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The best travel credit cards – 100k points, 3x on travel, $0 foreign fees

by on Fri January 8, 2016 • 52 Comments
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MileCards logo imageThe best travel rewards credit card for you depends on where you like to spend, what perks you like, and where you want to fly. We’ve got you covered to help you decide and earn award travel fast.

Want a decent travel card without much thinking? Choose one of our picks below and you’ll be headed in the right direction. While paying an annual fee offers lucrative rewards, if you don’t want a fee, see our ranking of no annual fee travel credit cards.

Want the best cards based on your spending? Our calculator will rank travel credit cards based on what spending categories you use the most.

Want as many miles as possible? Applying for the biggest intro deals will get you there fastest, especially if you’re willing to hold more than one card. Our bonus offers page details the biggest deals and is filled with tips.

If you’re confused or have a question, ask us by adding a comment at the bottom of the page, or use our Contact form and we’ll get back to you with personal help.

Best For...CardIntro offerAnnual feeApplication

Flexibility

chasesapphirepreferred170May2014Chase Sapphire
Preferred® Card

50,000

bonus points
$0 intro annual
fee the first year,
then $95
Apply

Hotel nights

Starwood Credit Card imageStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

25,000

points
$0 intro annual
fee for the first year,
then $95
Apply

No annual Fee

Amex Everyday card imageThe Amex EverydaySM Credit Card

10,000

points
$0Apply

Free bags

partneroffer
Gold Delta SkyMiles® American Express

35,000

miles
$0 the first year,
then $95
Apply

Big intro offer

Chase Sapphire Reserve

100,000

bonus points
$450 annual feeApply

International
purchases

Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®Barclaycard
Arrival™ World
MasterCard®

20,000

points
$0Apply

Lounge Access

Platinum Card imageThe Platinum Card® from American Express

40,000

points
$450Apply

Cash overseas

Charles Schwab debit card imageCharles Schwab Investor CheckingNone$0Apply

 

Flexibility: Chase Sapphire Preferred

chasesapphirepreferred170May2014Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

What’s great: Great flexibility with how you can use your points, plus great travel insurance benefits.

3 ways to book travel.

This is the favorite card of many experts who blog about using miles and points, and the biggest reason why is great flexibility. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred you have 3 ways to book travel:

Transfer points to travel partners. This is the most exciting and lucrative part of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can transfer points directly into real airline miles or hotel points with over 10 travel partners, including United MileagePlus and Southwest Rapid Rewards. If you want to fly in first or business class, an option like this is a must have. If you just want regular domestic flights, there’s great value here too, thanks to Southwest and United.

Book via the Chase website. If you don’t want to deal with the rules of airline mile programs, you can use your points like cash to buy tickets on the Chase website anytime. Every 10,000 points gets you $125 in flight value, and you don’t have to worry about special mileage flights. Any flight is fair game.

Get cash back. If you decide you don’t want to travel, you can redeem your points for cash back anytime. Every 10,000 points is worth $100.

> Here’s a guide to how Chase Ultimate Rewards points work

Great travel insurance

Even better, the card is also loaded with great travel protection, including $500 to cover hotel expenses if your flight is delayed more than 12 hours and $5,000 for trips you need to cancel if you’re seriously ill (or have another covered reason). And you don’t need absolutely perfect credit to qualify for the card.

Downside: There’s a $95 annual fee after the $0 introductory fee the first year. So if you never want to think about an annual fee, this card isn’t for you.

If you’re thinking of trying more than one card, consider this one early. There are reports Chase tends not to approve people who have opened 5 or more new cards in the last 2 years.

Honorable mention

Capital One Venture or Barclaycard Arrival Plus: If you don’t care about real airline miles at all, these cards have a good intro bonus and offer 2x points on everything you buy. Use the points to get statement credit for travel you pay for with the card.

Hotel Nights: Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

starwoodbusiness170Offer:  25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

What’s great: Starwood hotel awards cost much less in points than many other hotel programs.

Good value for hotels

Starwood points are really valuable for free hotel nights, with most hotels available for 15,000 points or less per night. Compare that to Marriott and Hilton who often charge twice as much or more for similar hotels with points. This card earns a basic one point per dollar on most purchases, but that’s okay since Starwood charges so much less for rooms with points.

