Chase Marriott Rewards Visa
“If you’re a frequent traveler and have a hotel chain or a series of hotel chains you like or use a lot you can rack up rewards quickly,” says Doug Miller, senior analyst for banking and cards at consulting firm Corporate Insight. The card has a $30 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year. The industry standard for earnings and redemptions is 1 percent, where a dollar spent on the card equals one point and 100 points equals a dollar in rewards, which is what cardholders earn on their purchases. But if you use the card to pay for a room in one of 3,200 hotels in the Marriott family of brands, you get three points per dollar spent. The card also feeds into Marriott’s customer loyalty program, so cardholders can earn more points that can be cashed in for free nights at certain Marriott hotels.
American Express Blue Sky
“For a no-fee card they have a great redemption rate,” Miller says. “It isn’t tied to any specific airline or hotel brand, which makes it a good pick for travelers who aren’t brand-loyal. Although you earn points at the same one-point-per-dollar rate as most other cards, this one gives cardholders $100 off eligible travel purchases for every 7,500 points. In other words, earn the equivalent of $75 in rewards, get $100 in credit.” Plus, he says, “it’s a straight statement credit, which offers a nice flexibility.”
Miller adds that heavy travelers might be interested in the premium version of the card, the Blue Sky Preferred Card; for a $75 annual fee, it lets you earn 2 points per dollar spent and gives you $100 a year toward airline fees like checked-bag charges and in-flight meals.