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- The author, Holly Johnson, has 26 credit cards, but there are a handful she always uses when she pays for travel expenses.
- Her go-to Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the top travel credit cards available today thanks to its flexible rewards program and travel insurance perks.
- Other cards Johnson uses for travel include the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, and the Hilton Honours Aspire Card from American Express.
As of this writing, I have 26 different credit cards that serve a variety of purposes. I have cards I use to score easy cash back and others I take advantage of only when I make a purchase in a bonus category. Then then are business credit cards I use specifically for business purchases, and cards I use merely for the perks.
Of course, a big part of my credit card game has to do with travel. This is mostly because my husband and I travel around four months of the year – and we aim to pay for at least part of our travels with airline miles, hotel points, and other types of travel rewards.
Still, there are a handful of credit cards we always use when we pay for travel expenses – not only because we earn more points this way, but because we get more benefits in return.
My absolute favourite credit card in this world just so happens to be the one I use for the bulk of our travel expenses -my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This card gives you 3x points on dining and travel, and these points belong in the most flexible travel rewards program out there: Chase Ultimate Rewards.
I love racking up Chase Ultimate Rewards points because they are so easy to redeem for fun excursions around the globe or for 1:1 transfer to my favourite airline partners. For example, I frequently transfer Chase points to Southwest for flights to the Caribbean, and I almost always transfer Chase points to Air France/Flying Blue for cheap economy flights to Europe.
Another reason I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve is for the lucrative travel benefits it offers. Not only do I get primary auto rental coverage as a cardholder perk, but I get trip cancellation/interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, baggage delay coverage, and more.
I also love the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard and use it quite a bit overseas. It’s a true chip and pin credit card, meaning it can be used easily in parts of the world where this type of credit card technology is now the norm. I always bring it along on trips abroad for this reason, plus the fact that I earn 2x miles for each dollar I spend.
If you’re looking for a card to use for overseas purchases, now is a good time to sign up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. The current offer is for 70,000 miles worth $US700 in travel after you spend $US5,000 within 90 days of account opening, and the annual fee ($US89) is waived the first year.
I spend a lot of time in Hilton Hotels each year, and I use my Hilton Aspire credit card from American Express whenever I do. Not only do I get a resort credit up $US250, an annual airline credit up to $US250, and a free weekend night just for having this card, but I earn 14x points on Hilton hotel bookings, 7x points for flights booked direct or through AmexTravel.com, and 3x points for all other purchases.
I get thousands of dollars of value out of this card each year, even after accounting for the $US450 annual fee. In fact, I just cashed in 800,000 Hilton Honours points for a Hilton stay in Aruba for my 40th birthday in January! The two rooms I booked with those points would have set me back almost $US6,500 if I had paid in cash.
Finally, I also get a lot of value out of my Citi Premier Card. Not only did I get an initial 50,000-point welcome bonus after spending $US4,000 within three months of account opening, but I earn 3x points on travel including gas, 2x points on dining and entertainment, and 1x points on all other purchases.
I use my Citi Premier card for travel expenses quite often, mostly because I value the fact I can transfer points 1:1 to the Air France/Flying Blue program. However, I have also been known to cash in Citi ThankYou points for excursions, most recently for tours of the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey during a trip to the UK with my family this summer.
There are many solid credit cards with real perks for people who travel, but these are the four I personally use the most. You can’t really go wrong with any of the cards on this list, although the best card for you will depend on the type of travel you do the most and your rewards goals.
If you want to score free travel or take advantage of free insurance offered by travel credit cards, your best bet is spending some time comparing cards and their perks. The right card for everyone is out there, but it might take some time and research to find it.
Curious which credit cards I use the most and why? Here are some of my favourites:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve, because I earn 3x points on travel and dining.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, because I earn 3x points on the first $US150,000 each anniversary year in business categories such as social-media advertising and shipping.
- Hilton Honours Aspire Card from American Express, mostly for the Hilton Diamond status and travel perks.
- Discover it® Miles, because Discover matches all the miles you earn the first year.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, because I earn 6% cash back on up to $US6,000 at US supermarkets each year; then 1%.
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, because I prefer flying Delta when I can.
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, because I earn 2x American Express Membership Rewards points, up to $US50,000 per year; then 1x with no annual fee.
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, because I earn 2x miles on every dollar I spend.
- Chase Freedom, because I always max out the quarterly 5x bonus categories (up to $US1,500; activation is required).
- Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, because I’ve been beefing up my stash of AA miles.
- CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, so I can earn American AAdvantage miles on my business purchases.
- AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, because I earned the sign-up bonus with a single purchase.
- Citi Premier Card, because I love the flexibility of Citi ThankYou Rewards.
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