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More options than you could shake a stick at
Choosing a credit card these days is no easy matter. I read that there are approximately 1000 different credit cards currently available. Many of them allow you to build up points to travel free. But if this is what interests you, you need to find the one that will help you score free tickets the quickest. Sometimes airline cards are best for getting free travel but sometimes bankcards are better. The type you choose should depend on your travel and spending patterns.
Choose an airline card if ...
Your best choice might be an airline card if you are loyal to some particular carrier. It also might make the most sense if you travel a lot and want a free trip fast. And, you might choose an airline card if you like to wheel and deal.
Not as generous
As a general rule, airline cards are not quite so generous in terms of the points they give you but could be worthwhile if the card has a nice upfront bonus. However, be careful because with these cards usually have blackout dates and other constraints that can be an issue.
Choose a bank card if ...
You might choose a bankcard rather than an airline card if you choose flights based on price. A bankcard can be a better deal if you don't want to have to worry about blackout dates and if you're enrolled in multiple frequent flyer programs. This is because you earn points on items you buy that you can use on any airline. Because the points you earn are generally associated with the ticket's price, the cheaper the price, the less points you will need to book that flight. Also, a bank card can be a better option if you're concerned about when you would fly and how much time you would have to use your points.
Three good options
The website ShopSmart has some recommendations for worthy card selections. Its number one choice is the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card. It will give you three points for every one dollar you spend on airfare and two points for each one dollar spent on gas and groceries. It will also give you one point per one dollar spent elsewhere. Plus, if you spend $2000 in the first three months after you receive the card, you can earn 25,000 bonus points. Also, if you pay your balances in full every month there is no interest charge and no annual fee for the first year. However it will be $175 a year thereafter.
ShopSmart's second choice is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa or MasterCard. If you choose one of these cards, you would earn two points for every one dollar spent on travel and dining and one point per a dollar spent elsewhere. It also has a 7% yearly bonus on points. If you spend $2000 in the first three months after you obtain the card, you will also earn 25,000 bonus points. If you put $3000 on the card in the first three months, you would earn 40,000 bonus points, which is worth $500 if you book travel through Chase. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
Finally, ShopSmart likes the Delta SkyMiles American Express Gold card. This card rewards you with one dollar per two miles spent on Delta Airlines and one mile per dollar spent elsewhere. This card also gives users a free checked bag for up to nine people in a reservation and 20% savings on eligible purchases you would make on in-flight beverages and food.