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I created this website to explain to my friends and family how my wife and I have been able to travel the world for free. The “secret” has been using various credit card mega bonuses (often non-publicized), layering additional offers and some other tricks that I will show you. Below are some of my favorite offers or delve deeper by reading my Points Blog.

Before applying, make sure to check your credit. You can get two of your three FICO scores for free at Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.

Card NameUpfront BonusesSpending BenefitsOther Key BenefitsAnnual FeeHow to Use
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All Purchases
  • More Info
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®40k ($400 toward travel) after spending $3k in 90 days2 Points + 5% rebate / $ (in effect 2.1% toward any travel)
    • No FTF's
    • Chip
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $89
    General spending only
    Citi Hilton Reserve Credit Card
  • More Info
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve card2 weekend nights after spending $2.5k in 4 mos. + 1 more/yr after spending $10k
    3 points / $
    5x on airfare and car rentals
    10x at Hiltons
    • Auto Gold
    • Diamond status after spending $40k
    • No FTF's
    $95Keep in safe and pay $95/year for a Saturday night at an expensive hotel (e.g., The Bentley on South Beach)
    Chase Hyatt Visa Card
  • More Info
  • Chase Hyatt Card2 free nights at ANY Hyatt hotel worldwide after spending $1k in 4 mos. + 1 more (cat <=4) each year1 points/$
    2x for restaurants, airfare (direct) and car rentals
    3x at Hyatts
    • Auto Plat.
    • No FTF's
    • Chip
    $75General Spend, Restaurant, Air, Car Rental
    American Express Starwood Credit Card

  • More Info
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express30k after spending $3k in 3mos (until 9/14/2015)1 (valuable) point / $
    • SPG Gold after $30k/yr
    • 5 nights toward elite
    • no FTF(new)
    • Premium Internet
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $95
    General Spend
    Chase Sapphire Card
  • More Info
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card40k points = UA, BA, SW, Amtrak,etc. or $400 Cash after spending $4k in 3 mos. +5k for additional cardholder1 point/$
    2x for Travel and Dining
    • No FTF's
    • Chip
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $95
    General, Travel, Dining
    Chase Ink Bold
  • More Info
  • Chase Ink Plus Credit Card50k points after spending $5k in 3 mos = UA, BA, SW, Amtrak,etc. or $500 Cash or $625 toward travel1 point/$
    2x for gas & hotel
    5x for telecom and office supply(up to $50k)
    • No FTF's
    • Chip
    • <
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $95
    General, Gas, Hotel, Office Supply, Telecom
    Card NameUpfront BonusesSpending BenefitsOther Key BenefitsAnnual FeeHow to Use
    Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® - Earn 2x on All Purchases
  • More Info
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®40k ($400 toward travel) after spending $3k in 90 days2 Points + 5% rebate / $ (in effect 2.1% toward any travel)
    • No FTF's
    • Chip
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $89
    General spending only
    AMEX Business Gold Card

  • More Info
  • The Business Gold Rewards Card25k points after spending $5k in 3 mos. (look for higher offers)1 point /$
    3x on ONE OF air,advertising, gas, shipping, tech (certain vendors)
    2x on the categories you don't pick
    N/A$0 1st Yr.,
    then $175
    Keep in desk for advertising, shipping & short-list of tech firms (e.g., Apple, Dell, MSFT)
    American Express Starwood Credit Card

  • More Info
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express30k after spending $3k in 3mos (until 9/14/2015)1 (valuable) point / $
    • SPG Gold after $30k/yr
    • 5 nights toward elite
    • no FTF(new)
    • Premium Internet
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $95
    General Spend
    Capital One Venture Credit Card
  • More Info
  • Capital One Venture Rewards40k points after spending $1k in 3mos2 Points / $ (basically 2% Cash)
    • No FTF's
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $59
    General spending only
    American Express Blue Credit Cash
  • More Info
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Credit Card$150 after spending $1k in 3 mos.1% cash
    6% at supermarkets (up to $6k spend)
    3% at stand alone gas stations and some department stores
    • None
    $75Supermarket spend for families, Gas
    Capital One Spark for BusinessSpark Cash From Capital One (Business)$500 after spending $4,500 in 3 months2% cash
    • No FTF
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $59
    General spending only
    Chase Ink Cash Credit Card
  • More Info
  • Chase Ink Cash Credit Card$200 after spending $3k in 3 mos.1% cash
    2% on gas & dine
    5% on Office Supply & Telecom
    (2/5% - max $25k); convert to UR if also have Ink+ or Sapphire
    • 0% interest on purchases for 12 mos
    $0General, Gas & Dine only if you have a Plus or Sapphire too; Office Supply & Telecom

