Ever since I have posted my last post on How We Travel So Often And You Can Too, I have received an overwhelming response in emails on credit cards and how we use them to travel. I’m going to list a few of our favorites and how we use them but here is my official disclaimer: Credit cards are to be used responsibly. We do not advocate debt and use them at your own discretion and your own risk. There now that the great big fat elephant is out of the room let me tell you how we make it work for us.
We seek out credit cards with the best sign up bonuses based on our travel needs at the time. In the past that has meant that we focused on airline credit cards for major point bonuses when we signed up, currently we don’t need those bonuses because Reid works part-time for an airline, now our focus is on hotels since that is what we need help with when we travel.
Once we find a credit card with a substantial bonus we sign up, meet the minimum spending requirements (usually 2,000-3,000 dollars) get our bonus and hold on to the card for a year and close the account. This is called travel hacking and it’s not something I am going to go in to much depth in this blog because there are other way better resources out there (google search).
Some things we look at when choosing credit card is the amount of points you get while signing up, annual fee (and most importantly is it waived the first year?), if the points are transferable to other partners, and other signup bonuses.
The best advice I can say is to use a credit card for things you ALREADY buy. This is the only way you will save money. It’s much cheaper to buy an airline ticket then to go into needless debt. If you know you have a problem with spending and credit cards than just avoid the temptation. For us, this has never been an issue and we have taken some amazing vacations.
Does opening up a bunch of credit cards hurt your credit score? Nothing majorly. Opening and closing them very quickly will make it dip a little, so we hold on to them for a little longer. We have been doing this for years and our credit score is excellent because we pay off our cards we have had a few credit cards for 10 plus years.
Also- if you are married you both can sign up for a card and get the bonuses. Don’t do joint accounts. Once your account is closed for a whole year you are eligible to re-sign up and get the bonuses again. We keep a very large spreadsheet of all our accounts and when we opened and closed them.
Ok here are a few we have loved:
The Chase Hyatt Credit Card: Gives you two free nights anywhere in the world and a free night on your one year anniversary of opening up the card. We LOVE this card mainly because of the free nights. We have stayed in five-star resorts all over the world that our bill would have been $1500 after two nights.
Marriott Credit Card from Chase: 50,000 bonus points from signing up and usually you get a couple free nights at as high as a category 4 hotel.
Almost all the major airlines have their credit cards so if there is specifically one you like make sure they have 30,000 or more bonus points. We actually like the Southwest one because you can make the points go farther when fares are on sale. We opened up a southwest card last year and when airfares went on sale we were able to get two roundtrip tickets from SLC-LAX, and four one-way tickets from LAS-BNA (Las Vegas to Nashville) all with 30,000 points.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: We just opened this card and are pretty excited about it. 40,000 points that transfer 1:1 to partners such as Hyatt, Marriott and a bunch of airlines. Plus you earn 2X the points on travel and dining.
Do some research, decide what your travel needs are, use the credit card responsibly and use them as an aide to make your travel dreams come true!
*But in all seriously- please be responsible. There is a reason credit card companies offer such exciting perks don’t let yourself be one of those reasons.