3 Card Combinations for Big Travel Right Now

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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!

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Which Cards Should You Apply for Together to Earn the Biggest Travel? It Depends on Your Travel Plans!

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 is 1 of my favorite no-annual-fee cards because you can earn LOTS of Chase Ultimate Rewards points from quarterly rotating category bonuses.

For example, until June 30, 2015, you’ll earn 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 you spend at restaurants, Overstock.com, Bed Bath and Beyond, and H&M.

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Earn up to 7,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points per Quarter on Rotating 5X Categories, Like Restaurants

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 AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)Korean Air
Singapore AirlinesSouthwestUnited Airlines
Virgin Atlantic
 Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 
HyattIHGMarriott
Ritz-Carlton

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.

Chase Adds New Transfer Partner More Options To Europe

You’ll Get the Most Travel From the Chase Freedom Card If You Also Have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold

You’ll get much bigger travel by transferring the sign-up bonus and points earned from spending on your Chase Freedom card to your Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Sapphire Preferred account.

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!

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Category Bonuses on Cards Like the Chase Freedom and Chase Ink Cash Can Easily Earn You Thousands of Extra Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

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.

We’ve gotten Big Travel at luxury Hyatt hotels like the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Park Hyatt Milan, and Park Hyatt Paris – Vendome.

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

We’ve Taken Many Memorable International Trips Thanks to Our Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!

And by moving points to United Airlines, we’ve flown Business Class between the US and India, and First Class to Maui.

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.

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

If You’d Rather Travel in the US, Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to British Airways Avios Points for Flights on Their Partner, American Airlines, Can Be an Excellent Deal

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.

Note:   When you travel overseas, do NOT use the Chase Freedom or Chase Ink Cash cards.  Both add foreign transaction fees.

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:

  • AT&T
  • 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)
3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Folks Who Shop Online Frequently Could Earn a LOT of Citi ThankYou Points With the Citi AT&T Access More Card

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.

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Big Spenders Can Earn a Yearly Bonus of 10,000 Citi ThankYou Points

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 cardsThen transfer them to travel partners like Hilton or Singapore Airlines.

 Citi ThankYou Points Airline Transfer Partners 
Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)EVA AirEtihad
Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)Garuda Indonesia Malaysia Airlines
QantasQatar AirwaysSingapore Airlines
Thai AirwaysVirgin AmericaVirgin Atlantic
 Citi ThankYou Points Hotel Transfer Partners 
Hilton Hotels

And there are currently improved sign-up bonuses on the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier cards!

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.

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

The Citi Prestige Sign-Up Bonus Is Worth $800 in American Airlines Tickets Booked Through the Citi Travel Center

Plus the Citi Prestige has other perks, like the 4th night free on hotel stays booked through the Citi Travel Center, a $250 annual airfare credit, and free rounds of golf through July 23, 2017!

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.

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Redeem Citi ThankYou Points at 1.25 Cents per Point for Cruises Booked Through the Citi Travel Center When You Use Your Citi ThankYou Premier Account

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!

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore Airlines and Experience an Amazing First Class Suite

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 FeaturesChase Southwest PremierChase Southwest Premier BusinessChase Southwest Plus
Sign-Up Bonus50,000 points50,000 points50,000 points
Minimum Spending$2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account$2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account$2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account
Anniversary Bonus6,000 points6,000 points3,000 points
Foreign Transaction Fees003%
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!

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

The BEST Deal for Domestic Travel: Earn the Southwest Companion Pass Easily by Signing-Up for 2 Chase Southwest Cards!

You need 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year to earn the Companion Pass.  And the sign-up bonuses you earn from the Chase Southwest cards count!

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.

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

You and Your Companion Will Fly Sooner With 2 Chase Southwest Cards

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.

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Southwest Flies to the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico Too!

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).

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

Travel Is Sweeter When You Fly 2-for-1 With the Southwest Companion Pass!

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).

3 Card Combinations For Big Travel Right Now

You’ll Have to Spread out Your Card Applications Over Time

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.

Bottom Line

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?

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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3 responses to “3 Card Combinations for Big Travel Right Now

  1. You might consider adding discussion of AMEX cards for Delta points. Right now there is a 50,000 Delta AMEX card, and 50,000 Delta AMEX Business, along with 75,000 Membership Rewards points on AMEX Business Gold, 25,000 Membership Rewards points for AMEX Personal, 25,000 SPG Business and personal. Membership Rewards transfer to Delta at 1:1 and SPG points transfer to Delta at 1:1.25 if you transfer 20,000, so with these 6 AMEX cards (3 personal, 3 business) you could end up with 260,000 Delta points just in sign-up bonuses. Not that I would recommend one person trying for 6 AMEX cards all at once, but if you start out with the Delta cards that are on special, one could add the other cards over time.

  2. I wish there’s more programs that transfer to American Airlines.

  3. i’m due for another churn, i might apply for the city cards but i’m afraid of paying those annual fee. Has anyone applied for it and did not get charge for the annual fee? when should i cancel it after applying for it? Thanks guys!