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The Best TRAVEL Credit Card of 2020

February 16, 2020


ladies and gentlemen welcome back it has
been a couple months and for that I apologize in reality I don’t think my
channel is big enough for anyone to have actually noticed my absence but if you
did thank you for the concern but I’m here and today we’re running over the
best travel credit card of 2020 for those new my name is Aaron and as always
if I can figure out the points in miles game you can figure out the points in
miles game before getting going I just want to
point out that a lot of what I’m about to say results from personal opinions
back when I was in college I remember a finance professor once saying that
business valuation makes astrology look like an exact science that always stuck
with me and really applies to credit card valuations as well take lounge access
for example I use a fixed value of $15 per visit that’s that’s about what I
would pay would you pay more would you pay less ultimately it’s those kinds of
judgment calls that will determine how much of a card’s benefits are truly of
value like last year we have to define what metric determines rank I can think
of three so I’m going to come up with winners in each of the following
categories best return on investment best total earn and most capable of
providing the opportunity for ultra high value award redemptions for anyone who
doesn’t care about how we get there and just once the results skip to the
timestamp here unlike some of my head-to-head videos and for the sake of
brevity I’m going to skip the insurance and miscellaneous protection comparisons
for now in this video we’re only going to be looking at what card who is most
likely to get you that international business class seat or overwater
bungalow the quickest that said let’s not discount trip related coverage both
Chase and American Express continue to offer some excellent protection for
things like delays rental car damage waivers lost baggage and even medical
evacuations whereas the scumbags over a Citi dropped almost all of that last year
so while this aspect of the game won’t affect today’s rankings it nevertheless
shouldn’t be ignored also to keep the list manageable we’re going to be
limiting our options to those cards earning transferable points for those
new to the game that means limiting our options to issuers that offer cards that
earn points that can be redeemed for airline miles Hotel points cash or
statement credits or any combination the cardholder feels like we’re further
assuming each of these cards will be new accounts and that the cardholder will
meet the issuer’s minimum spend requirements to earn its sign up bonus
but first let’s recap where we were last year in 2019 we found the Capital One
Venture Rewards credit card to be our best bet from a return on spend
standpoint our card with the maximum net value was the American Express Platinum
Card despite its high annual fee of $550 it provided three thousand one hundred
fifty one dollars in value for a net of 2601 finally our 2019 card with the most
upside was the Citi Prestige its net value of two thousand three hundred
ninety eight dollars was objectively less than the Amex Platinum but its
fourth night free benefit could still theoretically provide four figures worth
of value history behind us let’s take a look at this year’s 2020 contenders the
Sapphire duo from Chase is back the lower-cost card the Preferred is little
changed still coming in at $95 sadly no longer waved in year one on the other
hand Chase has followed a mix up the price ladder with the Reserve and
increased its annual fee to $550 some new benefits go along with that and
we’ll get to those in a bit from Amex the Platinum and Gold cards return also
a little changed annual fee stay the same five hundred fifty and two hundred
fifty dollars respectively new to this year’s comparison is the relaunched
Green card it’s got some great bonus earn categories and costs $150 Citi
returns with the Thank You Premier and Prestige cards there’s not a ton new
with them either annual fees remain the same ninety five and four hundred ninety
five dollars like chase Citi has stopped waving the annual fee in year one on the
lower priced card Capital One is back with the Venture Rewards card
we’ve got a little shake-up on bonus categories but the annual fee of $95
remains unchanged first let’s take a look at intro bonuses they get a lot of
attention and for good reason they’re a quick way to massively boost your points
balance without a whole lot of spend I’m going to limit these to
publicly available offers starting with the Sapphire Preferred we’ve got 60,000
points historically this has been a 50,000 point card but with the
disappearance of the first year annual fee waiver they bumped it up I actually
think that’s a very fair trade i peg Ultimate Rewards at 2.07 cents each
making this signup bonus worth one thousand two hundred forty one dollars
despite being a higher tiered card the Sapphire Reserve actually provides less
only 50k making it sign up bonus worth 1030 for moving over to American Express
and we’ve got Membership Rewards to work with I value them at 2.34
cents each the Green card our cheapest Amex offering is only offering
thirty thousand points two new card members this signup bonus is worth seven
hundred $1 the Gold Card is only marginally better offering just thirty
five thousand points worth eight hundred eighteen dollars finally we’ve got the
Platinum card with a nice sixty thousand worth one thousand four hundred two
