I’m just going to analyze some of the popular credit cards to talk about right now, and give my non-bias opinion. And then I’ll give alternatives, if the previously mentioned cards suck.
Let me sum this up:
- There are 3 Delta cards with a 50,000 mile offer… and they all suck, but I’ll steer you straight.
- The Marriott card at 70k is still not the best hotel card no matter which way you slice it.
- The Virgin 90k offer, is not actually 90k, that’s deceitful and it certainly sucks.
- The new Citi 2% cash back card… sucks really bad.
- New Everyday Amex cards suck
The Delta 50k Sucks for real
Really, honestly, truly, dogmaticlly… the Delta 50,000 miles card is not that great of a deal. It’s insane.
What’s so insane about a 50k sign up?
[Rant about affiliate ethics]
The way I like to think about affiliate commission and blogging resonsibility/ethics, is in the ratio of content to reality.
How often do I use United miles? All the time. Therefore should it get a large chunk of content space? Yes.
How often do I use/collect/want Delta miles? Like never. Therefore should it get a large chunk of content space? No.
And that’s how you can tell whether or not your commissions are driving your content.
“But wait, it’s not bad to make a living!”
Hey, you’re telling me! I’m trying over here. And that’s not my point.
See with advertising, people ignore that crap. Heck, now a days people have ad blockers. But when you see it and click it, you know it’s a paid ad.
But with blog content, it’s different. People know and certainly trust the bloggers they follow. So when half of their content is about a card/program, the readers will get those cards.
[/Rant about affiliate ethics]
Back to Delta Miles
Why am I saying this in relation to Delta? Because a number of friends have messaged me excited about the 50k Delta card. And the big deal is that they don’t have other basic cards and were passing up offers like the United 55k offer.
Is it a terrible card? Yes. Am I getting any? No. Would I if every other card was gone? Yes.
See but the thing is, people starting out don’t know the difference between these programs. So they rely on the content of bloggers. And not only that, they perceive value in a card simply by the frequency at which a card is talked about. Therefore if multiple posts across multiple blogs are about the Delta card, then clearly this is what the “experts” are getting, then clearly this is what I should get.
So let me set you straight.
Delta is not a program you want to start out at, and their points are going through a devaluation soon, for any travel starting 2015, but there are a few more things not so publicized.
1) Delta miles (and SkyTeam) have the worst fuel surcharges.
If you have AA, USA, and United Miles you don’t have to worry about fuel surcharges at all (except for BA (so just don’t fly that one airline)). They do not pass on fuel surcharges. No fuel surcharges flying to Europe, Asia, Australia, wherever (except on BA).
And if you have other OneWorld miles, like British Airways or Cathay, you can fly to Europe on Air Berlin and completely avoid fuel surcharges.
If you’re using Air Canada miles you can use your miles on Air China, Brussels, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, Scandinavian, Singapore, South Africa, Swiss, Turkish, United, etc…
But when you use your miles with Delta, you’re screwed.
Flying to China? Screwed. France? Screwed. $516 extra per ticket kind of screwed.
If this doesn’t make sense, see the Master Chart to Avoiding Fuel Surcharges.
I don’t want to make this a Delta post, so lets make these quick.
2) A study shows, Delta has the worst award availability of any major airline.
Researchers were able to book Delta tickets 27% of the time.
3) Therefore, on the awards you do find, you often spend way more than the “tier 1” price.
A roundtrip to Europe could cost 60,000 miles, or it will likely cost as much as 130,000 miles… ya know, plus the fuel surcharges.
Better cards would be: the Chase Sapphire Preferred 40k, the Ink Bold 50k, the current United 55,000 mile offer, AA’s 50k, or anything not Delta.
The Marriott 70k still sucks
This card is my last choice for a hotel card. Even with the 70k offer, I was not tempted by this card.
On the top tier end, it could get 1 free night at a top tier hotel.
- Hyatt offers two free nights
- Fairmont offers two free nights
- Hilton Reserve card offers two free weekend nights
- Club Carlson would offer 2 free nights, plus some
On the lower end you could hypothetically find a hotel for 7,500 points a night, which would be 9 free nights.
- Club Carlson card could give 18+ nights
- Hilton 60k would give 12 nights (and we’ve seen the bonus higher (so we’re comparing the best bonus to an average bonus)
- Starwood 25k could give 12 free nights
The new Citi 2% card sucks big
Did I miss a memo or do I just need Citi affiliate links? This card sucks. Why are we even discussing it?
