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Best Travel Credit Cards July 2019: Top Offers for Caribbean Vacations, Trips to Europe and More!

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Best Travel Credit Cards July 2019: Top Offers for Caribbean Vacations, Trips to Europe and More!

Scott LiebermanBest Travel Credit Cards July 2019: Top Offers for Caribbean Vacations, Trips to Europe and More!Million Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Many of the cards on this list have best-ever or limited-time welcome bonuses to help you get more travel or cash rewards!

Check out our carefully researched list to find the best travel credit cards for your situation. With the best credit card offers right now, you can earn thousands of dollars worth of luxury flights and hotels! Or if you prefer cash back, we found an offer worth $800!

Here at Million Mile Secrets, we constantly track down the best credit card rewards for you. We reveal the real deals and toss away the junk. And we’ll tell you which credit cards we use personally!

Best Travel Credit Cards July 2019:

How We Select the Best Travel Credit Card

You know how you get credit card offers in the mail and throw them away? Not us! We open them all, excitedly run to get our magnifying glass and read the fine print! And we spend all day looking for new credit card offers online. Then we dive in to calculate the true value of the offer.

We let you in on the secrets that the airlines, hotels and cruise ship companies do NOT want you to know! 

Credit card intro bonuses are the fastest way to earn big travel rewards WITHOUT spending a ton of money. But here’s the thing — you have to know the smart ways to use these bonuses. That’s how we help you. We make it easy.

We examine the…

Bonus Offer: Credit card companies profit each time you use their card and when you pay them interest (so pay those bills on time!). Like any business, they want more customers. So they create offers where you can earn a serious stash of miles or cash when you first open your new card. Some bonuses are VERY appealing — while others are not! We sort it all out for you.

Minimum Spending Requirement: Here’s the “catch.” To earn the intro bonus, you must spend a certain amount using your new card within a certain time frame. We like reasonable spending requirements that make it easy to get your bonus. We do list cards with bigger requirements but ONLY if the reward is huge.

We love seeing how regular people like you get to travel first class, stay in amazing hotel or earn lots of cash using our insider tips. For example, our reader Lori is an English teacher who took trip to Asia worth over $30,000 for only $500. Like me, she’s a big fan of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. And she took it on her epic adventure to Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Ongoing Bonus Opportunities: We prefer travel credit cards that KEEP rewarding you, even after you earn the initial big welcome bonus.

Benefits: Airport lounges with complimentary food and alcohol, no foreign transaction fees, and TSA PreCheck are some of my favorite perks that save money AND time.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each card’s bonus offer, best perk and annual fee.

 

 

Intro Bonus Offer Best Perk Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining $95
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening Unlimited 2X miles on all purchases $95, waived the first year
The Platinum Card® from American Express 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 on purchases with your new Card in the first three months. Terms Apply. Up to $200 in Uber credit annually and up to $200 in airline fee credits for your selected airline every year. Terms Apply. $550 (see rates & fees)
Citi Premier℠ Card 60,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening 60,000 points are worth $750 for airfare with no blackout dates on ThankYou.com (similar to Expedia) $95
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Terms Apply. Up to $300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, including room rates! Terms Apply. $450 (see rates & fees)
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Terms Apply. Up to $250 Hilton resort credit each card-member year and up to $250 airline fee credit with your selected airline each calendar year. Terms Apply. $450 (see rates & fees)
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles, plus Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22) after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening account Annual companion fare for $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22) $50 for the company and $25 per card
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases in first three months of account opening Free first checked bag for you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation (domestic flights only) $99, waived the first 12 months
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening Intro bonus gets you over halfway to earning a Southwest Companion Pass! $99

 

 

Visit legendary Stonehenge, like I did! It’s easy to get free flights to Europe (and the rest of the world!) with credit card points to experience history and delicious food. (Photo by Scott Lieberman/Million Mile Secrets)

Million Mile Secrets readers and team members make the most of the best credit card offers to unlock free travel. And redeem miles & points to travel cheaply to destinations like Disney World, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and many others!