Starwood hotels include Westin, Sheraton, W, Le Meridien, St. Regis, Four Points, Aloft, and Element.

Airline mile flexibility

You can transfer your points into real airline miles anytime, and in most cases one point equals one mile or more, so there’s no dilution. American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, and Alaska MileagePlan are each partners with Starwood, making it easy to add to miles you might already have.

Downside: $95 annual fee after the first year, and Starwood tends to have fewer hotels than other big chains like Marriott and Hilton, but it charges much less in points for similar hotels.

Honorable mentions

The Hyatt Credit Card from Chase: 2 free nights at any category Hyatt to start, plus free Platinum status for room upgrades and late checkout. Hyatt, like Starwood, tends to charge less in points for hotel awards than Marriott and Hilton.

IHG Rewards Credit Card: Get this one for a great annual perk. Every year on your card anniversary, you get a free night good at any category IHG hotel, including Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn hotels.

 

No Annual Fee: Amex Everyday

Offer: Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

What’s great: Earns points you can turn into real airline miles, including Delta SkyMiles.

Points you can turn into Delta SkyMiles

This is the only no annual fee card that lets you earn points you can turn into real airline miles with several frequent flyer programs, including Delta SkyMiles and Air France Flying Blue on a 1:1 basis, so there’s no dilution. Normally cards charge a hefty fee of $95 or more a year for this feature, but it’s included with the no fee Amex Everyday, which earns full value Amex Membership Rewards points.

That’s great if you want to add to Delta miles you might already have. And if you don’t want to transfer to miles, you can always use your points to book travel on the Amex website, which features most major airlines. Every 10,000 points is like $100 in cash for travel there.

Extra earning for using the card more

If you use the card to make at least 20 purchases during a monthly statement period, you get a 20% bonus on all the points you earn that statement. So it can be like a card that earns 1.2 points per dollar on everything. And you can also earn 2x points on purchases at supermarkets, plus the 20% bonus, up to $6,000 in grocery purchases a year.

Downside: The intro bonus for this card isn’t very big and there is no waiver of foreign transaction fees.

Honorable mentions

Citi Double Cash: If you’re okay without any intro bonus at all, and don’t care about real airline miles, it’s tough to beat double cash on everything you spend. No limits, no special categories.

Bank of America Travel Rewards: If you want no foreign transaction fees, this is a good pick that earns 1.5x points on everything. And you can book travel anywhere. Just pay for the travel with your card and use your points to get statement credit.

 

Free Bags: Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

deltagold170Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.

What’s great: Free first checked bag for up to 8 people traveling with you.

Generous free checked bag policy

When you hold the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card you get a free first checked bag for yourself and up to 8 people in the same reservation on any Delta flights. Some other cards with a free checked bag require you to pay for the ticket with the card to get the benefit. Not with the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. Pay for the ticket however you’d like, and the benefit is yours.

And it’s not limited to domestic flights like another major airline’s card. You won’t pay for a first checked bag on holidays to the Caribbean and Mexico with this card.

Downside: There’s a $95 annual fee after the first year.  And if you don’t want a credit card, Southwest offers every flier their first and second checked bags free.

 

Big Intro Offer: Chase Sapphire Reserve

sapphirereserve170Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

What’s great: A huge 100,000 point introductory offer with really valuable points.

100,000 points are hard to beat

If you want a lot of points and travel value fast, it’s hard to beat the Chase Sapphire Reserve, with 100,000 bonus points to start.

You can use the points three ways:

  1. Book travel via the Ultimate Rewards website, which lets you use your points like cash for flights on most airlines. Your 100,000 points are worth $1,500 in travel on the site, and there are no award flight restrictions when you do this.
  2. Transfer points to miles with travel partners. Chase Ultimate Rewards lets you transfer points into real airline miles and hotel points with over 10 travel partners, including United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and Marriott Rewards. This is a great way to get award travel fast, and add to miles you might already have.
  3. Cash back via statement credit. You can always request statement credit for your points, and 100,000 points is worth $1,000 in statement credit.

