A while back, I wrote Part One of My Travel Hacking Credit Cards. Today, I show you and explain why I got the travel credit cards in my wallet as of today. Settle in as there are currently 9 more travel hacking credit cards to tell you about.
Close a Travel Card
In June of 2018, I learned that Marriott and SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) would merge into one points program. Note that Ritz Carlton also merged into the newly named Marriott Bonvoy program. For that reason, I chose to close my SPG American Express Business credit card. As it was a business credit card, closing it did not lower my credit score.
The points I had accumulated in the SPG program were converted at a rate of 1 SPG to 3 Marriott Bonvoy Points. I wound up with over 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when I converted the SPG points.
Open a New Marriott Bonvoy Card
I like to apply for business credit rather than personal travel credit cards whenever possible. Most, but not all, business credit cards do not show up on your credit report. Marriott has such a large variety of hotels that I wanted to accumulate more Marriott Bonvoy points. When I closed my SPG American Express card, I opened the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus credit card.
The card came with a 50,000 point sign up bonus after a minimum spend of $3,ooo. The annual fee of $99 was waived the first year. I earned a free night certificate on my one year anniversary this past June. In effect, that free night certificate pays for the annual fee on the card going forward. I’ll reassess this credit card as my renewal date approaches in 2020. By then, I may want a different Marriott Bonvoy. There sure are a lot to choose from as I discussed in this post all about Hotel Credit Cards.
More Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. I took a 4 day trip to Phoenix Arizona for less than $15 using Chase Points. The versatility of Chase points makes them really valuable to me. I’ve transferred Chase points to Hyatt and Marriott for hotel stays and to United and Southwest Airlines for flights. It was time to earn another juicy sign up bonus of Chase points.
The Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
Chase currently offers 3 Business credit Cards. Two out of the three have no annual fee. I chose the Chase Ink Business Cash credit card. It had a 50,000 point sign up bonus after the $3,000 minimum spending requirement. I earn 5 x points on office supplies, cable, phone and internet. After meeting the minimum spend, I put all my 5 x point category spending on auto pay with this credit card. Other than those regular monthly expenses, I put little else on the card. I love that I consistently earn 5 ultimate rewards points for every dollar spend in the bonus categories.
More Hotel Points: Hilton
In part one of My Travel Hacking Credit Cards, I wrote about the Hilton Honors personal credit card. Since I knew I had several trips where I specifically wanted to stay in Hilton Properties, I closed my personal Hilton American Express card and opened up a Business Hilton Honors credit card. There are times when closing a credit card makes sense. In this case, I had a very small credit limit and the account was not my oldest.
The sign up bonus on the new business credit card was 125,000 Hilton Honors points after a $3,000 minimum spend. The card comes with a $95 annual fee not waived in the first year. One perk that I use often is the automatic Gold status. This has gotten me free bottled water on check in. In addition, I receive free cooked-to-order breakfast for me and anyone else staying in the room. There are other perks too numerous to list that I enjoy as well.
Chase Business Ink Preferred Card Number 2
When the annual fee came due on my Chase Ink Business Preferred card, I decided to cancel it. As I now had the no-fee Chase Business Ink card, I felt that I didn’t need the other card. A few months later, I regretted my decision. I called Chase and they were unable to reinstate my closed credit card. They told me to re-apply, which I did. Not only did I get the card again, but I earned an additional 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points! Sometimes, mistakes pay off. This card has a referral bonus of 20,000 points. After referring one friend to this card, I had more than covered the cost of the $95 annual fee.
Next Up: Capital One Spark for Business Card
Capital One Rewards points are great for travel expenses that aren’t standard airfare and big hotel chains. I use these points for transportation like train rides, Uber and Lyft. I’ve also used my Capital One Rewards points to cover hotel stays when not at a chain hotel. I already had a personal version of Capital One Rewards earning credit card. The first year the annual fee was waived. I negotiated to waive the annual fee in the second year as well. However, I had already used up most of the points earned at sign up. It was time to look at Business cards from Capital One.
