Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
There are some excellent increased credit card sign-up bonuses available right now. It can be hard to decide which cards to choose.
And depending on your travel style and goals, certain combinations of cards will get you Big Travel more quickly!
Let’s look at 3 scenarios that can help you turn your travel dreams into reality sooner!
1. Chase Cards to Combine for International Flights, Luxury Hotels, and Cheap Domestic Tickets
Card 1 for Big Category Points: Chase Freedom
Link: Chase Freedom
The sign-up bonus on the Chase Freedom card has been increased to 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($200 cash back) for a limited time.
This card is a great way to quickly boost your Chase Ultimate Rewards points balance. But you’ll get the most out of the Chase Freedom sign-up bonus and category bonuses if you have certain other cards!
Card 2 for Big Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold
Link: Chase Ink Plus
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Folks love Chase Ultimate Rewards points because you can transfer them to airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, Southwest, and United Airlines. Or redeem them at 1.25 cents per point for paid airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises. That’s great flexibility!
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners|
|British Airways||Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Korean Air|
|Singapore Airlines||Southwest||United Airlines|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners|
But you can only transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners (or redeem them at 1.25 cents per point) if you have the (no longer available) Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
Otherwise, you’ll only be able to redeem those points at 1 cent per point for travel through the Chase Travel portal or for cash back. You can NOT transfer them to travel partners unless you have 1 of the other cards mentioned.
Note: The same principle applies to the Chase Ink Cash card, which earns 5X points (5% cash back) at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV, up to $25,000 in spending per card year. That’s potentially 125,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points every 12 months!
You can move Chase Ultimate Rewards points from your Chase Ink Cash account to your Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Sapphire Preferred account, then transfer them to airline, hotel, and rail partners.
Many of the trips Emily and I have taken were made possible by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners.
But if travel closer to home is more your style, you can get good deals on domestic flights by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios points for flights on their partners, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines.
Especially for short haul (less than 650 miles) flights, which only cost 4,500 British Airways Avios points each way in coach. Chicago to Washington, DC, for example.
So no matter what your travel goals are, combining the Chase Freedom (or Chase Ink Cash) card with the Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great combination for points earning AND travel flexibility.
2. Citi Cards to Combine for Flights to Hawaii, Discounted Flights on American Airlines, and More
Card 1 for Big Category Points: Citi AT&T Access More
Link: Citi AT&T Access More
The Citi AT&T Access More card isn’t good for Big Travel because of its sign-up bonus (a statement credit worth up to $650 towards a new phone after completing minimum spending requirements).
But it’s a great card for earning lots of Citi ThankYou points! You’ll earn 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend at:
- Travel websites (includes airline, hotel, and online travel agencies)
- Online retailers (includes Amazon.com, department store websites, specialty store websites, warehouse store websites and boutique websites)
Those are very broad spending categories! And there’s no limit to the amount of bonus points you can earn.
Note: The Citi AT&T Access More card charges foreign transaction fees. So leave it at home when you travel abroad!
Emily and I don’t earn a commission for the Citi AT&T Access More card. But we’ll always share the best deals with our readers!
Plus, if you’re a Big Spender, you’ll earn an additional 10,000 Citi ThankYou points on your card anniversary if you spent $10,000 or more in the previous 12 months.
However, Citi ThankYou points earned from the Citi AT&T Access More card can NOT be transferred to airline and hotel partners…unless you also have the Citi Prestige, Citi ThankYou Premier, or (no longer available) Citi Chairman card.
Card 2 for Big Travel: Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier
Link: Citi Prestige
Link: Citi ThankYou Premier
If you’re a Citi Prestige, Citi ThankYou Premier, or (no longer offered) Citi Chairman cardholder, you can combine Citi ThankYou points earned from other Citi cards. Then transfer them to travel partners like Hilton or Singapore Airlines.
|Citi ThankYou Points Airline Transfer Partners|
|Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)||EVA Air||Etihad|
|Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Garuda Indonesia||Malaysia Airlines|
|Qantas||Qatar Airways||Singapore Airlines|
|Thai Airways||Virgin America||Virgin Atlantic|
|Citi ThankYou Points Hotel Transfer Partners|
With either card, you’ll earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account. (BOTH EXPIRED.) These cards do NOT add foreign transaction fees, so they’re good for overseas travel.
With the Citi Prestige, you can redeem 50,000 Citi ThankYou points for $800 in airfare on American Airlines through the Citi Travel Center through July 23, 2017, $665 in flights on other airlines through July 23, 2017, or potentially higher value when you transfer points to airline and hotel partners.