$300 travel credit

The Sapphire Reserve also comes with an automatic $300 travel credit each year. Just pay for travel with your card, and up to $300 worth will be credited back to your account each year. It’s automatic, and includes things like airfare, tolls, parking, cruises, and hotels.

Downside: There’s a $450 annual fee, but the value of the points, and the $300 travel credit make this a very lucrative intro offer worth well over $1,000 in travel.

 

International Purchases: Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard

Arrival PlusOffer: Earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit

What’s great: Real Chip + PIN capability, and no foreign fees.

Chip + PIN plus no foreign fees

When you’re traveling to Europe and beyond, you want a card that has two features: Chip + PIN capability, plus no foreign transaction fees.

While plenty of cards have no foreign transaction fees, it’s not so easy to find cards that have Chip + PIN capability.

That capability lets you use your card at terminals and kiosks abroad that don’t have a way for you to use your signature. This PIN is different from a cash advance PIN, which doesn’t always work for regular credit card transactions.

Even better, there’s no annual fee for this card.

Downside: The rewards are pretty basic – 2x points on dining and travel and you can use the points to remove travel purchases from your statement. You’ll probably want to use this card as a backup for special situations, and another card with better rewards for your other spending.

 

Lounge Access: The Platinum Card from American Express

Offer: Get 40,000 points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

What’s great: The biggest variety of lounge access options available, plus other travel perks.

amexplat170

3 lounge networks

No other card gives you access to more lounges at once, with 3 lounge networks to enjoy.

  1. Luxurious Centurion Lounges, located at several airports in the U.S. like New York La Guardia, San Francisco, and Houston. You can access them while flying any airline, and bring up to 2 guests where you’ll enjoy premium wines, hot chef inspired food, and even spa treatments.
  2. Access to all Delta SkyClubs when you’re flying Delta Air Lines. Guests cost extra, but it’s a great perk on its own.
  3. Access to over 900 Priority Pass lounges. Priority Pass is a network of lounges from many airlines and independent operators that gives you coverage at over 400 airports worldwide. You can access these lounges no matter what airline you’re flying, but guests cost $27 extra. You’ll find these lounges most useful when you’re traveling outside the U.S.

Downside: There’s a $450 annual fee, but the card offers a $200 annual airline fee credit. And the card only earns one point per dollar on all purchases. But it’s loaded with perks like complimentary Starwood and Hilton Gold level elite status.

Honorable mentions

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Offers Priority Pass access with unlimited guest privileges, and a $300 annual travel credit.

United MileagePlus Club Card: The only option if you want to access United Clubs.

Citi Executive AAdvantage: Soon to be the only option if you want access to American Admirals Clubs.

 

Cash Overseas: Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account

charlesschwab170What’s great: Truly fee cash at all ATMs worldwide.

Traveling abroad still means dealing with cash. And if you don’t want to change money at your bank before you leave, the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account is the next best thing.

There are no foreign transaction fees when you withdrawal, and all ATM fees are reimbursed, so it’s easy to get cash when you travel.

There are no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees, so you can just use this account as a separate travel account when you have a big trip.

Want to really boost your earning?

The fastest way to earn miles and points is to not stick to just one card. Instead, some people like to apply for several cards over time to try them out and earn the big sign up bonuses each offer.

bonusmilesgraphic

The reason they do it is this:

Let’s say you’re using a card with a 30,000 mile bonus after $1,000 in spending within 3 months. That means for the first $3,000 you spend on that card you’re effectively earning 30 miles per dollar. That’s much better than any regular earning you’ll get from a card after the bonus.

So once the bonus spending on one card is done, you can consider opening up a different card and working toward that bonus. Let’s say it’s a card that earns 40,000 miles after $3,000 in spending. Then, you’re earning 13 miles per dollar you spend upfront. That’s a lot more than the 1-2 miles per dollar you will get if you continue with just one card.

This is not for everyone. Keeping track takes some discipline to know which cards you want to keep and which aren’t working out for you.

And there can be restrictions. For example Chase may not approve you if you’ve opened more than 5 cards in the last 2 years. So take it easy.

It’s okay to be comfortable with just one or two cards you really like and ‘setting it and forgetting it’ – you’ll still earn hundreds or thousands of dollars a year in extra travel rewards.

