Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Emily and I love to help folks get Big Travel with Small Money! So we’re starting a new series to help readers with their credit card strategy, so they can achieve their travel goals!
Our first question is from Million Mile Secrets reader Chandra, who emailed:
I just got the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and United MileagePlus® Explorer Card and have more than 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and 70,000 United Airlines miles. My daughter and I want to travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, in June 2018. I’ve been looking for available award seats on United Airlines and there are basically none. Will more open up before then? What’s your suggestion for my next cards?
Chandra is off to a fantastic start collecting miles and points. And her goal to save money on 2 flights to Hawaii is within reach.
I’ll share 3 cards Chandra might consider to help with her trip to Hawaii or other future vacations.
Collecting Flexible Points Is the Best Way to Save Money on Travel
Reader Chandra got the Sapphire Preferred, which is the top card I recommend for beginners. It earns my favorite, flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer directly to airline and hotel partners.
Between Chandra’s balance of United Airlines miles and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, she already has enough miles & points to book 2 round-trip United Airlines award flights to Hawaii. Because low-level round-trip coach award tickets to Hawaii cost 45,000 United Airlines miles per person. And remember, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.
If you don’t see award seats available now, be patient. Also, having flexibility with your travel dates can help you find more award seats. You might consider using a tool like Expert Flyer to notify you if award seats become available.
For example, you can transfer points to Singapore Airlines from any of the 4 major flexible points programs. Then, book an award flight on United Airlines because both airlines are part of the Star Alliance.
You’ll actually use fewer Singapore Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii on United Airlines because a round-trip award flight costs 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles. You can read my step-by-step guide to redeeming Singapore Airlines miles for a United Airlines award flight. Team member Keith did this and loved that booking this way saved him miles!
Using this strategy, Chandra can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points (or other flexible points) to Singapore Airlines and book one award flight to Hawaii. Then, use United Airlines miles to book a second ticket on the same flight!
Save on Flights, Hotels, or Travel Expenses With These 3 Cards!
Here are cards Chandra might consider to help with her travel goals!
1. Citi ThankYou Premier
With the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you can earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points when you sign-up and spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.
You’ll also get these perks:
- 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel
- 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment
- No foreign transaction fees
The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
Similar to the Sapphire Preferred, you can use Citi ThankYou points linked to the ThankYou Premier card to book $625 in paid travel (1.25 cents per point) with no blackout dates through the Citi travel portal.
Or you can transfer Citi ThankYou points directly to airline and hotel transfer partners. For example, Chandra could transfer points to Singapore Airlines and book a United Airlines award flight to Hawaii. Then, use her Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a different trip. Or another seat on the same flight!
2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Because Chandra already collects Chase Ultimate Rewards points, getting this card can help boost her points balance!
When you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel booked through Chase! So the Sapphire Reserve can increase the value of your existing Chase Ultimate Rewards points. So Chandra could use her points to fly to Hawaii without having to worry about finding open award seats!
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card also comes with:
- 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel & dining
- Up to $300 statement credit for travel purchases (like airfare, Airbnb, hotels, car rental, Uber, etc.) each calendar year
- Priority Pass Select for access to airport lounges
- $100 statement credit for Global Entry
- No foreign transaction fees
Keep in mind, this card is impacted by Chase’s “5/24 rule.”
3. Capital One Venture
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.
You’ll also get:
- 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
- NO foreign transaction fees
The card’s $59 annual fee is waived the first year.
Folks love earning Venture miles because Capital One’s rewards program is so straightforward. You can redeem the miles in any amount for any travel-related purchase, including airfare.
Million Mile Secrets reader Chandra wants to travel to Hawaii using miles & points. She recently earned sign-up bonuses on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and United MileagePlus Explorer cards. So she has enough miles & points to book 2 low-level round-trip United Airlines award flights.
Remember, there are lots of advantages of collecting flexible points with programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards. One perk is you can use points with different banks to book multiple airline tickets on the same flight.
For example, you can transfer points to Singapore Airlines from any of the 4 major flexible points programs. Then, book a discounted United Airlines award flight to Hawaii.
To save money on hotels in Hawaii or for other future trips, reader Chandra might consider: