Best cash back / travel credit card

Amazon t33etc
Mar 17, 2018 12 Comments

Everyone seems to love Chase Sapphire Reserve but I'm not totally convinced. I just want a good, simple cash reward.

I'm thinking about signing up for Bank of America premium rewards card.

Park a $100k ETF at Merrill Edge and that card becomes 3.5% cash back on travel and dining plus 2.63% back on all other purchases, without having to spend hours figuring out how to turn rewards points into a deal.

Annual fee of $95 gets wiped out by a $100 credit on incidentals bought in flight or at a hotel plus $100 every four years for global entry fee. You come out ahead on that.

No foreign fee so it becomes a general use daily driver for pretty much everything.

Versus other no fee cards: Amazon card beats it on Amazon or at Whole Foods. Costco card beats it for gas. Uber card beats it for dining. Rotating category cards will beat it from time to time in their category.

Comparing to Sapphire, with that you get a slightly higher return on travel and dining, 4.5%, but less back on everything else, only 1.5%. Seems like BoA card probably comes out ahead there.

Big difference is Sapphire Reserve has a much higher annual fee but also a much bigger travel credit. You end up paying $150 for it if you use the full travel credit. For that $150 you get access to airport lounges, so I guess it depends whether that matters to you.

I actually don't value lounge access at all. I never show up early enough at the airport to use it and I usually book direct flights or only short layovers, so I'm basically not spending enough time at the airport to be able to use the lounges. But if for some reason you find yourself with frequent 4hr layovers the lounge access would be nice. I just don't.

One caveat is you need a greencard to open a Merrill Edge account so it might not be possible to hit the Plat Honest level with BoA easily if you are h1b. If you can open a Merrill account then it's simple to move a bit of your savings there.

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TOP 12 Comments
  • Google liam
    You missing the point. You need reserve + freedom unlimited [+ feedom] combo. Then you have 4.5 and 2.25%. Just 4.5/1.5 sux.
    Mar 17, 2018 4
    • Amazon t33etc
      OP
      Interesting. But it's still better to pair the Sapphire with the BoA no fee travel card which gets 2.63% back on everything. Maybe then consider Amex Plat 5% back for airline purchases and lounge access if you want that.
      Mar 17, 2018
    • Uber 1to0
      Chase point converted to United miles is much more valuable than the paper %s, if you travel with United mostly
      Mar 17, 2018
    • Amazon t33etc
      OP
      I hate trying to game travel websites into giving me the best deal. Some people like that, but I can earn more by working.
      Mar 17, 2018
    • Amazon xdxdd
      ^this. When you get a chase freedom with CSR, each season you can get 5% cashback which is 7.5% value when you redeem it through CSR.
      Mar 18, 2018
  • eBay / Eng
    seat

    eBay Eng

    BIO
    Why did you click on me 😡
    seatmore
    I like the BofA Premium Rewards as a general cash back card. 2.62% back on all purchases, so I use that on everything that isn’t gas, groceries, or travel
    Mar 17, 2018 0
  • Adobe / Eng 83hx702jns
    There is not one best card. Depends on your travel goals and spending habits. I've gone through about 20 cards the past 4 years. Lots of great deals out there. Chase has some great ones, fidelity is 2% cash back on everything, costco visa gets you 3% on gas and restaurants, and amex platinum offers 70k delta miles bonus. Just a few...
    Mar 17, 2018 2
    • Amazon t33etc
      OP
      So the PR beats Fidelity outright with 2.63% back vs Fidelity at only 2%. Costco I mentioned.

      Amex plat is a different product, I wouldn't call it a cash back card at all other than in the travel category itself.
      Mar 17, 2018
    • Amazon t33etc
      OP
      I think this PR card and the associated BoA no fee cards get overlooked. People go to the site and see 1.5% back and 2% back and think "meh", don't realize the preferred rewards program is a multiplier that turns that into 2.63% and 3.5% back at basically no cost to you. In fact BoA will pay you $600 to move 200k to Merrill, where you can park it and never pay them a fee while collecting the cash back.
      Mar 17, 2018
  • Apple RGV_
    United mileage plus / Chase sapphire. Recently went on a trip to Paris with zero monies with ma wifey
    Mar 17, 2018 1
  • Daimler deargodwhy
    There is no best...They are all the same after the promotion period. I find that the best cards tend to be those that give you airline miles...Buy grocery and other shit, payoff the card at the end of each month, use your miles during off peak times to go to places you want to go. I have United Explorer card. Can't beat 25K for round trip flights from east coat to west coast non-stop.
    Mar 18, 2018 0