But if you’re really set on big mile balances going after bonuses for part of the year can help boost your accounts quickly and help you understand which cards work for you in the long term.

We keep a fresh list of the latest deals and tips here with information on how much offers are worth and what’s required to earn them.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

Still confused? Have a question?

Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.

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52 thoughts on The best travel credit cards – 100k points, 3x on travel, $0 foreign fees

  1. Elliott

    Hi, I have a 754 Fico (from Amex blue cash), and just 1 card (Amex blue cash with 1k.)
    I have a little more than a year of credit an income around 50k.
    I’d really like to get something like the CSP card… I’m prequalified and Amex platinum has sent offers. Ideally, I just need better travel rewards on dining and shopping that could also be flexible. What’s your advice to get to the CSP?

    Reply
  2. Serena

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am having difficulties with
    your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I cannot join it.
    Is there anybody getting similar RSS problems?
    Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    Reply
  3. Amalia Wechselmann

    I’m looking for a card that will give me miles for Lufthansa / Swiss and other Star Alliance airlines. Mostly
    International flights. Please help !

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Amalia – A good bet there is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The points it earns can be transferred into United MileagePlus miles anytime. And that lets you book award seats on all the Star Alliance airlines.

      Reply
  4. Wayne Parsons

    Last year I flew over 150,000 miles on United often paying a higher fare class in order too improve chances of complimentary upgrades. I am a 2 Million Mile United frequent flyer and have been a perennial 1K for several years. On domestic flights since December 2015 I have rarely received a complimentary upgrade (CPU) with a less than 10% chance of upgrade out of 14 trips. Almost all of the upgrades were on short flights on Regional jets or 737s. Longer flights which are the ones I usually book, the chances of an upgrade are very small and my results have not been better when I tried to use a Regional Upgrade certificate or miles to upgrade. On International routes United almost never has seats available for their System-wide/Global upgrades and I have had to wait until departure or a few days before departure for an upgrade. I often will try to find any routing to Europe through all available US airports to all available European airports and 3 or 4 months in advance have found no seats. I see little reason to fly United for the frequent flyer benefits. I can only imagine the frustration of United frequent flyers who only fly 75,000 to 100,000 miles. United has too many passengers and not enough seats. I am exploring other airlines after 30 years of loyalty to United. I can supply a running list of flights and upgrades to prove my point.

    Reply
  5. Delia

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    usualpy focused on boy games although there are some girls who do enjoy playing boy’s game; the rate is very minimal especially when compared
    too the rage of bboys playing online. So, as you can see, there aree many options oon both consoles and Internet for you to practice your culinary skills.

    Reply
  6. Derek

    Hi There,

    I got a new job where travel is required. I have to travel from California to Ireland regularly(4+ times a year). I would like to get a card that will help upgrade me to economy plus or first class just by having the card(Not sure if that is even possible). I started using Delta so have about 20K miles with them. Any advice? I can change airlines if that would be better. Alaska airlines has the companion ticket and is compatible with delta(right?) which I was considering.

    Thanks,
    Derek

    Reply
  7. Catherine

    I’m looking into one of the Amex cards to build up miles for a flight to Europe in February (I already have the Sapphire and Explorer cards), and will most likely need to use United/Lufthansa to get to my distination. I noticed that the only Star Alliance member that Amex’s points transfer program can be used with is Air Canada. Can I transfer points to Air Canada and still book the flights I need on United or Lufthansa, and/or can I combine/transfer my United MileagePlus miles if needed to make up the difference? I did notice that on your description of the amex card you said 90,000 miles are needed to book United flights? (I usually book them for 60,000 miles). Thanks for clarifying.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Catherine – For Economy Class you can book United flights for 30,000 miles one way / 60,000 miles roundtrip via Air Canada. That 90,000 miles was for Business Class roundtrip. The catch is if you book Lufthansa flights across the ocean using Air Canada miles you’ll pay extra fuel surcharges.

      The surcharges are lowest coming back from Europe. So you could use United miles to book the flight from the US to Europe. Then Air Canada miles for the trip back on Lufthansa. You’ll pay about $150 USD ($200 Canadian) extra vs using United miles, which don’t impose a surcharge.

