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Top Travel Credit Cards: Summer 2018

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Choosing a credit card is always a challenge, but when you factor in sign up bonuses, it’s even more difficult. Sign up bonuses for cards can vary from 25,000-100,000 points depending on the time of year. So this summer I want to show you the top travel credit cards and the best offers you need to jump on ASAP.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred/Reserve

This card is consistently on top for its great sign up bonus, 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months, and its overall great value. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to several airlines including United, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, etc. as well as to various hotels like Hyatt and Marriott. So if you’re just getting started or have no idea where you want to use your miles or points yet, this is a great card to collect points with.

The only challenge here will be whether you want to open the Preferred or Reserve. The Preferred has a lower annual fee of $95 and offers 2X on travel and dining, and the points are worth 25% more on Chase Ultimate Rewards, whereas the Reserve is $450 a year but offers 3X on travel and dining, has a TSA precheck/Global Entry reimbursement, $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass Lounge Access, and points are worth 50% more on Chase Ultimate Rewards.

I recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you’re a frequent traveler, will use all of these benefits, and don’t mind the steep annual fee. If not or you’re just getting started, go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can always upgrade your card in a year or two.

2. United Explorer Card

While the United Explorer Card has seen better sign up bonuses in the past (I got it for 70,000 miles last year), the 40,000 miles this year also comes with their new TSA precheck/Global Entry reimbursement and 2X miles on hotels, restaurants, and United purchases. Pair that with their two annual lounge passes, the low minimum spend of $2,000 in 3 months, $100 statement credit after your first purchase, AND the annual fee is $0 the first year and $95 after that, this card is quickly rising to the top of airline-branded credit cards.

3. British Airways Visa Signature Card

This card has consistently been showing an amazing sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in 3 months. You can also earn an additional 25,000 miles if you spend $10,000 in the first year of account opening and another 25,000 miles if you spend $20,000 in your first year on purchases. So, depending on your spending habits, you could rack up to 100,000 miles in your first year with British Airways! British Airways is part of the One World Alliance with American Airlines, and you can find good flights across the US and world using their partners. British Airways is also unique in the fact that they use a distance-based chart versus region. This means you can get short-haul flights for as little as 7,500 miles for a one way! The annual fee of $95 makes it easy to keep too.

4. Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card

Marriott is upping their rewards game with this new card. Usually, when Chase offers a new card, the sign-up bonus is incredible! The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card is no exception. Spend $5,000 in 3 months and get 100,000 Marriott Rewards points! You also get 6X points on every $1 spent at Marriott or Starwood Preferred hotels and 2X points on all other purchases. Pair that with a free night stay each year and the $95 annual fee really pays for itself. Act fast as these offers usually don’t last long!

5. Citi AA Advantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

My favorite thing about American Airlines rewards is the pretty great award saver availability. This is one of the only programs where you can fly round trip to Europe in the non-peak season for as little as 45,000 miles! It’s also how we’re able to fly to Peru next year for as little as 35,000 miles a person. So when they upped the AA Advantage Platinum card sign up bonus to 60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in 3 months I had Chris sign up right away! Combine that with the annual fee being waived the first year and only $99 after that, 2X miles per dollar at gas stations, restaurants, and American Airlines purchases, this card makes it easy to gain miles faster.

Christmas market

45,000 miles to see Christmas markets in Europe? This may be a perfect honeymoon!

6. Citi Thank You Premier Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred does seem to get all of the attention, but Citi has great cards too (and no 5/24 rule!). I opened up the Citi Thank You Premier Card a couple of months ago and enjoy the fairly consistent 50,000 point sign up bonus once you hit $4,000 in 3 months, annual fee waived the first year and only $95 after that, and 3X per dollar on travel (including gas stations), 2X per dollar on dining out and entertainment, and 1X per dollar on everything else. Citi Thank Your points can be transferred to several airlines such as EVA Air, Etihad, JetBlue, Qantas, and more. While they don’t have a lot of domestic airlines on here, they do cover all of the 3 main alliances, meaning you can use one airline’s miles to book a flight on its partner airlines.

7. Amex Platinum Card

This card does come with a steep annual fee of $550, but it has a consistent sign-up bonus of 60,000 points once you spend $5,000 in purchases in 3 months. It also offers $200 in Uber rides throughout the year ($15 in credits each month plus $20 in December), $200 airline fee credits, TSA/Global Entry credit, American Express Global Lounge Access, and 5X points on flights booked directly on airline websites or Amex travel and hotels booked on Amex travel. Amex also has great transfer airlines like Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Blue, ANA, and more! They also transfer to Hilton, Choice, and Starwood Preferred for hotels.

8. Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card

Alaska Airlines is consistently voted one of the US’s best airlines and with their companion pass, they may be one of the better airline loyalty programs too. Their credit card offers 30,000 miles once you spend $1,000 in 3 months, and the annual companion pass your first year has a great offer of buying one ticket, get the other ticket for as little as $22 in taxes. After that, you get the companion ticket each year on your account anniversary for $99 plus taxes. The annual fee is the lowest of the others at only $75 a year. Alaska also partners with several airlines such as American Airlines meaning it is fairly easy to find great award availability. So if you’re planning a trip out west or that dream trip to Hawaii, this may be the card for you.

9. Business Gold Rewards Card

While all of the other cards were personal credit cards, I had to include one good business card for those that either has a small business, or you may just sell stuff on Etsy, either way, you’re eligible to apply for this. This card is offering 50,000 Amex points once you spend $5,000 in 3 months and the annual fee of $175 is waived the first year! You also get to choose 1 out of 5 categories to earn 3X per dollar on (airfare, advertising, gas stations, shipping, or computer equipment) meaning you can choose which one fits your business most. Then, you earn 2X on all of the other categories listed and 1X on everything else. It’s a great way to earn a lot of Amex Membership Rewards and keep your business and personal expenses separate.

These are all top travel credit cards to choose from this summer, but you better act fast! Some of these offers go away soon, and you definitely want to maximize your mileage earning!


Which one do you want to apply for? What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments! Be sure to subscribe for more tips and alerts for great deals!

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Wednesday 11th of July 2018

Sorry, forgot to answer your Capital One question. I think it’s a great card for accumulating miles quickly, and for sure great, but the points you gain here are used only as statement credits for travel purchases. Meaning you can buy a flight and use the points to cover the cost. This means your points are only with $0.01 when the credit card points that transfer directly to airlines or hotels are usually worth more because you can score a 60,000 point flight that would’ve been $1,000 dollars (meaning your points could be worth up to $0.02-$0.03 per mile)! If you have more questions, please let me know! I hope that helps!

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