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Easy-Peasy! 6 Cards With the Simplest Travel Awards

Easy-Peasy! 6 Cards With the Simplest Travel Awards

Million Mile SecretsEasy-Peasy! 6 Cards With the Simplest Travel AwardsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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When you’re new to miles & points, it can be overwhelming to hear about the many types of credit card rewards you can earn.  And there are so many different travel cards available that selecting one can seem like a daunting task!

To set Big Travel goals, like Emily’s recent trip to Tokyo, you’ll have to invest time and have patience to learn the secrets of booking award travel.

Best Credit Cards For Easy Travel Awards 2017
With Easy to Redeem Credit Card Miles or Points, You Can Easily Book a Free or Discounted Trip to Destinations Like New York City

 

But if you’re looking for a quick way to save money on travel, there are plenty of fantastic cards that earn easy to use miles or points.

I’ll share the 6 best credit cards for easy travel awards!

Earn Easy to Use Miles & Points With These Travel Credit Cards!

Link:   Best Card Strategy for Beginners in 2017

I recommend applying for Chase credit cards before you sign-up for cards from other banks.  Especially cards that earn my favorite Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Because Chase has some of the most valuable credit cards for getting Big Travel with Small Money!  But the bank has strict application rules, which make it harder to get approved for many of them if you apply for other cards first.

That said, you should choose the card that works best for you!  Here are 6 cards that offer easy to use travel rewards.

1.   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   My Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

When you sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  This is the #1 card I recommend for beginners!

At a minimum, the sign-up bonus is worth $500 in cash back.  But it’s worth 25% more ($625) when you book any flight, hotel stay, or car rental through the Chase travel portal.  The site is super easy to use and allows you to book travel anywhere without having to worry about blackout dates!

Best Credit Cards For Easy Travel Awards 2017
The Sapphire Preferred Sign-Up Bonus Is Worth $625 Toward Travel Through the Chase Portal! It’s Simple to Use the Site to Redeem Points for Trips to Popular Places Like Venice Beach, California!

With the the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll also get: 

  • 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel & dining purchases
  • 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on everything else
  • No foreign transaction fees

The card has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year.  So you can try the card for ~10 months to see if you like it.  Then, decide if you want to keep, cancel, or downgrade!

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott has kept the Chase Sapphire Preferred for many years because he likes earning 2X points at restaurants overseas with no foreign transaction fees!

Best Credit Cards For Easy Travel Awards 2017
Pay for Meals Overseas With Your Sapphire Preferred Card and You’ll Earn 2X Points and Won’t Pay Any Foreign Transaction Fees

And this card also makes the points you earn with no annual fee cards like the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited more valuable.  Because you can move points to your Sapphire Preferred account and transfer points directly to travel partners like Hyatt and United Airlines.  That’s how Emily and I love to use these flexible points to get Big Travel with Small Money!

2.   Capital One Venture

Link:   My Review of the Capital One Venture Card

Lots of folks love how simple it is to earn and redeem miles with the Capital One Venture card.  Million Mile Secrets reader Dawn recently commented and said this card is overlooked in the miles & points world.

The Capital One Venture card offers 40,000 Venture miles (worth $400 in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

Venture miles are worth 1 cent each toward just about all travel purchases, including airfare, hotels, Uber, and more.  To redeem miles, just pay for a travel purchase with your card.  Then, you have 90 days to sign-in to your online account, find the travel purchase, and “erase” it with your miles!

Best Credit Cards For Easy Travel Awards 2017
Team Member Joseph Used the Capital One Venture Sign-Up Bonus to Pay for Part of His Trip to Barbados!

With this card, you’ll also get:

  • 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
  • NO foreign transaction fees

The card has a $59 annual fee, which is waived the first year.  Team member Keith tried this card for ~1 year.  Then, downgraded to the no annual fee Capital One® Quicksilver® Card.

3.   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you’ll earn 50,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Similar to the Capital One Venture card, you can pay all types of travel with this card, like an Airbnb stay or cruise.  Then, use Arrival miles to offset charges.

The sign-up bonus is effectively worth $525 in statement credits.  Because you’ll receive 5% of your miles back when you redeem them for travel.  But keep in mind, the minimum redemption for travel purchases is $100.

