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Travel Credit card

Looking for a new CC. I have had an Alaska card for >20 years. Stack up miles & use them. Our home airport is PDX. We fly Alaska mostly West Coast to catch long hauls to Europe. Alaska is changing the CC to a higher fee plus no lounge access on booked flights in First Class <2100 miles. The majority of our flights are SFO/LAX from Portland. Our long hauls we fly Business Class. So it can be a bit of a shock to fly PDX-LAX in (premium) economy then switch to BC

Looking at the Delta card & the Capital One Venture card. Delta looks like an Amex card so possibly not as useful? Delta does fly straight out of PDX to AMS. So that would cut out a leg & possibly an overnight. Do I understand the Venture card gives a statement credit on booked travel through your card? Is it that easy? Any gotchas? I don't know much about Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Easy to use? How is it to redeem miles?

I'm sorry to be moving on from Alaska...unless all the others are worse!

Posted by
6460 posts

I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. It can be a little daunting to see the $550 annual fee until you find out what you get for that fee.
1. Immediate $300 travel credit. Simply buy $300 worth of travel over the course of a year and get that as an immediate credit on your statement. Cost is now down to $250.
2. Priority Pass Lounge membership for yourself and your guests. Some airports have more options for this than others, but I find it very useful. At SeaTac, I can go to two different lounges and/or eat $28 / ($56 for two people) worth of food at two restaurants for free. I just looked up PDX and the food/drink option is available at two Capers Restaurants and Westward Whiskey. Say I use these benefits 4 times a year (I usually do more) $28 X4= $112 Cost is now down to $138. But wait, there is more.
3. Free door dash delivery plus $5 credit per month $60 in credits Cost is now down to $78
4. Lyft discounts and credits
5. Excellent travel and auto rental insurance. Worth way more than $78 a year.

You also earn rewards points which you can either redeem for cash, redeem at a higher value for travel, transfer to several different airline alliance frequent flyer programs. Last summer, I needed to make a last minute change to a flight I had reserved with frequent flier miles through one airline. There weren't any good options left with that airline, but I was able to transfer my rewards points instantly into a different airline and get the ticket I needed. It provided flexibility.

I always make money off this card in points and cash returned and get good value for the lounges and travel insurance.

Posted by
13892 posts

I too have had an Alaska card for over 20 years ( actually 2 on my miles account). I was unaware of the upcoming changes, but it won’t make any difference to us. We use our Alaska miles more for foreign travel than domestic, although we do use them to fly to Alaska and on rare occasions to JFK. We have used our Alaska miles to fly Qantas to Sydney in First Class, to Japan in First Class, and several times to Europe in Business Class on Condor and on British Airways ( these with the usual high fees, which we are willing to pay to be able to fly in Club World).

I also have an AmEx card which is more usual for travel than people think. There have been numerous occasions when our online booking of tickets ( train, opera, or other) was only possible with the AmEx card—-no American Visa card was accepted ( unless it had Verified by Visa). And online payment of hotels and apartments has not been a problem at all. Further, if you visit London, the AmEx is one American card that is reliably accepted for contactless payment on the Tube and London buses and boats. My husband’s Alaska Visa card would not work.

A nice bonus of my AmEx from Marriott is that the points convert to airline miles with a 25% bonus for each 20K airline miles you get. And you can convert to any airline mileage program, so you aren’t limited to Delta or United or other airline. I don’t know what the signup bonus is but you might take a look. I believe the annual fee on my Bonvoy AmEx is $95. There is also a free night at a lower-tier Marriott included. We have used ours for free nights at St. Ermin’s in London and at Hotel Straf, a very nice, super-modern hotel in Milan, with a view of the Duomo 50 yards away from our balcony.

Posted by
5248 posts

I've had a number of those Alaska cards over the years (new bonus each time - they allow it, so why not? They could choose not to allow you to get the bonus multiple times.) It worked great for years to go overseas. One nice feature was a free stop-over on the east coast to see family before heaving to Europe. Delta used to be partners with Alaska - wow, it was sweet to take that direct flight to AMS from PDX!!