Want to see what it’s like when you master the Million Mile Secrets? Here’s a video:

Always wear your seat belt and always be responsible with credit! If you’re new to rewards credit cards, be sure to read our post with myths associated with applying for new cards. Many folks are pleasantly surprised to discover it’s possible to keep 20 or more credit cards open AND maintain an excellent credit score! This is my exact situation. My score is still excellent because I always pay my bills on time.

And remember, you shouldn’t necessarily shy away from credit cards with annual fees. Many of the best credit card offers have annual fees, but terrific ongoing perks (like annual travel credits!) that can easily offset the expense! When I started out, I really didn’t like the idea of an annual fee. So I started out with no annual fee cards like Ink Business Cash. But now I do the math to decide when a “premium” card is worth it.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the #1 card we recommend for beginners in the miles and points hobby. I’ve had this credit card for many years and I take it on all my trips.

Bonus: When you apply, you’ll earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

Yeah, and that means?

To get big-time travel, you want to book what’s known as an “award flight.” You can transfer your Chase points to various airline partner loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. One Chase point will convert to one partner airline mile. For example:

You’ll have at least 64,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (because you earn points on the $4,000 minimum spend too). Here are just a few of your many options:

  • 60,000 United Airlines miles to fly round-trip to Europe
  • 60,000 United Airlines miles to fly business class one-way to Europe or 70,000 miles to fly on their partner airlines (Whoa.  That would cost ~$4,000 if you paid cash!)  I  did this maneuver. I had a stash of 140,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points built-up from intro bonuses and regular spending. And I moved them to United Airlines. And that gave me access to United Airlines’ cousin airlines to fly business class round-trip to Europe.
  • 35,000 United Airlines miles to fly round-trip to the Caribbean or Central America. Meghan on our team did this to save over $700 on a fun last-minute trip to explore beautiful Belize!
The best travel credit card for beginners is Chase Sapphire Preferred. Here I am in the mountains of Poland holding the credit card
I used points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to fly business class to Europe and explore Morskie Oko in the Tatra mountains. (Photo by Scott Lieberman/Million Mile Secrets)

Or you can redeem the welcome bonus for $600 in cash back or $750 in travel when you book through the Chase Travel Portal. You’ll get potentially much more value if you transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt.

Ongoing Earning Potential:

  • 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining
  • 1x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all other purchases

Examples of what counts as “travel” and earns 2x Chase points:

  • Toll bridges and highways
  • Parking lots and garages
  • Airlines (including tickets, baggage fees, change fees, etc.)
  • Hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds
  • Vacation rentals like Airbnb (I’ve earned double points everywhere from Cancun to Krakow this way)
  • Car rental agencies
  • Cruise lines
  • Travel agencies
  • Discount travel sites like Travelocity and Expedia
  • Trains like Amtrak, subway and metro tickets
  • Buses like city bus tickets, Greyhound, Megabus
  • Taxis, Limos, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft (double points to the airport!)
  • Ferries (random travel tip: Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn in Estonia to experience their Old Town)

Using Your Points: You’ve got three incredible options.

1. Transfer to Chase’s terrific travel partners like British Airways, United Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Singapore Airlines and more!

2. Use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points in their travel portal. This is quick and easy.

3. Cash back.

Options 2 and 3 are super simple and satisfying.