It doesn’t even have a sign up bonus. The Barclay Arrival Plus comes with $400 via 40,000 points and you earn more value per dollar. And there are many more examples. I can’t imagine a universe where I would get this card, and I can’t even imagine a scenario where I would ever use it. And no other blogger is getting it (unless they are doing very very higher dollars with, no cat bonus, and don’t already have a 2% back card (but still why not get one with a bonus?)). So why are we talking about it? Unless it’s to say that no one should get it. But no one would know about it if bloggers weren’t talking about it.
This is the Cap1 Venture card with no bonus. So I mean… It’s like a worse version. And both are worse than the Barclay Arrival Plus.
Here’s why it really sucks: If I’m MSing, I’ll 5x that sucker at any grocery, office, gas station, etc… If I’m buying travel, I could at least 3x it and maybe more with that airline or hotel’s particular card.
If I’m buying anything else:
1) At 2% back, you would have to spend $20,000 to make $400, which is the bonus of many other cards. PLUS, you could have been using those other cards on the $20k. So that’s not the break even point, it’s more like $30,000 compared to using a 1% card.
2) You can 5x anything for 4% profit. Anything you buy, you could first go buy a $500 gift card and then buy it. At a 1% loss (and there are much cheaper ways), that’s a 4% everywhere.
Same Goes with the New Everyday Amex Cards… Those suck too
10,000 point sign up bonuses? And the spend categories are nothing.
Wait a second… this card isn’t even new? So what are the posts about?
3x at supermarkets, oh my! Half of the Amex Blue which gives 6x and my Old Blue gives 5%. Both Amex cards too. But no talky?
For 99.9% of the people out there, this card is a not the best card for their spending.
If you’re looking to get a cashback card to reimburse travel the Arrival Plus earns slightly more and comes with a $400 signup bonus. I personally, would still start with Chase UR earning cards, United, AA and generally anything over 50k.
The not 90k Virgin Offer sucks
What in the world. No one in this community includes the annual bonus when talking about the card signup bonus, or the card in general… unless they are selling something.
This card is not a 90k offer. MMS said it best with an honest title “70,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles When You Complete A LOT of Spending on the Virgin Atlantic Card”
And goofballs, Virgin Elevate and Virgin Atlantic have different award charts.
Anyways. Has anyone looked at the redemptions on Virgin? They come with a billion dollars in fuel surcharges.
I should probably make a chart that’s a tab or something that’s an honest quick review of cards. Have the bonus, some info, and then Drew’s rating. On a scale of “sucks big” to “blogger style FIRE SALE” these cards are closer to the suck end. Now the United 55k card on the other hand, is closer to the fire sale end, if I were into that. It’s going away soon, and is the highest it ever gets.
Just because it’s going soon, or just because it says, “70,000” or even “90,000”, stop and research to see how far it actually gets you and at what $ costs. If you want my opinion on a program, in the top right, right under the newsletter sign up form is a search bar that searches this site.
Also, sorry if this blog post sounds so angry… I’m not, I’m just caught up in the moment. 😉 And I sincerely care about my readers and don’t want them to get stuck with the no bonus 2% cash back card. Gotta watch out for my peeps.
*Update/THE-Point*: Early on I said that these cards are not the ones you get early on. If you’re completely out of cards, yes, get the Delta card.
THE point is that these cards are a small part of anyones strategy or a main strategy for very few people. Few people in a hobby of hundreds of thousands of people. YET, bad cards that pay good commission get equal attention or even more attention than useful cards that don’t pay commission. I’m not calling out any particular blogger, but more reflecting on the blogosphere as a whole. If you averaged the number of posts about the Citi 2% against post on similar cards that don’t have affiliate commission, it would be no contest as to which gets more attention. Again, overall. This also doesn’t take away from the useful posts in the blogosphere, it’s just about the bias of $$. I have no problem with making money on a blog, duh. But unfortunately, it comes with a responsibility to give people who rely on a blogger for info to spread out the content according to reality and no commission.
Also, this post is a counter balance. There are many incentives to tell you everything a card might be good for. Here’s why these cards might be crappy, and are for 99% of the people out there. If you’re MSing 20k, 30k a week, a month or whatever… 1) things change, and 2) you’re probably in this enough to know the difference. MANY people aren’t and therefore don’t know the difference. I personally have none of the cards I bashed.
Seriously though guys, always always, thanks for reading and thanks for your support!