You may not know it, but last week was apparently ‘Blue Monday’. Yep, according to a number of studies, the third Monday of a New Year is the most depressing of the year, as the memories of the holiday season fade and the responsibilities of modern life come back to the forefront of thinking.
The thing is, the whole Blue Monday thing is totally made up. It was dreamt up by travel firms to drive sales during January – a traditionally slow month for holiday bookings, given that that’s when everyone has just returned from their festive breaks. The idea is that, to create the illusion of January being a depressing month, holiday firms can offer some kind of answer with great travel deals.
Still, it’s possible to recognise the Blue January stuff as bunkum and still use the month to plan for your travels later in the year. For one thing, when it comes to travel, everyone knows that, the earlier you book, the better. But for another, there really are great travel sales to be found during January.
And the deals don’t just extend to travel companies and flight carriers. Banks and credit card firms have, for some time, realised that frequent flyers are valuable customers. That means that there are now fantastic cards available for travellers. So when you’re planning your next trip, think about applying for one of the products below – our top credit cards for travel.
Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Credit Card
This is certainly a card for well-off individuals, given it’s only available to UAE residents with a monthly salary of AED 30,000 or above. However, if you can afford it, and you’re a frequent flyer, the Visa Infinite is well worth a look. For starters, the card allows you to earn rewards points on your purchases, which you can redeem against the cost of a flight ticket. Spend $50,000, or the equivalent in UAE dirhams, and you’ll have enough points to buy yourself a free round trip to New York.
On top of this, cardholders are eligible for complimentary Marhaba services at the airport – you’ll get a free limousine, meet-and-greet, and lounge access in the UAE. And abroad, you’ll have complimentary access to 500 airport lounges worldwide.
There are other great lifestyle benefits to the card, too. For example, it’ll give you a complimentary round of golf at Emirates Golf Club, The Montgomerie, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club or Saadiyat Golf Club every month. It’ll also entitle you to free access at all Fitness First gyms in the UAE. Finally, the card also gives you 50% off at VOX Cinemas, as well as discounts of up to 50% at high-end retailers and dining outlets.
American Express Platinum Credit Card
Everyone knows that American Express cards are good for travel, and the firm’s Platinum card is the best of the bunch. The only thing is, you’ll need a minimum monthly salary of AED 22,250 to get in on the action. Still, if you are eligible for this card, you’ll be able to transfer membership rewards points to 12 leading airline partners of the firm – including Emirates Skywards and Etihad Guest.
In terms of the points, you’ll get two points for every AED 4 that you spend using the card. Points can be redeemed for free flights and upgrades, or else for hotel nights, shopping vouchers, electronics and fashion purchases. The card also comes with Priority Pass membership, meaning you and a guest can access over 700 VIP airport lounges in over 100 countries. It’ll also give you complimentary travel accident and inconvenience insurance.
Citibank Emirates Gold Credit Card
As its name suggests, this card is one for those who do a lot of miles with Emirates. It’ll give you one Skywards Mile for every US dollar spent internationally, and 0.75 Skywards Miles for every US dollar spent in the UAE. Naturally, you’ll be able to redeem your miles for tickets and upgrades with Emirates and its partner airlines.
ADIB Etihad Guest Gold Card
This one is like the Citibank card above, except for Eithad Airways flyers. The headline offer is that, upon signing up, you’ll be given a welcome bonus of 35,000 Etihad Guest Miles. According to ADIB, that’s the highest welcome bonus of any travel card in the Middle East. What’s more, the card makes it pretty easy to earn miles, too – you’ll get 1.5 Etihad Guest Miles for AED 4 spent internationally, and 1 Etihad Guest Mile for every AED 4 spent in the UAE. Naturally, you can redeem the Guest Miles against the cost of flights, upgrades, and even the card’s annual fee.