Premium Credit Card Travel Credits
When I first started “collecting” credit cards many years ago, I looked at the high annual fee premium cards and said to myself, “Not for me”. Of course that was a long time ago and over time I have learned how to maximize the value of cards with higher annual fees. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of terrible high annual fee cards out there, but some are definitely worth getting in my opinion.
One of the biggest features or selling points of premium cards is travel credits. In the bank’s mind they offer these credits to help offset the fee, but hope that you won’t actually redeem them. In our mind, we factor these credits into the overall value of the card when determining whether it is both worth getting and keeping.
A Lot of Credits In a Short Time
Because of my evolution on the topic of premium travel cards, I find myself sort of drowning in travel credits. What do I mean? Well, between my wife and I we have a lot of premium cards, but specifically, we have opened many of them recently.
- My wife opened up a Citi Prestige less than 3 months ago before the 50K offer went away. ($250 airfare credit)
- My wife and I both opened up Sapphire Reserve cards in the past month or so. ($300 travel credit on each card.)
- My wife opened up a Ritz-Carlton Visa Infinite card on the same day as her Sapphire Reserve. ($300 travel credit.)
- I upgraded my Business Green card to a Business Platinum to take advantage of an offer from Amex. ($200 airline incidental credit.)
Tracking the Credits
As you can see, that is a lot of credits and I need to make sure to use them all before the end of the year and then again at the beginning of next year since they are all calendar year based. The first thing I need to do is track them. Thankfully that is easy with the Citi Prestige and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
- How Citi Makes It So Easy to Track the Prestige Airline Credit
- How to Track Your Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit Progress
American Express is a bit different. First, I need to select my airline. I think I am going to choose United. Next, I’ll have to make the purchases and then check to see if the credits were issued. I don’t believe there is a tracker that shows progress towards the credit. Thankfully I will be maxing out the credit fairly quickly so that shouldn’t be a huge issue for me.
Finally there is the Ritz Carlton card. This $300 credit is very restrictive and requires you to manually call in for the credits. I have heard you can request them via secure message as well. I am testing that out soon and will let you know. As for tracking, it appears to be manual as well.
Each of these cards has different credit amounts and the credit covers various different things. For that reason my strategy for maximizing the credits is a bit different across the board.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit Strategy
The Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit is an easy one to deal with since it is automatic. I have actually already used up the entire $300 on my card and am working towards using it on my wife’s. I travel a lot so it isn’t that hard. Since just about anything that codes as travel counts, I have earned credits on hotels, award fees, Uber rides and even Metrocard purchases in New York.
Citi Prestige Airfare Credit Strategy
This credit only applies to airfare, but it does actually work on ticket purchases which is nice. I have used the card for a couple of awards which wiped out about half of the credit. In the next month I’ll have another award with about $100 in taxes which will help me take care of the rest. I’ll use the tracker that shows on the statement to make sure I have maximized it.
Ritz-Carlton Strategy Credit Strategy
This travel credit is the most restrictive. It is supposed to be for “qualifying airline purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees and preferred lounge memberships or passes.” I generally don’t have a lot of those expenses and with the time ticking towards 2017 I need to figure out how to get the credit. I have some experiments in the works and will pass on any information I find. Crossing my fingers on this one.
American Express Platinum Credit Strategy
The Amex Platinum strategy has long been to purchase gift cards for your airline of choice. I actually prefer to get the money back in cash, so I used to use a now dead Delta trick. There is a lot of information on Flyertalk about the various airlines and how their gift cards work to trigger the credit on this card. I recommend searching around to find what works best for you.
Yes, I am currently paying a lot of annual fees on these cards and I could go into the details of each one to show why I think it provides enough value to me, but I won’t do that here. The truth is that my strategy or card mix won’t work for everyone and it won’t even work for me unless I maximize these credits. Thankfully I have a handle on it and while I might be drowning in credits, I’m coming out way ahead.