Why You Shouldn’t Get Your Credit Card Advice from Television

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Best Holiday Travel Credit Cards

Best Holiday Travel Credit Cards from CNBC

I was perusing through Facebook this morning when I came across a video linked to from the Travel Hacking 101 Facebook group. The video is from CNBC and covers the “Best Holiday Travel Credit Cards.” In hindsight, it is only fitting that the ad playing before the video the second time I watched it looked something like this:

Best Holiday Travel Credit Cards

Actually, the video, which uses recommendations from Cardhub starts out strong. The anchor begins with the “Best Initial Bonus” and lists the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Strong start and one that I will not argue with. Then, things start to go downhill.

The next recommendation is for “Best All Around Travel Rewards” card. I actually can’t argue with the suggestion of the Arrival Plus, although I personally wouldn’t say it’s the best. The anchor correctly states that the current bonus is $525 (although that is nuanced considering it includes the 5% rebate). A little slippage, but nothing terrible so far. That is about to change.

Best Hotel & Airline Cards

Following those two picks, it was time to get specific with airlines and hotels. Want to guess what the “Best Airline Rewards” card is according to the video? Would it be a Citi AAdvantage card, Delta SkyMiles Amex or even a more obscure card like one of the JetBlue offerings? Nope! It is the Frontier Airlines Mastercard! Lovers of low cost carriers rejoice!

The final recommendation is for “Best Hotel Rewards” card. Their pick comes straight out of 2014 with the Club Carlson Premier Rewards card. This card probably used to be the best hotel card with it’s Bonus Award Night feature, but that is long gone. It no longer reigns supreme.

Why Aren’t These Cards Good?

The truth is, if I were to pick a best card, I would factor in a number of things. Frontier loses right off the bat for a few reasons:

  • They charge a lot of miscellaneous fees the other carriers don’t charge.
  • The card doesn’t give you perks like a free bag.
  • Frontier has a limited route network and no partners.
  • The bonus is just 2 free roundtrip flights which is similar to many other airline cards.

On the other side, Club Carlson loses because:

  • Their award redemption rates on the high end are astronomical.
  • 80K is a nice bonus, but their points are not worth much.
  • They have many low quality properties.
  • Elite status is often ignored and doesn’t get you much.

But Wait, There Is More!

As if all of that isn’t enough, the best part of the video comes at the end when the anchors are talking. I don’t want to spoil it, but perhaps it gives us some insight into just how normal people think about travel rewards.

Here is a link to the video. Feel free to share your thoughts on the video, which cards should have been picked and anything else related to this post in the comments!


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8 COMMENTS

  1. As you say, don’t miss the banter at the end between the reporter and the anchor. Classic! I won’t ruin it either. I feel so stupid for not having the Frontier card in my pile, and for cancelling my Club Carlson.

  2. I actually still like the club Carlson card. My wife and I keep all 4. European travel is great staying at mid tier properties bc they offer family size rooms for our group of 5. I don’t really spend on them but 160,000 CC points will go along way in Ireland with a 43 square meter room

  3. Chase ihg instead of club carlson, cannot really argue with the rest of them. Airline miles card is a toss up in the air btw aa, and dl, depend on which hub ur closest to.

    It s a good thing mainstream media misinform public about cc offer, while we reap reward.

  4. I wonder if an intern did the research for that segment. It looks like someone believed the marketing from the card issuers, but doesn’t really understand how to redeem those points and miles.

  5. My guess is that the Frontier card and Club Carlson card were selected solely because of their LOW purchase requirements to get the initial bonus. ($500 and $1 respectively).

    Its very simple that MOST folks, using their CC’s for “normal” spend, are going to have to stretch to hit the $4000/3000 for the CSR and Arrival+, if all they are buying is gas and lunch etc. Add in groceries, and you maybe start to get there, with a couple.

  6. list was made by buncha idiots, but thats not the point. every time i see mainstream media coverage of the game… its just one step close to our extinction… RIP…

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