As our regular readers know, there are many, many credit cards out there that provide fantastic travel benefits that help us all have big travel for small money. However, time and again I’m asked what card I would choose if I could only have one. And while I think there are two cards out there that complement one another well, if I had to only choose one, it would have to be the Chase Ink Bold/Plus.
Let’s review the benefits:
- 50,000 Ultimate Rewards upon spending $5,000 in the first three months
- 5X points on all spend at Office Supply Stores and cell phone, cable, internet, landline expenses
- 2X spend on gas and hotel
- 1:1 transfer to United, Southwest, Hyatt, Amtrak, etc.
- No foreign transaction fees
All of these benefits are great and really make it worthwhile to sign up for the card. But only one makes it a keeper for the long term in my opinion. And that is the 5X points on all spend at Office Supply stores. One might think that there is only so much you can get at an Office Supply store unless you run a business. But that’s not true. Office Supply stores sell gift cards and lots of them. They not only sell Visa and Mastercard gift cards but also gift cards to a variety of merchants, including those that I frequent all the time like Home Depot and Amazon. Therefore, it is really easy to earn 5X Ultimate Rewards on a lot of your spending by buying gift cards at your local Office Supply store to use on your everyday purchase. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that purchases made with gift cards exclusively will not be covered by your credit card purchase protection policy so keep this in mind when considering whether or not you should use them for larger purchases. Also, the 5X and 2X rewards are applicable up to $50,000 in purchases in each category so this card is not for the really big spenders.
As a reminder, Ultimate Rewards are wonderful for a variety of reasons including:
- Transferring to United for business class tickets to India
- Transferring to Southwest for those special moments
- Transferring to Hyatt to upgrade your hotel stay during a once in a lifetime vacation
- Providing access to the Ultimate Rewards car rental portal that provides great rental car discounts
I alluded above that I ideally would choose two cards to pair with one another for the ultimate combination of travel credit cards. That second card would be the Barclay Arrival card due to the fact that it provides a 2.22% return on all spend, if redeemed for travel.
The benefits of the Arrival card include:
- 40,000 points upon spending $1,000 in the first three months
- 2X spend on everything
- No foreign transaction fees
- 10% rebate when points are redeemed for travel
- Complimentary TripIt Pro subscription
I value this card so highly because inevitably, there are expenses incurred in travel that simply can’t be covered by airline miles or hotel points. This card fills that gap by allowing you to charge those expenses (airline incidental fees, rental car fees, bed and breakfast stays, etc.) to that card and then redeeming your points to cover them.
In short, if I were to just choose one travel card to keep in my wallet for the long term, that would be the Chase Ink Bold (or Plus) card. However, if I could have two, I’d add the Barclay Arrival card for not only the flexibility it provides, but for the fact that it earns 2X on all spend. This is a stellar combination if you ask me!