When it comes to traveling I hate spending money. Yes, even more so than day-to-day life. Every time I dine out while on a trip my brain begins adding the bill to the flight, the hotel bill, the stupid resort fees and valets.
I began doing some research to find out how to make the most out of my every day shopping to put money/points towards vacations because let’s be honest, we all live for an amazing vacation.
I did not want a card that gave me 1 to 1 reward points per dollar spent. That is a waste of credit space and money. I did want a card with a nice, juicy sign up bonus. I also have to travel for work so I have a couple of preferred hotels and my preferred airline is Delta.
Based on this information I came up with my top 3 travel rewards cards.
- Chase Marriott Visa–I may be bias but the Chase Marriott Visa is my favorite in terms of sign up bonuses and points earned. When I was booking my honeymoon, my husband and I each separately signed up for this credit card which has an 80,000 point sign up bonus. With those 160,000 points we were able to book a week at the Marriott resort in Kauai (because with Marriott when you book 5 nights, the 6th night is free!). You get 5x points on Marriott locations and 2x points per $1 spent on restaurants, car rental agencies and on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline (versus Kayak or something). Everything else is 1 point per dollar. Not only that, you get 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year. We use this every single year! I travel a lot for work so I am also able to accrue more points that way, too. The first year there is no annual fee and after the first year the fee is $85.
- American Express Gold–The sign up bonus for this card ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 points. I waited until the bonus was 50,000 to sign up. The miles earned per dollar are mediocre (1 mile per dollar spent) except when you buy flights through Delta on this card. That’s when you’ll start to see the points rack up. You’ll earn at least 7 miles per dollar spent, You also earn 2 miles per dollar on in-flight purchases and you get a discount on those purchases (seen as a statement credit on your next credit card bill). My favorite features are that you get priority boarding so you feel like a baller and your first bag gets checked for free! So if you and your significant other each have a card, each of your bags gets checked for FREE! That’s huge! The first year there is no annual fee and after the first year the fee is $95.
- American Express Hilton- I really like the ROI on this card in regards to pints. With this card you get 7X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. This is higher than the 5x points with Marriott. Not only that but you get 5X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations. Finally, you get 3X Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. While all of this is more than the Marriott, I find that Marriott rewards are easier to redeem. BUT this card has no annual fee which is a big perk!
Keep in mind that I travel for work so I have certain preferred airlines/hotels. These cards might not be the right ones for you but for me and my lifestyle they work.
Stay tuned for more frugal finds!