Summer Hull writes the weekly “Get to the Points” column for CreditCards.com
Every year we see hot, new rewards cards appear on the scene and some older cards become a part of the history books.
That was true in 2017 as we lost the ability to acquire popular cards such as the Chase Fairmont card and the Citi Hilton Honors cards, and the trend of constant additions and subtractions in the rewards credit card landscape will continue in 2018.
In fact, we have already received some insight on a few expected credit card changes and debuts for 2018, so let’s look at the rewards credit cards you may want to snap up in 2018.
Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest cards changing in 2018
We don’t always get a lot of notice on which credit cards will be coming or going, but we do know a bit about some changes coming to the Starwood and Marriott card lineup in 2018 due to the merger of those programs.
It was confirmed that both American Express and Chase will issue co-branded Marriott cards, and that in 2018 there will be a new premium consumer card issued by AmEx as well as an enhanced Marriott small-business card issued by AmEx.
There will also be a “mass consumer” and “premium consumer” Marriott product from Chase. The companies did not confirm exactly what this means for the current Starwood Preferred Guest AmEx cards or Chase Marriott cards other than to say that, “in the meantime, both companies will retain their existing portfolio of accounts and continue to offer their current products.”
While there are no guarantees, to me this means if you want to get one of the currently available SPG or Marriott products such as the Starwood Preferred Guest AmEx or Marriott Rewards Chase card and their associated sign-up bonuses, I would prioritize that at the top of my 2018 credit card to-do list before they potentially do away with some current card products for good.
Bring on Uber, Starbucks and more co-branded cards
The Uber Visa issued by Barclays may have been the best consumer no-annual-fee credit card introduced in 2017, and remains worthy of consideration in 2018.
This card awards a $100 welcome bonus after you spend $500 in the first 90 days, but its biggest strength is its ongoing perks. The Uber card’s perks include 4 percent cash back on dining, 3 percent cash back on airfare and hotels, a $50 annual credit toward online subscription services such as Netflix if you spend $5,000 on the card annually. Cardholders even receive $600 in coverage toward theft or damage of your cellphone if you pay your cellphone bill each month the with card.
We know that a Starbucks credit card is coming in early 2018 and that it will be issued by Chase. We don’t know yet what the rewards structure or ongoing benefits will look like, but if they take a page from the Uber card, it may be pretty rewarding to have even if you don’t call Starbucks your second home.
Citi Hilton ends, AmEx Hilton begins
The Citibank-issued Hilton cards are already closed to new applicants and will be transitioning to American Express Hilton cards in January 2018.
However, if you want to be sure you are eligible for a new customer bonus on an AmEx Hilton card in the future, it may be worth canceling your Citi Hilton card before it converts to AmEx in very early 2018 and then apply for one of those AmEx-issued cards down the road to get the sign-up bonus. If you are just transferred from your Citi Hilton card to an AmEx Hilton card, you will not earn bonus points with the transfer.
In addition to the transition of customers from Citi to AmEx, there will be some new Hilton products available Jan. 18, 2018. Among these changes: There will be a new Hilton Honors American Express Ascend card, which replaces the AmEx Hilton Surpass Card. There also will be a new Hilton small-business AmEx and a high-end Hilton Honors AmEx Aspire card, which will carry a $450 annual fee. Perks with the Aspire include top-tier Hilton Diamond status, Priority Pass Select membership, a $250 annual airline fee credit and a $250 Hilton resort statement credit.
Just like with other premium cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum, a high annual fee doesn’t have to be an automatic deal breaker if the card includes ongoing perks that will more than offset the cost of the fee.
New rewards credit cards mean new customer sign-up bonuses and perks, so I’m excited to see what 2018 will bring!