Maximize Your Miles: 8 Top Travel Rewards Cards Our Team Swears By
Maximize Your Miles: 8 Top Travel Rewards Cards Our Team Swears By - Chase Sapphire Preferred - Our Favorite All-Around Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has become a staple in many savvy travelers' wallets, and for good reason. This card offers an unbeatable combo of valuable travel perks and rewards on every purchase.
One of the main draws of the Sapphire Preferred is its very generous signup bonus. New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. That's worth at least $750 in free travel if you redeem through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal. The bonus alone can cover a roundtrip flight within the continental US or a nice hotel stay abroad.
Beyond the signup perk, the Sapphire Preferred also earns very competitive points on every dollar spent. Cardholders earn 2x points on all travel and dining purchases worldwide. This makes it easy to rack up points for future trips by simply using the card for everyday spending. All other purchases earn 1x points.
Another major benefit is the 25% bonus when redeeming points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase. This stretches your points further, allowing you to book more trips with what you've earned. Transfers to travel partners like United, Hyatt and Airbnb are also an option for potentially greater value.
One feature we love is the annual $50 hotel credit on bookings made through the Ultimate Rewards portal. This effectively reduces the card's $95 annual fee down to just $45. Add in benefits like trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary rental car coverage and no foreign transaction fees, and it's easy to get well over $95 in value each year.
For frequent travelers, the Sapphire Preferred allows lounge access through Priority Pass Select. While not as extensive as high-end cards like the Amex Platinum, it still grants entry to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. This is perfect for long layovers or delays.
Based on our team's experience, the Sapphire Preferred hits the sweet spot between affordability and premium travel perks. The annual fee is easily justified by the rewards, protections and luxury touches. Compared to other mid-tier travel cards, it comes out well ahead overall.
The Sapphire Preferred also pairs nicely with other Chase cards through Ultimate Rewards. Our experts recommend pairing it with the no-fee Chase Freedom cards to maximize point earnings across bonus categories. Points pool together for greater redemption power.
What else is in this post?
- Maximize Your Miles: 8 Top Travel Rewards Cards Our Team Swears By - Chase Sapphire Preferred - Our Favorite All-Around Card
- Maximize Your Miles: 8 Top Travel Rewards Cards Our Team Swears By - American Express Platinum - Luxury Perks for Frequent Flyers
- Maximize Your Miles: 8 Top Travel Rewards Cards Our Team Swears By - Capital One Venture - Simple Rewards for Any Purchase
Maximize Your Miles: 8 Top Travel Rewards Cards Our Team Swears By - American Express Platinum - Luxury Perks for Frequent Flyers
The American Express Platinum card sits at the pinnacle of premium travel rewards cards, offering an unparalleled selection of luxury perks for frequent flyers. While the $695 annual fee is steep, one look at the benefits makes clear why this card has become a must-have for jet-setters.
One of the Platinum card's premier benefits is access to the exclusive American Express Centurion Lounges. These lounges provide an oasis of luxury while traveling, featuring premium bars, farm-to-table dining, family rooms, showers and more. Locations include international hub airports like Hong Kong, London Heathrow and Mexico City, in addition to several major US airports. Cardholders receive complimentary access along with up to two travel companions.
The Platinum also grants access to over 1,300 airport lounges globally through Priority Pass Select and Airspace lounges. While not quite as glamorous as the Centurion Lounges, they still provide a welcome respite during connections. This extensive lounge access can make even the most frequent traveler feel like a VIP.
When it's time to board, cardholders can take advantage of up to $200 in annual airline fee credits to cover incidentals like checked bags and inflight food/beverages. The credits are spread across selected U.S. airlines, allowing flexibility. Additional credits are available for expenses like Global Entry application fees.
Travel protections are also generous, with trip delay reimbursement kicking in after just 12-hour delays (covering up to $500 in expenses). Lost luggage insurance covers up to $3,000 per passenger when bags are lost or damaged. With the Platinum card in hand, travel disruptions lose much of their stress and financial impact.
For hotel stays, cardholders unlock elevated status with chains like Hilton Honors (Gold) and Marriott Bonvoy (Elite), along with automatic room upgrades when available. Upscale properties like The Plaza, Ritz Carlton and St. Regis provide on-property credits up to $100 for paid stays of two nights or longer. Fine Hotels & Resorts also guarantees 4PM late checkout and breakfast for two daily.
The Membership Rewards program enables earning 5x points on airfare and flights booked directly through the airline. All other purchases earn 1x points. While not the highest earning rate for non-travel/dining, Membership Rewards points transfer to over a dozen travel partners for outsized redemption value. Transfer bonuses are frequently available too.
For purchases over $100, cardholders unlock purchase protection, extended warranty protection and return protection. This provides peace of mind for large purchases against accident, theft or damage. Cell phone insurance up to $800 per claim also applies when paying the cell bill with the Platinum card.
Maximize Your Miles: 8 Top Travel Rewards Cards Our Team Swears By - Capital One Venture - Simple Rewards for Any Purchase
The Capital One Venture Rewards card keeps earning and redeeming incredibly straightforward with unlimited 2X miles on every purchase. For travelers who don't want to fuss with rotating bonus categories or airline/hotel transfer partners, the Venture card's simplicity is a huge perk. Just use it for daily spending and watch the rewards roll in.
Unlike more traditional mileage cards, Capital One miles function like cash towards travel purchases. Each mile is worth one cent, so 100 miles = $1 in travel credit. This fixed value takes the guesswork out of redeeming rewards.
To unlock your miles, simply pay for a travel purchase (like flights, hotels, rental cars, trains, rideshares, etc) with the Venture card. Then, log in to your account and "erase" part or all of that charge with your accumulated miles, bringing down your out-of-pocket cost. The miles are effectively converted into statement credits to offset your travel spending.
This redemption flexibility is a big advantage compared to traditional airline mile cards. You don't have to worry about award charts, blackout dates or seat availability. As long as there's a travel charge on your statement, you can use miles towards it. This opens up a world of options to redeem rewards exactly how and when you want.
In addition to earning 2X miles on every purchase, cardholders get up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. These programs save huge time (and headaches) at airport security, so they provide value each trip. The fee credit renews every 4 years to cover renewal costs too.
New cardholders can unlock 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening. That's worth $500 in travel redemptions. Between the signup bonus and ongoing 2X everyday earn rate, it's easy to rack up rewards fast.