✅American Express Platinum
We’ll start with the first class heavy hitters. First up, we have the Amex Platinum. Some of the biggest travel features of the Amex Platinum are gaining status, lounge access, and the current sign up bonus. The annual fee is $550 but there is no better time to sign up for amex platinum as there are targeted offers of up to 100,000 MR points, or even 125k points if you are very lucky, but at a minimum you get the public offer of 75k points.
On top of that you will be earning 10x / $1 on groceries and gas stations, up to $15,000 combined purchases for up to 6 months. Getting into the perks, the amex platinum will gift gold status in both Hilton and Marriott Hotels. Did someone say free? Everyone loves free stuff, which is exactly what you get while waiting to board your plane on the upgraded seat that was covered by your $200 airline credit. The AMEX Platinum is one of the top cards, if not the top card, for lounge access you get Amex centurion lounges, priority pass and more.
Last on-board First Class is the Citi Prestige. The 5x on restaurants and air travel help but the exceptional travel benefits that come along with the $495 AF has earned its spot in first class aboard Shifu A160. A complimentary 4th night free at hotels when booking through ThankYou.com can be used not once, but 2 times per calendar year.
If you want to avoid those long security lines Prestige will provide Global Entry or TSA PreCheck up to $100 every 5 years. The prestige also earns lounge access if the Amex Platinum isn’t for you. The $495 AF for 50,000 ThankYou Point Sign-up bonus joins the AMEX Platinum….Just like that the Shifu A160 is booked in first class. There’s only two seats in first class, its a small plane guys.
Honorary Mention: American Express Gold
AMEX Gold didn’t quite get the upgrade to first class but we will give it an honorable mention for the newly acquired $120 Uber credit coming early next year.
Business Class Cards
Bank of America Premium Rewards
First to board business class is the Bank of America Premium Rewards card. The benefits of this card quickly turn the $95 into an afterthought. 50,000 miles after $3,000 spend over the first 3 months will earn $500 in future travel value. 2x on travel and dining is nice but simply being a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% – 75% more points on every purchase. The $100 annual statement airline incidental credit offsets the $95 AF right away. Today’s world is not the most ideal travel time but you can cover the $95 AF if you spend roughly $550 / month at 1.5pts / $1. That will give you $97.50 in future travel value.
American Express Everyday Preferred
Sitting next to the Bank of America Premium Rewards is the American Express Everyday Preferred. This card earned a business class seat aboard the Shifu A160 because of it’s unique features. First off, it will get you into the Membership Rewards program if you don’t have a qualified card already. Secondly, the categories vary…you earn 3x at supermarkets (up to $6,000 / year) then 1x, 2x on gas stations, and 1x on everything else. However, if you make at least 30 transactions during your monthly billing cycle, you get a 50% points bonus, which allows you to earn 4.5x, 3x, and 1.5x, respectively.
After your $1,000 spend in 3 months you’ll enjoy a deposit of 15,000 MR points into your account. Best way to use the Membership Rewards program is usually to transfer them out to their partnered airlines and hotel programs.
Honorary Mention: Capital One Venture Card
For $95, the Capital One Venture Card didn’t quite get the upgrade to Business Class for the single reason of $20,000 is a hard pill to swallow for 100,000 miles. If you don’t plan on opening up many cards and want to be loyal to one for 2021 you may want to consider nudging this onto the Shifu A160.
Economy Class Cards
Wells Fargo Propel
Chase Freedom Flex
Honorary Mention: Chase Freedom Unlimited
This card is very similar to the Chase Freedom Flex but it just missed the Economy Class because it does not offer the 5% rotating category. Although it gets 1.5% on all other purchases compared to the Freedom Flex 1%, the lack of the 5% rotating category prevented it from board the pristine Shifu A160.
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