To maximize the rewards from your travel purchases you need to use the right card for each purchase. So read on to find out which card to use for which travel purchase, to make the most of your rewards in 2019.
What Are Travel Purchases
Travel purchases can be a very broad category of spending and includes, airfare, hotel, bookings with third-party sites, travel agents, as well as other travel related purchases like car rental, and mass transit. While one card may be great for one category of travel, it may not deliver on other categories, and to truly maximize the returns from your travel spending you will need multiple cards for each category.
Best Card for Booking Airfare with Airlines
When it comes to booking airfare directly with airlines, The Platinum Card From American Express (learn more) sits top of the pile with an industry leading 5X earning per dollar. For every $1,000 you spend on airfare you will pick up 5,000 Membership Rewards points. These points can be of great value especially if you opt to transfer them to one of the various Membership Rewards transfer partners.
The card carries a hefty $550 annual fee but comes with an impressive list of benefits including, a 60,000 point welcome bonus and the best Airport lounge access options of any card.
Bear in mind that if you only fly with one airline and are loyally committed to its loyalty program, The Platinum Card From American Express may not be your best option and you could be better served to put your airline purchases directly on an airline co-branded credit card.
Best Card For Booking Hotel Stays
Choosing the right hotel card for hotel booking will depend on whether you are chasing hotel elite status, or whether you have no loyalty to a specific hotel brand and just want to generate miles from your hotel stays.
General Hotel Bookings
If you are not interested in achieving hotel Elite status and just want to book hotel stays and earn miles, then the King of the Hill is The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit learn more Card when making bookings through Hotels.com. The card earns a mind-blowing 10X points per dollar for bookings made on the site. You can transfer venture miles to a host of airline partners, including some of the biggest names in the aviation market like Singapore, Air France/ KLM Flying Blue, and Aeroplan.
Venture miles transfer to airlines at a ratio of 2:1, this effectively means you are earning 5 miles for every dollar spent at Hotels.com which is tremendous value. Another bonus is that by booking through a third party app, you have a much larger choice of properties to choose from than by booking directly with a hotel.
One thing to remember is that booking through a third-party site you will not earn any elite levels credits, and you will generally not receive any Elite status benefits and perks.
Brand Specific Hotel bookings
If you want to enjoy the benefit of hotel status, as well as earn hotel points and miles, one of the best options around it the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card earns you 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards per dollar, and you can transfer your points to a host of airline travel partners or redeem them directly for a value of 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portal.
Loyal fans of specific brands who want to earn brand points as opposed to flexible travel rewards points always have the option of using a hotel co-branded credit card. Marriott fans are best served going with the The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card, which earns 6X points per dollar at Marriott and SPG properties and comes with a generous 75,000-point welcome bonus, for a $95 annual fee.
IHG loyalist can opt for the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which has an $89 annual fee and comes with an 80,000-point welcome bonus. The card earns an impressive 12X per dollar at IHG properties and comes with complimentary Platinum Elite Status.
Hyatt aficionados have their own credit card, the The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, which feature a reasonable $95 annual fee, and earns 9 points per dollar for stays at Hyatt properties. The card comes with a generous 60,000 world of Hyatt points welcome bonus when you meet the card spending requirements in the first 6 months of card membership.
Hilton fans have a wide range of cards to chose from. The Hilton Honors Ascend Card From American Express (learn more) earns 12X for Hilton stays, and comes with manageable $95 annual fee. Alternatively, they can opt for the no annual fee card The Hilton Honors Credit Card from American Express (learn more), which earns 7X points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.
Best Overall Card- CSR
If you don’t want to have a wallet full of different cards and all the hassle involved in remembering when to use each card then the top overall travel rewards credit card around today is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. The cards earn a flat 3X points per dollar on travel. The strength of the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes from what Chase classes as a travel category, and spending at the following will qualify for 3X:
- Hotels and Motels,
- Car rental
- Travel agencies
- Taxis, buses, trains
- Parking Lots
- Highways and Tolls
- Cruise lines
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also earns you a top-notch 3X on dining and features a whole host of impressive travel benefits and perks, including lounge access, and an annual $300 travel statement credit. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel card and comes with a premium $450 annual fee.
Choosing the Right card to make your travel purchase in 2019 means you will get the biggest bang for your buck. One thing to remember though is not only do you need to know which card to use for each travel purchases, but also everything should be part of a bigger picture strategy aimed at maximizing your rewards in 2019.