What’s the Best Travel Rewards Card to Get Right Now?

We’re excited to say that what we felt like was already the best card available has now gotten even better with a 50k bonus for an undetermined limited time. The links in this post and on the right sidebar will take you to the 50k offer.

“Best” is, of course, a relative term, and yet we get this question ALL the time.  I generally try to answer by asking some questions of my own: “Would you like to travel internationally or domestic?” “Do you normally spend $1000/mo on everyday expenses?” “What airlines service your closest airport(s)?” All of these may potentially feed into what may be the “best” travel rewards card for every individual.

Yet there are some considerations that are universal – and one of those is scarcity – which reminds me of a story.

As I have written before, I am the oldest of four boys, and as the oldest, I always held a strategic edge over them when it came to cold, calculating slyness. My mom used to buy these 36-packs of Pop-Tarts from Sam’s Club, and they came with three flavors – cherry, strawberry, and brown sugar & cinnamon. Of the four of us, I was the only brother who actually enjoyed the brown sugar & cinnamon Pop-Tarts… the other three would eat only the cherry and strawberry.

A natural resolution would have been for me to eat what the others didn’t prefer, and let them eat what they enjoyed… but that wouldn’t have been cold, calculating, and sly. The element of scarcity didn’t exist in the brown sugar & cinnamon Pop-Tarts, but it did in the cherry and strawberry, which is why I always opted to eat the fruity ones first, and then to enjoy the others without any competition.

I tell this story because it’s because of scarcity that I’m going to name the US Airways Premier World MasterCard® as the best travel rewards credit card you can get right now. It’s scarce because US Airways is merging with American Airlines, and it’s presumably only a matter of time before the card is no longer available.  The same thing happened with the AirTran card when they merged with Southwest, and I didn’t take my own advice and let that one slip by without getting it to join the list of 39 travel reward credit cards I’ve applied for and recieved over 3 million points in bonuses on over the past 4 years.

But if “scarcity” were the only reason I liked this card, it wouldn’t be nearly enough for me to say it’s the best option out there.  There are a lot of reasons this card is such a great way to build your reward balances up.

  • No spending requirement: Unlike many other cards, this one doesn’t require you to make thousands of dollars in purchases to get your 40k bonus.  In fact, it’s applied after your very first purchase – be it $1 or $100.
  • A 5k discount for booking reward flights with US Airways: This makes it so that the 40k bonus could actually get you 2 roundtrip domestic flights.
  • The $99 companion pass: In addition to the bonus, you’ll also recieve a companion pass that will allow you to have up to two companions travel with you on a paid flight for nothing more than $99 and the taxes.  Show me a coupon, any coupon that will save you the kind of money this does – we’re talking $500+.
  • A free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions on the same itinerary: We are talking up to $250 in value on a RT flight with this one.  This is a great way to make those pesky fees go away.
  • The combination of US Airways and American AAdvantage programs: In Q2 of 2015, we’ll see the two airlines’ loyalty programs merge and your miles will become AAdvantage miles – which are far and away the most efficient airline miles in all of frequent flyerdom.  Those 40k points could get you a RT flight to Europe!
  • The possibility of switching your account to a no annual-fee card after your first year: They don’t promote this, but I know of many cases in which cardholders have been able to change their card account to a no-annual fee version, keeping the line open to extend the length of your average credit history (helping your credit), but still avoiding continuous fees.

That said, there are some drawbacks.

  • There is an $89 annual fee, not waived for the first year.
  • The companion pass is only valid for flights in the US and Canada.
  • This card is really only available to people with excellent credit (Above 725).

And really those are hardly drawbacks.  That’s where it comes back to what we keep saying about this whole world of travel reward credit card bonuses – it’s really the only thing there is that sounds too good to be true, but isn’t.

What will 50k US Airways/AAdvantage miles get you?

This is where it gets really exciting.

  • 1 round-trip ticket to Europe, plus a domestic one-way flight
  • 2 domestic round trip tickets (Including Alaska and Canada)
  • 1 round-trip ticket to Northern South America (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador), plus 1 domestic roundtrip ticket
  • 1 round-trip ticket to Central America (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador), plus 1 domestic roundtrip ticket
  • 2 round-trip tickets to the Carribbean

The only way to really help you, our readers, understand just how amazing it really is, is to tell you how it’s worked for us and how it’s working for hundreds of others who visit our blog each day.

I still have my US Airways miles that I got from this card and so does my wife, so there’s no awesome story about using these miles – at least not yet.  But I can tell you how I’ve done some other incredible things.

Or, take it from our readers and see the list of guest posts that have been written by our readers over the past 4 years.

Now, you tell me, is it too good to be true? Or is it too good to ignore?

Start wanderlusting with us and pick up the US Airways Premier World MasterCard®.

Double your award bonus to 100k by applying separately for your spouse.

