Don’t Miss Free Budget Travel With These 3 Simple Reward Programs

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If you like to travel cheap by flying budget airlines and staying at hostels, but still want to get free travel, this post is for you!

Collecting flexible points is usually the best way to get Big Travel with Small Money.  But depending on your travel goals, you could be better off earning simpler rewards.

Credit Cards For Budget Travelers
Budget Travelers Can Save Money on Hostel Stays and Other Purchases by Using the Right Credit Card Rewards!

For example, Million Mile Secrets reader, Pat, commented:

What would you suggest for someone like me who already has lots of flexible points with American Express and Chase, but has a hard time redeeming them?  I am a budget traveler and prefer to stay in hostels and book low-cost airlines in Europe and Asia.

Folks like Pat can do well with credit cards that earn simple rewards.  This includes cash back or miles that can offset any travel purchase!

Here are 3 cards I’d recommend.

3 Cards With Simple Rewards Programs for Cost Conscious Travelers

1.   Capital One Venture

Link:   Capital One® Venture® Card

Link:   My Review of the Capital One Venture Card

Lots of folks love how easy it is to redeem miles for just about any travel purchase with the Capital One Venture card.

Simply pay for hostel stays, cheap airfare, taxi fares, and much more with 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!

Credit Cards For Budget Travelers
Booking a Cheap Ryanair Flight Within Europe? Pay With the Capital One Venture Card and Use Miles to Offset the Charge

When you sign-up for the Capital One Venture card, you’ll earn 40,000 Venture miles (worth $400 in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

The best part is there’s no minimum redemption amount, unless you’re using miles to partially pay for a travel purchase.  In that case, the minimum is 2,500 Venture miles ($25).

With the Capital One Venture card, you also get

  • Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • $59 annual fee, waived the first year

And here’s a list of sample travel purchases you can offset using Venture miles:

Credit Cards For Budget Travelers
Venture Miles Are an Excellent Way to Save on Travel Expenses Like Eurostar Tickets

It’s nice to have the flexibility to redeem rewards whenever you want without having to worry about blackout dates!  Check out my post with smart ways to use Venture miles for Big Travel!

2.   Bank of America Premium Rewards

Link:   My Review of the Bank of America Premium Rewards card

The new Bank of America Premium Rewards card can be a good fit for folks looking to earn a valuable sign-up bonus that’s easy to redeem!

With this card, you’ll earn 50,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.  You can redeem points for 1 cent each, which makes the sign-up bonus worth $500!  And you can redeem points for:

  • Cash back (as a statement credit)
  • Deposit to a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account
  • Travel purchases through the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Gift cards

You must redeem at least 2,500 points ($25) at a time.

Credit Cards For Budget Travelers
Budget Travelers Can Stretch the $500 Sign-Up Bonus With the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card!
Bank of America Premium Rewards cardholders also get:
  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases
  • 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $100 airline incidental credit (per calendar year)
  • $100 Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee, NOT waived the first year

And if you’re a part of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program, you’ll get an improved earning rate with your card.

The annual $100 airline incidental credit can come in handy, especially for folks traveling on budget airlines.  Because it covers things like checked baggage feesin-flight entertainment, and in-flight food.

3.   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

You can get $420 worth of travel with the sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card.  You’ll earn 40,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles (worth $400) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

And when you redeem miles for travel purchases, you’ll receive a 5% rebate.  But you can’t redeem miles unless the purchase is at least $100.

Travel purchases include things like airfare, car rentals, hotels, hostels, and Airbnb.

Credit Cards For Budget Travelers
You Can Use Arrival Miles to Cover the Cost of a Cozy Airbnb!

With this card, you’ll also earn 2 miles per $1 on all purchases.  And the $89 annual fee is waived the first year.

Another perk of this card is the Chip + PIN capabilities.  This feature can come in handy if you’re traveling in Europe.  I used this feature to pay for gas on my trip to Iceland.

Check out my post on 10 ways to redeem your Barclaycard Arrival miles!

Bottom Line

Free award travel doesn’t have to be fancy!  If you’re a budget traveler, you can use rewards with credit cards to save money on hostel stays, car rentals, and cheap airfare.

You don’t have to worry about blackout dates or transfer partners when you earn rewards with:

Simply pay for travel with one of the above cards and offset the charges with the miles or points you earn!  Plus, these cards come with lucrative sign-up bonuses.  Like $400 worth of travel with the Capital One Venture card!

Which credit card rewards do you use to save on budget travel?

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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