It’s difficult to go through the day without being bombarded by more advertisements than we ever thought possible.
And when it comes to the credit card world, these advertisements all seem to promise us something for nothing. While I do believe in the age old economics adage “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” there are credit cards that have provided my family with tremendous rewards.
These rewards have allowed us to travel the world, twice in first class, for almost free. Here now, my current top five credit cards that might help your family earn free travel.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
This is my everyday spend card, which has yet to steer me wrong in over four years.
The Sapphire Preferred card earns transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can either redeem Ultimate Rewards for 1.25 cents each towards airline tickets, hotels, cruises or car rentals, or you can transfer them to one of six airlines or four hotel programs at a 1:1 ratio.
Chase is currently offering 50,000 Ultimate Rewards as a sign up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card opening. This means you have $625 off the bat to spend towards revenue travel tickets, or you can transfer 50,000 points to one of the 10 transfer partners including United, Southwest, British Airways, Hyatt, and Marriott.
Roundtrip flights on American Airlines using OneWorld partner British Airways start at only 15,000 points. This means you get three roundtrip short haul flights on American Airlines just for signing up!
The card earns 2x points on all travel (including things like taxis) and 2x points on all dining. The card has no annual fee for the first year and then $95 per year.
- The Platinum Card from American Express
This card has opened doors I never thought possible for me and my family.
The card includes airport lounge access to the new and swanky Centurion lounges as well as Select membership in the Priority Pass lounge program. I have used Priority Pass lounges in airports all around the world, providing respite from chaos.
There is a $200 annual airline reimbursement fee for things like seat selection, checked baggage fees, and onboard purchases. The perks continue with a Global Entry $100 application fee reimbursement, access to the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program offering tremendous add-ons to your hotel stay, and the use of the American Express Concierge.
The card earns transferable Membership Rewards points which, like Chase, can be transferred to multiple airline and hotel partners, though not always at a 1:1 ratio. I’ve used Membership Rewards to fly Delta, American, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and ANA for free all over the world.
The card earns 1x points on all purchases and offers between 40,000 and a massive 100,000 point sign up bonuses, usually after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. The card carries a hefty $450 annual fee, but the $200 airline fee reimbursement, Global Entry fee reimbursement, and lounge access more than make up for that fee to the road warrior.
And, there’s great news for active duty military: American Express waives the annual fee for all cardholders! Keep any eye out for the 100,000 point sign up bonus which appears a couple times a year.
- Amex Express Everyday Preferred Card
This relatively new Amex product is great because of the potential points earnings for the average family. The Everyday Preferred card earns 3x points at grocery stores, 2x points at gas stations, and offers a fantastic 50% monthly bonus on all earned points if you use the card for 30 or more transactions in a monthly billing cycle. A family using their card for all monthly purchases and paying off the bill in full each monthly will quickly see their points balance increase.
Given the amazing ways to maximize American Express points for free travel via transfer partners, this card should have a solid place in your plastic lineup. The card is currently offering 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months and carries a $95 annual fee.
- Citi ThankYou Premier Card
Historically disregarded by credit card aficianados, Citi ThankYou points have become the new kid on the block for highly valued credit card points.
The Premier card can earn you a lot of ThankYou points. The card earns 3x points on all travel including gas, taxis, airfare, hotels, tolls and public transportation and 2x points on dining and entertainment. Add in anywhere from a 40,000 to 60,000 point sign up bonus after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months, and your points balance can sky rocket.
ThankYou points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each toward airfare, hotels, cruises, or car rentals. They can also be transferred to one of 13 different airline and hotel travel partners like Hilton and Virgin America to be used for free flights or hotel nights. There is no annual fee for the first year and a $95 annual fee thereafter.
- Chase Ink Plus Business Card
This card also earns powerful Chase Ultimate Rewards, but holds a secret weapon: it earns 5x points at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services.
While you may not think you spend much on office supplies, remember the variety of products stores like Staples and OfficeMax carry, including those large gift card racks. For example, you can buy Southwest gift cards at Staples, earning 5x points on your plane ticket purchases by default. Take your monthly utility bills and multiply by 5x to see how many points you can earn in a year just on utility bills.
The card is offering an enviable 60,000 Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months after account opening. Before you write the card off because you are not a business owner, remember even sole proprietors qualify for holding such cards and you may be surprised at how easily you qualify. This card is always in my wallet.
Which card do you use everyday to earn free travel?
— Richard Kerr
A simple internet search for cheap airfare led Richard Kerr to chasing the proverbial white rabbit down the hole towards points and miles. Richard’s passion is exploring the inner workings of loyalty programs in order to provide readers the best strategies for maximizing their loyalty account balances. Contact Richard via email at firstname.lastname@example.org