I have been asked for years what I do to finance my travels when I’m just a regular guy with a normal salary like most other hard working people. The answer is simple: pay for everything using credit cards that earn me miles or points. I have expenses like everyone else and I usually pay those expenses with a credit card. Quite simply, mile/point credit cards give you a bonus and a mechanism for generating redeemable currency by using the dollars that you are already spending.
But before I get to what cards I use, I must admit that this strategy of earning points isn’t for everyone, particularly for those in debt. So if you’re in debt, the best way to earn yourself an exciting adventure is to break the chains of financial bondage before you go loading up on point earning credit cards. There’s no point traveling if you just return home to chaos. Now onto what everyone really wants to know….
Joy and I together have 14 credit cards. Here’s how it all breaks down (click on the card name to go to my review of each card):
Chase Sapphire Preferred (Mine)
Chase Ink Plus (Joy’s)
Hyatt Visa by Chase (Both)
United MileagePlus Visa by Chase (Both)
Hilton HHonors Surpass by AMEX (Mine)
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) by AMEX (Mine)
Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa by JP Morgan (Mine)
US Airways Mastercard by Barclays (Both)
Most of those cards do not get used very often and 2 of them do not get used at all (the MileagePlus cards which have no annual fee and are simply placeholders that show our account history with Chase back to 2004). The only ones that I regularly carry are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus (I’m an authorized user on Joy’s account) and the SPG AMEX. Quick aside on being an authorized user…I am an authorized user on Joy’s Chase Ink and she is an authorized user on all cards that are in my name. I will detail all of the benefits of these cards in a later post but for now, here are all the cards with their associated bonuses and fees:
|Redeemable Currency||Current Sign-Up Bonus||Spend Required for Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Chase Ultimate Rewards||40,000 pts||$4,000 within first 3 months||$0 Intro Annual Fee, after that $95|
|Chase Ink Plus||Chase Ultimate Rewards||50,000 pts||$5,000 within first 3 months||$0 Intro Annual Fee, after that $95|
|Hyatt Visa by Chase||Hyatt Gold Passport Points||2 free nights at ANY Hyatt||$1,000 within first 3 months||$0 Intro Annual Fee, after that $75|
|Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) Rewards MasterCard by Chase||IHG Points||60,000 pts||$1,000 within first 3 months||$0 Intro Annual Fee, after that $49|
|United MileagePlus Visa (No Fee Card) by Chase||United MileagePlus Miles||N/A||N/A||$0|
|American Express (AMEX) Platinum Mercedes Benz||AMEX Membership Rewards||50,000 pts||$3,000 within first 3 months||$475, first year not waived|
|Hilton HHonors Surpass by AMEX||Hilton HHonors Points||60,000 pts||$3,000 within first 3 months||$75, first year not waived|
|Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) by AMEX||SPG Starpoints||25,000 pts||$5,000 within first 6 months||$0 Intro Annual Fee, after that $65|
So that’s the easy summary to the question people have been asking for years. I’ll detail all of the different cards with their associated pros and cons and how they would benefit you as a consumer in my next post.