So if you use the card perks, you can more than make up for the $450 annual fee.
And with the Citi ThankYou Premier, 50,000 Citi ThankYou points is worth $625 towards airfare, hotels, cruises and car rentals. Or more if you transfer them to travel partners. The $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year.
Check out my post on how to decide if the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier is the right card for you!
Some folks prefer redeeming Citi ThankYou points through the Citi Travel Center for paid airfare. You don’t have to worry about blackout dates or available award seats. And you’ll earn miles for your ticket!
Others transfer Citi ThankYou points to Singapore Airlines to book award tickets to Hawaii on United Airlines. Or to Virgin Atlantic to use for Hawaiian Airlines tickets (without fuel surcharges).
Or you could treat yourself to luxury First Class tickets on Singapore Airlines! These tickets are usually worth thousands of dollars!
By combining the Citi AT&T Access More card with the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier cards, you’ll have lots of ways to earn Citi ThankYou points and plenty of flexibility in how you redeem them!
Note: Citi only allows 1 personal card application per day, and you’ll have to wait at least 8 days before you apply for a 2nd card. And no more than 2 applications every ~65 days.
3. Chase Cards to Combine for the Best Deal in Domestic Travel
Link: Chase Southwest Plus
Link: Chase Southwest Premier (Personal)
Link: Chase Southwest Premier (Business)
Right now, all 3 versions of the Chase Southwest cards have an increased sign-up bonus of 50,000 Southwest points when you complete the minimum spending requirements.
You’ll earn the increased bonus with the Chase Southwest Premier, Chase Southwest Premier Business, and Chase Southwest Plus cards after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
|Card Features||Chase Southwest Premier||Chase Southwest Premier Business||Chase Southwest Plus|
|Sign-Up Bonus||50,000 points||60,000 points||50,000 points|
|Minimum Spending||$2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account||$3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account||$2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account|
|Anniversary Bonus||6,000 points||6,000 points||3,000 points|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||0||0||3%|
|Annual Fee||$99 NOT waived the 1st year||$99 NOT waived the 1st year||$69 NOT waived the 1st year|
And by getting 2 Chase Southwest cards, you’ll have most of the points required to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. With the Southwest Companion Pass, your companion can fly with you for almost free on both paid and award tickets!
By signing-up for 2 cards (50,000 points each), you’ll earn 104,000 Southwest points (100,000 points in sign-up bonuses + 4,000 points from minimum spending).
So you’ll only need 6,000 more Southwest points within the year to earn the Companion Pass! Check out my post with tips on easy ways to earn the extra 6,000 points! Just be careful to NOT make these 3 mistakes.
Emily and I use the Southwest Companion Pass frequently to visit family and friends in the US. It’s like flying 2-for-1!
But remember, Southwest also flies to international destinations, like Aruba, the Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico.
For ideas where to stay in Southwest’s international destinations, you can read my series of posts about hotels to stay at using points!
Southwest changed its award pricing this year, so some award flights now cost more points.
Flights now cost 70 to 80 Southwest points per $1. With 110,000 Southwest points you could get $1,571 in free travel (at 70 points per $1).
But because your companion flies with you for (almost) free, you’ll get double the value (worth $3,142).
That’s a LOT of Big Travel from 2 credit cards!
Note: Chase will typically NOT approve both Southwest personal cards on the same day. But many folks have had luck applying for a personal and business card at the same time. Read my post on how to apply for a Chase business card (and see how you may qualify even if you don’t think you have a business!).
How Many Cards to Apply for at Once?
Readers often ask how many cards they can get at once. It depends on the bank, how many other accounts you have, your credit score, and other factors.
Some banks, like Citi, only allow 1 card application per day (and no more than 2 every ~65 days, with at least 8 days between applications).
Chase is more flexible, but it’s not typical to get approved for more than 1 or 2 cards in a day. You should generally wait ~3 months before applying for more Chase cards.
And remember, if you’re new to miles and points, it’s best to start slow and only apply for 1 or 2 cards. Then wait a few months to see the impact on your credit score and if you can manage the minimum spending and on-time payments.
With so many great credit card offers available right now, it can be hard to choose which cards to apply for.
By combining certain cards, you can make the most of increased sign-up bonuses and category spending bonuses. And that means even more Big Travel with Small Money!
Remember, you might not be able to apply for these card combinations on the same day, depending on the bank. And if you’re new to miles and points, it’s better to 1st take it slow.
What’s your favorite card combination?
* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 20,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!