Best Credit Cards For Easy Travel Awards 2017
Pay for a Cruise With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. Then, Use Arrival Miles to Offset the Charge

With this card, you’ll also get:

  • 2X Barclaycard Arrival miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

This card has an $89 annual fee, which is waived the first year.  This means you can keep the card for ~10 months and then decide if the card is worth the annual fee.

4.   Chase Hyatt

Link:   The Hyatt Credit Card

Link:   My Review of The Hyatt Credit Card

Hyatt has my favorite hotel points program.  Because you can book free nights at fantastic hotels for between 5,000 and 30,000 Hyatt points, depending on the category.

And Hyatt has no blackout dates!  As long as a standard room is available, you can book using points!

You can earn Hyatt points directly with the Chase Hyatt card.  When you sign-up, you’ll earn 40,000 Hyatt points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

You can redeem the sign-up bonus to stay free at the high-end, all-inclusive beachfront Hyatt Zilara resort hotel in Cancun.  Team members Harlan and Scott each found it simple to use Hyatt points for unforgettable stays at this hotel.  Plus, there are in-room jacuzzis, a balcony hammock, top-shelf liquor, delicious food, and a white sand beach you can parasail over!

Best Credit Cards For Easy Travel Awards 2017
Earn Points With the Chase Hyatt Card and Easily Book Free Stays at Hotels Like the All-Inclusive Hyatt Zilara Cancun, Which Has a Swim-Up Bar and a Great Beach!

With this card, you’ll also get:

This card has a $75 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year.  But the free night each cardmember anniversary can easily offset the annual fee.

5.   Chase IHG

Link:   Chase IHG Card

Link:   How to Get Big Travel With the Chase IHG Card

If you like staying at IHG hotel brands, you might consider the Chase IHG card.

You can earn 80,000 IHG points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  And it’s relatively simple to use points to book free nights.  Team member Keith used IHG points to book free stays at 4 hotels in New Zealand for an upcoming trip.

And Million Mile Secrets team member Scott found it easy to use his IHG points to book his parents a beautiful room at the InterContinental Times Square in the Broadway Theater district, even during the popular summer tourist season in New York City.

Best Credit Cards For Easy Travel Awards 2017
Earn Points With the Chase IHG Card and Redeem Them for Free Stays at Hotels Like the InterContinental Times Square!

With this card, you’ll also get:

  • 5 points per $1 spent at IHG hotels
  • 2 points per $1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 5,000 bonus IHG points adding an authorized user and making a purchase within the same 3 month period
  • Free night at ANY IHG hotel after each cardmember anniversary
  • Platinum Elite Status as long as you have the card (50% bonus points, complimentary room upgrades if available, priority check-in)
  • 10% points rebate (up to 100,000 points back per year)
  • No foreign transaction fees

The card has a $49 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.  But the free night on your cardmember anniversary can easily offset the fee.  That’s one reason I keep this card in my wallet year after year!

6.   AMEX Starwood

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Folks who like Starwood hotels can earn points for free stays directly with the AMEX Starwood card.  And because of the Starwood-Marriott merger, you can instantly and easily move points from your Starwood account to Marriott or Ritz-Carlton loyalty account and book free stays at these hotel chains.

With the AMEX Starwood card, you earn 25,000 Starwood points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

Best Credit Cards For Easy Travel Awards 2017
Use Starwood Points to Book Free Nights at Hotels Like the Aloft Houston Downtown

With this card, you’ll also get:

  • Starwood points per $1 you spend at StarwoodMarriott, and Ritz-Carlton hotels
  • 2 stay credits or 5 night credits toward Starwood elite status
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to AMEX Offers, which can save you money on everyday purchases
  • Free in-room internet at participating Starwood hotels

And the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year!

Bottom Line

Earning easy to redeem miles or points with a travel credit card can be a terrific way to get started in miles & points hobby!  These 6 cards are my top picks with simple rewards programs:

With any of these cards, you don’t have to waste time learning complicated points systems.  And they all offer lucrative sign-up bonuses, which can save you lots of money on travel!

What’s your favorite card for a simple rewards program?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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