. However, many of the premium rewards cards on the market also offer ongoing travel benefits. These perks include not only things such as airport lounge access and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursements, but also annual statement credits toward travel purchases.

The best no annual fee credit cards

  The best no annual fee credit cards New to miles and points (or credit cards in general) and trying to understand why any sucker would pay an annual fee just for the privilege of using a credit card, especially when there are so many free credit cards on the market? That’s a phase we’ve all gone through. And while the best credit cards […]You may be surprised, but many no-annual-fee cards earn more points than some cards with high annual fees, though they have fewer amazing benefits. That makes them great complements to your powerhouse travel credit cards. Plus, certain no-annual-fee cards have phenomenal welcome bonuses.

This benefit can vary from a flat $300 per year for a wide variety of travel purchases, like you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, to $200 specifically for non-ticket airline incidentals with The Platinum Card® from American Express, or $300 toward purchases with a specific hotel chain, like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card confers.

But during the pandemic, travel-centric benefits like these credits became much less useful as many put travel on pause.

Thankfully, in 2020 many credit card issuers adjusted to make credits more versatile so that cardholders could apply them to other expenses while they were staying home. Today, we’ll walk through which cards have annual travel credits and whether or not they’ve been adjusted to include other purchases in light of the pandemic continuing into 2021.

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee worth it with new benefits and temporarily lowered fee?

  Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee worth it with new benefits and temporarily lowered fee? The Chase Sapphire Reserve® consistently ranks as one of the best travel credit cards. It may even be the best premium card out there. But the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is $550, not waived the first year. You might ask yourself if the card benefits are enough to make paying the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual […]But the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is $550, not waived the first year. You might ask yourself if the card benefits are enough to make paying the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee worth it. After all, cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card come with a $95 fee and a higher welcome bonus — 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

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Credit cards with annual travel credits

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Citi Prestige® Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
  • U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
  • American Express® Gold Card

The information for the Citi Prestige, Hilton Aspire Amex card and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Card Travel credit Welcome bonus/sign-up bonus Annual fee Expanded?
Chase Sapphire Reserve Up to $300 general travel 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in first three months. $550 Yes; Use your credit on gas and groceries through June 30, 2021
Citi Prestige Up to $250 general travel 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in first three months. $495 Yes; Use your credit on groceries and dining through the end of 2021.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Up to $250 on Hilton purchases, up to $250 on airline incidentals 150,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $4,000 in first three months. Terms apply.

$450

The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance

  The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. No one expects their trip to be canceled or interrupted. But, things happen. Perhaps a family member is suddenly hospitalized. Or, maybe an emergency makes your home uninhabitable and you have to oversee repairs. You might even be the one that’s injured or hospitalized. …No one expects their trip to be canceled or interrupted. But, things happen. Perhaps a family member is suddenly hospitalized. Or, maybe an emergency makes your home uninhabitable and you have to oversee repairs. You might even be the one that’s injured or hospitalized.

(See rates and fees)

No
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Up to $325 general travel 50,000 points after you spend $4,500 in first 90 days. $400 Yes; Use your credit on travel as well as dining, including takeout and delivery.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Up to $300 toward Marriott purchases Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.

$450

What cards with annual travel credits are still useful during the pandemic?

  What cards with annual travel credits are still useful during the pandemic? Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. Citi is a TPG advertising partner. Travel rewards credit cards entice new cardholders with flashy sign-up bonuses and waived annual fees during the first year. However, many of the premium rewards cards on the market also offer ongoing travel benefits. These perks include not only things …Travel rewards credit cards entice new cardholders with flashy sign-up bonuses and waived annual fees during the first year. However, many of the premium rewards cards on the market also offer ongoing travel benefits.

(See rates and fees)

No.
Platinum Card from American Express Up to $200 for airline incidentals, up to $200 for Uber 75,000 points after you spend $5,000 in first six months of account opening (possibly higher through CardMatch). Terms apply.

