Choosing the best travel rewards credit cards is a critical element in maximizing your points and miles, and a select few offer a wide array of perks that appeal to a variety of traveler profiles. Today I want to share my top five reasons why — if you don’t already have it — this Ultimate Rewards Card should be the first one you get.
1. Up to 55,000 Points ($1,155 in Value) for Signing Up
Not long ago, it was formally announced that you would received a bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
You’ll also earn an additional 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months from account opening. If you meet both of these requirements, your haul is worth $1,155 based on our most recent valuations, and you won’t even need to pay the $95 annual fee during the first year of membership. Compare Now and take advantage of this limited time offer.
2. Generous 2x Travel and Dining Categories
On the surface, this feature of the may not sound that special. Many cards offer category bonuses for travel purchases and dining, but the real appeal of these bonuses is how wide the definitions span.
Here are some examples of real-life purchases that have earned me 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent:
- A beer hall (that didn’t serve food)
- Street parking
- Quarterly dues for the yacht club to which I belong
- A rental car
- Cupcake shop
- Train transportation
- City tours
- Tram tickets
- Parking at the airport
The delivery services such Seamless and Postmates also fall into these bonus categories, so if your hometown has these options, that gives you additional earning potential.
3. So Many Redemption Options
There Are Two Key Ways to Redeem Ultimate Rewards Points
- Booking travel directly through the travel portal where points are worth a flat 1.25 cents apiece. The big benefit of redeeming points this way for flights is that they typically do count toward elite status (but note that isn’t the case with hotel bookings).
- Transferring your points to one of the 13 travel partners. Typically you’ll get the most out of your points when you transfer them to these valuable partners, including United, Hyatt and Marriott.
When you transfer points to these partners, you’ll unlock terrific redemptions, such as the Park Hyatt Tokyo, Korean Air first class and Singapore Suites — and in some cases, an independent valuation of 2.1 cents apiece for Ultimate Rewards points can easily be eclipsed.
4. The Travel Benefits
In addition to earning valuable rewards for making purchases while traveling, you can also take advantage of some fantastic benefits while on the road.
Top 5 Travel Benefits
- Primary car rental insurance. This covers the entire loss, damage or theft of your car rental without reporting it to your insurance company, a benefit that can save you big time in the long term.
- Lack of foreign transaction fees on the card. A benefit that’ll typically save you 2.7%-3% on every purchase abroad.
- Trip delay insurance up to $500 per ticket. If your flight, train, or other common carrier is delayed more than 12 hours or you require an overnight stay as a result of a delay, you’re covered for unreimbursed expenses such as meals and lodging.
- Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance up to $10,000 per trip for pre-paid, nonrefundable travel expenses such as plane tickets, hotels or tours if your trip is cut short or interrupted by sickness, severe weather or other covered situations.
- Baggage delay insurance of $100 per day for up to 5 days. If your checked baggage is delayed by more than 6 hours, you can be reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing.
5. Our 5/24 Rule
If you’re thinking about expanding your points and miles strategy to include opening and utilizing multiple credit cards, now’s a fantastic time to apply for this Ultimate Rewards Card. Card issuers have different application restrictions, and early in 2016, reports began to emerge of new and tighter rules when applying for any card that accrues Ultimate Rewards points. If you’ve opened five or more new credit cards in the past 24 months, it’s highly likely that your application will be automatically declined. As a result, if you want to take advantage of the sign-up bonus and the other perks listed above, you should apply for this card sooner rather than later.
Whenever I meet someone who wants to travel like I do, I immediately ask about a credit card strategy. I stopped traveling extensively for work more than a year ago, yet I’m still able to rack up hundreds of thousands of points and miles every year. This Ultimate Rewards Card plays a big role in this. It’s a terrific starter card as you’re getting a minimum of $625 in value and potentially up to $1,050 or more from the sign-up bonus alone.
But it’s also a great product for experienced award travelers, so if it isn’t currently in your wallet, definitely consider making it your next application.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.