Over the weekend I decided to launch a last minute round of applications before I take off to Asia for several months. There were several cards that I have been wanting to apply for, so I figured now is a great time for several new cards that I can use on my trip.
After covering the potentially incredible benefits of The Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card mixed with purchasing Amex gift cards through Barclays RewardsBoost I decided that I want this card. I also wanted the medical evacuation insurance benefit and unlimited Lounge Club access that comes with the Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards credit card. That said, I hit the submit button and hoped to see the instant approval screen on the new cards. Here are the cards I applied for and why I chose them:
The Travelocity Rewards American Express Card
The Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card can potentially unlock a super powerful points earning combination and essentially allow you to purchase air and hotel travel on Travelocity for pennies on the dollar. To be exact, with a few steps and a slightly longer time frame you can pay 1.32% of the face value of flights and hotel stays through Travelocity.com.
I wrote a more in-depth analysis on this last week, but by leveraging the Travelocity's unique award structure and Barclays RewardsBoost you can earn 10% back on every dollar spent on Amex gift cards. If you decide to liquidate these for free through Amazon Payments for up to $1,000 per month, you can earn travel purchased through Travelocity.com for a discount of 98% off.
Not to drag this one on, but right now you can earn 4 points per dollar through RewardsBoost on top of the 1 point per dollar on the card. When you redeem 20,000 Travelocity points you will get a $400 statement credit (2 cents per point) for purchases on Travelocity.com. Each Amex gift card comes with a $3.95 fee plus shipping fees, but you can find promo codes online to get both for free. Okay, you get my point. I am looking forward to purchasing some Amex gift cards as soon as the card arrives and testing the process out myself, so stay tuned!
Status: Instantly approved
The US Airways Premier World MasterCard
I closed my last US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® (EXPIRED CARD) several months ago, but with the card going away sometime in 2015 I wanted to lock in another bonus on it. I applied for this card after being instantly approved for the Travelocity card, and didn’t have high hopes in getting a second Barclaycard on the same day.
This card offers a great 40,000 mile welcome bonus after the first purchase and paying the $89 annual fee. Plus it comes with free checked bags and a companion certificate valid for up to two $99 companion tickets. This can be a huge savings on a longer US Airways flight within the US.
US Airways miles are among the most valuable miles out there and offer great stopover rules. Ideally I would plan on using the miles on an offer peak award to Europe or South America for a hugely discounted award ticket, but even if I don't burn through them they will be converted to American Airlines miles as the merger completes.
I was happy to see that it is possible to get approved for two Barclays credit cards on the same day and that the credit analyst was willing to shift credit from my existing accounts (Arrival and Travelocity card that I was just approved for). In total I now have three Barclays cards.
Status: Pending (Instantly approved after shifting credit from my Arrival card)
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card
After taking another look into this card I couldn’t pass up the benefits for the travel year to come. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card has a public offer of 70,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards points after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months (EXPIRED OFFER). The $395 annual fee is not waived the first year.
The annual fee is hefty, but the card does offer some great perks such as:
- $300 annual travel credit for airline incidentals
- 3 Ritz-Carlton Club Level upgrades
- $100 hotel credit for each 2 night or longer stay
- Complimentary LOUNGE CLUB™ membership
- Automatic Gold elite status for the first year and each year after when you spend $10,000 or more
- Chip and signature technology and no foreign transaction fees
However there is a better offer out there. I was able to successfully call in (1-888-846-7004) and use the RSVP code F53K to get the 70k point offer with a waived annual fee the first year. You may be able to get the 140k point offer by using offer code F5BP, however the annual fee is not waived with this bonus. Since I didn’t value the extra 70k points for ~400 I went with the waived annual fee version.
The main reason I went for this card was the medical evacuation benefit for up to $100k. If you plan on traveling to any countries where the healthcare system could be dicey or just want the assurance that you could get home if you fall ill, this could be a great perk have in your wallet.
The second perk I wanted was the Complimentary LOUNGE CLUB™ membership which I figured I could put to good use this next year traveling full-time. Even though I just registered my Ink plus to get the two free Lounge Club passes, the unlimited access will come handy and I don’t mind not putting the Ink passes to use over the next year.
Other powerful perks of this card include combining the $100 hotel credit for each 2 night or longer stay with the 3 club level upgrades. I could see this breaking down to a very nice stay at a Ritz Carlton property for a fraction of the cost. Plus with the card you will earn 17 points (12 points from Marriott Rewards, 5 points from credit card) per dollar spent at Ritz-Carlton hotels even as a Silver elite member. This is not even including the 10% annual bonus on earned points.
With the card’s incredible perks I will consider keeping this card after the first year and paying the $395 annual fee. After considering the $300 annual travel credit I will only be looking at ~$100 which can easily be justified for the lounge club access or medical evacuation benefits.
Status (over the phone): Instantly approved
Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature
The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature is now offering 60,000 Hilton HHonors points after spending $1,000 within the first 4 months (EXPIRED OFFER). Even though Hilton points are not the most valuable hotel points out there I know I can put them to good use at the Kuala Lumpur Doubletree that only costs 10k points per night. The cash + points option is also very tempting and it looks to be a nice property.
Another nice perk of this card is that there is no annual fee and it comes with Silver status or a fast track to Hilton Gold Elite status after 4 Hilton stays within the first 3 months. At least with Gold status I can get free breakfast and internet.
With 60,000 Hilton points you can get up to 12 free nights at a category 1 hotel or a night at a category 8 hotel. Here’s a quick breakdown of how you could use your points:
- Category 1 = 12 free nights
- Category 2 = 4 free nights
- Category 4 = 2 free nights
- Category 8 = 1 free night
The Bottom Line
I am happy with the results and was approved for the cards that I really wanted in my wallet---the Travelocity® Rewards American Express® Card and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card.
Originally I was torn between applying for the Barclays’ Travelocity and US Airways card, but found out the great news that they are approving people for two cards on the same day. I’m a little indifferent of whether the Hilton card will come through, but it would be nice to add some Hilton points to my account balance to burn in Malaysia.
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