  • More Info
  • Chase Freedom$100 after spending $500 in 3mos + $25 for an additional cardholder1% Cash
    5% (up to $75) of rotating categories; convert to UR if also have Ink+ or Sapphire
    • 0% interest on purchases for 15 mos
    $0General only if you have a Plus or Sapphire too; rotating bonus
    Card NameUpfront BonusesSpending BenefitsOther Key BenefitsAnnual FeeHow to Use
    AMEX Platinum Charge Card
  • More Info
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express40k points after spending $3k (personal card only); See this page for up to date info on the Biz version1 point / $
    • Centurion, lounges with guests
    • DL. Priority Pass lounges solo
    • $200 toward 1 airline's fees
    • Global Entry
    • Global Evac.
    • Pur. protection includes loss
    • No FTF's
    $450Keep in carry-on for travel benefits
    Citi Hilton Reserve Credit Card
  • More Info
  • Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve card2 weekend nights after spending $2.5k in 4 mos. + 1 more/yr after spending $10k
    3 points / $
    5x on airfare and car rentals
    10x at Hiltons
    • Auto Gold
    • Diamond status after spending $40k
    • No FTF's
    $95Keep in safe and pay $95/year for a Saturday night at an expensive hotel (e.g., The Bentley on South Beach)
    Chase Hyatt Visa Card
  • More Info
  • Chase Hyatt Card2 free nights at ANY Hyatt hotel worldwide after spending $1k in 4 mos. + 1 more (cat <=4) each year1 points/$
    2x for restaurants, airfare (direct) and car rentals
    3x at Hyatts
    • Auto Plat.
    • No FTF's
    • Chip
    $75General Spend, Restaurant, Air, Car Rental
    Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card80k points after spending 3k in 3mos, free night @renewal (<=cat 5)1 point /$
    2x for airfare, dining and car rental
    5x for Marriott
    • Auto Silver Elite
    • 15 elite nights + 1 night/$3k spent (auto gold at $105k, auto plat. at $180k)
    • No FTF's
    $0 1st Yr.,
    then $85
    Only good for big marriott spending.

    If you apply for a card with good credit and you don’t get instant approval, click here for a list of credit analysis and reconsiderations departments’ direct lines. They can often expedite an approval or fix a denial.

    Unless otherwise stated, my advice is for people with good credit that are able to pay off their entire credit card balance each month. You also accept that my advice is provided as a courtesy and you agree to do your own research. Also, credit card bonus offers change rapidly — while I try to keep this site up to date, you must check the credit card company’s website for the latest rules before you apply. For a more complete introduction and details on how card applications can affect your credit score, click here.

    Category Bonuses

    For those focused on spending, below is an analysis of Category Bonuses for some of my preferred cards to help you decide which to pull out of your wallet.

    Ink Plus Ink Cash Sapphire Pref. Amex Biz Rewards
    Gas 2X 2X 1X 2-3X
    Travel 2X Hotel Only 1X 2X All 2-3X Air Only
    Restaurant 1X 2X 2X 1X
    Office Supply 5X 5X 1X 1X
    Telecom/Cable 5X 5X 1X 2-3X
    Shipping 1X 1X 1X 2-3X
    Advertising 1X 1X 1X 2-3X
    Tech 1X 1X 1X 2-3X Select merchants

    Other Bonus Categories
    Supermarket: If you spend over about $50/week, you should use the Amex Blue Cash Preferred for the supermarket to get the 6% cash back.

    Non-Bonus Spending

    • Chase Ultimate Rewards Premium Cards (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus): transferable into United and Hyatt points among others. I generally consider United and Hyatt points worth over 2 cents each, though not everyone should
    • 2-2.1% Cash Back Cards(Barclay’s Arrival Plus, Capital One Venture, Capital One Spark): fixed cash value
    • Your bonus card for convenience. Realistically, there are only so many cards you want to physically carry, especially if you don’t have an iphone.

    Note that everything is a multiple of the that program’s points. The relative value of such points is generally selective though there are a few exceptions (such as Ultimate rewards points needing to be worth at least as much as pennies and hyatt points due to their convertibility). In general, I consider Chase points worth than Amex points and Chase points worth more than pennies. If a Chase point is worth > 2 cents, than the Sapphire or Ink Plus should probably be your general spending card. If it is worth < 2 cents, than a Barclays Arrival Plus, Capital One Venture or Capital One Spark should probably be your non-bonus spending card.

    See Glossary for definitions of the shorthand I use on the site.

    Permanent link to this article: http://freetravelgenius.com/

    Blue Cash Card

    Amex Blue Cash Everyday / Preferred

    6% on supermarkets is hard to beat. If you shop for a family, the Preferred is a no brainer to have in your wallet with 3% on gas stations to boot. The no annual fee everyday card isn’t too shabby either with 3% on supermarkets and 2% on gas stations .

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    Dave's Experian Score

    Credit Score Update

    You must ensure your focus on points doesn’t ruin your credit and it certainly doesn’t have to. Read more about my experiences maximizing my points while simultaneously keeping my credit score in the mid to high 700’s.

    Read more