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.

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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 favorite cards to help you decide which to pull out of your wallet.

Note that my numbers for Chase assume that you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card so that you can spend the points at 1.5x for travel or have a different card and consider the transfer for Hyatt or United or another as worth 1.5 cents.

For Amex membership rewards, I am valuing at 1 cent each as that is what they can be used at directly on the portal or transferring to JetBlue (Jetblue points are worth 1.2 cents but only transfer at 5:4 ratio). They can be worth more with other airlines (especially foreign ones or when used for business class) but that is more speculative.

For most big spenders, I recommend getting the following cards in the following order

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited or Ink Unlimited
  • Amazon Business Prime
  • Capital One Venture X (if you have more than 3 people in your family and want a second priority pass membership) OR Amex Platinum (better lounge access especially in USA) or you can get a second Chase Sapphire Reserve

Note: I was about to recommend the Chase Ink Premier as the best thing since slice bread until I spoke with a customer service rep at chase about it. The Premier DOES NOT allow you to transfer points to travel partners nor combine it with other cards. That means that each point maxes out in value at 1 cent. No moving to the CSR so they can be used as 1.5c toward travel. No moving them to Hyatt for a great deal in Hawaii. Just a plain old 2% or 2.5% for large purchases.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) offers 5x for Airline and 10x for Hotel & Car purchases made through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal. Also the Chase Ink Preferred offers 5X on all traveled booked through the UR portal. I usually prefer to purchase travel directly on the suppliers website instead of through a portal since the supplier doesn't always honor elite status and elite/point earning rules when booking through the portal. Until March 2025, CSR also giving 10x for Lyft. [CSR is offering 10x (Chase Freedom & Sapphire Preferred offering 3x) for restaurant purchases made through "Chase Ultimate Rewards portal" (powered by Tock dining), for prepaid takeout and prepaid reservations, however, there are so few restaurants on Tock that I don't consider this of much use right now].

Amex Platinum (personal) offers the following additional benefits: - $200 credit toward "select" prepaid hotel bookings on amex travel - $20/mo (total) toward streaming including: Audible, Disney/ESPN, Hulu, Peacock, Sirrus, New York Times. - Walmart+ membership - $15/mo toward uber (first card only) - $200/yr toward airline incidentals (must pick one airline) - $300/yr toward Equinox gym - $50/half year toward Sax 5th Ave - Free Clear membership - remember, clear allows additional adults for $60/yr and kids can go with you for free. Note for BOS flyers, it is only at terminal A (i.e., Delta).

Amex Platinum (business) offers the following additional benefits: - 1.5x points at construction and hardware suppliers (but better to use Chase unlimited) - $150 toward adobe - $90/quarter at indeed - $10/mo toward cell phone bill - $200/half at dell - Free clear (see above)

Other Bonus Categories Supermarket: If you spend over about $50/week, you could use the Amex Blue Cash Preferred for the supermarket to get the 6% cash back (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases). Compared to the 2.25% potential value of the chase unlimited cards, the maximum incremental annual benefit of this card after paying the $95 annual fee is $130. Not worth the time, credit pull or wallet space in my opinion. Amazon: You must have the Amazon Business Prime card for purchasing from amazon, but you can leave it in your safe as you don't really need it for anything else. You get 5% back on amazon purchases, 2% on cell phones (better to use any Chase Ink card) and 2% on restaurants (better to use Chase Sapphire Reserve) Non-Bonus Spending
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards Premium Cards (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, Ink Preferred): 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.
  Ink Plus Ink Premier Ink Pref. Ink Cash Ink/Freed. Unlim Sapphire Pref. Sapphire Reserve Cap1 X Amex Plat Amex Biz Gold
Gas 3% 2% 1.5% 3% 2.25% 1.5%</td> 1.5% 1% 1% or 4%
Travel 2X Hotel Only 2% (2.5% >$5k, 5% on UR) 4.5% 1.5% 2.25% 3% 4.5% (7.5%* Flight, 15%* Hotel/Car, 15%* Lyft) 1% or 5% through portal 1% or 4% Air Only
Restaurant 1X 2% (2.5% > $5k) 1.5% 3% 2.25% 3% 4.5% 1% 1% or 4%
Office Supply 7.5% 2%(2.5% > $5k) 1.5% 7.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% 1% 1%
Telecom/Cable 7.5% 2% +Ins 4.5% +Ins 7.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% 1% 1%
Shipping 1.5% 2%(2.5% > $5k) 4.5% 1.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% Per:1%, Biz:1.5% 1% or 4%
Advertising 1.5% 2%(2.5% > $5k) 4.5% 1.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% 1% 1% or 4%
Tech 1.5% 2%(2.5% > $5k) 1.5% 1.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% Per:1%, Biz:1.5% 1% or 4% Select merchants
Fee $ $195+$0 $95 $0 $0 $550($250 net)+$75 add.) $395($0 net)+$0 $695+$175/3 $295
Bonus (Jan 2023) NA $1000@$10k $1500@$15k $1350@$6k $1350@$6k $900@$4k $900@$4k $750@$4k Per:$1k@$6k; Biz:$1.2-1.5k @$15k $700@$10k
Lounge Access NA None None None None None PPass+2gsts PPass+∞gsts, plaza+2,cap1+2 PPass+2gsts, plaza+2,Centr+2, Delta(sameday) None
Foreign Trans Fee 0% 0% 0% 3% 3% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Cell Phone Ins. N/A $1kx3/yr-$100 $1kx3/yr-$100 N/A N/A N/A N/A $800 $800x2/yr-$50 N/A