While we all like to collect miles and points to get great redemption or travel at discounted rate, what should we consider the real value in terms of time and effort?
The traditional way of collecting miles/points is through airline travel and hotel stays but due to deluge of credit card's which earn miles or points (flexible currency) and have various partners where you can transfer your earned miles/points, it is important to understand the difference between the real and the perceived value. Let's get this straight with few popular credit card examples.
Chase Sapphire Reserve card enables points to be redeemed for travel at fix value of 50% more when you redeem through their travel portal. So, each Ultimate Reward Point can be redeemed for real value of 1.5 cent/$ but "only" when redeeming for travel through their travel portal. The annual fee for this card is $450 although you get $300 in travel credits each year.
Amex Platinum for Schwab Card allows you to redeem your American Express Membership Reward Points for "cash" at real value of 1.25 cent/$. The annual fee for this card is $550 although you get $200 airline travel incidental (in your pre-selected choice of airline), Total of $180 in Uber credits (distributed over 12 months) and $100 in credits on Saks purchase ($50 each every 6 months).
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card is similar to Chase Sapphire Reserve where you get fix value of 50% more when redeemed for travel through their travel portal but it does have an option of redeeming for travel directly through airlines, hotel, car rental companies using their real time reward option and get a redemption value of 1.5 cent/$ for each point. The annual fee for this card is $400 although you get $325 in travel credits each year.
As you can see from above that although the fixed value of redemption for Chase Sapphire Reserve and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve looks same the perceived value is different. At 1.25 cent/$ the Amex Platinum for Schwab might look weaker but do note this is hard "cash" redemption. So just looking at redemption value is not enough. All the above credit cards have different annual fees and provide different benefits. When you consider that into account the above real redemption rates becomes perceived value. This is because each person would have different valuation of those benefits based on the usage of the card and its benefits.
So, always consider the total benefits of the card before you decide which of the card would be a long term keeper for you.
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