Executive Summary -
For those who are not hung up on frequent flier miles, this is one of the better cards if you are looking for a credit card with travel rewards. The key reason is that you get more bang for the buck when you use the points for airline tickets. Read our verdict in greater detail.
Before we reach our verdict on this card, it is very important to know how does it fare against it's peers. And this task of comparing it to its' competitors is made more difficult because there is such a wide variety of travel rewards card that offer something slightly different. But let's try to bucket them and do some analysis.
The key strength of the program is obviously the value of points when you redeem it for airline tickets. The card does charge a $49 annual fee (though the first year fee is waived). But it only allows you to earn double points on gasoline, groceries and airline tickets. There is another breed of cards that we should compare this one to. And I'm referring to the Escape from Discover Card and the Capital One Venture. They both have roughly similar annual fees as this card. But they allow you to earn double miles for all purchases. Furthermore, you can earn extra miles with their online shopping portal. Both the Discover and Capital One cards allow you to book your travel with anyone, so it frees you up to find the best deal. So here we have a situation where you have one card that excels in value for points when it comes to airline ticket rewards and two others whose strength is their ability to earn double points for all purchases. I think who wins out in this case depends on how much you spend on the gasoline, grocery and airline ticket category since this is the one area in this card that matches the double points.
While most credit cards redemption value for travel (including airline tickets) is 1%, some issuers try to increase the value to slightly more than 1%. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred(SM) Card allows you to earn double points on restaurant and travel expenses. You get 25% more value when you redeem points for travel. Based on these features, it still does not quite match this card. But Chase allows you to transfer points to airline partner frequent flier program as well as Hotel Loyalty programs like Marriott, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton. Airline partners include United, SouthWest, British Airways and Korean Air Skypass. It also has no foreign transaction fee and has trip cancellation insurance.
As you can see from the examples above, there are just many different genres of travel rewards card. But the strength of this offering from US Bank is that no one matches their redemption value for airline tickets. If you do not like the idea of using frequent flier miles because you have to book way too far in advance and be on constant alert for hacks, then perhaps a card like this one will fit your needs better. Your points go further when you have this card and use it to book free airline tickets and the annual fee is reasonable as well.
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