Play Your Cards Right: the Best Credit Card Perks

Although we advocate getting a free credit card (with perks), by playing your cards right you could take advantage of perks offered by more exclusive cards without having to pay for renewal. Read on to see how.

First steps

Applying for and cancelling credit cards, or churning, is not for everyone. Your aim should be to avoid paying for card renewal nor interest on purchases, whilst still enjoying the rewards. 

As we move towards a cashless society, it’s easier to reach the threshold that many card providers set to avoid paying an issue charge during the first year. 

Take into account that card providers will check your credit rating in Spain. Make sure you know what’s on yours, take a look at How to Check your Credit Rating in Spain.

Applying for a card

Most applications are made online. You’ll normally have to upload your photo ID so have it scanned beforehand, along with proof of income.

Some card suppliers may request an email from your work address, or a scanned wage slip, in order to check your application. Self-employed people may be required to provide a copy of their last annual tax return in Spain.

Decide on your type of card

Better perks come with Gold and Platinum cards. For the latter you’ll generally need a higher income to be considered. Don’t be swayed by the high renewal fee, remember the aim is to maximise the perks and cancel before the fee is due.

Here’s a list of some of the best cards available in Spain:

American Express

Perks include two additional free cards and depending on your chosen option:

Melia Rewards Gold: 25,000 Melia Hotels points (equivalent to a one-night stay). For each 1€ spent, get 3 Melia points. Commission 8€ / month from 7th month

Renfe: 1200 Renfe points, equivalent to 120€ credit to use on Renfe trains. Get 15% of your purchases as Renfe points. Commission 7€ / month from 7th month.

Classic or Gold: normally come with an amount of American Express Membership Rewards (MR) as an introductory offer. All purchases receive MR points which can be exchanged for flights, shopping, hotels and more. Renewal fee: Classic 80€, Gold 130€. 

Miles & More Visa Classic or Gold (Caixabank)

For any member of Miles & More (Lufthansa), get 2000 miles (classic Visa) or 7000 miles (gold). Additional perks include a discount on your first Lufthansa WorldShop purchase and with the gold card a one-year voucher to use at Lufthansa lounges.

All purchases come with miles making it relatively easy to earn enough miles for a return flight in Europe.

The renewal fee is 45€ (classic) or 95€ (gold) however the fee is waived for cardholders who spend annually over 7500€ (classic) or 10,000€ (gold).

Important note: Avoid the “revolving” option, this DOES NOT allow cardholders to pay off at the end of the month (meaning you will always pay interest on your purchases). More details available on Caixabank’s website.

Repsol BBVA Visa

Save up to 7 cents per litre at Repsol, Campsa and Petronor and 5% in stores at petrol stations, car wash and oil. Includes travel insurance of up to 310,000€.

Renewal fee is 45€, more info on BBVA’s website.

Iberia Icon 

Get a free flight by receiving between 9000 to 20,000 Avios (airmiles) when you reach the introductory spend threshold. The number of Avios awarded depends on the promo which changes during the year.

Renewal fee is 90€, more info on Iberiacards. Maximise the perks with the info in our post: How to get two free flights with Avios.

Once you receive your card

Make sure you know what threshold you need to reach and by when to trigger any introductory offer and avoid a card issue charge. If you have any problems in reaching the threshold, top up your account on Amazon and use the money at a later date.

Once you’ve triggered the rewards, rather than cancel your card immediately hold onto it until nearer the time when the contract is due to be renewed. Some providers will let you haggle over the renewal fee and customers that are more valuable may be offered the best deals. If you don’t get what you want, then cancel your card. 

When cancelling make sure you request a reference number, or email confirmation. Remember to check your bank balance as the yearly commission may still go through. If this happens contact the card provider in order to have the amount returned.

Related post: No Annual Fee Credit Cards in Spain