dollars that said be careful with Amex cards they limit signup bonuses to once
per lifetime so while sixty thousand points may sound
like a lot I’d hold off for better seventy-five thousand is not uncommon
and 100,000 pops up once or twice a year especially when using Cardmatch Citi
cards are home to ThankYou Points what I consider the least valuable of the big
four transferable award currencies I pegged them at just 1.41 cents
each the Premier card offers sixty thousand of them worth eight hundred
forty four dollars like Chase Citi gives you less for more when you move up one
tier the Prestige is currently only offering fifty thousand points worth
just seven hundred four dollars finally we’ve got the Capital Oone
Venture Card it earns Venture Rewards the newest program to enter the game but
is starting off right I already consider it superior to Citi’s program
I reckon that Venture Rewards are worth 1.66 cents
each currently the Venture Rewards card is publicly offering a fifty thousand
points signup bonus worth eight hundred twenty nine dollars however sixty
thousand point offers come up quite frequently so you might want to consider
holding out in fact I just got one in the mail
a couple days ago next up let’s look at points earned from everyday spend I
always like to remind everyone that cards providing travel rewards are a
double-edged sword while most earned bonus points on things
like airfare and hotels you end up spending less on those things because
you’re paying for them with points I’m going to continue using last year’s
spending data because I think it paints a more realistic picture early 2019 I
bought a house and has spent a decent amount of time and funds doing things
related to that instead of having fun in other words I traded trips to SeaTac
Airport for depressing visits to Home Depot so that’s why I’m purposefully
using aged data I think it portrays a more typical year in the life of a
millennial you know spending too much on food and cool but useless tech and
pretending to care about issues when it makes me look good
as always I’ll use my personal spending patterns and apply them to a
hypothetical twenty thousand dollars within a couple of days of uploading
this video I’ll place a link to all this data on my website and link an
Associated Google sheet so anyone watching can play with their own numbers
will once again start with the Sapphire Preferred it earns five points per
dollar on lift two points per dollar on travel and dining and one point on
everything else the Sapphire Reserve just ups those numbers a bit and it’s
got ten points per dollar on lift three on travel and dining and one on
everything else applying our hypothetical spend gives us a total of
twenty five thousand four hundred ninety two points on that preferred card and 31
thousand three hundred fifty two on the Reserve these are worth five hundred
twenty seven and six hundred forty nine dollars respectively
moving on to Amex and we’re looking at the Green Card it
three points per dollar on dining and travel and one on everything else
throwing those at our hypothetical span and we’ve got 28,776 points worth
$672 the gold card is a less Travel centric affair it earns 4 points per
dollar on dining and grocery and 3 on airfare I’m a big fan of those bonus
points at supermarkets it’s a less covered category so it’s inclusion
shouldn’t be overlooked anyhow this points earning scheme nets us 34,000
points worth seven hundred ninety four dollars last up under the Amex umbrella
is the Platinum Card it’s actually the least valuable of the three from an earn
on spend metric it only offers five points per dollar on airfare and hotels
booked via Amex travel and just one on everything else the result after a year
of spent is just twenty four thousand six hundred forty points worth five
hundred seventy-six dollars city is up next and being the least valuable
transferable currency will likely result in the least amount of return on spend
the Citi prestige offers three points per dollar on travel nicely including
gas two points on entertainment and dining and one on everything else the
end result of this is 414 dollars in value one hundred thirteen dollars less
than its direct competitor the Chase Sapphire Preferred the prestige card is
a bit more limited in how it defines travel only providing bonus points on
airfare hotels and cruises we’ve also got five on dining and one on everything
else the net result being points worth four
hundred ninety one dollars finally we’ve got the Capital One Venture Card its
points earning structure is dead simple two points per dollar on everything
sadly the ten point four dollar bonus on hotels.com purchases we had a last year
is no longer available in the end this nets us forty thousand points worth six
hundred sixty three dollars next up we’re going to take a look at
statement credits this is where the premium cards really show their value
let’s start with the easy ones the Chase Sapphire Preferred Citi Premier and
venture card because they’ve got nothing the Chase Sapphire reserve is up next
with what might be the easiest to use credit among all card issuers 300
dollars towards travel spend it covers a broad number of categories and
reimbursement is automatic for this reason we’ll place its full value here
next we’ve got a $60 DoorDash credit it’s not as universal as the travel credit
and for some people may go unused I always discount these types of credits
by 25% so it’s adjusted value is $45 the