      If you manage to find United flights, Air Canada doesn’t impose any surcharge on those at all, so you can book those with your Air Canada miles and not pay extra surcharges.

      And short flights within Europe on Lufthansa won’t cost much either – it’s just the long segment across the ocean with Lufthansa that you’ll find the big surcharge.

      Reply
  8. Irma

    Hello,
    I am new to this whole Miles Credit Card stuff and would really appreciate some help picking out the best for me. I am interested in International travel (don’t really travel domestic). I am looking for a card with good mile earnings which would allow me to book with any airline and not have to depend on just one specific airline. I see some cards offer miles if you spend a certain amount within the first 3 months or so (I think I can spend about $3, 000 in the first 3 months). Also I’d like something with not so heavy of a annual fee.
    Hope you can help! Thank you in advance :)

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Irma – A Capital One Venture would work well for your needs. You get $400 in travel after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. There’s no fee the first year, then after that it’s just $59 which isn’t bad. To use the points, just pay for your flight with the card, then use the points to erase some or all of the cost of the flight from your statement.

      Any airline qualifies and you don’t need to use a special website to book. Just pay for your flight with the card wherever you’d like.

      Reply
    2. Ashley

      I’m planning a trip to Europe in May/June of next year. I want a card that will accumulate the amount of points for the round trip ticket to save money for spending there. I also want to use the card while I’m there so no foreign transaction fees. no annual fee would be nice but it’s not a deal breaker. My monthly spending is about $500.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Ashley – The more effort, but higher value option would be to try two cards. Get the United Explorer for the intro deal, which requires $1,000 in spending in 3 months. You’ll get at least 30k points, which is enough for a one way ticket from Europe on the flights where ‘Saver’ space is available. Then when you’re done with that, consider the Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex, which has the same deal – at least 30k points, which is enough for a one way ticket to Europe on flights where ‘Saver’ space is available.

        If you know you’re really flexible with just about any day in May/June and are okay with having some backup cities in Europe this is your best option. Both cards have no fee the first year and no foreign transaction fees.

        You’ll use the Delta miles to get *to* Europe. Then use the United miles to get back *from* Europe. Just beware you need to stick to flights that have the award seats open. It’s a good idea to check on United.com and Delta.com to see if seats at 30k miles one way are generally available for the place you want to visit. No guarantees until you have the miles, but if you see a lot of options then that’s a good sign.

        If you can’t find ‘Saver’ space as a fallback you have a separate option to use the Delta miles to pay for part of the cost of any Delta flight. It’s called ‘Pay with Miles’ and 30k points is worth $300 if you use that option.

        If you think that’s too much to think about, then the simpler option is to get the no annual fee BankAmericard Travel Rewards card. You can use it to buy any ticket you want, and you can use your points to erase some of the cost after you buy it.

        http://milecards.com/1588422058/bank-of-america-travel-rewards-vs-chase-sapphire-head-to-head/

        With your spending level you’ll probably earn around 15,000 – 20,000 points, which is enough for $150 – $200 off your flight. So the total savings are less than with the United or Delta cards, which could save you $1,000 or more. But you don’t have to think about Saver seats or other things like that.

        Reply
        1. Ashley

          Now with the restrictions with where AmEx is accepted is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® a go option for the second card, it has the same opening advantage, but is a MasterCard?

          Reply
  9. Hanna Cuttle

    My friend and I are relocating to Texas in the Spring. Will be buying furniture, etc, for two leased apartments. Since we hope to clear out of here, Walnut Creek, by May we will run into the hot months in TX. So we’ll also be looking for travel opportunities in cooler climes. Presently I have United’s Mileage Plus, Southwest Airlines and United Explorer, latter not yet used. I’m interested in adding Sapphire, is that a good idea? Hanna

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Hanna – Yes it would complement well since you can move the points to either your United or Southwest accounts, and you can fly American flights via British Airways.

      Reply
  10. Sylvia

    My husband and I along with our 7 yr old daughter plans to travel to Jakarta, Indonesia next year and would like to start saving up points. We have BofA business card cash reward. Our monthly personal spending is about $3000 and a huge business expense in the coming September about $23,000.
    We’d like to at least travel in premium coach but would prefer business class if we can.
    Which card(s) would be suitable for us? We have excellent credits.

