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Credit Card Pro’s Year in Review: The Best of the Best

A summary of our key findings from 2017

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Credit Card Pro’s Year in Review: The Best of the Best
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We’ve spent a lot of time this year at Credit Card Pro analyzing the rewards and benefits of our core premium credit cards. Suffice it to say, each exhibits an overall level of excellence. However, certain cards offer comparative advantages, which speak to different consumers. Here, a summary of our key findings from 2017, revealing the best in class for specific card rewards and benefits.

The Best Credit Card for Cash Back

With a 2% cash back option, the Mastercard® Gold Card™ is the clear frontrunner for cash back redemption value in the luxury credit card market. Points are redeemed at a value of 2% and cashed out in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit to a checking account.

The Best Credit Card for Maximizing Travel Credits

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card offers an annual travel credit of $325 per cardmember year towards any purchase categorized as “travel” by the merchant. This includes the likes of airfare, airline fees, rental cars, hotels, taxis, ride shares, passenger trains, cruise line purchases, and most tour operator purchases. This credit alone nearly offsets the annual fee’s entirety of $400.

The Best Credit Card for Redeeming Points for Unrestricted Award Travel

Across the board, all three Luxury Cards—Mastercard Gold Card, Mastercard® Black Card™, and Mastercard® Titanium Card™—are best in class when it comes to redeeming points for unrestricted award travel. Flights can be booked directly through the cards’ online Rewards Center at a redemption value of 2%.

The Best Credit Card for Extended Warranties

When you charge your purchase in part to the Citi Prestige® Card or use ThankYou points, you are automatically entitled to the Extended Warranty protection, providing two extra years on eligible manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less. This card also provides an extra two years on customer-purchased extended warranties or service plans (with a total maximum coverage time of seven years).

The Best Credit Card for Price Protection

If the same item purchased with your Citi Prestige Card is found at a lower price within 60 days of purchase, it’s eligible for reimbursement of the price difference, up to $500 per item and up to $2500 per year. Citi has the most generous Price Protection policy we know of. Special promotions such as Black Friday and door buster sales will be honored.

The Best Credit Card for Airport Lounge Access

Holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express can enter the company’s snazzy Centurion® lounge network at no additional cost, with clubs currently located in nine major cities (Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York [LGA], Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle). In addition, American Express operates 10 other cardholder-exclusive International American Express lounges, which are well done but offer less frills than the Centurion lounges. Furthermore, holders of The Platinum Card from American Express also receive Priority Pass™ Select membership and can enter the Priority Pass network’s 1,000-plus lounges along with two guests for no charge.

The Best Credit Card for Priority Pass Lounge Privileges

With over 1,000 lounges in over 500 cities (representing 130 countries) worldwide, the Priority Pass lounge network is the largest independent airport lounge access program in the world. The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, Mastercard Black Card, and Mastercard Gold Card grant cardholders Priority Pass Select membership with an unlimited guest policy, so theoretically you can have a grand ole party in the lounge of your choice.

The Best Credit Card for Emergency Evacuation and Transportation Insurance

When you charge your trip to the Citi Prestige Card or use ThankYou points to book travel or when you charge the entirety or a portion of your trip to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you are automatically covered under the cards’ respective medevac insurance policies and up to $100,000 in evacuation costs per traveler.

The Best Card for Protection Against Airline and Travel Agency Bankruptcies

When charging airline tickets to either Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Chase Sapphire Reserve, the implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies compensate loss from “financial insolvency of the Cardholder’s travel agency, tour operator, or travel supplier.” Coverage is provided up to $10,000 per trip.

The Best Credit Card for Protection Against Severe Weather and Trip Cancellations

When charging pre-paid travel, tours, or vacations to either Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, the implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies compensate loss from “severe weather, which prevents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a Covered Trip.” Coverage is provided up to $10,000 per trip.

The Best Credit Card for Trip Delay Protection

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your Citi Prestige Card
or use ThankYou® points to book travel, you are automatically covered for Trip Delay Reimbursement, up to $500 per ticket for delays three hours or more. This coverage extends beyond the cardholder to the cardholder’s family members, and traveling companion(s) traveling on cardholder’s or family members’ trip.

The Best Credit Card for Lost Luggage Protection

When you charge a portion of your trip’s common carrier fare to your Citi Prestige Card or use Thank You Points to book travel, you are automatically covered for lost luggage protection, up to $3,000 per covered person ($2,000 per bag for NY residents). Citi Prestige has the most generous policy in terms of items covered. While other cards shy away from coverage of high-risk items like jewelry, cameras, and other electronics, Citi Prestige does not.

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 132 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Florida Design, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, and Robb Report.