Option 1 takes a bit of learning but results in amazing experiences – the kind that give you a feeling of sticking it to “the man” and feeling superior over all your former friends who you are now too cool to associate with.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio directly to the following airlines:

  • Singapore Airlines (This is how you fly to Australia in first class in an actual bed)
  • Aer Lingus (Ireland!)
  • British Airways (This is the secret to cheap flights to Hawaii from the West Coast and cheap flights within Europe and Asia)
  • United Airlines (This is how I fly to Europe. And I don’t fly on United Airlines, I use their partners)
  • Flying Blue (KLM and Air France)
  • Iberia
  • Southwest (No blackout dates + two free checked bags)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • JetBlue (No blackout dates + the most legroom in coach)

And they transfer to these hotel programs:

  • Hyatt (the BEST use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels. This is how I stayed at the Hyatt Zilara all-inclusive on the beach for $0 per night instead of $500 per night. I was very happy sipping margaritas while in the pool that overlooked the ocean)
  • Marriott
  • IHG (they have brands you know like InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn)
Using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I got a free business class flight to Europe this summer. (Photo by Scott Lieberman/Million Mile Secrets)

Benefits:

Primary car rental insurance: Covers damage due to theft or collision to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card.

Trip delay reimbursement: Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay for expenses such as meals and lodging (because they may not reimburse you for your usual snack of Beluga caviar, stick to the store-brand caviar)

Extended Warranty Protection: Extends the time period of the US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less

Baggage Delay Insurance: Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for five days. (So when the airline stinks, you don’t have to.)

When you’re approved, be sure to read the full details in the Guide to Benefits.

No foreign transaction fee: Hooray! That’s why I take my Chase Sapphire Preferred everywhere I travel. It’s a Visa credit card so it’s accepted just about everywhere and there are no nonsense international fees.

Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Worth the Annual Fee?

The $95 annual fee is 100% worth itI’ve paid this fee year after year. Remember, when you earn the welcome bonus that’s $600 cash, or $750 in travel with no blackout dates, or over $1,000 in award travel. So just subtract $95 from that and it’s pretty clear. (If you do decide to cancel after a year or so, it’s seriously hassle-free.)

Do you qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred? Chase has the final say. Here are guidelines:

You have the best chance of being approved when you have excellent credit. Your score is likely high enough if it’s over 750. I wouldn’t recommend applying if your score is below 725, although you never know.

There are other factors Chase will use to determine if they want to allow you to have this metal credit card. They may consider your income, your banking relationship with them, etc. Again, this is Chase’s card and they make the final determination on whether or not to let you have it.

That said, they created this card and bonus for a reason. So don’t be shy! When I was approved for my Chase Sapphire Preferred I had an 800 credit score (still do) and a middle class income.

Important: If you’re in one of these three categories, you very likely will NOT be approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred:

1. You have opened five or more new credit cards from any bank within the past 24 months. But wait, this does NOT count small business cards from American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo.

2. You already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred OR a Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

3. You earned the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve in the past 48 months.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Bottom Line: This is our #1 pick for people who are beginners to travel credit cards and airline miles and points. This was my first “premium” travel credit card and I still have it and use it to this day.

Further Reading:

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Apply here: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Card

Bonus: You can earn 50,000 Venture miles (worth $500 in travel) by applying for the Capital One Venture card and spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.

The card has a straightforward rewards program, which means the miles are easy to redeem. All you have to do is pay for travel expenses (like airfare, hotel stays, parking, and much more) with your credit card. Then, log-in to your account and “erase” the charge by redeeming your miles.

The Capital One Venture is perhaps the best credit card for points that you can use for nearly ANYTHING travel related. Check out this post with outside-the-box ways to redeem Venture miles, like Costco travel packages!

Benefits:

In addition to the card’s valuable sign-up bonus, you’ll get:

  • 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
  • Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • 10 Venture miles per $1 you spend on hotel stays booked and paid for with your card through the special hotels . com link they give you (through January 31, 2020)
  • NO foreign transaction fees

Cards that offer to reimburse Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees usually have much higher annual fees (often between $450 and $550). But this card has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year!
The card also comes with Visa Signature Benefits, which include:

  • Rental car insurance – Secondary protection for damage due to collision or theft
  • Travel accident insurance – Up to $250,000 insurance for accidental loss of life, limb, sight, speech, or hearing
  • Lost luggage insurance – Up to $3,000 per trip, provided the luggage was lost from theft or misdirection by the airline, cruise, etc.