$550

(See rates and fees)

No; Although the Uber credits can be put toward Uber Eats orders.
Business Platinum Card from American Express Up to $200 for airline incidentals 85,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card plus earn 5x points on eligible purchases in 5 select business categories, up to 80,000 bonus points per category, all within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms apply.

$595

How to qualify for a small-business credit card and why you should get one

  How to qualify for a small-business credit card and why you should get one We’ve done the research on requirements for getting a small-business credit card. Spoiler alert: It’s less intimidating than you think. You don’t need a full-time business with employees or six-figure revenue. It’s possible to qualify for a small-business credit card with a part-time side hustle or a freelance gig. A number of the best credit […]A number of the best credit cards for travel are also small-business cards, like the popular Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, our top pick for business owners. Earning bonuses on business cards is a fantastic way to boost your miles and point balances to get you closer to your dream vacation.

(See rates and fees)

No.
Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ credit card Up to $100 for airline incidentals 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. $95 No.
Amex Gold Card Up to $100 for Uber Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms apply.

$250

(See rates and fees)

No; Although the Uber credits can also be applied to Uber Eats orders.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

a hand holding a cell phone: (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual travel credit: $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for a broad range of travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. This credit must be spent before you earn higher points per dollar (3x) spent on travel. Through June 30, 2021, you can use your travel credit on gas and grocery purchases, too.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Annual fee: $550

Other benefits: The Chase Sapphire Reserve is widely considered one of the best all-around travel rewards credit cards thanks to its slate of chart-topping benefits. In addition to that annual travel statement credit, cardholders earn unlimited 3x points per dollar on travel and dining worldwide. Ultimate Rewards points transfer to 10 airline partners including United and JetBlue, and three hotel partners including Hyatt, IHG and Marriott. Points may also be redeemed directly through the Chase Travel Portal for 1.5 cents apiece. Cardholders can access Priority Pass lounges and can be reimbursed once every four years for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. Waived foreign transaction fees.

The 8 best credit cards that have annual fees under $100

  The 8 best credit cards that have annual fees under $100 Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers. Annual fees are generally worth it when you can maximize a credit card’s benefits and earning structure. But, it’s understandable to be hesitant to add too many premium travel rewards cards with high annual fees to your wallet. The credit card …Annual fees are generally worth it when you can maximize a credit card’s benefits and earning structure. But, it’s understandable to be hesitant to add too many premium travel rewards cards with high annual fees to your wallet.

During the pandemic, Chase has added multiple ways to make its travel cards more valuable. For the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that means cardholders can currently use their $300 travel credit for travel, gas and groceries through June 30, 2021. Additionally, you’ll earn 3x on grocery purchases through April 30, 2021.

Citi Prestige

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual travel credit: Up to $250 worth of annual travel statement credits each calendar year toward travel purchases including airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, commuter transportation, subways, taxis, train tickets, etc. Citi has expanded this credit to include dining and supermarkets through the end of 2021.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $495

Other benefits: The Citi Prestige earns an incredible 5x points per dollar at restaurants and on air travel, 3x points per dollar at hotels and on cruise lines and one point per dollar on all other purchases. Citi ThankYou points transfer to 16 airline partner programs including Air France/KLM Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Cardholders can enter Priority Pass lounges and receive the fourth night free on up to two hotel stays per year when booking through the Citi concierge or online at thankyou.com. You won’t pay foreign transaction fees. You can receive Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement once every five years.

Hilton Honors Aspire American Express Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Annual travel credit: Enjoy up to $250 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts, plus up to $250 back each year for airline incidentals such as checked bags and seat selection.

