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Is the Blue Sky from American Express® worth the while? We think so! Simply enough, the card offers high rewards at no cost to the cardholder. It’s rare to find a fee-free travel card of this caliber. In this travel credit card review, we take an in-depth look at the Blue Sky from American Express® and compare it to similar options popular amongst globetrotters and vagabonds. We think you’ll like what you see.
Let’s start with the fun stuff. Rewards. The Blue Sky from American Express® might seem a little underwhelming at first. You earn a flat 1 point per dollar spent everywhere. That’s pretty typical–until you take into account how much each point is worth. Most rewards programs pay in points worth a penny apiece. Blue Sky Points, however, are valued at 1.33 cents each (33% more!). That extra boost makes a huge difference. Say you spend $3,000. Normally, a rewards card would kick back $30. With the Blue Sky from American Express®, you’d redeem for $40.
The signup bonus is: Earn 7,500 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months..
Once you’ve earned a few points, redeeming is ridiculously easy. You can trade points for statement credits to offset the cost of virtually any travel expense. Blue Sky Points can be used to pay for purchases at any airline, hotel or car rental service. There are absolutely no blackout dates, so redemption is never contingent on seasonal rates.
In addition to its superb rewards program, the Blue Sky from American Express® offers a few additional features you may find useful. It comes with an APR deal, too: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 17.24% - 22.24% Variable. Any charges you make within the first year will not incur a cent in interest for the duration of the intro period. This is particularly helpful if you need to make a large purchase that will take some time to pay off.
As with any American Express card, you automatically get a bundle of benefits just for being a cardholder. These include roadside assistance, car rental insurance, purchase protection, extended warranties, travel insurance and entertainment benefits. These combine to form a formidable and extremely useful arsenal of protections both at home and on the road.
The only downside of the Blue Sky from American Express® is its 2.7% foreign transaction fee. You don’t want to make this your primary credit card for international travel.
To sum it up, the Blue Sky from American Express® is a heck of a card for free travel rewards. We’d highly recommend it to domestic travelers who don’t want to put down money for an annual fee. Now let’s take a look at the competition.
Other travel cards
The most obvious card for comparison is the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card. The two are remarkably similar. Like the Blue Sky from American Express®, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card offers travel rewards for a $0 annual fee. The card offers rewards miles, which are worth a little less than Blue Sky Points, but Capital One awards more points per purchase. The return rate is 1.25 miles per dollar spent, equating to is a flat 1.25%–just a smidgen lower than the Blue Sky from American Express®. The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card has a sign-up bonus, too: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $200 in travel. Again, rewards can be redeemed against any travel expense using any travel service without blackout dates. The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card has a similar intro APR deal as the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, but it is just a little shorter: 0% intro on purchases until February 2017, and then the ongoing APR of 12.24% - 22.24% (Variable). The only reason we would recommend the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card over the Blue Sky from American Express® is if you’re traveling internationally. Capital One cards do not charge a foreign transaction fee, saving you 2.7%-3% on every out-of-country purchase.
If you’re not fundamentally opposed to paying an annual fee, you should take a look at the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. It has an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $59 after that. However, it’s absolutely worth the cost if you plan on doing a little traveling. Rewards accumulates at a flat 2% on all purchases. As with the other cards, your points are redeemable for credit statements to offset any travel expense–flights, hotels, car rentals, whatever. The signup bonus is solid: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel. And there is no pesky foreign transaction fee. If you’re intrigued by double miles on every purchase, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card will be well worth the investment.