Blue Sky from American Express

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For the casual traveler who wants a credit card without the pressure of keeping track of categories.

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

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Blue Sky from American Express is an entry-level card that requires a pro-level credit rating. If you’re someone who has excellent credit, you might want to keep looking as this card offers average rewards with no sign-up bonus or extra travel perks like free checked bags.

Review

With so many travel rewards cards angling for customers with excellent credit, the Blue Sky from American Express card falls behind the pack. Cardholders will earn just 1 point per every dollar spent, which is valued at 1.33%.

Although there’s no annual fee and members will have access to the American Express Membership Rewards benefits — which includes car rental and purchase protection — frequent travelers likely will find it lacking.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, in contrast, offers 2x the points on all purchases, 5% of your miles back upon redemption, waives the first year’s $89 annual fee, and comes with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within 90 days. This kind of robust package is not unusual for cards that require top-notch credit scores.

This card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, but it does come with a unique ongoing spending bonus. For every 7,500 points you earn, you’ll receive a $100 statement credit that can be applied toward an eligible travel purchase, like airfare, hotel stays and car rentals. You have six billing cycles after your travel charges appear on your bill to redeem points.

Who should get this card

People who want a low-maintenance travel rewards card might find their match in the Blue Sky from American Express. Since there’s no annual fee you don’t have to worry about maximizing points to get value. This is one of those cards that can stay in your wallet without costing you a dime.

Moreover, this is a good choice for people who want access to American Express Membership Rewards benefits without the expensive annual fees.

Advantages
  • You don’t have to pay an annual fee.
  • Earn a repeating statement credit that can be applied toward travel spending.
  • For a no-annual fee card, the points are better than some cards for all purchases.
  • Cardholders will have access to American Express’ benefits, like roadside assistance, car rental insurance and price protection.
  • Terms apply.
Disadvantages
  • The points you can earn on this card are meager.
  • Cardholders won’t get the extras that other cards offer, such as annual travel certificates and big bonuses.

Fees and APR

    • This card charges no annual fee.
    • The variable APR is between 18.24% and 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.
    • You’ll pay a 26.24% APR cash advance fee.
    • Late payments and returned checks are assessed a 29.99% variable penalty APR.
    • The balance transfer fee is either $5 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater.
    • The foreign transaction fee is 2.7% for purchases made outside the U.S.
    • See Rates & Fees.

Extras, perks and using points

The card also includes American Express’ travel protections like roadside assistance, auto insurance and global emergency help.

You will earn a $100 statement credit toward travel purchases made with the card for every 7,500 points you earn.

One advantage is that you can redeem your points in many ways. You can choose to get cash back or make travel, car rental, gift card purchases and more.

How this card compares

Citi Prestige® Card

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Card Details
  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at airlines and hotels.
  • Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at restaurants and select entertainment merchants.
  • Earn 1 ThankYou Point for every dollar you spend on all other purchases.
  • Cardmembers with a Citigold® or Global Client relationship will earn an additional 15% in ThankYou Points based on purchases made on your card during that cardmembership year, and those with a Private Bank relationship will earn an additional 25% in ThankYou Points.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.74% to 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $450.
Balance Transfers Intro APR

Frequent travelers, or those who tend to spend at least four nights away at a time, stand to benefit the most from the perks and rewards the Citi Prestige Card offers. If you don’t travel much by air, you’ll miss out on most of the benefits.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Card Details
  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a fee for balance transfers.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee $89 - Waived first year
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard will likely appeal to those who want the most flexible redemption options for their miles.  You can use your earnings to book travel, get a statement credit for travel purchases, or for gift cards and select merchandise.  This may be of greater value to you depending on your spending habits.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR N/A

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s hefty sign-up bonus, boosted redemption value when using the Chase portal, and a generous rewards program make this card a stand-out among travel rewards cards offering big value for minimal cost. Since Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used for everything from flights to lodging to cruises, this also makes it one of the most flexible redemption programs among travel cards.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.