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Travel Reward Credit Cards

Nancy Lininger

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My question was "What are the best reward/mileage credit cards you've found, with the lowest fees and highest benefits? Any cautions?"

The responses are below. As Jeff Tobe suggested, be sure to visit
www.biztravel.com for a great article on the topic.

-- John Putzier

I have found the American Express rewards program to be great. Even though there is an annual fee (I think around $25) you can transfer your points to virtually any program you want, i.e., hotels, airlines, etc. I charge thousands monthly and put them into my Marriott account, and then try to fly one airline as much as possible. In a year's time, I have a free, first class vacation for both my wife and myself.

-- Bill McCurry

Best bet is Diners -- you can use their points on every airline -- and if you're a big time spender you get double points (2 points per mile!)

Second best option is the card that is tied into the airline you have elite status with - as an example, both American and United have mileage caps on how many miles you can earn through their credit cards unless you are Premier or AAdvantage Gold, then there is no limit. . .

-- Jeff Tobe

There is a great article on this at http://www.biztravel.com. Click on News and Views at top, then on MileMaster on left. It should give you lots of info.

-- Mitchell Goozé

This question was asked a couple of years ago and the answer hasn't changed. The Diners Club card has the hands down best program, but you can only really use it as a travel card (airlines, hotels, restaurants) and not much else. But if you do a lot, it is THE BEST program. Aside from the ability to change their points into any other program's points, they will buy you ANYTHING (legal) with their points.

-- Sharon Adcock

I love Diners Card. While not accepted as at many restaurants (at least in the states) as Am Ex & Visa/MCard, it's a great card & is accepted at all hotel/airline/car rental & a # of shops/gas stations, etc. Points can be used for the traditional hotel/airline rewards, but they also have a great catalog of items you can choose instead - for example, I got 8 Waterford red-wine balloon glasses in my pattern. Diners has an annual fee for the card, but doesn't charge for its rewards program, as AmEx does. Also, you can get $500/mth in cash from ATM if you need it & it just appears on your bill, without an annual fee like AmEx for the service (and AmEx actually withdraws it from your checking acct instead of just adding it to your bill). And I just find them great to work w/. Also, you don't have a limit (well, technically you don't - think it's based on spending habits) on the card.

I also use Amex & have a United Visa. Both are fine. I usually use AmEx & Diners because of the lack of limit, and because the points can be transferred into most airlines/hotels, etc. United's my main carrier so I have their card as well. W/ the Amex program, if you miss your payment date, even by a day, you forfeit the points you gained & have to pay a $15/fee to re-instate them. Neither Diners nor United does that.

-- Marita Littauer

I find that Southwest Airlines is the best -- though their free tickets are not good for exotic places. Most airlines credit cards require you to spend $20-25,000 to get a free ticket. With Southwest you only need to spend $16,000 or combine that with flights, 8 round trips = 1 ticket. Each $1000 spent equals one way. Additionally, their free tickets are automatically sent when you reach that level and they can be used anytime, even last minute. I keep a few on hand for short notice flights. I have credit for several free trips on America West but their use policy is not nearly as friendly. Every time I have tried to use one, I am told there are no award seats available on the flights I want. I have never had this happen with Southwest. American Airlines is good as well, especially if you want to go more interesting places. However, you need to plan in advance with them or pay some additional fees.

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