Executive Summary -
In terms of value, no other cards comes close to this card. While 10,000 gets you $100 for all other cards, this one only requires 7,500 points for the same value. This card is great for those who like to use points for short haul domestic flights or cheap hotels.
Before we answer the question of whether this is a good card or not, I think we should address the issue of which type of consumer will find this card appealing. If you have followed our review series so far and the cards that we compared it to, you will have realized that this card belongs to the no annual fee rewards cards that allows you to book any travel tickets you want.
It is different from earning frequent flyer miles, where you have to book your tickets way in advance. Frequent flyer miles are best used for international flights on business class booked way in advanced. For most domestic flights, you need a minimum of 20,000 to 25,000 miles. In fact, for many programs, you would need 35,000 miles.
If you travel short haul flights in the US, you may find that your ticket only cost only a couple of hundred dollars 2-way. If that is the case, it does not make sense using frequent flyer miles. But using a card like the Blue Sky from American Express makes perfect sense. It might also make sense if you are savvy enough to find cheap international flights (we are talking $800 range), then it might makes sense as well.
Now that we have got this out of the way, let's look at the pros and cons this card.
Best Value For Points
- As we have seen from the peer comparisons, nothing beats this card in terms of value of points. You only need 7,500 points to get $100 in value. All the other cards in the market require 10,000 to get the same value (for travel).
2.7% Foreign Transaction Fee
- Both Discover and Capital One all have no FX transaction fee on all their cards. But this card charges 2.7% fee for that.
At first glance, this would be a huge negative. But as I've mentioned earlier, this card (and similar ones) are best for folks who travel short haul domestic flights. So I'm not sure the presence of FX fee will be a deal killer.
- The area of travel benefits is one area where I feel this card falls short a bit. Back in the good old days, travel accident insurance from American Express did not require any fees. But it looks like Amex has tagged on a fee in return for a higher coverage than other cards.
Verdict - We recommend this card to those who want to use their credit card for travel rewards but want to avoid paying any annual fees. While many other credit cards require you to use their "internal travel agents" to book your travel arrangements, with the Blue Sky, you can use book your travel directly with the airline, hotels or car rentals or through any travel agents to get the best deal. Because you book through your own agents or whatever channels, you avoid the usual restrictions imposed by other reward cards.
Credit Cards' proogram internal online travel booking system and in fact, all comparison portal like orbitz.com, expedia.com suffer from the absence of SouthWest in their system. So even if you do a comparison check, you still have to go to the SouthWest site and check their prices. And if you decide to fly SouthWest, it is really cumbersome to use your credit card reward program for that. A card like this really comes in handy for all of you SouthWest flyers. Though most other travel credit cards claim to have no blackout dates, you still have to book 21 days in advance and most of the time have to stay over a Saturday. With the Blue Sky, you avoid these restrictions. Furthermore, the "rebate" you get is slightly better than one percent.
If you fly short haul flights, or like to book cheap hotels, do not travel overseas, then this card offers the best value for points compared to all other cards the market. You will simply get more back for the buck (points) than it's peers.
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