Further Reading:

Apply here for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Here: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Read our review of the American Express Platinum

Bonus: With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Benefits: With the Amex Platinum, you’ll earn:

  • 5 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare (booked either directly with the airline or through Amex Travel)
  • 5 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked on Amex Travel
  • 1 Amex Membership Rewards point per dollar on everything else
  • $200 annual airline incidental fee credit on your selected airline
  • Up to $200 in Uber credit per year
  • Up to $100 in credits for Saks Fifth Avenue per year
  • Statement credit every four years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85)  (if you already have this, you can buy it for your travel partner)
  • Terms Apply

The $200 airline fee credit, Saks Fifth Avenue credits and Uber credits all reset. And you can use the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit every four years.

Another benefit that makes the American Express Platinum card worth it is the exceptional airport lounge access you get with the card. With this card (or the business version of it) you’ll be able to access more airport lounges than what any other card can get you into. And you’ll be able to use Amex’s Centurion airport lounges, which are some of the best airport lounges because of their meals and buffets, premium alcoholic beverages, showers, conference spaces and fast Wi-Fi.

Airports are loud and the food is overpriced. Instead, use your Amex Platinum card for complimentary access to comfortable exclusive spaces with food and drinks:

  • Airspace lounges for you and up to two guests or immediate family
  • Amex Centurion lounges for you and up to two guests
  • Amex International Lounges
  • Escape lounges for you and up to two guests
  • Delta SkyClub lounges (when traveling with Delta)
  • Priority Pass lounges for you and up to two guests

If you want to check and see what lounges you could be visiting at your home airport or favorite airport, check out this post on how to find Amex Platinum airport lounges.

Annual Fee: The card has a $550 annual fee, which is not waived (See rates & fees). But if you actually use the perks and credits, you’ll easily come out ahead.

Further Reading:

Apply here: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Citi Premier℠ Card 

Apply here:  Citi Premier Card

Or read our full review of the Citi Premier Card

Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. I have this credit card. 

And 60,000 Citi ThankYou points means what exactly?

Delta One Business Class Seat
With 60,000 Citi ThankYou Points, You Can Fly in a Business Class Bed on Delta, Be Served a High Quality Meal, and Wash It Down With a Nice Selection of Adult Beverages

Here are just a few examples of fun travel you can do with Citi ThankYou points:

  • Fly round-trip to Hawaii on United Airlines by transferring 35,000 Citi points to United’s partner, Singapore Airlines (we show you how to do these lucrative tricks!)
  • Fly one-way in Business Class to Europe or Japan by transferring 50,000 Citi points to Etihad
  • 2 round-trip flights to London from Boston, New York, Newark, or Washington, DC during off-peak season by transferring your Citi points to Virgin Atlantic
  • Fly one-way in super comfortable Delta One Business Class from Atlanta or Seattle to Tokyo by turning 60,000 Citi points into Virgin Atlantic miles
  • Fly one-way in Delta One Business Class from Detroit to Paris by transferring 50,000 Citi points to Virgin Atlantic
  • 2 round-trip coach flights between New York City and Vancouver on Cathay Pacific by moving your Citi points to Asia miles.  Or enjoy 1 round-trip flight in Cathay Pacific’s amazing Business Class on this route using just 50,000 of your Citi points

Team member Harlan has had success transferring his Citi ThankYou points to fly to Europe, fly his family to Hawaii, and more!

And Jasmin has flown with her kids from Vancouver to New York in Cathay Pacific Business Class and loved it!

Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge Vancouver
Complimentary Wine and Wi-Fi Equals Airport Paradise!  Team Member Jasmin Flew Business Class Using Points.  She Took This Photo of the Cathay Pacific Lounge in Vancouver.  Remember, Not Only Do You Get the Business Class Seat/Bed, You Also Get Entrance to the Peaceful Business Class Airport Lounge With Food, Snacks, and Cocktails (Photo by Jasmin Baron/Million Mile Secrets)

If you don’t want to transfer your points, you can keep things dead simple instead… use your 60,000 Citi ThankYou points in the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal (it’s just like using Expedia and the prices almost always match). You’ll get 25% off your flight! 

