Okay, this one wasn’t actually a reader question, but rather a question from a future reader. My mom, a retired school teacher, ran into one of her former teacher buddies yesterday and the topic of Mommy Points came up. After hearing about miles and points from my mom (yay, mom!), her teacher friend said she is very interested in a rewards credit card, and was going to go home that night and get one. However, she had no idea where to start and what card to get. My mom emailed me to ask which one she should get, and of course my “it depends…..” answer wasn’t good enough. :) Anyway, I said I would write a post about some currently available offers tonight to help her, and others like her, who are in the market for a new card (or two!).
I wrote a similar post back in July on getting started in the world of miles and points and evaluating the best credit card offers, however three months is ages ago in the credit card offer world. Though that post does still have good info on getting started in the miles and points game. I’m going to keep this post pretty simple and only list my top four offers. These offers are geared for a school teacher budget, so no “insanely high minimum spending requirements” are a must. These are just my personal preferences, there are many other great cards out there.
While there are often credit card ads on my site, I receive no direct commission from any credit card applications (unless you want me to refer you to the SPG Amex, in which case I will get 5,000 bonus points – just like anyone else who has the card can). These opinions are all just based on my own thoughts and experiences.
Mommy Points’ Top 4 Current Credit Card Offers:
1. American Airlines AAdvantage Visa - Citibank
10/9 UPDATE: As of this morning, it looks like all links to this and similar offers have stopped functioning. I will update if they start working again, but it looks like the long lived gravy train to this deal may have derailed. All good things must come to an end I guess.
10/9 UPDATE Part 2: Looks like the link for the $4,000 minimum spend version is again working. Who knows what is going on. If you want to get in on this, I wouldn’t wait. Could be a glitch or could be a bad sign. Glad it isn’t dead quite yet!
Sign-up bonus: 75,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
Minimum Spend: $1500 in six months
Annual fee: $85, waived the first year
This card continues to be my favorite airline card offer because it comes with one of the largest sign-up bonuses available today – 75,000 American Airlines miles. That is the equivalent of three domestic round-trip tickets. If you are just looking for one economy ticket, that number of miles can get you just a round-trip ticket to just about anywhere in the world you want to go. If you are looking for a more advanced way to turn this into 150,000 miles by signing up for two Citibank cards at the same time – read more here.
I also like that this card has a realistic minimum spending requirement and a long period of time (6 months) to meet the spending requirement. With the holidays right around the corner, it should be super simple for most families to spend $1500 in the next six months on this card. I personally have both this card and its Amex counterpart. I have met the minimum spending requirement on one and am very close to the other. My 75,000 bonus points posted extremely quickly after I met the $1,500 threshold. Great for impatient miles junkies.
Another reason that I rank this card so highly is that I have found American to be very good in terms of availability for domestic tickets. I have had no problem getting multiple seats on the same flight. They do block out some days/flights at the lowest redemption level from time to time, but overall they have pretty decent domestic availability – which is the kind my family needs the most! I have also been successful in helping others obtain international awards using AAdvantage miles both on American Airlines and some of their partners.
The only downside to this offer is that it is a somewhat “unofficial” offer. You won’t find it on a Citibank or American Airlines website. You won’t see any screen shots assuring you that you will indeed receive 75,000 bonus miles, however this link has “unofficially” been working for a very long time and there are almost 10,000 posts on Flyertalk that can attest to the link’s success. However, I’m sure the link will dry-up at some point, so there is a small element of risk involved. I strongly recommend you read post #2 in that Flyertalk thread and let me know if you have questions. It has worked for both my mom and me, so I can personally vouch for it.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred - Chase
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Reward Points
Minimum Spend: $3000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
This card just keeps getting better and better. The only reason I didn’t rank it #1 was because the minimum spending requirement is a bit higher than some of the other offers. Check out this post for easy ways to meet the minimum spending requirement by using your card for the purchases you make everyday. Other than the higher spending requirement, this card is an all-around rock star! It gives you 1 point for most purchases, but 2x points for dining, hotels, rental cars, airfare tickets, and many other travel related expenses. You also get a 7% bonus on points earned at the end of the year. So, your 50,000 point sign-up bonus plus the 3,000 points you have to earn from the minimum spending requirement, plus the 7% bonus will get you a minimum of 56,710 points from this offer.
