Double Duty Daddy

How To Find The Right Travel Credit Card For You

I’m asked all the time, “Which credit card do you recommend I get?” To which my response almost always is, “It depends.” One of the keys to traveling the world for next to nothing is credit cards. However, the key component that most people don’t even think about is, “Where do I want to travel and what airlines and hotels facilitate this trip?”

The best credit card for each person depends on his or her individual travel goals and I sometimes feel like a broken record saying that. For example, if I want to fly to Madrid next summer and want to use miles to pay for my flight, the first thing I have to do is look up which airlines fly to Madrid from my local airport. I do this my using ITA Matrix and conducting flight research. Once I know what airlines fly to Madrid from my local airport, I go to those airlines’ websites individually and see how many miles are required for an award ticket. In this particular case, I’ll notice that American Airlines charges 60,000 miles roundtrip to fly to Madrid in the summer which is less than what other airlines charge. If I want to definitely fly to Madrid next summer and not pay $900+ for a flight, I sign up for the Citi Platinum AA Card which comes with a 50,000 miles sign-up bonus and $3,000 spend. I’d then be only 7,000 miles away from a free flight to Europe which I can earn those 7,000 by putting some expenses on my card.

Not only do credit card companies offer huge sign-up bonuses just for being approved for a card, but they also offer bonus points for spending in certain categories. I’ve earned more than a MILLION miles in 2 years through credit cards, about half of which come strictly from the sign-up bonuses earned by being approved for a credit card and completing a minimal amount of spend. The other half I earn through maximizing everyday spend (allowing me to earn anywhere from 2x to 10x points per dollar) and taking advantage of every bonus promotion available to me. I redeem these points and miles for most flights and hotel stays (when not using Airbnb) and with twin girls now past the age of two, I have to accrue and redeem strategically in order to book lots of flights on miles.

The biggest consideration for me from the beginning for any card is usually what transfer partners are available. After all, what good can points do you if you’re not using them to get maximum travel benefits out of them? This is where most people get confused and really struggle to redeem their points/miles for ‘good’ value.

The 4 main players in the travel rewards credit card game are: Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), American Express Membership Rewards (MR), Citi Thank You Points (TYP) and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints (SPG). I value Chase UR’s over the other 3 because of the awesome transfer partners (see below) that I use most often and how easy they are to earn. YMMV

Airlines

  • British Airways Executive Club (I use to book American Airlines flights at a discount)
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotels

  • Hyatt Gold Passport (My favorite hotel chain besides Kimpton)
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards.

 

Before you ask the question, “Which credit card is best for me?”, engage in due diligence of credit card research information such as:

  1. What airlines fly to my desired destination and how many miles are required for the flight?
  2. What miles/points do I need to accrue in order to make this potential trip happen?
  3. What credit card company has the travel transfer partners I frequent the most or need for a given trip?
  4. What are my everyday expenses and and what credit cards issue bonus categories to earn over 2x per $1 on those everyday expenses? (Do a google search on top credit cards for those specific spend categories)

Take action on the above items and you’ll have more clarity on what travel rewards credit card is right for you. 

 

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