NextAdvisor Announces Its 2016 Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis

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New research helps consumers determine how much their travel rewards credit cards' points or miles are actually worth

Our analysis is broken up into 4 different categories to help our readers find the best travel rewards card for their needs.

NextAdvisor, a leading consumer information website, has announced the results of its 2016 Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis. The independent, comprehensive analysis evaluated 19 major travel reward credit cards to determine the value of redeemed points or miles. Travel rewards can be challenging to value, as they come in all different types of currency. NextAdvisor’s analysis extensively researched the cards and frequent travel programs associated with them to determine the dollar value of earnings for every type of program, making it simple for consumers to compare the best cards. The overall winner was Chase Sapphire Preferred®, with the highest average rewards value. Chase Sapphire Preferred® also won the highest hotel-only rewards value, while Virgin America Visa Signature® Card featured the highest flight-only value and Hyatt Credit Card from Chase took the title of best intro bonus value.

The NextAdvisor analysis presented an even playing field by including all leading cards, regardless of whether they had advertising agreements in place with certain cards, unlike other personal finance sites that might say they do but instead only promote cards that advertise to be on their site. “Most websites only recommend cards they are being paid to promote rather than show consumers the best credit card offers,” said Erik Larson, President and Founder of NextAdvisor. “At NextAdvisor, we looked at all the top travel cards on the market – whether we had advertiser relationship with them or not – and ranked them according to our analysis and our editors’ independent evaluations. In fact, 7 of the 19 cards included in our analysis are ones we have no ad agreement with.”

NextAdvisor researched the reward values of each card’s travel program by comparing the cost in reward currency to the actual dollar cost of booking hotels and flights at different times of year and in different locations. The final reward value was based on the actual dollar value a user would receive in rewards after a $100 credit card spend. Separate reward values were given for hotel stays, flights and any introductory bonus a card might offer.

"Our analysis is broken up into 4 different categories to help our readers find the best travel rewards card for their needs." said Tasha Lockyer, Vice President of Product Management at NextAdvisor. “If someone primarily uses their card to earn free flights and airline perks, considering the Flight Rewards value of a card makes sense. Or, if they prefer to use their card mainly for hotel stays, they can base their decision on the Hotel Rewards value. Those who want a card for all types of travel, should take a look at the Combined category. And anyone who is interested in how much each card’s introductory bonus is worth should check out the Intro Bonus Value category.”

The Combined (flight and hotel) category used the average of both the flight and hotel values for a card. Cards in this category are recommended for those in need of a flexible travel card that can help them earn free flights, hotels, car rentals and other travel-related items. First place in Flight & Hotel Rewards went to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® with a $2.19 flight and hotel redemption value for every $100 spent. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® came in a close second, earning $2.10 per $100 spent and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card was third with a rewards value of $2.00.

The Flight Rewards category only included cards that offered flight redemptions. Just the flight value of each card offered was taken into consideration, and the cards were ranked by this value. The Virgin America Visa Signature® Card topped this list with a lofty $2.57 flight point value for every $100 spent on the card, with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® taking second and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card rounding out third.

The Hotel Rewards category only included cards that featured hotel redemption values – if they didn’t offer this, they weren’t included in the category. All participating cards were ranked by their hotel point value. Chase Sapphire Preferred® was the winner with a very generous $2.61 hotel value. Coming in second was the Hyatt Credit Card from Chase and third place went to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®.

The Introductory Bonus category featured cards that offered an intro bonus. If a card didn’t do so, it wasn’t ranked. This is the category that changes the most over the course of a year, as cards frequently update their bonuses so values can vary over time. First place went to the Hyatt Credit Card from Chase, which offered a spectacular bonus of 2 free nights – worth approximately $1,304 in free hotel stays. Chase Sapphire Preferred® took the second position and IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card was third.

"There were some upsets this year, with Chase Sapphire Preferred® winning both the Combined category and the Hotel Rewards category,” said Lockyer. “The card’s win was mostly based on its free 1:1 point transfer to participating frequent airline and hotel programs, which allowed our editors to use the high-value points of programs like Hyatt Gold Passport and Southwest Rapid Rewards. We really like the flexibility of the rewards you earn with Sapphire, as you can use them to book travel at a 20% discount through Cash Ultimate Rewards or you can transfer them for free at a 1:1 to programs like Marriot Rewards, Hyatt Gold Passport, United Airlines Mileage Plus and Southwest Rapid Rewards. The card’s introductory bonus value was really high, too, coming in second place at $1,086. Our second place Combined card was the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®. Its versatility makes it another great choice for travelers, as they can book their travel however they’d like and then redeem their rewards for a statement credit against that travel cost.”

In addition to the travel reward value, NextAdvisor provides independent reviews of each travel rewards credit card included in the survey. NextAdvisor also reviews many other types of credit cards, like balance transfer credit cards, low APR credit cards, cash back credit cards, business credit cards and cards for those with average credit or who need to rebuild credit.

You can read the complete NextAdvisor 2016 Travel Rewards Card Analysis here:

See NextAdvisor’s credit card reviews at:

About NextAdvisor:
NextAdvisor provides independent reviews of online services for consumers and small businesses. The company's mission is to help its visitors save money and make optimal buying decisions by presenting them with useful comparisons and reviews of service providers and a clear explanation of each service and how it works. The company currently reviews, compares and explains many different types of services including credit cards, credit report monitoring, identity theft protection, voice over IP, online backup, Internet security software, web hosting, small business loans, website building and internet fax.

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Kistie Adams
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