The beauty of these points is in their flexibility. You can transfer them to Continental (and it looks like soon United as well!), British Airways, Hyatt, Priority Club, Marriott, and more. You can also use your points as cash to pay for purchases or travel. If you use your points as cash for travel, 50,000 points converts to $625 worth of free travel! While this isn’t always the best use of miles, there are situations when it can be a smart move.
Their Ultimate Rewards shopping portal is also phenomenal and allows you to earn points very quickly be offering up to 10x bonus points on many online purchases. If you ever need to call customer service, it is answered quickly by real English-speaking agents. Nothing against other languages, but since I only speak English, it helps when the person on the other end of the line does as well. :) I also greatly appreciate that you don’t have to press “0″ a million times and holler “customer service” into the computerized phone system for 15 minutes before actually getting to a live agent.
This card also looks and feels super cool. If you can meet the $3000 minimum spending requirement in 3 months, this is the card to get.
Sign-up bonus: 25,000 points (10,000 at first purchase and 15,000 additional after meeting the minimum spending requirement)
Minimum spend: $5000 in the first six months
Annual fee: $65, waived the first year
The SPG American Express is another very solid card that has a permanent spot in my wallet. They just recently dropped their minimum spending requirement from $15,000 in six months, down to $5,000 in six months. It is still a lot of money, but it is a much more realistic amount for many families than $15,000. Six months is a decent amount of time, so I think this is now one offer that is within reach of most families.
You can transfer SPG points at a very good rate (25,000 airline miles for 20,000 points to many airlines), but I choose to use them for free nights at Westins, W Hotels, Alofts, and other SPG hotels. Free nights start at just 2,000 points and when you use their cash and points option for free nights, you can really stretch 25,000 points to help get you several free/reduced price nights at good hotels.
I think on a per mile/point basis, this card offers one of the very best values. Basically that means that the points you earn by using this card to buy things are generally “worth” more than on other cards due to what you can obtain by redeeming them.
If you want to earn some “good karma”, you can have someone who currently has the card refer you (basically you give them your email address and they have Amex email you a link to an application). You don’t get anything additional from the standard offer, but they get 5,000 bonus SPG points if you are referred. Everyone wins!
4. United MileagePlus Explorer Card
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 United MileagePlus miles (can be transferred to Continental Onepass as well)
Minimum Spend: ???
Annual fee: $95 (unknown if it will be waived the first year)
This is an odd choice for me to include since this offer isn’t yet publicly available, however the rumor is that it will be next month. The best publicly available offer today is 40,000 miles with the first year waived. However, to get 10,000 of those miles you have to spend $25,000, so I don’t consider that to be a very good offer. However, 60,000 miles will likely be a great offer. Since I know my mom’s friend lives at a Continental/United hub, this offer is even better. It is sometimes wise to take the convenience of redeeming miles into the equation when you are shopping around for a new credit card. If my mom’s friend, or anyone else, wants to hold off on getting a card until next month, this will be a good one to consider. Continental/United miles are very valuable and pretty easy to redeem.
I will be sure to let you know when this offer goes “live”!
Everyone’s situation is unique, so carefully examine each offer (and others) to see which one is right for you. If you want to see even more travel related credit cards, check out The Points Guy’s new site called Travel Credit Card Reviews. If you don’t have many (or any) rewards credit cards, you can consider applying for more than one card at a time. I would recommend starting small and not going for any more than two at once if you are new to the miles and points game. Just make sure that you can meet the minimum spending requirement for both cards.
And as always, only spend in a month what you can pay off in full. Points have negative value if they are created with debt. So to meet a $1500 minimum spend in six months, be sure that you can afford to pay an average of $250 each month towards whatever you put on the card. Of course, that is easy if you are charging things you normally would have just paid for with a cash/debit card.
Which of your favorites did I leave out? If you have some of these cards listed, what do you think of them? Please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to help!
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