Love Travel, But Hate Airline Miles? Try AmEx's Blue Sky Preferred

By Jason Steele. Last updated 9 November 2016. 0 comments

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Sometimes, the best way to earn a free flight with a reward credit card is to avoid frequent flyer miles altogether. Cards that offer cash back and other benefits are often more valuable than frequent flyer miles, as these rewards can be used for any flight at any time. In addition, those who make advanced reservations and those who travel shorter distances rarely see as much value from their airline reward card spending as they would from a good cash back card.

American Express offers its Blue Sky Preferred card that returns 1x points on purchases and 2x points at US restaurants, hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels, and with car rentals purchased directly with select car rental companies. In addition, it offers features and benefits not found on many airline reward cards.

How This Card Works

Most purchases earn one point per dollar spent, while transactions at U.S. restaurants, hotels, and car rentals earn two points per dollar spent. Once 7,500 points are accumulated, cardholders can redeem the points for a $100 statement credit towards travel expenses such as airfare, hotel rooms, and rental cars. Terms and limitations apply. The annual fee is $75.

Other Benefits

Annual airline allowance. Cardholders will receive a statement credit up to $100 for airline incidental fees such as checked baggage charges, in-flight food, and entertainment.

Return protection. If a retailer will not accept a returned item within 90 days of purchase, American Express will reimburse cardholders for up to $300 per eligible item, with a limit of $1,000 annually.

Extended warranty coverage. This policy will extend a manufacturer's warranty coverage for up to one year.

Travel accident insurance. This policy provides a benefit for death or dismemberment resulting from an accident on any plane, train, boat, bus, or other common carrier transport.

Costs

  • $75 Annual Fee
  • 13.99% - 18.99% variable APR (purchases and balance transfers)
  • 3% Balance Transfer Fee (minimum $5)
  • 2.7% Foreign Transaction Fee

Considerations

Foreign transaction fees. If you frequently travel outside of the U.S., the foreign transaction fee of 2.7% will minimize the value of the rewards you earn and the benefits the card offers. For foreign purchases, a travel rewards credit card with no foreign transaction fees is a better option. (See also: Best Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees)

Competitors

Capital One® Venture® Rewards: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card awards all purchases a flat rate of 2X miles per dollar spent. As a new cardmember, you can earn a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your card within 3 months of approval. This bonus can be redeemed for airfare, hotel, car rental, or cruise purchases. There is no balance transfer fee or foreign transaction fee. The annual fee of $59 is waived the first year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card awards 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants, and one point per dollar on other purchases. You can redeem your points for travel and other opportunities but you can also transfer points to many frequent flyer and loyalty reward programs at a ratio of 1:1. New cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus can be worth $625 in travel if redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program. There is no foreign transaction fee. There is an introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95.

Who This Card Is Best For

This is the ideal card for domestic travelers who have had enough of frequent flier miles that are hard to redeem. And although other similar cards may offer more valuable rewards for most purchases, the airline fee credit and other benefits may make this card a winner for those who plan on utilizing them. 

Terms and restrictions apply.

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