Because your points are worth 1.25 cents each there. So your 60,000 points are worth $750. If there’s a flight for sale, you can book it! There are no blackout dates or other games like that.

I’ve used my Citi ThankYou points this way when I wanted a specific coach flight to Europe on a specific date. It was super easy.

Ongoing Earning Potential:

  • 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations, airfare, hotels, car rental agencies, parking, tolls, and more
  • 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent at restaurants and on select entertainment like amusement parks, museums, sporting events, movie theaters, and more
  • 1 Citi ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases

For example, I recently used my Citi Premier Card to pay for concert tickets to see Slightly Stoopid to earn double points!

Benefits:

Extended Warranty:   By paying for an eligible item with the Citi Premier card, you can extend the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional 24 months (total coverage between both the manufacturer’s warranty and extended warranty cannot exceed 84 months). See the complete Guide to Benefits for all the details. I can tell you that I always make expensive purchases with a credit card that has this feature. That way I can turn down the rip-off extended warranty they offer at the store.

No Foreign Transaction Fee:  Use your Citi Premier card anywhere in the world and never get hit with an “international fee.”  Avoid using credit cards that slap you with a 3% junk fee!

Is the Citi Premier Worth the Annual Fee?  

Yes. It’s only $95 for all the above. Use your points for $1,000+ worth of flights using our tips. Or for $750 worth of flights the super easy way in their travel portal.

Do you qualify for the Citi Premier?  Citi says, “Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou® Preferred, ThankYou® Premier/Citi Premier℠ or Citi Prestige® card opened or closed in the past 24 months.” You likely need a credit score around 750 or higher. But of course Citi has the final say! I was approved with an 800 credit score and a middle class income.

Citi Premier Bottom Line: I have this credit card. It’s got some great perks plus the bonus is worth between $750 and $1,000+ for travel depending how you use it.

Further Reading:

Apply here:  Citi Premier Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Apply Here: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Read our Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex review


Bonus: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

75,000 Marriott points is more than enough for a night at a luxury category 7 Marriott hotel (60,000 points per night), like the Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, where rooms can easily cost well over $650.  Or you could stretch your points and use the bonus for 3 nights at a mid-level category 4 hotel (25,000 points per night), like the Four Points by Sheraton Auckland in New Zealand.

Plan a Trip to the Tropical and Vibrant Paradise of Aruba, and Use Your Marriott Points for a Luxurious Stay at the Ritz-Carlton Aruba

Benefits:

In addition to the welcome bonus, you’ll get:

  • 6 Marriott points per $1 at Marriott hotels
  • 3 Marriott points per $1 at US restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2 Marriott points per $1 on everything else
  • Up to $300 annual statement credit to use each card membership year at participating Marriott hotels (including room charges!)
  • Automatic Gold Elite Status (25% bonus points on paid stays, guaranteed late check-out, room upgrades when available)
  • Platinum Elite Status (Welcome gift of either points, breakfast, or an amenity depending on the hotel, lounge access where available, room upgrade, including suites when available) after spending $75,000 on purchases in a calendar year
  • 15 elite night credits every year
  • Annual free night (at participating Marriott hotels worth up to 50,000 points) after you renew your card
  • Up to $100 property credit for qualifying charges when you use your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card to book direct using a special rate for a 2-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (you can bring up to 2 guests)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit (a value of up to $100) every 4 years
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee:

The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees), but the additional money-saving perks make it worth the cost, depending on your situation. The annual free night award is particularly valuable because it’s valid at hotels that cost up to 50,000 Marriott points per night. The free night awards you can earn with other Marriott cards are typically only valid at hotels that cost up to 35,000 points a night. So the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card’s free night gives you more flexibility on where you can use it.

