American Express Blue Sky Credit Card – Free Travel Rewards? Yes please!
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Is the American Express Blue Sky credit card worth the while? We think so! Simply enough, the Blue Sky 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 American Express Blue Sky 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 American Express Blue Sky 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, you’d redeem for $40.
The signup bonus is 7,500 Blue Sky Points. Using our 1.33-cent evaluation, that comes to a $100 value. Earning the bonus is easy. You need only charge $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account.
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 AmEx Blue Sky offers a few additional features you may find useful. It comes with a 12-month 0% introductory APR on purchases. 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 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 American Express Blue Sky 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. The two are remarkably similar. Like the Blue Sky, the VentureOne offers travel rewards for no annual fee. The VentureOne pays out in No Hassle 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. The VentureOne has a 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 signup bonus. Again, rewards can be redeemed against any travel expense using any travel service without blackout dates. The VentureOne has a similar intro APR deal as the Blue Sky, but it is just a little shorter. The only reason we would recommend the VentureOne over the Blue Sky is if you’re traveling internationally. Capital One cards–the VentureOne included–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. The annual fee is $59 (waived the first year) but is absolutely worth the cost if you plan on doing a little traveling. Rewards accumulates at a flat 2% on all purchases. As with the Blue Sky and VentureOne, your points are redeemable for credit statements to offset any travel expense–flights, hotels, car rentals, whatever. The signup bonus is 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.