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When it comes to credit cards, I pride myself on being loyal. I limit myself to only having one personal credit card in use at a time, which means when I pick a particular credit card, I stick with it for a very long time.
The first credit card I had (a Bank of America credit card) was my go-to card for most of my twenties. Even though the rewards weren’t great and there were better cards out there, I stuck with the credit card for far too long.
Read more: The best credit card offers right now: Earn points, miles, or cash back
I’m feeling the same way right now about my JetBlue Card, which has been my primary card for the past five years. When I first got the card, I loved it because I was a regular JetBlue flyer and enjoyed redeeming my points for free one-way tickets every few months. But when I heard about some of the rewards my friends get from their credit cards (discounts on hotels, more points per dollar spent, and more), it made me decide that it’s officially time to break up with my credit card and get a new one.
To help choose my next credit card, I put together a list of the top five features I want a credit card to offer.
At least 2x rewards for every purchase
17.24% to 24.49% variable
Good to Excellent
Earn 100,000 bonus miles once you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening (or 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months)
Since I only use one personal credit card at a time, I want to make sure that I’m getting as much back in rewards as possible for every single purchase. My current card offers 3x JetBlue points for eligible JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and eligible grocery stores, and 1x points on everything else.
Read more: The best cash-back credit cards
I’d like my next card to offer, at minimum, unlimited 2x rewards for every single kind of purchase, just like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card does. I buy a large mix of things and want to make sure I’m always getting 2x or 3x points per purchase, and not just for specific categories.
Big rewards for booking travel
As my year progresses, I expect to plan a handful of vacations and trips. To help earn more points for those travel purchases, I’d like a card that offers a bonus on travel spending, especially when booked through the card’s travel portal.
Read more: How to use the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal to book flights, hotels, rental cars and more — and get the most from your points
My current card offers 3x the rewards when booking a JetBlue airline ticket or getaway (pre-packaged vacations). When I did research, I found offers — like The Platinum Card® from American Express
— that caught my attention because it earns 5x points on airfare purchased directly through the airline, and on flights and hotels booked through Amex Travel. (Note: Starting January 1, 2021, the 5x points will apply up to $500,000 on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel per calendar year.)
My current JetBlue Card is extremely limited and simple when it comes to statement credits. It only offers credits for food and cocktail purchases inflight (50% back as a statement credit). When I was chatting with a lot of my friends who have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card, they were sharing how they get statement credits for making certain purchases.
Read more: Cards like the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve offer annual credits for travel that can offset their high annual fees
For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders get up to $120 back in statement credits for eligible Peloton digital memberships. I’d like to get a card that offers a variety of these types of credits as a way of buying from businesses I already use and getting money back.
Flexible points redemptions
One of my biggest headaches with my current card is the lack of redemption options for my points. I can redeem the points for flights and vacation packages, but there aren’t any options to redeem points for purchases.
Read more: The 5 best credit card rewards programs for socially distant travel in 2021
For example, some loyalty programs let you redeem points for Amazon purchases, and others for travel excursions — like how the Chase Sapphire Reserve® lets you redeem points for activities when you book through the Chase portal.
No annual fee
11.99% – 22.99% Variable
0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases
While this last guideline might be harder to meet (there are credit cards with no annual fee, like the Discover it® Miles, but the card doesn’t come with the benefits I’m looking for), it’s definitely something I plan to keep an eye out for.
Some credit cards will even offer promotions where they waive the annual fee for the first year — which is a good way to tempt me to apply for the card and decide if the benefits are worth it — or offer you an option after the first year to downgrade to a lower-tiered card with no annual fee (and different benefits) instead. I’d be open to signing up for a card that offered either of those choices after the first anniversary.
Read more: Annual fees aren’t always worth it, but with these 5 cards the benefits are worth more than what you’ll pay each year
While no one card can meet all of these benefits that I’d like, it felt important to me that I sat down and wrote out what I wanted in my ideal credit card. My next step will be to take my list and compare a variety of cards to see what each offers and find the card that offers the majority of things on this list — or decide what I’m willing to compromise (most likely it will be that annual fee).
Jen Glantz is a personal finance writer, small-business owner, and the author of Amazon-bestselling books “All My Friends are Engaged” and “Always a Bridesmaid for Hire.”
Good to Excellent
3 Free Nights (valued up to 50,000 points each) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus 10x total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases in select categories within your first 6 months
Good to Excellent
$200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening
Good to Excellent