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2011 in mile credit cards – record bonus mile offers, new features

by on Thu December 29, 2011 • No Comment

As 2011 draws to a close there is no doubt 2011 was a watershed year for users of mile credit cards. Competition got more fierce than ever and you, the savvy card user were the winner. Some of the highlights…

Record bonus mile offers

100,000 mile bonus offers stole the show with the British Airways Visa leading the charge, and the Capital One ‘Match My Miles Challenge’ bringing it to national television. Some lucky users even enjoyed 100,000 point sign up bonus offers for the lucrative Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Similarly, card issuers got wise to people who gamed the system by using promotion codes meant for targeted offers. American Express flatly denied many people the bonuses attached to certain codes starting late this summer. Still, some of you have racked up 500,000 miles or more just from bonus mile offers this year, and kudos to that.

50,000 miles as the new 25,000

Before this year, 25,000 miles was considered a good intro bonus mile offer. Now, card issuers are learning 50,000 miles is the new standard. We’ve enjoyed multiple 50,000 mile offers at one time all year round (see our current list of top bonus mile offers), including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and American Airlines AAdvantage Visa Signature.

Foreign transaction fees drifting away

Chase got aggressive with fee free foreign transactions as a benefit, making the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, British Airways Visa, Hyatt Visa, and Continental Presidential Plus credit cards fee free. American Express finally caved on its high end Platinum Card, and Discover removed them from all cards altogether.

Priority boarding takes center stage

While the last two years brought baggage fee waivers to credit cards, this year added a benefit once reserved for the most frequent of flyers: priority boarding. Now, holders of the United Explorer and Delta Sky Miles Gold / Platinum credit cards have access to early boarding, just behind elites of each airline’s frequent flyer program.

Ultimate Rewards becomes a powerful program

The addition of United Airlines, Korean Airlines, and soon Southwest Airlines makes Chase Ultimate Rewards a real contender against incumbent American Express Membership Rewards for 1:1 airline mile transfer. And this was solidified when American Express lost its relationship with Continental Airlines in favor of Ultimate Rewards. Chase also bolstered its position by offering unlimited 2x points on dining and travel purchases with its flagship Sapphire Preferred® Card card.

What will 2012 bring?

It’s clear annual fee based credit cards are a winner for banks in today’s uncertain climate. Chase continues to be in a long term fight against American Express to grab share of the lucrative market held by its Gold and Platinum charge cards. So far they’ve made great inroads and we think they’ll keep building on them in 2012.

Check back tomorrow for our post on things we’d like to see from mile credit cards in 2012.


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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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