My top 3 picks for the best cobranded hotel card

  My top 3 picks for the best cobranded hotel card Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. I have five hotel credit cards. And my husband has another five hotel credit cards. But, we believe each of these 10 cards provides enough perks to justify paying its annual fee for the foreseeable future. In particular, most of these hotel credit cards offer …I have five hotel credit cards. And my husband has another five hotel credit cards. But, we believe each of these 10 cards provides enough perks to justify paying its annual fee for the foreseeable future. In particular, most of these hotel credit cards offer an annual free night that can more than justify the annual fee before even considering any other perks.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Other benefits: The card earns a whopping 14x points per dollar on Hilton purchases; 7x points per dollar on flights booked through Amex Travel or directly through airlines, on car rentals and at US restaurants; and 3x points per dollar on everything else. It comes with automatic top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status, an annual free weekend night and Priority Pass Select lounge access. Get up to $100 in credits for qualifying charges at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts when booking two-night-minimum stays via HiltonHonors.com/aspirecard.

Amex also added some temporary benefits due to the pandemic that help make this card more valuable even while you’re not traveling. Namely, get up to $20 back per month at U.S. restaurants (up to 11 times for a total potential savings of up to $220).

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual travel credit: Up to $325 in statement credits per cardmember year for purchases made directly from airlines, hotels, car rental companies, taxis, limousines, passenger trains and cruise lines. U.S. Bank has updated the card’s landing page to state that this credit can now also be applied to takeout, food delivery and dining purchases.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,500 within 90 days of account opening.


Gallery: 10 Credit Cards To Consider for Travel Rewards (GOBankingRates)

a bird sitting on top of a sandy beach: Create a budget that accounts for all of your necessary expenses, plus contributions to your savings and retirement fund. If you have money left over, don’t be afraid to use it for discretionary spending! Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s famous 50/30/20 budget rule advises dedicating 50% of your after-tax income to needs, 30% to wants and 20% to savings. As long as you keep your discretionary spending within your budget, you should not feel worry or guilt each time you buy something for pure enjoyment.

Annual fee: $400

Other benefits: Earn 5x points on prepaid hotel bookings made through the Altitude Rewards Center, 3x points per dollar on travel and mobile wallet purchases as well as takeout, food delivery and dining through June 30, 2021, and 1x point per dollar on everything else. Cardholders can redeem points for 1.5 cents apiece on airfare, hotels and car rentals booked through the Altitude Rewards Center, and lower values for other purchases. If used mostly for travel, your rate of return is a considerable 4.5%. Get 12 complimentary Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes each year, a 12-month Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access, reimbursement for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years, and waived foreign transaction fees.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

a book sitting on top of a wooden table: (Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy) © Provided by The Points Guy (Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

Annual travel credit: Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Unfortunately, you can’t apply this credit to other purchases at this time.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Other benefits: This card has almost too many other benefits to mention. It earns 6x points per dollar on Marriott purchases, 3x points at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x points per dollar on everything else. It confers Priority Pass Select membership for lounge access, and provides Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement once every 4.5 years. Cardholders receive automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold status (and Platinum status if they hit $75,000 in calendar-year spend), complimentary premium in-room internet and a free anniversary award worth up to 50,000 points each year. You can also get up to $100 in credit for qualifying charges by using your card to book a special rate on stays of two nights or more at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis properties.

Like with the Hilton Amex cards, there are some temporary benefits that have been added during the pandemic, including up to $20 back per month at U.S. restaurants (up to 11 times).

The Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

The long-reigning premium rewards product, the Platinum Card, has remained a top choice for luxury travelers thanks to its many benefits.

Annual travel credit: Up to $200 back on airline incidental fees charged by the carrier you select each year. Unfortunately, airfare itself does not count per the terms. Cardholders can score up to $200 in annual Uber credits, too.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first six months.

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Other benefits: This card has plenty of perks to justify its high annual fee. Earn 5x points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or Amex Travel and prepaid hotels purchased through Amex Travel. You can transfer the Membership Rewards points you earn with this card to a total of 22 airline and hotel partners. There’s also up to $100 in credit at Saks Fifth Avenue plus a statement credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every 4.5 years.

