Summer may be ~3 months away, but now is the time to think about your travel plans and how you’re going to generate the points you need. Ideally, you would have accrued points and booked this already – if you’re anything like me, you’re currently having major booking anxiety and will probably hold off a little while longer. Anyway, it’s not too late – even if you’re not sure where you’re going yet, there are rewards credit card sign-up bonuses that provide flexibility. Here are 5 credit cards to give your summer travel plans a jumpstart:
1 – Chase Ink Business Preferred
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card is a great option if you want to give your rewards balance a boost. Not only do you earn a very impressive 80,000 point sign-up bonus after $5,000 spent in 3 months, but you get a stash of very flexible points. What can you do with 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points? For starters, you can transfer them to United and book three roundtrip economy class flights anywhere in the U.S. Aiming for a short-haul flight? Then transfer your points to Avois or Southwest for even cheaper redemption rates.
If you’re unsure about where to stay during your summer travel, Ultimate Rewards offers even more flexibility. You can transfer your points to Hyatt for very reasonable redemption rates, IHG Rewards Club for a PointBreaks reward or Marriott for an Air + Hotel award. You might even save a ton by redeeming points through the Ultimate Rewards Travel site. Bottom line, you’ll earn a ton of points from the Chase Ink Business Preferred and you can use them in a variety of ways. That makes them perfect for travel – especially the last minute variety.
2 – Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
No matter where you plan to travel this summer, chances are you can put SPG points to good use. The Starwood Preferred Guest cards from American Express are must-have’s in general – mainly because of Amex’s once-per-lifetime policy on credit sign-up bonuses. Most folks apply for an SPG card during their first year getting into this hobby, but if you haven’t done it yet and you want a flexible stash of points for summer travel, you should get one asap. Not only does Starwood have super reasonable redemption rates (i.e. 2,000 – 35,000 points per night), you can get great value by transferring them to airlines or using them for Nights & Flights awards.
3 – Chase Sapphire Reserve
What makes the Sapphire Reserve such a great option, aside from its 50,000 point bonus that can be used flexibly, are the extra card perks. Cardholders get a $300 statement credit towards pretty much any travel purchase. If you end up paying for travel rather than redeeming points, you can use that travel credit towards your purchase…while earning 3x points. Due to its flexibility, travel perks and large sign-up bonus, the Sapphire Reserve is a great card to have in your wallet in anticipation for summer travel.
4 – The Amex Platinum Card
The Amex Platinum card really takes care of all your travel needs. Sign-up bonus that is both generous and can be used flexibly? Check. 5x earnings on travel? Check. Awesome travel perks like access to the Centurion Lounge to make summer travel more pleasant? Check. So which Platinum card should you choose? That depends on a few things. For example, at 75,000 points after a total of $20,000 spent in 3 months, The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN has a higher sign-up bonus than the personal version (which requires $5,000 spent in 3 months).
Meanwhile, the Business version has a $450 annual fee while the personal card’s fee is $550. Additionally, the personal card comes with an annual $200 Uber credit paid out in monthly installments. As for that 5x travel bonus? The Business card pays that out on flights and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com. The personal card pays out 5x on airfare and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com as well as airfare booked directly with the airline. Which card you get depends totally on your personal travel needs. That being said, you’ll be able to put Membership Rewards points to good use.
5 – Chase Sapphire Preferred
On the market for an Ultimate Rewards balance boosting personal credit card with a reasonable annual fee? Then the Sapphire Preferred is your best option. It has a lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve ($95 as opposed to $450) and it has the same great line-up of travel transfer partners.
Booking summer travel on points can be challenging, but if you keep a stash of flexible rewards points handy, it won’t be impossible. Aside from being able to save on travel, the right credit card can make your trip a little more comfortable. That being said, I want to hear from you: Which credit card are you picking up to help pay cover your summer travel?
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