Credit Cards

Best Credit Cards Of 2020 And How to Apply For Them

Last updated: July 18,2021
Originally Published: January 06,2020
by Jameson Lamie

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While most people spent their News Years Day sleeping in and recovering from a night of revelry, I spent mine celebrating that I was *finally* under Chase’s 5/24 rule.  My two-year credit card diet finally came to an end.

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Me before my credit card diet

In a nutshell, the Chase 5/24 rule prevents a person from earning a sign-up bonus on a Chase-issued credit card if they’ve opened five credit cards in the prior 24 months. 

Chase has the most diverse and most lucrative credit cards on the market, so taking a breather from cards will be well worth the wait.  It also timed nicely with our pending move from DC to Michigan and having to apply for a new mortgage.  While my addiction to credit card points has actually improved my credit score, I didn’t want to risk not obtaining the best possible mortgage rate because I signed up for four cards in the months leading up to the application.  

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Lie-flat seats from Tokyo to DC in ANA Business Class courtesy of Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Our Current Points

While I feel like I’m starting anew, we already have a nice cache of points at our disposal.  As of today, we have

  • 50,260 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (Jameson & Taryn, since we can combine household points)
  • 216,160 American Express Members Rewards points (Taryn)
  • 1,223 American Express Membership Rewards (Jameson)
  • 8,160 Citi ThankYou points (Jameson)
  • 112,840 Marriot Bonvoy points (Taryn)
  • 177,885 Marriot Bonvoy points (Jameson)
  • 577 United MileagePlus miles (Jameson)
  • 708 United MileagePlus miles (Taryn)
  • 127,060 American Airlines AAdvantage miles (Taryn)
  • 9,121 American Airlines AAdvantage miles (Jameson)
  • XXXX Delta Skymiles (don’t even keep track because they’re basically worthless)
  • 51,282 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles (Taryn)
  • 4,262 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan mile (Jameson)
  • 111,768 Hilton Honors points (Jameson)
  • 137,912 Hilton Honors points (Taryn)
  • 3,517 World of Hyatt points (Jameson)

*Those in bold are the major credit card currencies which can be transferred to airline/hotel loyalty program.*

Those points/miles are worth multiple roundtrip business class flights to/from Europe.  So I’m hardly starting from zero.

Flying Lufthansa Business Class on our way back from Portugal – a good use of our United miles

Where do I go from here?

Travel Credit Cards for 2020

For people starting out, I always recommend either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve (although the AMEX Gold card is also giving the Sapphire cards a run for their money).

Since we already have those cards and a great way to maximize our everyday spending, that allows me to focus on other cards primarily for their sign-up bonuses. Since I’m finally under 5/24, I’m planning to apply for these travel credit cards in 2020:

1. Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card – This is the card that I eagerly applied for on January 1.

With a solid sign-up bonus that puts me well on my way to earning a Southwest Companion Pass, which would be valid for both 2020 AND 2021. Taryn had the Companion Pass for 2018 and 2019, and in 2018 alone, it was worth over $5,500.

2. Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card – This card comes with a solid welcome bonus of 40,000 Chase points after spending $1,000 in your first three months of account opening, plus, you also get an extra 3,000 points every card anniversary.

In your first year, the card lets you earn 3x points on dining and that includes takeout and eligible delivery services. For ongoing earning categories, you get to earn 2x points on Southwest purchases and 1x points on all other purchases.

3. Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – I’ve been wanting to apply for this card since I started the blog.  

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are very easy to use, and the Ink Business Preferred card comes with a huge 100,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $15,000 within the first three months of account opening.

This bonus alone is worth a one-way business class ticket to Asia or four nights at the all-inclusive Hyatt resort in Cabo San Lucas.

4. Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card – Much like the Chase Freedom cards, this comes with a $750 bonus cash back when you spend $7,500 in the first three months of opening an account.

Not at all bad for a card without an annual fee.  Plus, there is a generous 5x category bonus for all spending at office supply stores. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve visited Staples in the past three years. But if I can earn 5x points by buying Amazon gift cards at OfficeMax/Staples, you best believe I’ll start exploring ways to earn even more points with my everyday spending.

5. Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card – While Chase points can be transferred into World of Hyatt points, why not save those Chase points for something else?

This card comes with a generous sign-up bonus and Hyatt continues to be the best value hotel loyalty program for redemptions.  I already have a boatload of Marriott and Hilton points, but premium redemptions are often 80,000 points/night.  Whereas an all-inclusive Hyatt resort in Punta Cana is only 20,000 points/night.

You’ll see three business credit cards on the list.  Since this blog can count as a “business,”   it allows me to apply for these cards and earn the sign-up bonuses.  At least that’s true in theory… we’ll see if my Southwest Performance Business credit card arrives in the mail soon.

HOW DO I SPEND ALL OF THESE POINTS?

I’m a firm believer in spending credit card points as soon as possible and that’s actually one of the main things we teach our clients in our Points Panda award travel concierge. There’s no telling when rules could change, redemptions rates could go up, or award availability becomes impossible to find.

But with the cross-country move and baby on the way, I’m going to be going against my own advice in 2020.  We’re planning a trip to Nashville, perhaps a trip to another baseball stadium or two, and then a Christmas vacay to Mexico in December.  So the majority of these points are being stashed for something bigger and better in 2021.

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Visiting Yankee Stadium, our MLB stadium #24/30. By earning the Companion Pass again in 2020, we’re hoping to check off a few more.

I’m also realizing that the way I spend all of these credit card points is about to change.  Before, I had very specific redemption in mind. Hence planning two and a half years in advance for our crazy around-the-world trip. But since I’m lightyears ahead of where I started in 2015, I don’t have to be so stingy with finding the absolute best value redemption.

Welcome Offer: 100,000 Membership Reward Points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months of your membership when you sign up for the New American Express Platinum

Special Bonus: Earn 10x on restaurant spend worldwide in the first 6 months of your membership, up to 225,000 additional points, this is in additional to the record high welcome bonus.

Every traveler should have this card in their wallet, and the welcome offer of 100k is the highest offer Points Panda has seen in many years!

Annual Fee: $695

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2 comments

  • Whitney C.

    January 08, 2020

    Glad to see you blogging again! We would be SO down for one of these all-inclusive trips you speak of. Thanks for all of these tips so we can up our credit card game!

    • Points With Plastic

      January 08, 2020

      Thanks!! And the Hyatt all-inclusive resorts are super straightforward. So easy I might even convince Jim and Sue into it 😉