So...here are some of the new credit cards currently in our wallet for this year that we use as tools to help us earn free travel:
* Chase Sapphire Preferred--My husband got this card in the Spring. The annual fee is waived the first year, and after meeting the minimum spending requirement of $4000 over 3 months, he earned over 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (40,000 bonus, +5000 for adding an authorized user plus over 5000 points on spending in the first few months). Chase Ultimate Rewards points are so valuable because they can be used for cash back (1 cent per point), or they can be transferred to travel partners like Hyatt, Southwest and United.
We ended up transferring his points to Hyatt, and combined with some existing Ultimate Rewards points I already had, we had enough to book a Hyatt resort mini-vacation next year that has a cash price of ~$1600. (The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and other Chase cards are now harder to get if you apply for and change credit cards frequently--see this blog post for details).
|Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort|
* American Express Premier Rewards Gold--Based on advice from a few bloggers about checking out credit card offers on the CardMatch tool, we discovered that my husband (not me, can you tell who has the bigger income??) had an offer from American Express for the Premier Rewards Gold card. The offer included a bonus of 50,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending only $1,000 in 3 months. (Note: the normal bonus is 25,000 points). The card's annual fee is waived for the first year. The card gives a $100 airline credit each calendar year, so based on the timing of getting this card in the middle of the year, we will be able to get a $100 airline credit in 2015 and another $100 airline credit in early 2016 before cancelling the card (to avoid the annual fee in the second year).
What can we do with Amex Membership Rewards points? We can use them to offset travel expenses or transfer to airline partners. We chose to transfer the points to British Airways. Sounds odd, right? Well, British Airways is a partner of American Airlines, which has a hub in Dallas. We can fly on American Airlines flights using British Airways Avios and in many cases use fewer points than if we used American Airlines miles. British Airways has a distance-based award chart. We can fly to Denver on an American Airlines flight for 4500 British Airways Avios miles one-way (vs. 12,500 American Airlines miles). Or to Cancun our Puerto Vallarta for 7500 miles each way (vs. 17,500 American Airlines miles). We are tentatively planning to use the points to fly to Mexico next Fall. The tricky part is finding award seats for a family of 5!
* Citi ThankYou Premier--My husband and I both plan on applying for the Citi ThankYou Premier card before the end of this year. It offers 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $3000 in 3 months. The annual fee is waived for the first year. We can combine our points together (100,000 bonus plus 6000 for the minimum spending) and get 1.25 cents per point for travel booked through Citi. That's $1325 that we could use toward an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. ¡Que bueno!
|This looks lovely.|
Cards from last year that we've kept:
* Barclaycard Arrival Plus--We use this card when we're not working on spending towards a bonus on a new credit card. It gives 2% back on all purchases that can be used as statement credits for travel.
* Chase Ink Plus--This business card gives 5% Ultimate Rewards points on internet and cell phone bills as well as purchases from office supply stores (like Staples and OfficeMax). Since this is my second year with this card, the annual fee of $95 came up this summer. I called Chase to inquire about any retention offers for me to keep this card, and I was offered 10,000 points (which basically offsets the $95 fee). I'm glad I called!
I earn a lot of points on this card by buying gift cards at Staples. I buy gift cards that I use during normal monthly spending (supplies/groceries on Amazon, pet food at Petco, etc.) We will transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for hotel stays over Spring Break.
So that's the scoop.
For more information on points and miles, see Miles For Family, Mommy Points, Million Mile Secrets, Points With A Crew, The Points Guy...