I've since been using AA credit cards - their FF program has improved to become more flexible (a change during Covid it lasts!) You can now book and cancel for no redeposit fee. I booked and canceled a few trips last year, but I booked a trip to Croatia last month literally three days prior to departure for the same 30K miles one-way as it cost months earlier. It is hard to get to Europe without a change in Dallas or Chicago (or JFK - ugh) using AA, though. Last month I flew PDX-DFW/DFW-LHR/LHR-SPU (Croatia) which was a long day, but it worked out fine.

AA's cards have nice bonuses occasionally - not sure what the bonus is now for new sign-ups, but you can get a card now with no annual fee the first year if you like. Use AA miles to go one way or Alaska or Delta to return if need be. No need to book it all round-trip on a single airline.

Posted by
2159 posts

I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which is a bit similar to the Reserved but less benefits and a lower fee. The annual fee is $95, which includes a $50 hotel credit, great travel and car rental insurance. Right now you can get 60,000 bonus points (once conditions are met).

If you are looking for lounge access, you would probably prefer the Reserved (Carol's recommendation above). You might want to do a comparison of the two cards and see what you get for the fees - here is a link: Chase Sapphire Credit Cards (Reserved and Preferred).

Posted by
6389 posts

I long ago decided "travel card" really is two cards, for me. I spend the bucks and pay for the Delta Reserve card. It paid for itself many times over when I traveled for business, but even in retirement, I have kept it as it pays for itself for the way I travel. For me, I have long layovers, coming from a regional airport, so the free lounge access itself is worth a couple hundred or more. Then figure free bags (I could have checked 3 on the way back from Europe), and the MQM miles and the MQD waiver, it helps me keep my status, which means I fly Comfort Plus or First Class nearly every flight for a Main Cabin ticket (that may decline with my status in future years). Edit: also a ton of other benefits from premium car rental insurance to TSA precheck/Global entry reimbursement, travel insurances, etc.

I use that card for most every purchase in daily life, so I get enough miles for a free Europe ticket every year, plus a couple domestic companion tickets. Basically, this card is just for the travel perks, and sees little use when I am in Europe (though AMEX is accepted more than most think)

When I am traveling, I use a United Nations Federal Credit Union Visa. No FTF fees, other fees about half (for cash advance and the like), It is PIN Priority, so I never sign, and can use it anywhere in Europe with no issues.

So basically, one card to get benefits at home and at the airport, another for ease of use there.

Posted by
11117 posts

I, too, have the AMEX card and have had it since 1974 in various forms. Contrary to popular belief, the American Express card is quite usable in Europe. I have it as the default card on my Apple Pay so use it a lot at home either for groceries or gas but my last trip in Sept/Oct to Italy I used it almost every day as ApplePay. There were very few instances where it was not accepted. The venues ranged from 3E gelato in Venice to my pre-tour hotel bills.

I do not have the card where you get free lounge access but the last trip and the next one next spring I'm going Delta One so get access anyway.

Delta has always been my preference for an airline back to the long ago time when my Dad was an air traffic controller, lol. Living in North Idaho I previously flew out of Lewiston and for a while Delta was the only option. Now flying from Spokane Delta to Seattle and then to Europe from there is an easy choice.

Posted by
5020 posts

I’ve been happy with my AA (Citibank) CC for a number of years.
I like the fact that there are no international fees.

And… As Andrew has mentioned ( since Covid) there is no fee to get miles reinstated to your account if you cancel your flight(s)

They have great deals for new accounts from time to time.

Check this out for more info:

It looks like there’s a new offer for 80,000 miles, but you’d need to spend $4000 in the first 3 months.

Happy hunting!

Posted by
3941 posts

Noting that redeposit of miles after cancellation has always been free on Southwest, and is free now on Delta, United, and American.

Posted by
269 posts

OP should also note the Chase Sapphire cards accumulate "Ultimate Rewards" points, which are directly transferable to multiple airline and hotel programs, (e.g., United, Lufthansa, Air France, etc.) usually 1:1. I'm sure the other major players (Citi, etc.) have similar arrangements.

