Best rewards cards

My mailbox fills up with credit card offers from the airlines. With the ever increasing airline fees, I have to admit the cards are tempting. The annual fees are holding me back. I hate to pay a fee for rewards.

A survey by NextAdvisor found the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express is tops for if you want to earn points. You can rack up points fast at Starwood hotels where you get 4-5 points for every $1 spent. It’s the standard point per $1 spent on all other purchase.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards card pays the most for airline miles.  You earn 2 points for every $1 spent on a Southwest flight, and 1 point for all other purchases.

You also need to consider the perks. With Southwest, you can earn a free flight with your first purchase. With the United MileagePlus Explorer Card you get priority boarding, first checked bag free, and two passes to the United Club.

Consider all your options by shopping around on the card’s website or search a site like Bankrate. Always do the math. Take into account annual fees even if they are waived the first year. Then figure out how many points it takes to earn a free flight, and compare the cards based on your habits. If you frequent a certain airline or hotel, these travel cards may be right for you because you can earn points faster.

Here’s a look at all the results:

Airline point value per $100 spent
Starwood Preferred Guest – $2.10
American Airlines Advantage – $1
Marriott Rewards – 80-cents
United MileagePlus – 70-cents
Hilton HHonors – 50-cents

Flight point value per $100 spent
Southwest Rapid Rewards – $1.70
Starwood Preferred Guest – $1.20
United MileagePlus – $1.10
Delta Skymiles – $1
American Airlines AAdvantage – 90-cents
Continental Airlines OnePass – 90-cents

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