American Express Gold Card offers two first is a $120 dining credit like the
Sapphire Reserve’s DoorDash credit it is not Universal and might go unused for
this reason that we discounted by 25% we’ve also got a $100 incidental airline
fee reimbursement that Amex has made a genuine pain news I’m cutting its value
in half the Amex Platinum Card has three credits we’ll be taking a look at $200
on Uber $100 at Saks Fifth Avenue both discounted 25% for difficulty of
use a $200 incidental airline fee credit is also available like the gold
cards credit this one gets a 50% reduction in value finally there’s the
Citi Prestige card like the Sapphire Reserve it’s got a well rounded easy to
use travel credit of $250 so we’ll include its full value let’s talk about
lounge access for those who travel frequently and would like to grab a seat
in a crowded room that serves drinks instead of a crowded one that doesn’t
this benefit is for you earlier I mentioned that I value a single
run-of-the-mill lounge visit at $15 now the American Express green card offers a
100 dollar annual LoungBuddy credit but what exactly does that mean just for
fun I took a little random sampling of their available lounges and found the
average cost was forty five dollars and forty cents with a low of 39 and a high
of 50 this means that for our $100 credit
we’ll only actually get two visits at fifteen dollars in value apiece
I consider this $100 credit actually only worth 30 bucks
moving up the price ladder and there are very few things in life that I love to
hate more than Priority Pass whether it’s being turned away from an Alaska
lounge due to capacity constraints or told I couldn’t enter The Club at PHX
because it transforms into a British Airways lounge at 3:30 p.m.
I’m just generally over the program at least as it pertains to the United
States overseas I’ve had better luck unfortunately this sad Network is all
Sapphire Reserve and Citi prestige customers have to work with I’m going to
assume five visits a year each with a guest for a total of 10 and 15 dollars
apiece this means I peg the value of lounge access for the reserve or
prestige card at $150 on the opposite end of the spectrum is the shining
glimmer of hope the American Express Platinum Card with it’s far and away
better Global Lounge Collection included in this gym we’ve got the fantastic
American Express Centurion lounges the crappy priority pass network Delta sky
clubs escape lounges and aerospace ones if there is one benefit that Amex is the
undisputed leader of its airport lounge access for me personally I’m based in
Seattle and totally spoiled for choice we’ve got an Amex Lounge 2 Delta Sky
clubs and two Priority Pass lounges it’s kind of like an MX card holders
playground there are more lounges available to the Platinum card holder at
sea-tac than there are regular terminal bathrooms
I consider the global lounge collection to be at least twice as valuable as the
offerings from Chase and Citi so we’re calling this one $300
and it probably should be more now of course just to get to the lounge’s one
needs to get past the security theater operation known as the TSA for that
pre-check Global Entry and Clear credits come in handy the Sapphire Reserve Amex
Platinum City prestige and Capital One venture card all reimburse pre-check or
global entry fees once every five years at this point if you’ve got any premium
cards you’ve got this one covered so watch out for benefit overlap here
new to the game is the Amex green cards clear credit up to $100 per year will be
reimbursed it’s the only card among today’s contenders that offers this
benefit I think this is just a fantastic addition and really furthers the value
proposition of pairing the green and the platinum cards our last item to discuss
before tidying everything up is what I call other benefits things that don’t
fit neatly into any of the other categories these Sapphire Reserves Lyft
Pink membership is one of these I had a hard time with this one
even when deciding whether to even include it considering I don’t include
cash value for things like hotel or car rental status in the end I decided to do
it like this to my way of thinking the biggest cash benefit or savings from the
program comes from its 15% discount on rides so to value I took 15% and
multiplied it by the total spin on ride shares in our hypothetical budget the
result being $55 so that’s how much I included if you never ride this is worth
nothing if you ride a lot it’s worth somewhere between zero and $199 the
latter being the actual cash price of the program we’ve also got the Citi
Prestige’s fourth night free benefit to consider although it’s value was
severely neutered during last year’s relaunch it still provides a great
benefit instead of being unlimited it’s now only available two times per year
but I think getting $250 in value out of each of those insights is pretty
easy so we’ll call this one $500 and with that I think we’ve got enough to
draw some conclusions so let’s put everything together starting with the
Chase Sapphire duo our intro bonuses were worth one thousand two hundred
forty-one and one thousand thirty four dollars and our value of points on spend
is 527 and 649 this means we’re earning 1769 dollars and 1683 dollars worth of
points in year one the Sapphire Preferred gets no statement credits or
anything else of value added to it so a bunch of zeros go here we’ve included
345 dollars for the value of annual credits for the reserve 150 for the
value of its lounge access program 100 dollars for the global entry or