I chose the Capital One Spark for Business. It had a 50,000 Rewards point sign up bonus after $5,000 minimum spend. The annual fee of $95 was waived in the first year. It earns 2 x points per dollar spent. Redeeming points for travel purchases with this card is easy. I do it in the Capital One App on my phone. I’ll reassess when I get close to the anniversary date for this card.
Time for Airline Credit Cards
As I was diving further into Travel Hacking, I wanted to diversify my airline points. I already had an American Airlines miles earning credit card. Up until then, I would transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United and Southwest when I flew on those airlines.
Chase offered a great deal on the Business version of it’s United Explorer MileagePlus credit card. At the time, the signup bonus was 75,000 United points after $5,000 minimum spend. For some context, I flew one way to Oslo, Norway in a lie flat Business Class seat on Lufthansa ( a partner airline to United) for 70,000 points. I knew I wanted more United points so I applied for this travel credit card. Those points will come in handy for future trips both abroad and domestic.
A nice perk of this card is free checked baggage. Usually, I travel with a carry-on bag. However, there are times when I check a bag just to relieve myself of having to schlep it around the airport. Being under five feet tall, I appreciate not having to lift my carry on over my head to reach the overhead bins on the plane. If you are still following along with me, there are just three travel credit cards left in my wallet.
Beloved Southwest Airlines
I’m a big fan of Southwest Airlines. One of the things I like best about this airline is that there is no charge to cancel a flight even up to an hour before the flight. There are often great deals on their Wanna Get Away Fares. The airline has a generous 2 free checked bags policy. Finally, the staff of Southwest is one of the friendliest and most helpful that I’ve encountered.
Southwest offers several credit cards. There are three personal and one business. I chose the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit card. The sign up bonus was 60,000 Rapid Rewards points. This card had a $3,000 minimum spending requirement. On my one year anniversary, I’ll receive bonus points.
Since I travel on Southwest quite a bit, it made sense to get this card. This frees up my Chase Ultimate Rewards points, that I had been transferring to Southwest, for other uses. There was no annual fee the first year on this card. I’ll reassess when the $99 annual fee comes due next year. I’ll likely look for a personal Southwest card at that time.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Card
The deal was too good to pass up. Apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card and earn 3 x points on any type of purchase up to a total of $20,000 spent in the first year. This was an opportunity to earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. With this offer, there was no signup bonus. There is never an annual fee on this card. I love using this card for any purchases where I don’t already earn 3 x points or more. With strategic planning, I will easily meet $20,000 in household expenses in my first year with this card. Then, the card still offers 1.5 x points on all purchases. Again, in cases where I don’t earn more than 1 x points per dollar, this card is great.
My Most Recent Travel Credit Card
It pays to be patient. I have been receiving travel credit card offers both online and by snail mail. Each offer gets progressively better over time. I was in no hurry to acquire Delta Skymiles. However, when the offer went to 70,000 Delta Skymiles as a signup bonus, I pulled the trigger.
The card is the American Express Delta Gold Skymiles credit card. Minimum spend with this offer was only $2,000. The timing was perfect as I had some specific larger purchases to make. The $95 annual fee is waived in the first year. There’s a free baggage allowance with this card. I’ll likely use the Skymiles in the first year. If I can’t negotiate a waived or reduced annual fee in year two, I’ll downgrade the card.
So there you have it, the travel credit cards in my wallet. It may seem like a lot of cards. I get that. It helps that I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of all of my travel credit cards. At a quick glance, I can see when annual fees are due so I can call to get fees waived or reduced. On a regular basis, I carry no more than 3 credit cards in my wallet. That’s a manageable number.
What’s your favorite travel credit card and why? Scroll down and leave a comment. I love to hear from you.
If you have not read Part One of this series, you can find it here:
Note that some links in this post are referral links. This means I get rewarded (usually with points/miles) if you apply for and are approved for a credit card. It does not cost you anything to use my referral links but helps me maintain this blog.