Marriott has hotels all around the world and you’re already likely familiar with many of their brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, and St. Regis. I’ve enjoyed my Marriott stays including those at SpringHill Suites in the US and summertime at the Sheraton Sopot on the beautiful Polish seaside just outside Gdasnk.

Further Reading:

Apply Here: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Apply Here:   The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Read our review of the Hilton Aspire


Bonus: The AMEX Hilton Aspire comes with 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Depending how you use the points, you can get $750 to $900 worth of hotel stays from the bonus!

Hilton doesn’t have an official award chart (yeah, that’s annoying) but you can book a free night for between 5,000 to 95,000 Hilton points.

Benefits: And because you get automatic Hilton elite status as long as you have the card, you’ll get the 5th night free on all award bookings. And this perk isn’t a rebate, so you don’t need enough points for 5 nights in order to book the 5-night stays.

In addition to the bonus points you can earn after meeting the card’s minimum spending requirements, you’ll also get:

  • 14 Hilton points per $1 spent at participating Hilton hotels
  • 7 Hilton points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or AMEX Travel, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at US restaurants
  • 3 Hilton points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual weekend night award (at participating Hilton hotels) every year
  • Automatic Diamond Elite status (100% bonus points on paid stays, upgrades to a suite when available, executive hotel lounge access, etc.)
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access (bring 2 guests for free)
  • Up to $250 annual airline fee credit
  • Up to $250 annual Hilton resort credit at participating resorts
  • Up to $100 property credit at Conrad and Waldorf Astoria hotels per stay of 2+ nights
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: This card has a $450 annual fee (See rates& fees). But it’s a good deal if you use those great perks listed above!
Plus, you’ll earn a second free weekend night award at participating Hilton hotels each calendar year that you spend $60,000+ in eligible purchases on your card.

Further Reading:

Apply Here: Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Alaska Airlines Business Visa Card

Apply Here: Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card

Bonus: You’ll earn 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles and a Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees starting at $22) after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening the Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card

Ongoing Earning Potential: When you spend with this card, you’ll earn:

  • 3 Alaska Airlines miles per dollar spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • 1 Alaska Airlines mile per dollar on everything else

Using Your Points: It’s certainly easy to redeem Alaska Airlines miles for award flights directly on their website. The lowest domestic tier starts at just 5,000 miles each way in coach. But the best use is to fly one of Alaska’s excellent international partners, like Aer Lingus, Finnair, Japan Airlines and many more! 

Alaska Airlines has some incredible partnerships that make their miles even more valuable.

And though award prices vary by airline, there are several sweet spots. And 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles is enough to get you started on a fantastic trip in coach or business class, depending where you want to go.

Benefits: 

You’ll get your first bag checked for free for you and up to six traveling companions. And each year you’re a card member, you’ll get a companion fare that starts at $99 plus taxes and fees (starting at $22) that’s valid on all Alaska Airlines flights with no blackout dates.

Are the Alaska Airlines Cards Worth the Annual Fee? The fee on both cards is $75 annually, and if you check bags or use the companion fare ticket, then yes, it’s absolutely worth keeping! Also if you fly Alaska Airlines a lot, you’ll earn 3x miles when you pay with your card. 

Alaska Airlines Cards Bottom Line: Remember, Bank of America’s small business cards won’t count toward your Chase 5/24 status (personal cards will).

Further Reading:

Apply Here: Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card

 

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Apply here: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Or read our full review of the CitiBusiness AAdvantage

Bonus: Earn 60,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

And 60,000 American Airlines miles means what exactly?

The long flight to Asia is SO much better when you lay down to sleep in Cathay Pacific business class. Book with American Airlines Miles! (Photo by Jason Stauffer/Million Mile Secrets)

Many of you will combine the credit card bonus with your current stash of American Airlines. Or you’ll keep using the card to earn more miles. So here’s an idea of what you can do when you collect more American Airlines miles:

Sleep your way to Australia on Qantas by using American Airlines miles to fly in a business-class bed (Photo by Million Mile Secrets)
  • Fly one-way in business class to Australia or New Zealand for 80,000 American Airlines miles on partner airline Qantas
  • Fly one-way in first class to Japan for 80,000 American Airlines on partner Japan Airlines
  • Fly one-way in first class to Europe for 85,000 American Airlines miles

I’ve got to say, I usually fly coach to save miles and take more trips, but … wow, life sure is better when you’re able to lay down and sleep on a long flight. Plus you’re treated to much tastier food and liquor.