pre-check credit and $55 and other the last one being the adjusted value of our
lift pink membership the annual fee comes in next $95 which is no longer
waived and $550 this gives us net values of one thousand six hundred seventy four
dollars for the Sapphire Preferred and 1783 for the sapphire reserve next up is
the Amex trio starting again with the intro bonuses we’ve got seven hundred
one dollars on the Green Card this is followed by eight 18 on the gold and
1400 two on the Platinum card value of points on organic spend are 672 794 and
576 our annual credits are up next starting with $140 on the gold card this
represents the value adjust a total for our airline and dining credits and let’s
not forget our little nod to lounge access from the green card as well as
its generous clear credit add an adjusted 30 and 100 dollars over on the
right side of this table we’ve got three hundred twenty-five dollars going
towards the Platinum Card again value adjusted totals for the airline Uber and
Saks credits we’ve also got three hundred dollars for the fantastic global
lounge collection and one hundred dollars for Global Entry or
pre-check annual fees of 150 250 and $550 get dropped in for net values of
1353 1502 and 2153 dollars the duo that earns lower valued thank you points is
up next starting with intro bonus values of 844
and $704 because these points are only worth 1 point 4 1 cents apiece value of
points on spend and intro suffer will add in just 414 and 491 the city premier
doesn’t have any statement credits so here are a bunch of zeros the prestige
card gets its full $250 travel credit plus $150 for lounge access 100 for
expedited screening and 500 for our fourth night free annual fees of ninety
five and four hundred ninety five dollars our last in providing net values
of 1163 and $1,700 last up and without a friend is the Capital One Venture Card
with a $829 intro bonus and six hundred sixty three dollars in year one points
on spend our only credit is $100 for global entry or TSA PreCheck
and our annual fee is waived providing a net value of one thousand five hundred
ninety two dollars okay so now that all our cards are on the table let’s put
them in order and remember we’re going to be assigning a winner in the
categories of most valuable card in year one highest ROI in year two and the card
most likely to provide ultra high valued redemptions our least valuable travel
credit card of 2020 is the Citi Premier this is followed by the Amex Green Amex Gold capital one venture card Chase Sapphire Preferred Citi prestige Chase
Sapphire Reserve and finally in the same place it was last year the Platinum Card
by American Express next we’ll look at ROI but for that we
need to move past year one in year two intro bonuses go away so do one time
credits like what one might receive for pre-check because of the massive
discrepancy in price the cheaper carts are now on top our least valuable card
from an ROI point of view is the Sapphire Reserve it generates one
thousand one hundred ninety nine dollars in value over a cost of five hundred
fifty providing a return of two hundred eighteen percent this is followed by the
Amex Platinum Citi prestige Amex gold City premier Amex green Sapphire
Preferred and finally also reclaiming its number one spot the capital one
venture rewards credit card now the last thing we’re going to look at is the card
most likely to provide ultra high value returns here I’m giving it to the Amex
platinum I say this because it has a full six of what I would class is high
value transfer partners Marriott Bonvoy Avianca Lifemiles ANA mileage club
Flying Blue Delta SkyMiles and Air Canada Aeroplan, well at least one
their website is actually working furthermore across all my reckonings
they had nine transfer partners with at least one redemption in excess of four
cents per point and that’s the end of it with wins in two out of our three
categories we can call the Platinum Card from American Express the most valuable
travel card of 2020 okay I hope some or all of this makes sense or maybe a
little of it I don’t know like I kind of mentioned earlier within a couple days
of uploading this video I should have all of its associated data uploaded to
my website for peer review and that will about do it if you found any of this
useful a like share sub is appreciated if not go ahead and hit that thumbs down
button okay take care

3 Comments

  • Reply thejokerspeaks February 12, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Since I saw your last video, I've got the Amex Business Platinum, a 2nd Blue Business Plus, and the Bonvoy Brilliant. With Marriott's upcoming cuts, the last straw, I won't keep the Brilliant past year one. Definitely enjoying the Platinum card, something I used to roll my eyes at! We got the business version of the write off, 35% discount on airline point redemptions, and the Dell Credit (preferred over Uber and Saks). We're saving $600 a year off the cruising credit and air refund alone.

  • Reply Mumble February 12, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    I would have like for you to include the Alritude Reserve a card I have been looking at

  • Reply Jesse H February 12, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    Sweet, a new video! Question: What is your recommendation for those that has one or more of the cards and want to switch but still have a ton of points left? You're almost in a holding pattern until you spend the remainder of the points.

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