Mini FAQ (a longer FAQ post here)

  • Doesn’t it hurt my credit? We have an entire post dedicated to this subject, but the short answer is: not much.  As long as you make your payments on time and in full, the impact to your credit score will be minimal.
  • If I decide I don’t want to keep the card, can I still keep the points? Yes, the AAdvantage mileage program just requires “activity” every 18 months to retain your points.
  • Is it impossible to find dates to use the points?  American is actually pretty good about this – far better than Delta. The more flexibility you have, the better off you’ll be. Finding the MileSAAver level awards is certainly possible, though.  Sometimes I use different airports and the nice thing about AA is that you can also fly into one airport and out of another one.
  • Can I only fly on AA? No, AA is merging with US Airways and many of the flights available are still theirs.  I’m flying to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines with AA miles.  You can also find routings on Air Berlin, Iberia Airlines, and British Airways – though I don’t recommend flying BA in Europe because of their massive fuel surcharges.
  • Is booking it complicated? No, AA.com is simple and intuitive. You won’t have any trouble using their online system – plus they allow you to hold an itinerary for 24 hours which allows you to pin something down and then think about it.
  • Could I use all the points for a single Business Class ticket? Yes, as you can see in the award chart, the requirements for Business Class tickets are roughly double.  If you’re in need of greater comfort, it’s certainly an option.
  • Are there hotel cards that could get me free hotel stays, too? But of course. Click the category dropdown in the right sidebar and see all our posts on various hotel programs.
  • Could my spouse apply for these cards, too? Yes, now you’re catching the vision, you greedy wanderluster.
  • How long will this last? Well, the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is most certainly on its way out.  With the programs finalizing the merger next year, it won’t be around for long.  The Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® offer has been around for a while, but who knows when and how they may change it.

Still have questions? Comment or check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

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7 Responses to What’s the Best Travel Rewards Card to Get Right Now?

  1. Benjamin says:

    New to the warderlust world. Applied for and was approved Friday. I am wondering how and when my next round of applications should go. My wife and I are interested in the Hawaiian airlines package. How long should we wait to apply? Best to app o Rama and pick up the Carlton at the same time? Current score is 759 and paying down a balance on my amex

    • Ben! Love to see you getting on board. We’ve been hearing about all kinds of new WorldWanderlusters embarking on a world of almost-free travel.

      First off, get that Amex balance gone. The world really opens up to you when you have no debt and great credit. You have the great credit piece, now just get that bugger gone.

      The Hawaiian Airlines card is also offered by Barclays, and a good rule of thumb is to space applications with the same issuer at least 30 if not 60 days apart. Do you live in a Hawaiian Airlines hub? You could get the Citi Platinum Select card and accumulate 50k AA miles after a $3000 minimum spend – those 50k will more than get you to Hawaii. We went in November for 35k.

      The App-o-rama is nice if you’re going for 3+ at once and won’t have a problem meeting the minimum spend for various cards inside the window without ‘manufactured’ spending.

      I love the Club Carlson card – it’s one I will keep forever.

      Brad

      • Benjamin says:

        Thanks Brad. I am seeing this a bit late. My fault. I applied to the Hawaiian and now an under review. Lesson learned. I’ll slow down a bit and space out the applications until the amex is paid off. Thanks for the tutelage.

  2. Shay says:

    My wife and I just signed up for the US Air Premier World Master card. We both have over 800 credit scores and were not accepted right away. They said they had to look at our applications a little closer and would send us a letter on the decision. Any thoughts or experience on not being accepted right away? I hope that we are accepted and can get 100k points. I wanted to see if you would recommend also having both my wife and I applying for the Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® for another 50k US Air/American Air points for a total of 200k between both of us?
    I want to thank you for this site and information on how to travel the free/cheap way. A month ago in November, me, my wife and daughter went on a 7 day cruise out of Galveston, TX to Cozumel, Belize and Roatan, Honduras. The whole trip was free minus a few small fee’s. It included the cruise, round trip airfare from Boise to Houston(Hobby) and two nights hotel(one night on each side of the trip). Both my wife and I had huge smiles on our faces for saving over $2000. Both my wife and I got a Chase Sapphire card and used each other as authorized users for a total of 90+k ultimate rewards plus spending requirements and additional spending. The Sapphire paid for all 3 of our cruises and 2 nights hotel. I also signed up for a Southwest Plus card for a 50k promotion bonus. This paid for all 3 of our airfare round trip. It ended up being a excellent trip as me and my family love cruises.
    My wife just signed up for and received a southwest premier card for 50k bonus spending $2k in 3 months. I realized and confirmed that since I have a plus card and my wife has a premier card that we are allowed to sign up for the other card and will do so if they will allow us the 50k promotion as it just recently went back to 25k. I am hoping that by mentioning the 50k bonus the other received they will honor it and we can get a total of 200k southwest miles. Stay tuned.
    I also wanted to ask you about your experience of cancelling a card and timelines of being able to apply again and receive the bonus again? I am just about ready to cancel my Chase Sapphire as the annual fee is coming up. I called and it sounded like Chase will give you the bonus again after 2 years? Do you know anymore about this and other cards?
    Thank you again for all your insight and wonderful website.
    Very Happy Wanderluster!!

    • Sheldon says:

      Shay- Thanks for your testimonial of the power of WorldWanderlusting. It sounds like you’re really saving big time these days! It is amazing taking 3-4 amazing trips for less than most people spend on a single trip.

      Each card is different on whether or not you can get the bonus time and time again. If you scroll to the bottom of the offer page for most cards it will tell you whether or not you can get the bonus over and over. Most Citi cards allow every 18 months, Chase is roughly 24 months, American Express is only once, Bank of America (they hardly have any cards) are time and time again, Barclays does-not sure how often.

      Thanks for wanderlusting with us! If you’d like to do a guest post for us sometime about your cruise it would be awesome!

  3. Brad says:

    I applied for and got approved for this card the other day. When will I receive the miles? I have read it’s after your first purchase and paying the annual fee but do you know when the annual fee gets charged? Thanks.

    • Sheldon says:

      Nice! The annual fee is usually charged at the end of the first statement, so close to a month from the time you receive the card. The miles will credit to your account shortly thereafter. I hope you have a fun trip planned for the miles!

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