It seems like everyone who we speak to is travelling the world these days. With airline travel extremely accessible and affordable, more and more people are taking to the skies. Additionally, as the global economy seems to be humming right a long, leisure travel is climbing, resulting in hotel occupancy on the rise. So the question is: Are you travelling for free?
Travelling for free these days is difficult to comprehend, but thanks to our favorite US financial institutions, it is completely within your reach. Here is a brief credit card sign up guide to help explain some strategies of how we travel for free.
Introducing the Points Partners Method
Signing up for credit cards to earn points and miles for free travel depends on where you're looking to go (US, Europe, Asia, etc.) and what you're using the points for (hotels vs airlines), what points you already have, and what credit cards you've applied for in the past. You may only need air or hotel, or both. Also, when are you looking to travel (within a few weeks or months)? Generally, it costs less to redeem points the farther out in time you travel begins. These factors impact the decision as to which credit cards to apply for (best offers, travel credits, and the like). So there are a few variables, but we can help you travel for free or low money with a little more information!
Answering these 7 questions will allow you to help plan what points you need to go after in order to redeem for free travel:
That said, here are a few personal and business cards that you may want to consider now:
Personal credit cards:
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve ($399 annual fee) - 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening transferable to both airlines (United, British Airways, Korean Air and Air France) and hotels (Hyatt, IHG, Marriott), or you can redeem these points on Chase Ultimate Rewards for 1.5x per point (good to redeem when flights are cheaper than redeeming points). Comes with a $300 travel credit per cardmember year, so this heavily offsets the annual fee, plus you earn 3x points on travel and dining (tolls count, but not gas). For example, you can transfer 50,000 points to fly roundtrip on Air France from JFK to Tel Aviv, Israel for only 50,000 miles + $200+ in taxes for a roundtrip ticket. So, by applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, with this one card you essentially get a free ticket to Israel (subject to Air France availability and I think they're announcing a new rewards program soon) less the difference in the annual fee of the credit card. You also can apply for Global Entry (TSA Precheck) for free and lounge access for free. After the year, it's possible to downgrade the card to a less expensive card if you don't like this card. This is definitely one of the most popular premium credit cards on the market. Plus if you combine with 2 or 4 below, any points you earn can be redeemed for 1.5x points when transferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve points account. Both you and a spouse can apply (and anyone 18 or over). Just be sure you can meet the spending threshold (if this is a problem, there are ways to meet this).
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) - 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Almost the same as above, but it's only a 2x dining card and no $300 travel credit or free benefits. You can transfer these points to other Chase partner programs or redeem at Ultimate Rewards by transferring to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account for better redemption value. Again, this Chase Sapphire Preferred offer can potentially be another airline tickets (except for the taxes in this case) for a small annual fee.
3. Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card ($89 annual fee) - 80,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You also get a free Category 1-5 night at any Marriott hotel after your first year anniversary. If you need a place to stay, this is a good value. Combine with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card for even more points..
4. Chase Freedom (NO annual free) - $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus rotating 5x points categories each quarter of the year (sometimes its department stores, Starbucks, pharmacy, it depends). The money really is in points, so you can transfer to the Chase Sapphire Reserve for even greater benefit or redeem for cash. We prefer the points, but you're saving $150 right away.
I recommend Chase cards because they have a rule that prevents getting accepted for new cards where you applied for 5 personal cards (no matter who issued the credit card) in 24 months. As such, it makes sense to apply for these first and then you can start applying for certain business cards that aren't counted to this rule.
5. Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card ($65 annual fee) - 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. However, these can be transferred to Marriott at 3x the points. So 25,000*3=75,000 Marriott Rewards points (you have to link your accounts). When Combined with #3, you now have over 150,000 Marriott points, from one person. If you and your spouse each sign up, well, now you have over 300,000 Marriott points, resulting in a long and FREE hotel stay at very nice hotels.
In sum, it depends on where you're looking to travel, but this is a very good start towards earning a lot of points. Additional note, this assumes approval of the cards and you can't apply for all of these at one time. Essentially you need to stack these applications over a month or two or three and have enough spend to qualify.
We have a few tricks up our sleeves that may help satisfy this spending (fees may apply). Check out our webpage for additional information at www.PointsPartners.com!
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