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How I Use Travel Credit Cards to Travel For Free/Cheap
Credit Cards are Your Friends
If you are spending money, you might as well be getting points for it!
I know credit cards can have a bad rap in some people’s minds… but if that bias exists in your mind, ERASE IT! And repeat after me, credit cards are your friends. 😉 Because as long as you pay them off in time and never inquire actual debt, travel credit cards can have huge perks and make travel very inexpensive!
We have a few travel credit cards that have literally made our trip to Europe possible (well, if it ever happens… #socialdistancing). These travel credit cards were the Chase Saphire Reserve, Chase Saphire Unlimited, and the Gold and Platinum Delta Skymiles card. Here’s some information about the perks of these cards that I created a spreadsheet for! Have a look.
Chase Travel Credit Cards
My personal favorite travel credit cards are the Chase travel credit cards. They give you so much bang for your buck & are consistently rated the best travel credit cards!
To “pay” for our two week Europe trip, I am using our points from my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited card to buy hotels. I have enough points for almost 13 nights at 3 or (some nights) 4-star hotels! Which, whenever you are out and about in Europe all day, I definitely don’t think you need anything more than that. I mean, if you’ve just got money to blow sure- but we’re on a budget here!!
One day, I hope to get the Chase Ink Business Preferred also so that I can complete “the Chase trifecta”, which gives the greatest amount of cashback for all your purchases. The points guys are way more qualified than I am about all things credit cards and have a great blog post explaining the trifecta. Read it here– and then come back to know all the other cards we use to travel inexpensively!
The Chase Sapphire Reserve
The sign-up bonus for the Chase Saphire Reserve card is 50,000 points, which translates to $750 when you use those points to book travel through Chase. Plus, there are so many more benefits like 3% back on travel and dining purchases (that turns into 4.5% back when spent on travel from the Chase travel rewards website), LyftPink membership, Priority Pass Lounge Access, a $300 annual travel credit and more (check out the pics above to see all the cool details).
I was hesitant about whether the Chase travel rewards website would be limited in where I could go or stay, but that hasn’t been the case at all. Travel rewards honestly has pretty much any hotel you could want at so many different price points! The only downside is they only get so many rooms at each hotel, so it’s definitely a plus to book in advance, especially in the peak season!
Is it worth it?
Yes. I’d say so. The card is $550 a year, which does seem like a lot. But then take into account the $300 annual travel credit, and you are already really only paying $250. This is long as you travel with in the year- which you definitely should travel at least once a year if you are looking into a travel credit card!
Then, that $250 is offset by a few things:
1. Priority Pass Lounge Access. This will get you and up to two guests into lounges at 100s of airports for free. Some lounges are nicer than others, but if you can save $10-$20 on food and drinks each time you are at the airport- those benefits add up quickly!
2. Travel insurance: It feels good to know that if an emergency happens, I am not at risk for losing the money I’ve invested into my trip. While you definitely needs to look at the stipulations of the travel insurance, it’s definitely a nice comfort to have.
3. Points you earn through having the card.
4. Lyft Pink/Lyft Discounts
5. $60 Doordash credit
6. Credit for TSA/Global Entry (you will receive $100 statement credit for signing up)
To really calculate whether this rather hefty credit card fee is worth it for you, you can also use this calculator here!
The Chase Freedom Unlimited
Another card in the chase trifecta is the chase freedom unlimited. This card is awesome because it is FREE, and gives you a $150 sign up bonus… but right now, the bonus is $200! Plus, you gain 1.5% cashback on everything you purchase. Also, that sign-on bonus can be worth even MORE when you use it towards travel through Chase! Click on the link to sign up for this awesome, free credit card! If you sign up for the card and are approved, we will get $100 too! (That would be really really nice of you to use this link- only if you want the card of course! No pressure.)
The Chase Business Preferred
The third card in the trifecta is the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. I do not yet have this card, so I can’t be quite as informative here! BUT I know it’s a great card and has 3 point bonuses for categories other than the Chase Saphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited. Here‘s a link to the points guy’s information on the Chase Business Preferred.
Delta Skymiles Cards
Ryan and I each have our own Delta Skymiles card. I have the gold Delta card, and he has the Platinum. I definitely think the platinum gives you more bang for your buck, I just didn’t know it at the time whenever I got the gold card. The reason I say this is because the Platinum card gives you a domestic companion ticket for every anniversary year of the card!
Why is the Platinum Card worth it?
This means you get a free ticket (other than taxes and fees which max out at $75) to somewhere in the continental US every year you have the card (after the first year). The card is $250 a year, but when you take into account how much a domestic ticket costs (for example, SLC –> ATL usually costs. $400-$500), the card pays for itself and more, regardless of the other benefits and points you gain!
The Points Guy
I really love going to the points guy for credit card suggestions & tips. If you are considering another travel credit card, I would definitely check out what he has to say about it before you commit!
Are They Worth it?
Basically, my goal with credit cards is to take advantage of them! I want to get more out of the credit card than what I am spending to have them.
Ultimately, you have to look at each card’s perks and costs and determine whether you spend enough money that you will be gaining through having the card.
If you are going to gain more than you spend, then yes I definitely think the card is worth getting! You are gaining points towards free travel or money back and helping your credit score in the process as well. Plus, you are gaining many other various perks from having the card!
Travel Credit Cards
I hope that this blog post has opened your mind to the world of travel credit cards. Taking advantage of travel credit cards has been a huge benefit for my love to travel while on a tight budget.
These are our favorite travel credit cards (and definitely some of the best in the market), but if these don’t seem like exactly what you want, find the travel credit cards that benefit you most! If you are looking for other ways to save money travelling, check out this blog post. Happy Travelling!