We went a little crazy with credit card signup bonuses last year.
325k Chase Ultimate Points
52k AA miles
95k Alaska miles
100k Jetblue miles
Our family of 3 typically makes 2 cross country trips per year, each trip averages around 20-25k roundtrip per person. We’re obviously not going to travel for a long time now. It’s always a better value to redeem points for flights, but would anyone recommend cashing out Chase points or keeping them forever? Or use them to redeem for hotel and car rental? We always pay for those out of pocket as flights seem to be the best redemption value.
I think we will switch to Citi Double Cash as our daily spender until we travel again.
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UR points are valuable for people that like to play the mileage transfer game. They transfer at 1:1 into United, BA, Hyatt, amongst other partners. If you’re looking to avoid airlines (which I think is smart, since cash fares are low right now and offer a poor redemption value), the transfer into Hyatt might not be so bad. Their points are generally worth more than Marriott, IHG, and certainly Hilton. The blogs say you can get 2 cents per point, or an effective 2% cash back. If you want to do a few road trips from your home in the summer, this might be a decent option.
You can alternatively get 1.5 cents per UR point if you redeem using their travel portal… so if you don’t want to play the game of finding a Hyatt that offers a solid redemption value, this isn’t a bad option, either.
Cashing out is 1 cent per point… and I think you can do better than that. I agree with you though in terms of preferring cash back cards to loyalty point schemes. You can probably squeeze more value out of the loyalty programs, but it takes a lot of effort and you’re always at the mercy of the program not to devalue their points. I’ve been sticking with the legacy Barclays Priceline Visa for the last seven years or so, and have been getting 3.3% back. I hate Barclays though, their customer service is awful to deal with.
Citi Double Cash is a good card. If you’re a higher spender, the Alliant Signature isn’t bad, either. I’d also take a look at your spending habits and see if a bonus category card might pay off (like the Costco Citi Visa, or Chase Freedom).
Might I recommend Discover It Miles? 3% cash back for the first year, plus a $100 signup bonus when you are referred by a friend.
I have Chase Freedom for the bonus categories which is where some of our Ultimate Rewards came from. But then everyone says to save the Ultimate Rewards for flights so I haven’t cashed out yet. We don’t use hotels that often, we prefer Airbnb. I also have Discover IT Miles but never really use it.
Reward flights are definitely the best value. Personally, I’m saving my points as I hope to start traveling again this year. The risk is that airlines devalue them or leave the UR program before you can redeem them.
They can devalue but I doubt they’ll leave the programs anytime soon. Hopefully the banks required assurances limiting devaluations.
That’s a good point, card issuers are taking advantage of the slump in business to load up on discounted miles so the transfer ability will probably still be around for a while.
But, it does bring up another risk of limited reward inventory being quickly snapped up by pent up demand once people feel safe enough to travel. With the current ability to cancel without penalty, I’ve been booking reward trips for the next 6-12 months.
Bank of America credit card for Platinum members (100k in your checking or IRA or brokerage account) - 2.625% everywhere, 3.5% on travel and restaurants - straight cash back auto deposited to checking account each month.