Best mile credit cards of 2013
Click on the links below to read reviews of the mile credit cards and airline credit cards we have chosen as the best of 2012. We travel over 100,000 miles a year and have chosen these mile credit cards based on mile earning power and the value of the underlying programs. These cards screen well following the basic principles we explain in our How to Choose a Mile Credit Card post and are backed by valuable programs. If you are a more advanced user you can also see what cards the top frequent flyer bloggers choose.
We also recommend entering your personal spending habits in our Travel Credit Card Calculator wizard to see which cards rank high for you, as mix of dining/travel/gas other spend can make a big difference in a mile credit card’s value.
- Smarter Travel Magazine Editor’s Choice Award for “Best Travel Awards Card for Domestic Use.”
- Transfer points 1:1 to over 30 airline miles programs
- Redeem for free nights, cash and point, and upgrades at Westin, Sheraton, W, Le Meridien, Aloft, Four Points, and St. Regis hotels worldwide
What is Starwood Preferred Guest?
Starwood Preferred Guest is the points program from Starwood Hotels, which includes Sheraton, Westin, W, Four Points, Le Meridien, and St. Regis hotels. You don’t need to stay at one of their hotels to join or earn points, and you are automatically enrolled when you sign up for the credit card.
We like the program because it lets you transfer your points into miles in over 30 top airline programs, giving you incredible flexibility with one card. In addition, you can use your points for free nights at their hotels, for merchandise, or gift cards.
Top three reasons to choose
- Compatible with most airline mile programs. You can transfer your Starwood points almost always at 1:1 to over 30 top airline miles programs (United and Continental are diluted 2:1), making it the most flexible card. Click here to learn more about airline transfer and to see a list of participating airlines.
- Easy hotel rewards. If a standard room is available for sale, you can book it with your Starwood points. Hotel rewards are much easier to use for family vacations than trying to find flight awards for a family of 4.
- Generous 10,000 point signon is worth up to 3 free nights at many Shreaton, Westin, W, St. Regis, Four Points, and Le Meridien hotels, 10,000 airline miles, or a $100 gift card.
This is the best all-around reward card for many travelers. It’s great for people who fly just about every major airline, light hotel guests, and anyone who wants to stay at a Starwood hotel (Sheraton, Westin, W, Four Points, St. Regis, Le Meridien). This card offers better earning power for airline awards than most airline cards, and allows direct transfer to your airline accounts for redemption.
It’s also excellent for people who don’t travel frequently but want to earn points toward valuable hotel nights Hotels are much easier to redeem for vacations and the dollar value you get for each point you use is often better than for for airline tickets. You also need fewer points for free hotel nights than for most free flights. And, with Starwood If there’s a standard room for sale, it’s available for points.
How it works
Don’t worry about whether you want to use points for airlines or hotels. Decide when you plan your trip. You earn 1 Starwood point for every dollar spent…and can transfer those points online to your account with nearly every major airline …most 1 for 1…with quick turnaround. Moreover, you get a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 20,000 points you transfer to airline miles, effecitvely earning 1.25 miles per dollars spent when you transfer in 20,000 point increments.
Points are also good at all Sheraton, Westin, W, Sheraton, St. Regis, Le Meridien, and Four Points hotels with no capacity restrictions. If there’s a room to buy, you can book it with points. For many travelers, hotel stays are a better use of points than domestic airline tickets in any program. They are notale because you don’t need many points for great values:
- 3,000 points = 1 free night at “Category 1″ hotels (midpriced, suburban locations)
- 4,000 points = 1 free night at “Category 2″ hotels (metropolitan and many resorts)
- 7,000 points = 1 free night at “Category 3″ hotels (large cities, premium resorts)
- 10,000 points = 1 free night at “Category 4″ hotels (high demand areas, luxury resorts)
- 20,000 points = free roundtrip U.S. plane ticket when transferred to an airline mile program for redemption
In addition, Starwood’s ‘Cash and Points‘ reward offers you even greater value for your points — with around 3000 points and $45 you can stay at a hotel valued in many cases at $150 or more. You also have many other redemption options, including a $100 gift card at Amazon, Nordstrom, Starbucks, and other retailers for 9,500 points.
This card lets you earn in a universal format (Starwood points) and convert the points into the airline miles of your choice. Just find out which airline has the availability you want, and transfer points to your airline account for redemption…usually without dilution. That way you can also add to your existing airline mile balances.
Starwood will enhance your points by offering 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points you transfer to your airline program. You in effect earn 1.25 miles per dollar spent versus 1 for most airline cards. You can see how it stacks up versus other cards by using our Mile Credit Card Value Calculator.
Moreover, you can transfer points online and not deal with telephone operators . Starwood hotel redemptions also have no capacity controls. If there’s a room available to purchase at one of their hotels, you can use your points to buy it online or over the telephone! This is often the best use of your points.
No fee the first year, only $65 thereafter. The low fee makes this road warrior proven card great for even light travelers looking to earn points just through purchases.
10,000 points with first purchase.
5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer to an airline. This makes this card better than most standard airline cards for earning points on your favorite airline…and is why it’s the choice of some of the most seasoned travelers.
Dollars spent before your first reward
$1. With a 10,000 point bonus for your first purchase, you’ve earned two nights at any Category 1 or 2 Starwood hotel…with no restriction…or a $100 gift card from many top retailers.
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