It’s no secret I’m a sucker for a credit card with amazing travel perks and rewards. Credit cards get a bad reputation, but if you use them responsibly, you can reap some pretty amazing travel benefits. A lot of credit cards offer awesome sign-up bonuses for new customers if you meet a certain spending threshold within a certain number of months. On top of receiving sign-up bonuses, I also use my credit cards like a debit card. Whenever I make a purchase on one of my credit cards, I deduct the amount out of my checkbook (as if it were a debit card purchase), and once a week I add up my purchases and make a payment on my card. I have managed to accumulate over 140,000 miles since January 2016 between sign up bonuses and using my credit cards like a debit card.
American Airlines AAdvantage Card. This card is offered through Citi and it’s the credit card I use every day. I love it. Right now, the sign-up bonus is 50,000 airline miles after making $2,500 in purchases within the first three months. Some of the perks of this card include a free checked bag for you and up to four people traveling on the same reservation, preferred boarding, no foreign transaction fees, 25% off in-flight purchases, two miles per dollar when booking directly with American Airlines, at restaurants, and gas stations, and one mile per dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $99.00 and it’s waived the first year. After using this credit card daily for almost two years, I can honestly say I have no complaints. I have called Citi several times with various issues over the past two years and my concerns are always remedied and the people I have spoken to are friendly and happy to help. Citi also has an app that can be used to make payments, check balances, etc. and it is very user friendly.
American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Card. This is another credit card that accumulates American Airline miles, but unlike the Citi version, this one is offered through Barclaycard. Most of the benefits are the same as the Citi version – except you only earn two miles per dollar when booking directly with American Airlines – all other purchases are one mile per dollar. The sign-up bonus with this card is much better though because you’ll receive 60,000 bonus miles after you make your first purchase in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee of $95.00. You do not have to spend a certain dollar amount, you just have to make a purchase and pay the annual fee. How awesome is that!? Oh, and if you have already have the Citi version, you can sign-up for the Aviator card and still receive the bonus miles.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card. This card is offered through Chase and I got it just for the sign-up bonus. Right now, the sign-up bonus is 40,000 airline miles after making $1,000.00 in purchases within the first three months. What I love about Southwest Airlines is the amount of airline miles needed for a flight are based on the price of the ticket and not on a set number of miles like most other airlines. For example, I applied for this card and received it in the mail about a week later. I immediately started using it for all of my daily purchases so I could meet the spending limit threshold and be awarded the bonus miles. Once I met the spending threshold my 40,000 bonus miles were promptly credited to my Rapid Rewards account. Once the miles were in my account, I got on the phone with Southwest and booked three, yes three, roundtrip tickets from Dallas to New York City. All I had to pay out of pocket were the taxes associated with each ticket. The best part? I still had miles left over. Like Citi, Chase also has an app that can be used to make payments, check balances, etc., although if I am being honest, I do not like the Chase app as much as the Citi app. It is not as user friendly to me and isn’t as aesthetically pleasing.
Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card. I also have this card and got it when the sign-up bonus was 10 points per dollar for the first year or up to $12,000.00 – whichever came first. I used it for everything and very easily got the 120,000 bonus points. Right now, if you spend $3,000.00 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, you’ll receive 75,000 Marriott points. That’s enough points to stay at the Courtyard Marriott Seminyak Resort in Bali for several nights! Additional cardmember benefits include one free night every year on your account anniversary (at any hotel with a redemption level up to 35,000 points), earn six points per dollar on purchases made at any Marriott or SPG property and two points per dollar on all other purchases, and no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee on this card has gone up to $95.00 – it was $85.00 when I received the card at the end of 2017.
Capital One Venture Card. If you don’t like to put all your eggs in a particular airline or hotel basket, then the Venture card is probably for you. You can use your miles with any airline, any hotel, or any car rental agency and the best thing about this card is you earn two miles for every dollar spent. You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. As a cardmember, you’ll also receive up to a $100.00 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck when you use your Venture card. There are no foreign transaction fees when making purchases outside the United States and the annual fee is waived the first year – after that, it’s $95.00 per year.
What are your favorite credit cards? Do you have any tips or tricks for maximizing your card benefits? Leave me a comment below with any of your suggestions.
**Reward information updated October 2018
**All information contained in this blog post is based on my personal opinion. Always remember to read all fine print before signing up for any credit card.