    Reply
  11. Kris

    One time trip to Europe. After doing research and picking a card I thought would work because the advertise pin can chip I found this web site. I mainly was looking for what the card offered for first time applicants. No interest on purchased for a period of time, no annual fee, etc. Don’t plan on keeping the card once I return. Now I am in doubt of the card I chose. Less then a week from leaving and I need to know if the Bank of America Visa will work all over Europe. Like I said, I am not in it so much for the rewards program a card offers.

    Reply
  12. Denise Paschal

    Hello, I want to get a advantage card great for travel. We usually travel a couple of times a year. Not worried about annual fee, but I don’t spend to much on CC per month. Is there a card out there for me.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Denise – Where would you like to travel? For starters the Barclaycard Arrival is a good choice if you spend about $1,000 or so a month. You’ll get $400 for free travel quickly, and earn double points on everything. You can use the points to erase the cost of travel you buy with any airline or hotel.

      Reply
  13. Cece

    We’re flying to Scotland for our 15th anniversary next year. We spend about $4,000 a month on our current cash back card but we’re reasearching miles cards. I wouldn’t mind flying business class :) Free coach tickets are fine too. What card would you suggest, I see the amex listed above for European travel but the Saphire looks really good too and seems to have a better opening bonus.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Cece – Business class to Europe can get tough, but it’s not impossible. For 2 people you’re going to need about 115-140,000 miles each if you’re flexible. If you just got one card, your $4,000 / month spending would get you about 100k points total in a year with the Amex Everyday Preferred for Chase Sapphire Preferred.

      So to get enough for 2 people you’ll need to get a few cards.

      Here are some ideas…

      Read here to see how you can earn 70-90k United miles with the Sapphire and Explorer options.

      http://milecards.com/2863/80000-united-bonus-miles-with-credit-card-strategy-continental-too/

      Each of you should separately apply and get those cards, so you have 70-90k each. That’s enough for one way to or from Europe in Business Class with United or its partners.

      Then, consider this 50k deal for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold

      http://milecards.com/1588419494/50000-point-amex-premier-rewards-gold-35000-delta-gold-offers-return-for-some/

      If each of you gets it you’ll be really close to the 62.5k or so you need for a one way to or from Europe in Business Class with Delta SkyMiles.

      Your ongoing spending will probably get you the rest.

      Reply
  14. Sarah

    I’d like to travel to Italy and to New Zealand but have no travel rewards card at all. Which one would be the best for me to use? I don’t spend that much every month either ($600) so I’m not sure I could make the $1,000 per month requirement and would need the card to be flexible. My earnings in my pay will go up but I’d like to take the trip in three years. Would Capital One Venture card ($59/yr) or the Amex Everyday Preferred credit card be best? Should I wait until I get car maintenance done in order to reach the $3,000 spending limit in 90 days?

    Chase does not add up according to my spending habits so I can’t use them or their annoying portal you have to book everything through.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sarah – The Venture is a good choice for you if you can wait until you have those repairs so you can hit the $3,000 in 3 months. That gives you $400 in rewards. Though afterward you may want to consider switching it to a no annual fee version. That is an option, and you can keep your rewards on request. After that, you may want to consider the Citi Double Cash which earns double cash with no annual fee.

      Reply
  15. joe

    Have a united presidential plus card card can/or should i upgrade my card to a sapphire preferred? orapply for separate account? please advice thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @joe – They’ll make you apply for a separate account. The Sapphire will earn you 2x on dining and travel. The Presidential Plus already earns 2x on United, hotels, and car rentals so a lot of the travel is covered there. The big difference is you earn points you can transfer to other programs like Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, and others.

      So really 2 reasons you may want the card….1) if you want the transferable option, or 2) if you just want to top up your United account with the 40k bonus points for opening up a new Sapphire account (you can choose to transfer as many or as few of those points into United as you’d like).

