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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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)

Capital One X - Capital One Lounges: cardholder (also additional cardholders and account managers) plus 2 guests - DFW-D, DEN-A, IAD - Priority Pass: cardholder (also additional cardholders) plus unlimited guests - Plaza Premium: cardholder (also additional cardholders) plus 2 guests - Anniversary bonus 10k points plus $300 credit on their platform takes care of the annual fee - $100 Global Entry every 4 years - Hertz Presidents Elite - Primary Rental Car - Most Useful transfer partners (all 1:1): AirCanada(Star), AirFrance/KLM(SkyTeam), BA(Oneworld, use for short USA trips) - Additional users are free which is great and there is no minimum age so your kids can have lounge access (though many lounges won't let them in solo), however, they report AUs to the credit agencies meaning they will count against Chase's 5/24 for the AUs. - Combine with Spark Cash Plus to get 2% on all spend and one-time $1200 bonus after spending $30k in 30 months. $150 fee but refunded after spending $150k; better than Chase Unlimited->CSR if transferring to airlines otherwise Chase is better - Combine with SavorOne to get 3% on dining, grocery, streaming, entertainment but only $200 upfront bonus (so consider a product change from another capital one card if you have one) - CSR is better or equal for dining but this is better than chase for grocery

US Bank Altitude Reserve The key to this card is that you end up with 4.5% (assuming you are using the points on travel) on your Mobile Wallet (ApplePay, Google, Samsung) in person payments. So if you are in a shop that isn't otherwise a bonus category, this gives you about an extra ~2% back) vs 2.25% value from Chase Unlimited to Chase Reserve or 2.6% cash back from BofA

Bank America/MerrillEdge - With Platinum Honors you get a 75% bonus on credit card rewards. - This means 2.625% cash back on all purchased with the BofA Unlimited Cash Rewards Card (normally 1.5%). Unfortunately, bonus offer is only $200 so not a great use of a credit pull. It also has a 3% FTF but no annual fee. - You also get 2.625% cash back on everything and 3.5% on travel and dining (but Chase Reserve gives you 4.5% in value for that) with their "Premium Rewards Card" which has a $95 annual fee. However, you get a $600 upfront bonus. So you get $400 more in bonus paying your annual fee for 4 years. And you can downgrade after a year so certainly start with this card. - Platinum Honors means $100k across Merrill and BofA. BofA provides terrible interest rates so without Merrill this would cost you over $4k/year in last interest. A terrible deal. However, with Merrill, you can simply move over ETFs or even using savings account style ETFs (such as ishares SHV - 5.3% yield as of Jan 2024 backed by US Treasuries with a duration of 3 months - also look at SGOV for shorter duration, XHLF for a big longer and VGSH for 2 year). - Merrill is also giving a $250 bonus for $100k and $600 bonus for $200k (code 600ME) that you must maintain for 90 days. Note this bonus is taxable as interest so not as good as a credit card bonus. - Your linked BofA account will be Advantage Relationship with free standard checks, free domestic incomming wires, free stop payment - Diamond Level ($1MM) gives 2 free wires per month (Fidelity also has free wires). Only other advantage for Diamond and Diamond Plus ($10MM) come from lower interest rates on loans. Basically, I wouldn't bother chasing anything beyond $200k upfront and $100k after the 90 days.

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 AirCanada, United and Hyatt points among others. I usually find AirCanada and Hyatt points worth significantly more than 1.5 cents though not everyone will.
  • 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 US Bank Reserve Amex Plat Amex Biz Gold
Gas 3% 2% 1.5% 3% 2.25% 1.5%</td> 1.5% 2%+ 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) 2%+(5%+* flight/10%+* hotel car) 4.5% 1% or 5% through portal 1% or 4% Air Only
Restaurant 1X 2% (2.5% > $5k) 1.5% 3% 2.25% 3% 4.5% 2%+ 1.5% 1% 1% or 4%
Office Supply 7.5% 2%(2.5% > $5k) 1.5% 7.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% 2%+ 1.5% 1% 1%
Telecom/Cable 7.5% 2% +Ins 4.5% +Ins 7.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% 2%+ 1.5% 1% 1%
Shipping 1.5% 2%(2.5% > $5k) 4.5% 1.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% 2%+ 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% 2%+ 1.5% 1% 1% or 4%
Tech 1.5% 2%(2.5% > $5k) 1.5% 1.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% 2%+ 1.5% Per:1%, Biz:1.5% 1% or 4% Select merchants
Mobile Wallet 1.5% 2%(2.5% > $5k) 1.5% 1.5% 2.25% 1.5% 1.5% 2%+ 4.5% 1% 1%
Fee $ $195+$0 $95 $0 $0 $550($250 net)+$75 add.) $395($0 net)+$0 $400($75 net) $695+$175/3 $295
Bonus (Jan 2023) NA $1000@$10k $1500@$15k $1350@$6k $1350@$6k $900@$4k $900@$4k $750@$4k $750@$4.5k 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-8total PPass+2gsts, plaza+2,Centr+2, Delta(sameday) None
Foreign Trans Fee 0% 0% 0% 3% 3% 0% 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