Credit Cards

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this blog receives compensation. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the page, including, for example, the order in which they appear. We’ve highlighted those by noting “sponsored link” next to the title to provide transparency. The list below does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace, but we welcome suggestions – this is an ongoing search for the best.

Author Bio:This page is curated by Brandon Cronan. When Brandon is not working as a project engineer he uses the principals of badassity combined with credit card bonuses and other travel hacks to enjoy extended mini-retirements in exotic locations around the world. On his most recent ten-month hiatus he used frequent flyer miles to visit Central America, South America and Indonesia, flying over 35,000 actual miles, paying only the fuel surcharge and miscellaneous taxes. He writes about minimalism, optimism, frugality, travel and freedom over at lifereengineeredblog.com.

 

 

Rewards Credit Cards for Travel

spg-191x120Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express (Sponsored Link): A travel hacker favorite. Earn 10,000 points after your first spend and 15,000 additional points after spending $5k in 6 months. The minimum spend is a bit steep, but it’s spread over 6 months. AMEX SPG points transfer at a rate of 1:1 to most airlines, except United where they transfer at a rate of 2:1 and Air New Zealand where they transfer at a rate of 65:1 (Why even bother?) The magic of this card is realized when you transfer 20,000 points to participating airlines, as they gift you a bonus 5,000 miles for each 20,000 transferred. Miles can also be used to book stays at Starwood properties worldwide, if staying in fancypants resorts is your thing. I’ve seen the bonus as high as 30,000 points (it’s currently at 25,000 points) so this may be one to wait on as these things are cyclical. Terms and restrictions apply.

Synergies:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from AMEX
  • US Airways Premier World Mastercard
  • Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard
  • Citi Business AAdvantage World Mastercard

US AirwaysUS Airways Premier World MasterCard (sponsored link): Sign-up bonus of 40,000 US Airways Dividend Miles with no minimum spend. You’ll have to pay the $89 yearly fee, however, according to the US Airways Award chart you can get a round trip-ticket from anywhere in North America to South America for 60,000 points if your travel dates are flexible (Chataqua in Ecuador, anyone?). Combine with this deal with the AMEX SPG, which transfers to US Airways 1:1 and you’ll have enough miles to make it. That flight normally costs approximately $1,000 so you could potentially use your points at a rate of 1.7 pennies per point. That means those 40,000 points are potentially worth $680. Think that’s worth the $89 yearly fee? Also, considering the upcoming merger between US Airways and American Airlines, those US Airways points will soon be pooled with your American Airlines AAdvantage points. You should be able to re-apply for this card every three months, until the merger. I have two of these in my quiver.

Synergies:

  • AMEX SPG
  • Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard
  • Citi Business AAdvantage World Mastercard

Barclay ArrivalBarclay Arrival World Elite MasterCard (sponsored link): This is a great all purpose card. Get $400 in cash back after spending $3k in 3 months. Annual fee of $89 is waived for the first year. No foreign transaction fee. The cash back comes in the form of statement credits for travel expenses. That means that if you charge Air, Bus, Taxi or Hotel expenses to this card you can submit a request for those expenses to be credited back to your account. Each dollar you spend is worth 2 points, and upon redemption you are awarded 20% of your points back which essentially means you get 2.2% cash back on all purchases. For that reason, this card has become my go to card for everyday purchases.


Capital One VentureCapital One Venture
: Almost identical to the Barclay Arrival Plus. Get $400 in cash back after spending $3k in 3 months. Annual fee of $59  is waived for the first year. No foreign transaction fee. The cash back comes in the form of statement credits for travel expenses. That means that if you charge Air, Bus, Taxi or Hotel expenses to this card you can submit a request for those expenses to be credited back to your account. Each dollar you spend is worth 2 points, which essentially means you get 2% cash back on all purchases.


More Cards

 

ChaseSP-NewChase Sapphire Preferred: 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3k in 3 months. No Foreign Transaction fees. Get an additional 5000 points for adding an authorized account user within the first 3 months after they make a purchase. Yearly fee is waived the first year. Points transfer at a rate of 1:1 to Southwest and United Mileage Plus, among others. United is part of the Star Alliance which means you can book award travel through United on their sister airlines, which include Air Canada, Copa, Lufthansa, Singapore Air and many more.