      Reply
  16. Larry Gropper

    Hello, I have 160,000 pts in Aeroplan, 150,000 pts in Amex, 140,000 in Starwood/Amex. I live in US. What is best way to use these for a round trip thru Europe(Ams to Vie to Greece thru Italy and Israel?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Larry – USA – AMS – VIE – ATH – USA is possible on one Aeroplan award ticket, with full stays in each. Beyond that you would need to do separate ticketing to Italy and Israel. Awards within Europe aren’t the best deal because of all the taxes and fees levied, but Air France Flying Blue using your Amex points would let you do an Athens – Italy (stopover) – Israel – Athens ticket. You could fly Alitalia for that and it would be 30,000 points roundtrip.

      Reply
      1. Larry Gropper

        Thank you, quite complicated, but worth a try. I will call Aeor and Alitalia. Turkish Air also seems helpful.
        Thanks again., Larry

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Larry – Another (still complicated) option is to transfer 135,000 – 140,000 Amex points to AsiaMiles and fly Business Class across the ocean. You can try to fly AirBerlin across the Atlantic and around Europe (they have hubs in Dusseldorf, Berlin, and Vienna). Use American or US Airways to meet up with the AirBerlin flight (they fly out of Chicago, New York, and Miami). The key with AsiaMiles is you get 5 free stops.

          The catch is for the 135,000 – 140,000 point price is you need to make sure your total flight distances are less than 20,000 miles. And Air Berlin only offers Economy class within Europe. The same trip in all economy across the ocean is 85,000 – 95,000 points.

          Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Frank – No real difference. Sometimes if it doesn’t process immediately online you can call to check and see if there’s additional info they need.

      Reply
  17. William Nelson

    I used the Card Finder and I’m confused by the results. Y’all suggest the Chase Sapphire Preferred (which I can get the fee waived since I’m Military), but the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature keeps coming up as the card that fits me the most. I happen to be a PenFed member. The PenFed shows $433 Travel Rewards Earned and 41,760 Annual Points (Ongoing Years). I tend to fly SW and United the most. So should I still get the Chase card or go with the PenFed? Sorry if this anwser is easier than I realize.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @William- Sounds like the PenFed is the card for you. The CardFinder is tailored to your particular spending habits and travel goals. The general recommendations for the Sapphire Preferred are based on the most common spending habits, which are probably different from yours.

      Reply
  18. gc

    it looks as if sapphire card provides more trip cancellation insurance than the mileage plus explorer. just wondering if this is in fact true? if so it would seem beneficial to purchase airline cards with this card? however doesn’t look like this card gives free checked bag… so a little confused… please clarify? If not is there a card that gives both?

    Reply
      1. mommafrica

        Hello. I have the MileagePlus Select. I would like to know as to which card this actually is: Explorer,etc. because I don’t see it listed here. I also have the Sapphire Preferred. But I am now considering getting the Ink Business Card (one w/out an annual fee) and the Slate so that I can balance transfer the SP and another to the Slate and start using the Ink so that it won’t appear on my credit report being that I want to refinance my home. That being said, how will obtaining these cards affect the refinancing of my home? My score is in the high 760′s.
        Hopefully you can understand what I am asking here. This is kind of urgent.

        Reply
        1. MileCards

          @mommafrica – The Select card isn’t open to new applicants anymore, it was a legacy of the old United. It’s a good card – double points on grocery spending.

          As for your question on your refinancing. Anything above about 760 on a credit score isn’t going to change much when it comes to rates on new loans. Sounds like you’re already in the hunt for the best rates.

          Best way to deal with a balance and prepare for refinancing is to pay off your card balances in cash. If you want a business card to put spending on so it’s not on your report, that’s fine, but you can achieve the same effect by paying off your bill before the statement is created each month.

          Reply
  19. collette dearborn

    I have a brochure in front of me that offers 50,000 bonus points after spend $1000 in the first 3 months plus a free night stay. Offer code Z48. Looking at all the options on the computer I do not find this offer, which is perfect for me ???????

    Reply
  20. Julie

    Do the points expire on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?(couldn’t find any info in the fine print) Are there booking fees or transfer fees?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Julie – No they don’t expire as long as you have an Ultimate Rewards based card (the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire no annual fee, Chase Freedom, and others). There are no booking fees at UltimateRewards.com and there are no fees to transfer your points into an outside mileage account like United or Southwest. Once your points are in a United or Southwest or other account that program’s rules will apply.

      Reply

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