Posted by
183 posts

Thank you all for your experiences. Beyond your on the ground experience I'm looking at OMAAT ( blog for "best" cards. I worry about AMEX cards being accepted here in the States. Perhaps I could make it my Google Pay card & then use it that way. That's a nice hack.We are remodeling our home (1 year done & 1 to go....creeks don't rise) so I'm spending more than usual on the CC. I don't think I am going to do Capital one because I have two there right now. (REI & cash back card)

I'm leaning towards Chase Sapphire Reserve right now. Carol is a good salesperson. She may have worked in Timeshare sales ;-)) Mostly because I would like some possible lounge access.I realize Priority Pass holders may get shut out of lounges if they are full. My partner just flew out of PHX and it was jam packed. She was wishing for lounge access. She also picked up sign on bonus miles from Alaska for signing up for another card.

Thanks for the help

Posted by
5248 posts

Yes, Tom, I love Southwest's award program and use it exclusively for domestic flights, but it sounded like the OP wants to use the awards to fly to Europe.

Posted by
3941 posts

My point was that all of the big 4 US airlines have free redeposit of points. It was insinuated above that American was unique in this regard.

Posted by
5248 posts

No, Tom, I was not insinuating that. I was merely pointing out that American's award program has improved because they no longer charge to re-deposit miles if you cancel an award ticket, so this is another reason to want to get an AA credit card for miles vs. a few years ago.

Posted by
12275 posts

Be aware, the Amex Marriott Bonvoy card no longer offers the bonus transfer miles with American or Delta. They convert 3 to 1 meaning three Marriott points to one airline mile for most airlines. I did this a few months ago.

If you decide to go with an AA card, and want to use Google Pay, use the Barclaycard AA card rather than the one from Citibank. The Citibank card can't be used with Google Pay. Otherwise both cards are pretty much the same.

I have seen occassions where Priority Pass card holders are denied lounge access due to crowding.

I have most of the airline credit cards and none of them give me lounge access.

Lastly.....many of the airline cards pay a hefty sign up bonus to websites promoting them. Sometimes the "best" card on these websites is the one actually paying the highest commission.

Posted by
944 posts

We only have two cards, USAA Visa and the Platinum Amex. The Amex allows us lounge privileges, which is really nice. The only time I have not been able to get into a lounge is when there its a line, but they have never discriminated because I was Priority Pass. The wait for the lounge has become the norm at SEA, but at least the wait has not been the 90 minutes that it was earlier this fall. I use two of the lounges there regularly, and so far that has been the only hiccup with them.

I love the Amex rewards. The benefits more than pay for the card, so it is worthwhile for us. The $200 travel bonus, the $200 Hulu bonus, etc. I head out on a trip next week in which I used some of our miles for 3 of us to go to Germany/Austria on a whim. I have used the miles from this card for so many overseas tickets, including a handful of times when it was all 4 of us together. So for us, this card makes sense.

We do not have the Alaska card, but fly Alaska often. My husband is MVP, but I am not as I tend to fly off either my accrued miles or use his. I do like that with booking on Alaska, they have had quite a few dates lately where I can get a r/t ticket for 10k miles plus $11 tax. I jump on those when I see them.

Posted by
183 posts

Thanks for all the help. Going to investigate the American card. I had not considered them. I'll decide over my Thanksgiving turkey hangover and be sure to get in before month end. We don't fly but a couple times a year but a lounge is nice. Mostly West Coast, California & Arizona to get out of the rain for a bit.

Posted by
5248 posts

Mark, for domestic travel, nothing beats Southwest's award program in my opinion. It's pretty easy to churn credit cards to get new bonuses every so often (there are restrictions, but they allow it, so why not? It hasn't affected my credit in any noticeable way). Southwest's policies are even more flexible than AA's. Their points prices are based on the dollar price, so whenever Southwest has a fare sale, the cheap fares are available with points, too. I save my AA miles for overseas travel.

Posted by
29 posts

If you are looking for a credit card that you can use your reward miles on overseas flights, I do not recommend American Express/Delta card. It used to be great for reward travel. No more. They don't even allow you to use it on the best flight options. The longer flights are at such a ridiculous number of miles, that it is useless. At least the Alaska card allows you to use it on the flights you want.