Ongoing Earning Potential:

  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on American Airlines flights
  • 2 American Airlines miles per dollar spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations
  • 1 American Airlines mile per dollar spent on other purchases

Benefits:

Free first checked bag: You get a bag! Your travel companion gets a bag! Everyone gets a bag! OK, up to four travel companions get a free checked bag on the same reservation on domestic American Airlines flights. That’s a huge money saver!

Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights: Nice.

Discounted in-flight Wi-Fi: Get 25% off when you purchase with your card. Not amazing, but I’ll take it. 🙂

No Foreign Transaction Fee: Excellent perk.

Extended Warranty: This benefit doubles the original manufacturer warranty up to a maximum of 12 months on warranties of five years or less for most items you purchase with your eligible CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® Mastercard. So you can feel at ease when you turn down the store’s extra warranty coverage that they try to sell you.

Purchase Protection: You’re covered for most items you purchase with your eligible CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® Mastercard if the item is damaged or stolen within 90 days of the date of purchase. This is a major reason I’ll NEVER make product purchases with a debit card. Your credit card gets you miles – and peace of mind.

Mastercard Easy Savings: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® card members (that’s a mouthful to say) are enrolled to receive automatic rebates on eligible purchases with Mastercard® Easy Savings. OK, so I looked over these and some of the savings are pretty cool. Currently (keep in mind these can change) you can save 4% at many hotels and restaurants. Being a food lover, I took a closer look at the dining perk. Here’s what it says:

Just dine at a restaurant within the Dinova network and use your eligible Mastercard business credit card to pay for your meal as you normally would. Nothing else is required. The rebate will apply to the entire charge, including taxes and tips. The rebate will appear on your statement in the form of a credit.

Woo-hoo! I know what you’re thinking… Dinova network? So I did a quick search of New York City as an example and a ton of restaurants popped up ranging from upscale steakhouses to chain restaurants. So it’s easy to automatically knock 4% off your bill!

Is the CitiBusiness American Airlines Credit Card Worth the Annual Fee? Yes. You pay $0 in year one with the card. Then you pay $99 if you keep it. If you’re flying on American Airlines it’d be hard to NOT make up the annual fee in checked bag savings! I really dislike baggage fees. But at least there’s a way to wiggle out of them.

CitiBusiness American Airlines Card Bottom Line:  You’re going to save a lot of money on baggage fees. You board early. For folks who fly on American Airlines or want to fly on great partner airlines to Hawaii, Europe, Asia and more, this is an excellent deal.

Further Reading:

Apply here: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Read our full Southwest Business Card review

Bonus: Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

This is the highest welcome bonus we’ve seen on the card.

And 60,000 Southwest points means what exactly?

~$900! Because in our experience booking flights, 1 Southwest point generally converts to ~1.5 cents.

Two amazing things about Southwest points:

1. No blackout dates or funny business. If the flight still has seats for sale, you can book it with points.

2. We consider the Southwest Companion Pass to be the best deal in domestic travel. Your designated travel companion flies free with you on all your Southwest flights. These 60,000 points will get you over half-way to the 110,000 Southwest Companion Pass qualifying points you need to earn in one calendar year to get the pass.