The card gets you into Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass lounge access, plus Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta. At hotels, enjoy value-added benefits when booking stays through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts plus Gold status with Hilton Honors and Gold Elite status with Marriott. Through Amex’s International Airline Program, cardholders can get discounts on premium economy, business- and first-class tickets on 25 airlines.

Amex added some temporary benefits due to the pandemic that help make this card more valuable even while you don’t travel. For example, you’ll get an up-to-$30 monthly PayPal credit through June 30, 2021, for a total of up to $180 in PayPal statement credits.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

The business version of the Platinum Card offers similar benefits as the personal version, plus some great additional ones.

Annual travel credit: Up to $200 back on airline incidental fees charged by the carrier you select each year.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 85,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card plus earn 5x points on eligible purchases in 5 select business categories, up to 80,000 bonus points per category, all within the first 3 months of card membership. Terms Apply.

Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)

Other benefits: In addition to the perks that the personal version confers, the Business Platinum Card also offers up to $200 in annual statement credits for Dell technology purchases. Cardholders can count on a 50% points bonus (1.5x per dollar) on purchases over $5,000, up to 1 million bonus points a year, plus a 35% rebate when redeeming points for airfare booked through amextravel.com on their selected qualifying airline, or for business or first class tickets on any airline.

Amex added some temporary benefits that you can take advantage of while you aren’t traveling as much including earning 5x Membership Rewards points (a bonus of 4x points) through June 30, 2021, on eligible U.S. purchases made across shipping, wireless, advertising, gas and office supplies categories. You must activate these elevated bonuses through Amex Offers and can earn up to 80,000 bonus points per category.

Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ credit card

a hand holding a cell phone: (Photo by The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by The Points Guy)

Annual travel credit: Cardholders can enjoy up to $100 in statement credits for airline incidentals like checked bags, seat selections or upgrades each year.

Current welcome bonus: Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $95

Other benefits: This card has a solid rate of return. Cardholders earn 2x points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1.5x points per dollar on everything else.

You can boost your earning 25%-75% depending on how much you have in deposits with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Points can be redeemed for statement credits, gift cards and purchases through the Bank of America Travel Center, or as a deposit to a Bank of America account at a rate of one cent apiece. The card waives foreign exchange fees and will reimburse cardholders for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years.

American Express® Gold Card

a hand holding a piece of luggage: (Photo by The Points Guy) © Provided by The Points Guy (Photo by The Points Guy)

Annual travel credit: Up to $120 in Uber credits each year — up to $10 monthly delivered in the form of Uber Cash that can be used on U.S. Uber rides and Uber Eats purchases, which makes them especially versatile.

Current welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months (though some folks might be eligible for a higher targeted bonus via the CardMatch Tool. These offers are subject to change at any time.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Other benefits: Cardholders now earn 4x points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases each year, then one point), 3x points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amex Travel, and 1x point per dollar on everything else. Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations.

Bottom line

Whether you prefer a travel rewards card that earns transferable points, a hotel co-branded one, or a card that earns fixed-value points, there are some phenomenal options that offer annual travel statement credits. Picking one of them will ensure you continue to get value from your credit card long after you’ve earned its welcome bonus and paid its annual fee.

This particular perk is one of the most compelling reasons to continue carrying a specific credit card and take advantage of it for free flights, hotel nights and other travel purchases year after year. This year, though, some cards have thankfully either expanded the use of their existing credits or have added new ones to help users get the most out of their cards during a time when most people are staying home.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, please click here.

Featured image by Rattanakun Thongbun / EyeEm/Getty Images.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

My top 3 picks for the best cobranded hotel card .
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. I have five hotel credit cards. And my husband has another five hotel credit cards. But, we believe each of these 10 cards provides enough perks to justify paying its annual fee for the foreseeable future. In particular, most of these hotel credit cards offer …I have five hotel credit cards. And my husband has another five hotel credit cards. But, we believe each of these 10 cards provides enough perks to justify paying its annual fee for the foreseeable future. In particular, most of these hotel credit cards offer an annual free night that can more than justify the annual fee before even considering any other perks.

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