What is the best rewards card to pair with Delta SkyMiles airline card?

Pros and cons of adding Citi Costco, Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred to your wallet

Cashing In columnist Tony Mecia
Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. He writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com

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Question Dear Cashing In,
I just read your article on the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa, and it was very informative. I’m wondering if you compare that Visa to the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, what are the pros and cons, and which one should I get? I probably won't spend a ton of money on whichever card I go with, as I have an American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles card that I try to use most often for the travel benefits. Would love to hear your thoughts to help me decide which Visa to get. – Nate

Answer Dear Nate,
A lot of people ask what the “best card” is in certain categories. That question is usually difficult to answer, because it depends on how much you spend, where you spend, and what kind of rewards you prefer.

The way you framed it is better: What are the pros and cons for the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred? So let’s examine these three cards, then talk about what which might be most appropriate for you.

CITI COSTCO ANYWHERE VISA
Annual fee None (with paid Costco membership)
Earnings 4 percent on gas, 3 percent on travel and dining out, 2 percent at Costco, 1 percent on all else
Redemption Yearly coupon that can be redeemed at Costco
Pros No annual fee, high rate of return on gas and travel
Cons No sign-up bonus, rewards can be redeemed only yearly and only at Costco

 

CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE
Annual fee $450
Earnings 3 percent on travel and dining out, 1 percent on all else
Redemption Chase Ultimate Reward points, which can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash; Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a 50 percent bonus on Ultimate Rewards points redeemed through the Chase travel portal
Pros High earning rate on travel/restaurants, good annual sign-up bonus of 50,000 points, $300 annual travel reimbursement, $100 one-time Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit
Cons High annual fee, rewards have best value for travel

 

CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED
Annual fee $95, waived the first year
Earnings

2 percent on travel and dining out, 1 percent on all else

Redemption Chase Ultimate Reward points, which can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash; Sapphire Preferred cardholders get a 25 percent bonus on Ultimate Rewards points redeemed through the Chase travel portal
Pros Good earning rate on travel/restaurants, solid annual sign-up bonus of 50,000 points, lower annual fee than Reserve
Cons Category bonuses less generous than Reserve, rewards have best value for travel

All three are good cards, and choosing among them is a matter of personal preference. There are, though, some key differences.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred cards are aimed mostly at people who enjoy travel rewards. You can redeem the points for merchandise, gift cards and cash, but the best value is for travel – by either transferring the points to airline or hotel programs, or by booking directly on Chase’s travel portal.

It sounds as though you are satisfied with using your Delta card to earn Delta frequent flyer miles and to take advantage of its travel benefits, so the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be more than you want because of its high annual fee.

Maybe you might pair your Delta SkyMiles card with the Costco Anywhere Visa card – assuming you shop regularly at Costco or at least live near one. It is essentially a cash-back card with no annual fee, and you could use it for its healthy bonuses for spending on gas, dining out, non-Delta travel purchases and at Costco. The more you shop at Costco, the more sense the Costco card makes.

Another possibility would be to go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card mainly for its 50,000-point sign-up bonus. You pay no annual fee for the first year, but you earn the 50,000 Chase points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. So after spending that, you would be able to book $675 in travel on the Chase online portal, or transfer the miles to a participating airline or hotel program (but not Delta, sorry).

For me, it would be hard to pass up more than $600 in travel for no annual fee (the first year). If you plan to cancel the card in less than a year, make sure you have used your Chase points before doing so: They will disappear when you cancel the card, unless you have another card that earns Chase points.

You could always sign up for the Costco card and the Chase card, knowing that you’ll likely cancel the Chase card in less than 12 months.

Good luck making your decision!

See related: 6 questions to ask when choosing a rewards card, Getting the most out of multiple rewards cards, 7 ways to track your rewards like a pro

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Updated: 11-19-2017