Synergies:

  • Chase Ink Bold Business Card
  • Chase Ink Plus Business Card
  • United Mileage Plus Explorer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward Premier

InkPlus-191x120Chase Ink Bold/ Chase Ink Plus Business Card: Both cards offer a 50,000-point bonus after spending $5k in 3 months. Fee is waived for the first year. No foreign transaction fees. These Ultimate Rewards points are the same points earned on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which can be transferred to Southwest and United Mileage Plus, among others. Don’t have a business? Are you thinking of starting of one? Do you have a blog or any hobbies that you hope to one day make money off of? These credit companies want to give you credit cards so their standards of what a business is are pretty lax. If you don’t have a business ID, simply enter your social security number in the business ID box. I’ve never been denied.

Synergies:

  • Chase Sapphire
  • United Mileage Plus Explorer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward Premier

united-191x120United Mileage Plus Explorer: 30,000 United Mileage Plus points after spending $1k in 3 months. I’ve seen this bonus as high as 50,000 points before so it may be prudent to wait for that offer to come back as these things are cyclical.

 

Synergies:

  • Chase Sapphire
  • United Mileage Plus Explorer
  • Chase Ink Bold Business Card
  • Chase Ink Plus Business Card

chasesouthwest_bigSouthwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier: 25,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1k in 3 months. I’ve seen this bonus as high as 50,000 points before so this might be one to wait on. Southwest makes redeeming award travel super user-friendly as you can view the cost of any flight in either dollars or points.

Synergies:

  • Chase Sapphire
  • Chase Ink Bold Business Card
  • Chase Ink Plus Business Card

cccitibank211_bigCiti Platinum Select / AAdvantage World MasterCard: Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage points after spending $1k in 3 months. $95 fee is waived for the first year. I’ve seen this bonus as high as 50,000 points in the past so this might be one to wait on. American Airlines is part of the One World Alliance, which means you can book award travel through American Airlines on their sister airlines which include British Airways, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific and many more.

Synergies:

  • AMEX SPG
  • US Airways Premier World Mastercard
  • Citi Business AAdvantage World Mastercard

AACitiBusiness-191x120Citi Business / AAdvantage World MasterCard: The Business version of the Citi AAdvantage World Mastercard. Earn 30,000 AAdvantage points after spending $1k in 3 months. $95 fee is waived the first year.

 

Synergies:

  • AMEX SPG
  • US Airways Premier World Mastercard
  • Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard

AMEX SPGStarwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express: The business version of the AMEX SPG mentioned above. Earn 10,000 points after your first spend and 20,000 additional points after spending $5k in 6 months. $65 annual fee is waived for the first year. These points will accrue in the same account as the non-business version. You can have both cards. Terms and restrictions apply.

Synergies:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from AMEX
  • US Airways Premier World Mastercard
  • Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World Mastercard
  • Citi Business AAdvantage World Mastercard

AmExDelta-191x120Gold Delta Skymiles® Credit Card from American Express (sponsored link): Earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1k in 3 months. Also available is a $50 statement credit when you make a purchase through Delta within the first 3 months. $95 fee is waived for the first year. Obviously a good card if you plan to fly Delta soon. Check your first bag free on every Delta flight. Terms and restrictions apply.

Synergies:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from AMEX
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from AMEX

Rewards Cash Back Cards from American Express

blue cashBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (sponsored link): Get $150 back as a statement credit after spending $1k in 3 months. $75 yearly fee. Earn 6% on US Supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations and select dept. stores, 1% on all other purchases.  Terms and restrictions apply.

AMEX CostcoTrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express (sponsored link): No annual fee with your paid Costco Membership. Earn 3% cash back at US gas stations up to $4,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 2% cash back at US restaurants, 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco, and 1% cash back on other purchases. Cash back is provided annually as a reward coupon redeemable for cash or merchandise at US Costco Warehouses. Terms and restrictions apply.

AMEX businessSimply Cash® Business Card from American Express : No Annual fee. 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. 3% cash back on the category of your choice, 1% on all other purchases. 5% and 3% bonuses apply for purchases up to $25k per rebate year, 1% on all purchases thereafter. Cash back earned is credited directly to your statement. Terms and restrictions apply.

Editorial Note: Please note that any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this blog receives compensation. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the page, including, for example, the order in which they appear. We’ve highlighted those by noting “sponsored link” next to the title to provide transparency. The list below does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace, but we welcome suggestions – this is an ongoing search for the best.

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