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.
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.
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 Chase assumes 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.
|Ink Premier||Ink Pref.||Ink Cash||Ink/Freed. Unlim||Sapphire Pref.||Sapphire Reserve||Cap1 X||Amex Plat||Amex Biz Gold|
|Gas||2%||1.5%||3%||2.25%||1.5%</td>||1.5%||1%||1% or 4%</tr>|
|Travel||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||2% (2.5% > $5k)||1.5%||3%||2.25%||3%||4.5%||1%||1% or 4%|
|Office Supply||2%(2.5% > $5k)||1.5%||7.5%||2.25%||1.5%||1.5%||1%||1%|
|Telecom/Cable||2% +Ins||4.5% +Ins||7.5%||2.25%||1.5%||1.5%||1%||1%|
|Shipping||2%(2.5% > $5k)||4.5%||1.5%||2.25%||1.5%||1.5%||Per:1%, Biz:1.5%||1% or 4%|
|Advertising||2%(2.5% > $5k)||4.5%||1.5%||2.25%||1.5%||1.5%||1%||1% or 4%|
|Tech||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)||$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||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%||3%||3%||0%||0%||0%||0%||Cell Phone Ins.||$1kx3/yr-$100||$1kx3/yr-$100||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||$800||$800x2/yr-$50||N/A</tr> </tbody> </table>|