Southwest has other great perks:

  • You get two free checked bags on every flight
  • You do NOT pay change or cancel fees on paid or award flights
Bahamas cruise, looking to the beautiful ocean
Because Southwest has no blackout dates, it’s easy to redeem points for flights! Here I am on a Caribbean cruise. Southwest flies all over the US, plus hot spots like the Bahamas, Cancun, Punta Cana, Jamaica, Grand Cayman Island, Los Cabos, Aruba, Costa Rica and more! (Photo by Scott Lieberman/Million Mile Secrets)

Ongoing Earning Potential:

  • 2 Southwest points per dollar on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 1 Southwest point per dollar on everything else
  • 6,000 Southwest points after your card member anniversary (That can be enough to fly from the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas, San Francisco or Portland whenever Southwest has one of its frequent fare sales)

Benefits:

Lost Luggage Reimbursement: If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger when you pay with the card. Now that’s peace of mind.

Extended Warranty Protection: Extends the time period of the US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less. I love earning points for a purchase AND having the warranty extended.

Baggage Delay Insurance: Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours up to $100 a day for three days.

Purchase Protection: Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Free Cards for Employees: You’ll earn points for purchases they make on the cards.

No Foreign Transaction Fee: Hooray! So when you fly Southwest to the Caribbean, you can bring your card and use it with none of those tacky fees that some cards add.

Do you qualify for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card? Yes, if you have a for-profit business. It can be a small business of just you! You’d just mark down sole proprietor on the application and use your social security number. Folks on our team have been approved this way for eBay reselling businesses, renting out a home as a vacation rental and so on.

But if you’re in one of these next two categories … sadness … you’re not eligible:

1. You have opened five or more new credit cards from any bank within the past 24 months. But this does NOT count small business cards from American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo.

2. You already have the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card OR have earned the welcome bonus in the past 24 months.

Is the Southwest Premier Business Card Worth the Annual Fee? Yes. The $99 annual fee is more than fair for $900 worth of flights! Plus you get all the perks listed above. And the bonus points on your card anniversary can help to offset the annual fee.

Southwest Premier Business Card Bottom Line: We recommend this credit card for anyone who flies on Southwest. And it’s an especially awesome card for those of you who travel with a partner because of the opportunity to earn the lucrative Companion Pass!

For a long time I resisted flying on Southwest because I thought it’d be a bad experience. I was wrong! I’ve flown Southwest to Cancun and a few times in the US so far and it’s all been pleasant.

Further Reading:

Apply here: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Recap of the Best Travel Credit Cards July 2019:

Your turn to comment… let us know which credit card is best!

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
For the rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, please click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

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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My husband recently applied for an got approved for an Ink preferred card. About two weeks later, he applied for the personal CSR. He was asked to call in and underwent a half hour interview about his expenses, balances and business, until he was ultimately denied for the CSR due to in essence that he was recently approved for another card. I thought business cards don’t impact personal cards? How long should we wait between applying for personal cards after receiving business cards ?

We have the Chase Sapphire Reserve for our household, which was an upgrade from the Preferred card. We do not regret getting the CSR. We have already scored four r/t tickets to Japan on the Chase Ultimate Rewards points alone, and with all other real (= fully usable) travel perks that come with it, including but not limited to airport lounge access, the CSR will likely remain our primary card for some time to come.

Thanks! Here’s a quick ? on United Club card: do you get preferred access to reward flights on their website, above what you’d get with the United Explorer card?

i didn’t where to post this but did you remove your RSS feed from your website? I noticed that it stopped after 4/12. is there another link to get your posts via RSS? Thanks

Jason Stauffer

We had a technical problem with the feed, but it has been fixed and is working again.

Chase World of Hyatt is the worse credit card… The interest is extremely high even when I pay more than the minimum and pay every other day before the due date! I stopped using the card a year ago. The more I pay, the more I am charged interest..It’s ridiculous! I am so anxious to get rid of this card that I have scheduled daily auto payments! My other major credit cards are far less interest rate than Chase World of Hyatt!

I was so intrigued by the cell phone coverage Chase offers that I was going to cancel my $25 per month T-Mobile charges me. But then I read the fine print from Chase and apparently that coverage doesn’t apply to leased phones. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but if that is the case, I think that many of us nowadays lease our phones and that caveat should be mentioned in your articles.

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