Recently (as in this month) Diners Club re-launched consumer credit cards in the United States for new applications. This is big news as Diners Club used to be a major player in the points game and has been closed to new applications for several years as the program has bounced from bank to bank.
They offer a flexible point program with several transfer partners. Those partners are (via Flyertalk and 1:1 unless otherwise noted):
OneWorld: British Airways
SkyTeam: Delta Airlines, Korean Air.
Star Alliance: Air Canada, Eva Airways, SAS, South African Airways, Thai Airways.
Independent: Alaska Airlines, El Al Airlines, (50:1), Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Iceland Air, Southwest Airlines (1500:1200), Virgin Atlantic.
Hotels: Best Western (1250:3300), Choice (1250:2400), Hilton (1250:2000), Hyatt (1250:750), Intercontinental Hotel Group (1250:1500), Marriott (1250:1500), Starwood (1250:750).
Realistically, only a few of these options interest me: British, Delta, Korean, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alaska and Starwood. But truthfully, thats just as many (if not more) interesting transfer partners compared to both AmEx and Chase.
From Point A To has a great post explaining the wisdom of earning flexible point currencies as opposed to individual airline miles.
So I’d argue that Diners Club belongs in that heap– just as valuable as Amex or Chase points and only slightly less valuable than Starwood points.
Why else am I so bullish on the new Diners Club card?
The main reason is that the “Elite” version of this card offers three points per dollar at drug stores, grocery stores, and gas stations (pay at pump only). There just so happens to be a three letter pharmacy up the street from me (and many of you, most likely) that sells pin-enabled gift cards for $4.95 each. That’s potentially 1515 points for less than $6 (accounting for money order fee) that’s scalable to $5,000 (15,150 points) per day if you really want to max it out.
To put that in perspective, if you’re paying 99 cents per $499.01 money order to cash out at your local grocery store (where you can also do your weekly shopping and get 3X points with this card), you’re paying roughly 0.39 cents per BA, Alaska, Aeroplan, etc mile or roughly 0.65 cents per SPG point after transfer.
-A category 7 Starwood Hotel that normally costs 30,000-35,000 points per night (think: St. Regis Bali, St. Regis Mallorca, St. Regis New York) would run you between ~$195 and $225 per night–plus the fifth night free. So the effective price could be closer to $150/night in 5 night increments… for some of the nicest hotels in the world.
-A round trip ticket to Europe in business class would run you 90,000 Aeroplan miles — or about $350 if you manufacture them via Diners Club card. Yeah… a $350 round trip to Europe in business class. Aeroplan does tack on fuel surcharge with many airlines, but not all of them.
90,000 may sound like a lot to manufacture, but it’s fewer than 60 $500 gift cards, and when you can buy 10 at a time, that’s just 6 trips to your local drug store…
Not only is the value outsized, but I’m generally scared to manufacture spending on that level with most of my favorite cards. I simply value the relationship with Amex/Chase/Citi/Barclays too highly to risk a closure. But the Diners Club card is issued by BMO Harris–a bank which offers exactly ZERO other cards I’m interested in. If they sever their relationship with me, I won’t be happy about it, but it won’t be the end of the world, either.
So I bring this post full circle back to the post title: Why is nobody talking about this card?
The truth is… I don’t know. It’s an awesome card.
One reason is that BMO Harris doesn’t offer affiliate links to blogs, so I’ll just throw that out there, and you can make of it what you will.
Another reason could be the $300 annual fee on the Elite version of the card, but in my opinion, that’s a small price to pay for:
-Primary insurance on vehicle rentals
-Airport lounge access in almost every major airport in the world
-Aforementioned triple points in many useful categories
-Chip & PIN functionality for worldwide acceptance
-Many other benefits like trip cancellation insurance, baggage loss, etc. etc.
Lastly, I suppose that the lack of a sign up bonus would be a negative for some folks, but when you can pretty easily earn a sign up bonus level of points every month with this card, I don’t find that to be a huge deal.
This card was a no brainer for me, and I think it should be for just about anyone interested in manufacturing any spending.