1. Credit Card Companies and Huge Signup Bonuses. The credit card industry is competitive and they all want excellent customers. We constantly see new and updated credit card products, most of which waive the annual fee the first year. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 40,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points with a new account (after meeting the minimum spending requirement: $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening).
- Ultimate Reward points are highly valued for their ease and flexibility of use with over 10 transfer partners.
- Points transfer at a rate of 1:1, including with United and Hyatt!
- Those 40,000 points can also be used for $500 in travel when booking directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is another great card.
- Annual fee waived the first year.
- Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus are great for international use as they don’t charge any foreign transaction fees.
And these are just two of the most popular rewards cards that are out there!
2. Use Your Good Credit to Secure Free Travel. This highly effective and lucrative method of adding to your frequent flyer and hotel account balances is not for everyone. It takes a good credit score and the ability to follow promotion directions. The effect on your credit score per credit card application is a minimal two to five points. Review some of our basic posts here, here and here and check out our Rookie Guide. Study up and enjoy the fruits of this amazing mileage-earning technique. We’ve received over 200 credit card signup bonuses over the years and still have excellent credit. We’ll be glad to help you anyway we can. Start by grabbing your credit score for free, then drop us an email at email@example.com.
3. Maximize Your Point Accumulation With Small Everyday Changes. Do you have a card that earns you 3x or 5x points at a specific type of store (for buying groceries at a supermarket, for example)? Does that specific store then sell gift cards to some of your favorite merchants (e.g. Best Buy, Target, etc.)? Instead of earning 1x points using your credit card at those retail merchants, purchase gift cards for them at the supermarket instead. Gift cards are not excluded from bonus points! Earn 3x or 5x point for spending money at your reward-awarding specific store, and then use the gift cards as usual at your favorite merchants. In addition to using gift cards for in-store purchases, you can shift your online shopping habits by using shopping portals such as TopCashBack, BeFrugal, FatWallet, eBates or BigCrumbs, where in addition to the points you’ll earn from your credit card spend, you’ll earn 1, 2, 5, or 10+ points per dollar spent, just by using a link through these sites!
4. Looking for American Express Points and Other Travel Perks? [Full Disclosure: American Express is a sponsor of FrugalTravelGuy.com]
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a great card. It has an annual fee of $450 but gives you 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 on your new card within the first three months. Additionally:
- free access to Wi-Fi hotspots globally with Boingo
- $200 per year in statement credits for airline incidentals (checked bag fees, flight-change fees)
- lounge with Delta and all of the Amex Centurion lounges along with Priority Pass lounges
- free membership to Global Entry via a $100 statement credit as well
5. Bank Direct Mileage Checking for American Airline Miles. Earn up to 22,000 AA miles for six month direct deposit, six month bill pay, six month check card use, and most importantly, 100 miles per month per $1000 in the account. Approved applicants are rewarded a 1,000-mile sign up bonus and an extra 1,000 miles for a referral. Miles earned are typically a nontaxable event. Note: there is a $12 monthly maintenance fee.
6. The other best all-around travel credit cards: the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.
- 10,000-point sign up bonus
- no annual fee the first year
- an opportunity to earn 15,000 more points with $5,000 spending in the first six months
We love the cash and points redemption option for expensive hotels, the ability to combine points with people at the same address, and the airline transfer partners where 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points = 25,000 airline miles.
*Terms and Limitations Apply