It’s 2019! What Credit Cards should you get NOW?

Happy New Year! It’s a depressing day for us in the travel game, as all of our miles and points balances return to zero and we start again to earn those precious elite miles and qualifying segments. It also starts the clock on a lot of credit card rewards and points schemes. So, since it’s January 1st, which cards can you apply for, and why should you? Here’s a great starter list from where to being your 2019 points and miles journey.

Airline Miles

The great benefit to airline mile credit cards is the ability to earn elite miles towards your status for the new year. Many cards offer you X miles if you spend Y in a “calendar year.” Since that calendar year starts now, the time is perfect to apply. Here’s our three favorites:

Southwest Airlines has one of the best deals out there for heavy spenders on their credit cards. The companion pass has been written about extensively and a great article by our buddy Grant over at Travel With Grant goes through the best way to get it. Read his article for all the details, and you can apply for the card by clicking here.

Southwest Airlines Sale

Southwest Plane

The British Airways Visa Chase card has been in our wallet for a few years. The signup bonus is really lucrative (100,000 Avios after a year of spending) and you’ll earn a companion pass here as well. That companion pass, which requires $30,000 in spend a year, gets you a BoGo ticket on miles. Sure, sure, sure, the purists out there are going to tell me that the cost for taxes and fees are quite high, and they are. But when you realize that you can save 100k+ miles on an airline ticket, the value is there.

The Delta Skymiles Platinum card from American Express (read more here) has been my credit card to help earn status with Delta since 2005. I love that for each $25,000 I spend I get 10,000 MQM. Spend $50k and get 20,000 MQM. It’s a great way for me to top off my Delta Platinum/Diamond MQM earning. On top of that each year you get a BOGO certificate to fly anywhere Delta flies Domestically. The annual fee is offset, in my opinion, by the 20k qualifying miles each year AND the companion pass.

Delta plane waiting at the gate, Atlanta

Get the card now as you want to start earning your MQM as quickly as possible. The $50k in spend must be in a calendar year.

Hotel Points

World of Hyatt has a fantastic card where you can earn 60,000 points at sign up AND you earn Discoverist Status just by having the card. On top of that, 5 nights toward elite status every year and another 2 nights for each $5,000 you spend on the card. Racking up nights to get to top tier status on Hyatt has never been easier.

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card (read more here) is a must for Hilton lovers. 150,000 points at sign up, automatic Gold Status, a free weekend night, and the chance to spend up to Diamond status, all for only $95 a year? Why haven’t you applied already?! I think this card is severely overlooked, but a no brainer for points enthusiasts.

Hilton HHonors

Hilton Luxor Pools

Marriott Rewards has their Chase card. Silver status automatically for having the card and spend $35,000 a year and you’ll get Gold Status. There’s also a free night every year that you have the card, all for a $95 annual fee. Not a bad set of benefits if you’re a Marriott fan!

Flexible Currencies

Here’s where it starts to get really good. Flexible currencies are points that you earn with a credit card instead of directly with the airline or hotel. They’re flexible because YOU can decide what you want to do with them. Need cash back? You can turn them into cash or statement credits. Want to transfer them to hotel or airline partners and redeem there? You can do that too.

These cards offer the most versatility and flexibility for your miles and points earning.

iTunes Gift Cards on Sale

Just need a couple…

The American Express Gold card (read more here) is my Go-To card for 2019. It earns 4x at grocery stores (up to $25,000 a year) and earns 4x at dining. Every time you eat out and every time you shop for groceries you’re earning 4x the points. We’ve covered earning at grocery stores before, but the big win here is shopping on the grocery store gift card rack. Just think of all the stores you could be earning at 4x the points and miles!

Chase Sapphire Preferred (not the Reserve) is my go to for 2019. There’s been a lot of talk about the Reserve vs. the Preferred, but I think the Preferred is still the go to. Sure, the reserve was nice and shiny when it came out with its huge 100,000 point bonus, but now it’s back down to a manageable 50,000 bonus. Also, the annual fee of $450 is hard to swallow for some people, even with the $300 travel credit.

American Express Platinum (read more here) is also one that’s a mainstay in our wallet. Every year you get a $200 airline fee credit, a $100 credit to Saks Fifth Avenue, $200 in Uber Credits, and access to Priority Pass lounges, Delta Skyclubs AND The Centurion studios and lounges in airports.

Add on top of that the 5x earning on flights booked directly with the airlines and you’ve got one heck of a compelling card.

American Express Centurion Studio Seattle

Capital One Venture Card (read more here) has a really interesting new structure for redeeming your points. According to our buddies over at Nerdwallet, you can now transfer your Venture points to a dozen or so airline partners. This allows you to earn 2x miles on every purchase and 10x the miles at when you book there. The idea that you could earn 10x miles on hotel purchases, especially if you don’t have loyalty to any particular program, is massive. You can apply and learn more here.

Small Business Cards

Ink Family (Ink Cash, Ink Preferred, Ink Unlimited) is the holy trifecta of business cards. Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the most flexible, useful, and valuable currencies in the market today. With these three cards, you’ve got a powerhouse of earning potential, from 5x at office stores to 3x on online advertising, to 1.5x everywhere else, these cards are a must. Start with the Case, go to the Preferred, and end with the Unlimited.

Ink Business Preferred

Capital One Spark Miles for Business (read more here) has the LARGEST signup bonus in the market today. If you’ve got the spend, you can earn 200,000 bonus miles, plus another 110,000 from spend, for a total of 310,000 miles in 6 months. 

Earn a bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and 150,000 miles when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of opening your account.

If you have a lot of business expenses and good credit, dig in for this one. Think of all those miles you can transfer over to the airlines!

Cash Back

There’s really no BAD time to get a cash back card, as the majority of them don’t really have a bad start/end date for earning rewards. If you’re in here for the cash and don’t care about the miles, here’s two good ones.

Capital One Quicksilver (read more here) has no annual fee, a $150 sign up bonus, and 1.5% cash back on everything that you buy. Plain and simple! It’s a great card to not have to worry about bonus categories and where to best spend your money.

Wells Fargo Cashwise Visa (read more here) is the same as the Capital One, but since it’s Wells Fargo, it’s a new bank that many don’t have cards with. The same base as the Quicksilver above, so it’s 1.5% cash back and this has a higher bonus, $200 at sign up. Once again, a fantastic card if you don’t want to worry about where to use your cards.

Credit Cards can be the best way for you to rack up a ton of miles and points in a short amount of time. If you start 2019 the right way, there’s no way you can’t be earning tens if not hundreds of thousands of miles and points in the new year.

What’s your favorite card? Do you have any questions about the above cards? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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