We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Update: Beginning July 23, 2017, Citi ThankYou points with the Citi Prestige card will be worth 1.25 cents each toward flights. And beginning July 23, 2017, the 4th night free perk will refund the average cost of a 4-night stay, NOT including taxes.
Wondering which credit card you should get next?
Credit card sign-up bonuses are the quickest way to earn Big Travel with Small Money! And folks often ask me for help with choosing the best cards.
I’ll tell you about my current favorite offers!
Before You Get Started
The fastest way to earn miles and points for Big Travel with Small Money is from credit card sign-up bonuses. But make sure you have a plan first.
Here are some things you should know:
- The 5 Dangers of Applying for Credit Cards – The hobby isn’t for everyone, so make sure you know the risks.
- Start Out Slow – I recommend folks who are new to this sign-up for 1 or 2 cards, until they’re comfortable. This will give you time to see how your credit is impacted and if you’re able to pay your bills on time.
- Have a Plan Before You Start Applying for Cards – Some folks sign-up for multiple cards each quarter and others prefer to wait for the big sign-up bonuses.
- Set Your Travel Goals – Where and how do you want to travel? Then figure out which miles or points will get you there. Otherwise, you may wind up with points that aren’t useful to you.
- Make Sure You Can Meet Minimum Spending Requirements – See my post on 40+ Ways to Meet Minimum Spending for tips.
- Chase Has New Rules – If you’ve opened ~5 or more new credit cards (with any bank!) in the past 24 months, you likely won’t be approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, or Slate cards.
This may soon also include business cards like the Chase Ink Plus and Ink Cash as well as airline and hotel branded cards such as the Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card or Hyatt cards. Of course, there are some exceptions and this isn’t in writing, but you may want to apply for these cards 1st to be safe.
My Current Favorite Credit Cards
Here are my picks for the best credit card offers available right now:
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The $95 annual fee is waived the 1st year.
You’ll get a lot of flexibility with this card! You can redeem 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for:
- $500 in cash back
- $625 in paid travel with NO blackout dates booked through the Chase Travel portal
- Big Travel when you transfer to airline and hotel partners like Hyatt and United Airlines
2. Chase Ink Plus
Link: Chase Ink Plus
I like the Chase Ink Plus small business card because you can earn 5X Chase Ultimate rewards points (on up to $50,000 in combined spending per card anniversary year) at office supply stores, and on your cable, internet, and phone bills. So you can earn lots of points on everyday business purchases.
Chase Ultimate Rewards is my favorite reward program because you can transfer your points to great partners like United Airlines and Hyatt.
The $95 annual fee is NOT waived for the 1st year.
The Chase Ink Plus is a small business card, so many folks think they don’t qualify. But you don’t need a multi-million dollar company to get this card. In fact, it might be a lot easier than you think!
3. Chase British Airways
British Airways Avios points are still the best deal for short-haul flights!
Flights under 1,150 miles on British Airways partners like Alaska Airlines and American Airlines in North America only cost 7,500 British Airways Avios points each way. And 1-way flights under 650 miles outside of North America are still only 4,500 British Airways Avios points.
You can currently earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points with the Chase British Airways card after meeting the tiered spending requirements.
Here’s how it works:
- $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account (earn 50,000 British Airways Avios points)
- $10,000 (total) on purchases in the first 12 months of opening your account (earn an additional 25,000 British Airways Avios points)
- $20,000 (total) on purchases in the first 12 months of opening your account (earn another 25,000 British Airways Avios points)
My British Airways award booking guide will show you all the ways you can use the points you earn.
4. Chase Hyatt
Link: Chase Hyatt
The Chase Hyatt card is a great choice if you’re looking for a luxury hotel stay. You’ll earn 2 nights at ANY Hyatt hotel when you spend $1,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
And you’ll earn 5,000 bonus Hyatt points when you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
The $75 annual fee is waived the 1st year. And it’s worth hanging onto this card after that because you’ll get 1 free night at any Hyatt Category 1 to 4 hotel each card anniversary year.
5. Citi Prestige
Link: Citi Prestige
You can redeem those points for:
- $500 in gift cards (1 cent per point)
- $665 in paid flights (1.33 cents per point) with no blackout dates booked through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center through July 23, 2017
- $800 in paid American Airlines (or codeshare partner) flights (1.6 cents per point) booked through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center through July 23, 2017
- Big Travel when you transfer to travel partners like Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, or FlyingBlue.
This card has an annual fee of $450, which is NOT waived the 1st year. But you’ll get a lot of fantastic benefits worth much more including:
- $250 statement credit for airline purchases such as airfare, baggage fees, and upgrade fees appearing on your statement from December to the following December
- $100 statement credit for Global Entry application fee
- Access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges for primary cardholder, immediate family, or 2 guests, as long as you’re flying on American Airlines or American Eagle that day through July 23, 2017
- Priority Pass Lounge access for primary cardholder and up to 2 guests (additional guests $27 per person, per visit)
- 4th night free when you book 4 consecutive nights at any hotel booked through the Citi Concierge
- No foreign transaction fees
6. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve
There are several different Hilton credit cards, but I like the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card the most. That’s because you’ll earn 2 weekend nights (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) at almost any Hilton hotel when you spend $2,500 on purchases within the 1st 4 months of opening your account.
The $95 annual fee is NOT waived the 1st year.
7. AMEX SimplyCash
Link: AMEX SimplyCash
I like this card because you’ll earn 5% cash back at US office supply stores (and US cellphone service).
Plus, you’ll get 3% cash back on 1 out of 7 categories of your choice such as airfare, hotels, and US gas stations.
8. Barclaycard Arrival Plus
The 40,000 Arrival miles you earn are worth $400 in statement credits towards travel purchases of $100+. Plus, you’ll earn a 5% rebate on miles you redeem for travel expenses including cruises, taxis, ferries, and attractions, and Airbnb.
9. Chase Southwest Cards
You can currently earn 50,000 Southwest points with both the Chase Southwest Premier personal and small business cards. To get the bonus, spend $2,000 on purchases on each card within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
The $99 annual fee on each card is NOT waived the 1st year.
With the Southwest Companion Pass, a friend or family member can fly with you for close to free for up to 2 years!
Trying to decide which card to apply for next?
Chase is getting strict about approving credit card applications. I’ve told you in the past that if you’ve applied for ~5 or more new cards within the last 24 months, your application may be denied. This could soon also include Chase Ink business cards as well as airline and hotel branded cards.
While we haven’t heard anything official from Chase and there are some exceptions, I recommend signing-up for Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, Hyatt, British Airways, and Southwest Premier personal & small business sooner than later!
You can find an updated list of my favorite cards any time in the Hot Deals tab.