Middle-Premium Credit Card Guide

Credit cards come in many tiers, and now that we have gone over some beginner cards, let’s look at the next rung of the ladder. Middle-premium cards come with sizable signup bonuses, usually between, 25,000 and 50,000 points/miles. They do have fees, typically between $45 and $195 dollars per year, although the first year’s fee is often waived. They have many fringe perks with travel and purchase protection, and most do not have any foreign transaction fees. They lie just below the full premium threshold of consumer cards. Many co-branded airline cards fall squarely into this region, as do some of the more famous bank and charge cards. A Transunion credit score of around 640 or higher is usually required to obtain cards in this segment.

Chase Sapphire Preferred


Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Art

This card has long been a favorite of the churning community. It has a fantastic signup bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in three months, which can be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel programs, or they can be redeemed through the Chase portal directly at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. It also comes with a variety of fringe benefits including travel and purchase protection, and no exchange rate fees. The one that has really stood out to me, though, is the dedicated customer service line. They actually treat you like a real human, and are helpful and are usually pleasant. That alone is worth the price of admission. Note that the Chase 5/24 rule does apply to this card.

  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points after $4,000 spend in the first three months
  • 2X points on travel and dining charges (wide category)
  • 1 point per dollar on all other charges
  • 1:1 point transfer to travel partners like United, Korean Air, Southwest, BA, and Hyatt
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel and purchase protection
  • 24/7 customer service line that is nice and polite
  • Visa
  • Metal core card (feels much better than a normal plastic card)

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American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

Amex PRG Card Art

The Gold Card was a standby in many travelers’ wallets for decades. In recent years, however, competition has started to make it a relic of the past due to its low sign up bonus, and low earning power in addition to a steep annual fee of $195.

  • 25,000 Member Rewards Point bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months
  • 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines (No Kayak, Orbitz, or Priceline here…)
  • 2X points at US gas stations and supermarkets
  • $100 airline fee credit per year (Must select airline at beginning of the year, and only applies to incidentals)
  • $75 hotel credit when staying at least two nights in an American Express Travel participating property
  • Premium customer service
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No pre-set spending limit (It’s a charge card, and thus must be paid off in full at the end of each month)
  • $195 annual fee (waived first year)

The American Express Green Card, with an annual fee of $95 fits with the other cards in this segment, but was excluded due to its lack of a signup bonus, and exceptionally low earning power.

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Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Citi Premier Card Art

The Premier Card had signup bonuses, but none are available at this time. It has good earning power, and the ThankYou points program offers a variety of transfer partners and direct redemption options.

  • 3X points on gas and travel, 2X on dining and entertainment, 1X on all other purchases
  • Points are worth 25% more through the Citi portal when they are redeemed for travel
  • Wide variety of transfer partners including HHonors, Eva, Etihad, FlyingBlue, Qantas, Qatar, and Krisflyer
  • Travel, lost baggage, and price protection
  • Mastercard
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee (waived first year)

Co-branded Credit Cards

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Delta Gold Card Art

The Gold Delta card offers a nice mix of amenities for frequent Delta customers, including free checked bag, priority boarding, and double miles on Delta purchases. The signup bonus is sizable, at 30,000 miles after $1,000 spend in the first three months. You can also get a $50 statement credit if a Delta purchase is made during the first three months. The $95 annual fee is waived during the first year.

  • 30,000 SkyMile signup bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months
  • $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase in the first three months
  • Free checked bag on Delta flights (up to $50 roundtrip)
  • 2X miles on Delta purchases
  • Priority boarding and discounted Sky Club access
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • American Express
  • $95 annual fee, waived during the first year

Application Link here. Please use this link when applying to help support this blog.

AAdvantage Card Art

The name is a mouthful, but overall this card offers good value for frequent domestic travelers on American Airlines. It has a free domestic checked bag benefit for the cardholder and four companions, as well as priority boarding. The signup bonus is a respectable 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. There are sometimes targeted offers with substantially higher signup bonuses.

  • 30,000 mile signup bonus after $1,000 spend in the first three months
  • First checked bag is free for cardholder and up to four companions on the same itinerary for domestic flights
  • Automatic Group 1 boarding on domestic flights
  • 2X miles on all American Airlines purchases
  • Reduced mileage awards when redeeming points
  • 10% of redeemed miles back each year (up to 10,000 miles)
  • Travel and purchase protection
  • Mastercard
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee (waived first year)

United MileagePlus Explorer

United Explorer Card Art

The Explorer card offers a solid signup bonus and great benefits for those who often fly United. The 30,000 mile signup bonus is often bettered by targeted offers on the MileagePlus online portal or through mail with offers of 50,000 or 70,000 miles with the same $1,000 spend requirement. It comes with a free checked bag benefit for the cardholder and one companion on all United operated flights when the purchase is made with the card. Priority boarding and two United Club passes per year are included.

  • 30,000 mile signup bonus (50,000 or 70,000 targeted) after spending $1,000 in the first three months
  • 2X miles on United purchases, 1X on all others
  • Free checked bag for cardholder and one companion on all United operated flights, including international
  • Two United Club passes per year
  • Priority boarding on United (Group 2)
  • Spend counts toward status on United ($25,000 per year for Silver)
  • Travel and purchase protection
  • 10,000 bonus miles each year if $25,000 is spent over the course of that year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Visa Signature
  • $95 annual fee (waived first year)

That is only a small sample of the many middle-premium co-branded credit cards that are available. Chase has a wide variety, many of which have the 5/24 rule applied. Citi and American Express maintain a mild selection as well. Depending on your needs, one of these could be a better value proposition than the above.

Chase Middle-Premium Co-branded Credit Cards

  • 50,000 bonus points after $2,000 spend in first three months
  • $99 annual fee
  • 50,000 bonus Avios after $3,000 spend in the first three months
  • $95 annual fee
  • 80,000 bonus points after $3,000 in spend in the first three months (note that Marriott rewards have a lower per-point value than most other programs)
  • $85 annual fee
  • 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months
  • $49 annual fee (waived first year)
  • 2 free nights at a Hyatt hotel after $2,000 spend in the first three months
  • 1 free night per year
  • $75 annual fee

Citi Co-branded Middle Premium Credit Cards

  • 25,000 bonus Expedia+ points after $2,000 spend in the first three months
  • $95 annual fee
  • 2 free weekend nights after $2,500 spend in the first four months
  • $95 annual fee

American Express Co-branded Middle-Premium Credit and Charge Cards

  • 35,000 mile and 5,000 MQM bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months
  • $100 statement credit for a Delta purchase in the first three months
  • $195 annual fee
  • 2 free nights at Category 1-5 hotels after $3,000 spend in the first three months
  • $95 annual fee (waived first ear)
  • 75,000 HHonors point bonus after $3,000 spend in the first three months
  • $75 annual fee
  • 10,000 Membership Rewards point bonus after $1,000 spend in the first three months
  • $95 annual fee

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