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.
When you are trying to get the most bang for buck with your credit card purchases, it’s not always clear which card is your best option.
If you do most of your travel with one specific hotel chain or airline, it can make sense to get a co-branded credit card. Because often they offer the best perks and bonuses for spending with that company. For example, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express card earns 14 Hilton points per $1 spent with Hilton!
But what should you do when your travel purchases are spread out among many different airlines and hotels? And what is the best way to get rewarded for spending with independent travel providers that don’t have loyalty programs?
Million Mile Secret Agent Todd asked:
Thanks for the question, Todd!
You’ll want to keep your business & personal expenses separate. And getting a small business card is an easy way to do this. Many business cards sync directly with certain accounting software or make it easy to keep track of your expenses with downloadable spreadsheets!
So you’ll probably want to get a business card. But depending on your situation, the extra rewards you could earn with certain personal cards might make them worth considering.
Getting Rewarded for Your Independent Hotel Stays!
Todd knows exactly where his expenses are going, so it makes choosing a card much easier. Hotel stays are almost always classified as travel expenses. This is great because lots of credit cards earn bonus points for travel purchases!
But sometimes independent hotels or boutique bed and breakfasts will be coded differently by your credit card provider. For example, it seems that all card issuers will classify vacation rentals made through VBRO as real estate, NOT as a hotel or travel purchase!
Airbnb bookings typically qualify as travel, but it can vary. Popular cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi ThankYou Premier classify Airbnb as travel. But it’s always a good idea to call the bank or Google other folks’ experiences if you aren’t certain.
Here are 3 cards that could be VERY rewarding for Todd’s non-chain hotel stays.
1. The Business Platinum® Card From American Express OPEN
The AMEX Business Platinum card earns 5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on prepaid hotels (and airfare) booked on amextravel.com. That’s 250,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points ($50,000 hotel expenses X 5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1) Todd could earn every year for his business hotel expenses!
Then, using AMEX’s Pay with Points feature, Todd could redeem AMEX Membership Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent each toward airfare. And with the AMEX Business Platinum card you get a 35% points rebate (up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year) when you Pay with Points for certain airfare. But you could get even more value when you transfer your points to AMEX’s travel partners.
You’ll want to make sure you can book the hotel (or hotels) you stay at the most through the AMEX travel center BEFORE you apply for this card! Because if you can’t, you’ll only earn 1 AMEX Membership Rewards point per $1. 🙁
Also, be sure to review the terms, because non-prepaid hotel bookings and hotel group reservations or events will NOT qualify for the bonus!
The AMEX Business Platinum card currently earns a bonus of 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. And you’ll earn an extra 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of card membership.
With the Business Platinum card, you’ll also get:
- 1.5X AMEX Membership Rewards points on single purchases of $5,000+
- 35% of your points back for ALL First Class or Business Class flights booked through the AMEX travel portal using Pay With Points
- 35% of your points back for all flights, including coach tickets, booked with your selected airline through the AMEX travel portal using Pay With Points
- Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for airline incidentals with your selected airline (luggage fees, in-flight food & drink, etc.)
- Ability to book hotel stays through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts
- AMEX Premium Roadside Assistance
- Access to airport lounges (Delta, Priority Pass, Airspace, and American Express Centurion Lounges)
- Bonus points or statement credits when taking advantage of an AMEX Offer
- Elite car rental status with Avis, Executive status with National Car Rental, and Gold Plus Rewards with Hertz
- Free Hilton Honors Gold elite status (free breakfast and upgrades when available)
- Free Starwood Gold elite status, which you can use to instantly match to Marriott Gold elite status
- 10 free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes each calendar year
- Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- Terms & limitations apply
The AMEX Business Platinum card also has a $450 annual fee which is NOT waived the first year. AMEX limits folks to earning the welcome bonus ONCE per lifetime per card. So if you’ve had this card in the past (even if it was for another business), you won’t be able to earn the intro bonus again.
There is also a personal Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns the same 5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on prepaid hotels (and flights booked directly with the airlines) booked through the AMEX travel center. But the personal AMEX Platinum card does NOT come with the 35% points rebate when Paying with Points for certain airfare.
2. Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card earns 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year (and 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 after that) in the following categories:
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable, and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
Hotel expenses will earn the travel spending bonus with the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. So you won’t need to worry about booking through any special portal to earn your extra 150,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points a year ($50,000 hotel expenses X 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1)!
You can redeem Chase Ultimate Reward points for 1 cent each as a statement credit. But your points will be 25% more valuable if you use them to book travel through the Chase Travel Portal with your Chase Ink Business Preferred card! And if you take advantage of Chase’s excellent transfer partners, your Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be worth even more!
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card currently comes with an 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards point bonus after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. And there are a lot of fun things you can do with this bonus!
You’ll also get:
- 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all other non-bonus category purchases
- Up to $600 in cell phone insurance when you pay your cell phone bill with the card
- Primary auto rental insurance (CDW) when renting for business purposes, plus purchase and extended warranty protection
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card’s $95 annual fee is NOT waived the first year.
If you’re looking for a personal card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card also earns 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on travel purchases!
3. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
Link: Capital One Venture Card
You can earn 10 Capital One Venture miles per $1 spent at Hotels.com with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card (through January 31, 2020). Capital One Venture miles are worth 1 cent each as a statement credit toward travel purchases, so you’ll effectively be getting 10% back on all your hotel stays!
Todd could earn a whopping $5,000 in cash back for the year ($50,000 hotel expenses X 10%) with these cards!
And you can stack this deal with the Hotels.com Rewards program. So you’ll still be able to get every 10th night booked with Hotels.com free, in addition to the 10% cash back you can earn with your Capital One Venture cards!
BUT to earn the bonus, you must book through this link and pay with your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card at the time of booking. And reservations made over the phone, the Hotels.com mobile app, bookings for groups, bookings that include flights, and bookings where payment is made at the hotel are excluded.
So be sure the hotels you want to stay at are available to book through this link BEFORE you apply for this card.
The card also has the following perks:
- 2 Capital One Venture miles per $1 you spend on ALL purchases
- No foreign transaction fees
- $95 annual fee is WAIVED the first year
The Capital One VentureOne card comes with 20,000 Capital One Venture miles after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
It also comes with:
- 1.25 Capital One Venture Miles per $1 on all purchases
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
Both of these are personal credit cards. If you’re interested in a small business Capital One card, you could get the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business which earns 2% cash back on all purchases. Or you could get the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, which earns 2X Capital One Spark miles on every purchase. But these cards do NOT earn the 10% bonus for booking with Hotels.com.
When it comes to staying at non-chain hotels, you do NOT have to miss out on earning Big Travel with Small Money.
With the AMEX Platinum business or personal cards, you can earn 5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on prepaid hotels and airfare booked directly with the airlines through the AMEX travel center.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred & Chase Sapphire Reserve both earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel purchases. But the Chase Ink Business Preferred only earns the bonus on the first $150,000 of combined purchases from several categories per anniversary year.
And if you love simple rewards, you can earn 10 Capital One Venture miles per $1 spent on Hotels.com reservations made through this link and paid for at the time of booking with your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card.
Thanks for the question, Todd!