Many travel rewards credit cards are specific to a certain airline or hotel, which may limit your use of the card and the rewards that you receive. The Blue Sky from American Express® (a Money Crashers partner) is one of the few credit cards that provides rewards for generalized travel purchases, including hotels and airfare with virtually every provider. However, whether this is a better option than more targeted travel cards is likely to hinge on how often you travel and how much you value flexibility.
- Sign-up Bonus. When you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account, you receive 7,500 bonus points – enough for a $100 statement credit that can be used toward travel, an airline ticket, or a hotel stay.
- Fees. There is no annual membership fee. There is a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%, and the fee for balance transfers is $5 or 3%, whichever is higher.
- APR. The Blue Sky card offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months of account opening. The APR on balance transfers and purchases after the introductory period is based on credit worthiness and variations in the prime rate. It is currently between 17.24% and 22.24%.
- Travel Rewards. One Blue Sky Reward point is earned for each dollar spent on eligible purchases, which generally means goods and services. Fees, interest, balance transfers, returns, and other credits do not qualify. Points can be redeemed in increments of 7,500 for travel-related purchases such as airlines, hotels, car rentals, and cruise lines. Each 7,500 point increment earns a $100 statement credit. Points may also be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, and even a cash back option applied to the statement.
- No Annual Fee. Many travel rewards credit cards have annual fees that range from as low as $45 to hundreds of dollars per year just for carrying the card. The Blue Sky card has no annual fee.
- Flexibility in Earning Rewards. The American Express Blue Sky card allows you to earn points for every kind of purchase without rotating categories. You don’t need to keep track of specific purchases, plan spending in advance, or worry about missing an opportunity to earn points on purchases.
- Flexible Redemption. You aren’t limited to a specific hotel chain or airline, and you can redeem rewards on a range of travel and accommodations.
- Higher Return on Points. When redeemed on travel purchases, the reward rate on each point is 1.33%, which is slightly higher than other rewards cards that provide 1% or lower.
- Redemption of Points. Points can only be redeemed for travel in increments of 7,500. You are able to redeem fewer than 7,500 points, but if you redeem them for gift cards or statement credit on purchases other than travel, the points are worth less. For example, if you use your points for the cash back option, you can redeem 6,500 points, but you only receive a $50 statement credit.
- Only One Point Per Dollar. Although flexible, you still only earn one point per dollar spent. While travel rewards cards generally offer specific categories in which to earn rewards, they also offer double and triple points, sometimes up to five points per dollar spent in a certain category. For example, although the Blue Sky Preferred card by American Express has an annual fee of $75, it rewards two points at U.S. restaurants, hotels, and car rentals.
- Statement Credit. The points can only be redeemed to offset travel purchases on your statement or for gift cards and merchandise. However, you do not have the option to instead receive a check in the mail or actual cash in your bank account.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. Foreign transaction fees range from 1% to 3%. The American Express Blue Sky credit card is among the highest at 2.7%. If you travel frequently outside of the United States, you would save money on your purchases by instead using cards such as Discover it and Capital One, which charge no foreign transaction fees at all.
If you are looking for a no-annual-fee travel rewards card without specific spending categories, the American Express Blue Sky credit card may benefit you. However, if you travel often outside of the United States, or frequent a specific airline or hotel, you can likely earn more rewards with a card dedicated to that hotel or airline than you would with this one. If you don’t travel often, you can benefit more from a card that rewards everyday purchases.
The Blue Sky from American Express® is best for someone who wants the flexibility to freely choose accommodations and travel providers. However, it’s unlikely you’re going to earn as many free hotel stays or travel fares when compared to more restrictive, company specific cards.
3.7 out of 5 stars: This travel card does not provide the benefits or earning opportunities to travelers that other rewards cards offer. However, if you are an occasional traveler who values flexibility, and you don’t like worrying about rotating categories, this card is worth considering.