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Here in the United States, as in much of Europe, cash is no longer king. Credit cards have stolen that name, and people use them to pay for everything from new cars to a pack of gum.
What Credit Card Has The Best Rewards
We love credit cards in the US. You see their ads in cities, on TV and online. Your bank can also always call you and send you credit card offers. I can’t count how many unwanted card offers I get in the mail, and no matter how many times I tell you to stop sending them to me, they just keep flooding in!
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These days, there are MIA of travel rewards credit cards to choose from. With so many cards to choose from, it’s hard to know which ones are really travel-friendly and which ones aren’t.
It can be overwhelming trying to find all the welcome offers, loyalty programs, benefits, offers, terms and conditions and hidden credit card fees.
It’s so complicated that most people just pick the first one they see and call it a day. Or, worse, they just give up and use a debit card instead!
Travel credit cards are a great tool that you can use to get free flights, travel benefits and hotel stays, all without spending extra money.
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In this article, I’ll tell you how to easily choose the best travel credit card so you can increase your points and get free travel, because it’s easier than you think!
Don’t want to read this entire post? Good. I understand. Time is important! So here is my quick list of favorites by category!
Travel credit cards offer a great opportunity to earn free points that can be redeemed for airline tickets, hotels or cash. In the pursuit of customers, credit card companies partner with various travel brands (or simply issue their own cards) that attract consumers with welcome offers, loyalty points, special discounts and more.
Their desire to capture you, the user, is actually to your advantage. Using the program, you can get tons of free flight tickets, hotel rooms, vacations and even cash back.
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I have accumulated almost a million points through welcome offers alone. I get a lot of points every year; It would take a whole book to list them.
And as long as you can pay off your credit card every month, you’ll be able to collect points and miles that you can redeem for free travel.
The first thing you should know is that there is no perfect travel card. Each card offers different benefits to suit different lifestyles, budgets and travel destinations.
I use an AMEX card to book flights (3x points per dollar spent), card_name for my everyday expenses, another Chase card for my phone bills (5x points), and card_name for my business expenses! I have friends who just want a refund and others who just want United miles.
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Want to earn brand loyalty, free gifts or avoid fees? Do you want to take advantage of welcome gifts and promotions to get free flights, or just want a card that doesn’t charge a fee to use at that restaurant in Brazil?
Is elite status the most important benefit to you? Do you want points that you can use for anything, like cash?
If you just want points to use when you choose, get a Chase or American Express card because you can use your points with a variety of travel companies. Each has its own rewards programs (Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards), and points can be transferred to many partner airlines or hotels and used to book travel directly through their websites.
By focusing on what you want first, you can maximize your short-term goals and become more familiar with travel hacking. For example, I tend to avoid hotel cards because I rarely stay at hotels.
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I don’t like discount cards because I travel so often that points, not discounts, are more useful.
What I’m looking for is to use credit cards that give me airline miles or have good transfer bonuses for airline programs.
Find your goal, then find cards that match your goal, as well as your spending habits.
Comparing credit cards can be a little overwhelming. To help you stay focused and ensure you get the best card for you and your goals, here are six things I look for in a new card:
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1. Great welcome offer: The best travel cards offer you a valuable introductory offer. You must meet minimum spend requirements (usually within the first few months), but it’s these welcome spots that will increase your mileage and get you closer to a free flight or hotel.
Sometimes these deals are big enough to get you free flights right away! Don’t sign up for a card if it doesn’t offer a great welcome offer.
As a general guide, introductory offers work like this: To get the best introductory offer, you must make a one-time purchase or meet a maximum spend within a certain time period. After that, depending on the card, you can earn anywhere from 1 to 5 points per dollar spent.
Typical welcome offers with travel credit cards range from 40,000 to 60,000 points, although they can sometimes reach 100,000. That’s why the card is so great: You get an instant balance of thousands of points for very little work. .
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If you’re not sure if you can qualify for the minimum welcome offer, ask if a friend or family member is planning a big purchase. If they let you put it on your card (and then pay you cash), you can easily reach the minimum spend to earn your welcome points.
2. Increased Spending Bonus Rate – Most credit cards offer one point per dollar spent. But good credit cards give you extra points when you shop at specific retailers or, in the case of a branded credit card, with a particular brand. This will help you earn points faster.
I don’t want a dollar to equal one point. I want the ability to earn two or three points every time I spend a dollar.
For example, with card_name you get 3x points for travel and dining, card_name gives you 5x points for office expenses and the American Express® Gold Card 3x points for airline tickets. I can earn bonus points when I use a corporate card to book with that company (ie, Delta flights with a Delta card).
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Is that what you want? Never accept one point per dollar spent. Find at least two. (Some cards offer up to 6 points per dollar spent.)
3. Minimum spend – Unfortunately, a minimum spend is required to get the big bonuses offered by these cards. While there are ways to increase your spending over time, it’s best to be able to earn bonuses for regular day-to-day spending. I usually sign up for cards with a minimum spending requirement of $1,000-$3,000 in a three to six month period.
Some cards only require a one-time purchase to activate the welcome offer (these are my favorite welcome offers).
While you shouldn’t avoid cards with higher spend, as they have higher rewards, it’s a good idea to start small as you don’t want to end up with so many cards that you can’t meet the minimum spend. Once you receive the card, you will not be able to apply for it again. Apply for a card where you can meet the minimum spend to qualify for the welcome bonus.
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Controlling your ability to meet minimum spend requirements is important because if you spend more money than usual to earn those points, the points are no longer free. Just spend what you would normally and not a penny more.
If you’re looking for ways to meet your low utility needs, there are many creative ways to become a travel professional. Check out my guide to the best way.
4. Has special travel benefits: All these travel credit cards offer great benefits. Many will offer you special elite loyalty status or other additional benefits. Here are the benefits I prioritize:
Travel Hacking isn’t just about earning points and miles, it’s about what else comes with the card that makes my life easier!
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5. Low Annual Fees: No one likes to pay annual fees for credit cards. Most corporate credit card fees range from $50 to $95 per year. For those who travel a lot
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