Credit Cards for Free Travel & Cash Back

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Before I was the doctor of credit card rewards, I used one Chase credit card for pretty much everything. With a typical credit card bill of $4,000 to $5,000 a month, I was rewarded with $40 or $50 worth of points every month and I thought that wasn’t bad.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

60,000 Points good for $750 or more in travel with a $4,000 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent first (or only) rewards card. New in 8/2021 is a $50 annual hotel credit for bookings via the Chase UR tavel portal & 5x points for all travel via the portal. 3x points on dining, 2x on other travel. Flexible rewards good for cash, travel, or transfer to travel partners, great travel protection and perks, plus Peloton, Lyft & DoorDash perks!

 

When I shopped at Amazon, I got triple the usual points, and there used to be some other perks, like using $250 worth of points for a flight worth up to $400. I knew the ins and outs of the one card’s benefits pretty well, and I did my best to get the most value I could for my points.

When the redemption options changed and the points were essentially devalued, my eyes started wandering to these other shiny cards I was starting to hear about online. There are plenty of fish in the banking sea, and I was willing to cast a line to see if there were better options out there for me.

Boy, were there ever.

Since then, I’ve done much better. You should get at least 2 cents back in value on every dollar you spend on a credit card. You can do that with one no annual-fee card (Wells Fargo Active Cash — compare this card to others), and there are ways to get even more value with travel rewards redemptions and categorical spending on other cards we’ll discuss below.

 

Credit-Cards

 

I’ll bet you could do better, too.

I might earn money if you apply for a card via links on this page, and I will donate a chunk of my profits if that happens. Not many sites make that pledge, so please, do your research wherever the world wide web takes you, but consider coming back to this site for your credit card needs and support our charitable mission. Cheers! 🍻

 

Additional Credit Card Posts:

Best Small Business Credit Cards

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Cards for Travel Insurance

 

In the span of a few years, I’ve booked at least 20 round-trip flights, about half of them to international destinations, using bonus points and miles earned mainly from introductory offers on various credit cards. The only out-of-pocket costs on those flights are the taxes and fees, which typically run $5.60 each way on domestic flights (and more for international flights).

I don’t keep a ledger of all the travel I’ve booked this way in the last couple years, but off the top of my head, I know I’ve booked all of these nearly-free flights:

 

In total, I would guesstimate I’ve saved over $10,000 in travel costs per year for the last 7 years, and I don’t spend a ton of time on this stuff.

That $70,000 I’ve saved is the equivalent of earning an extra $100,000 or so when you factor in the taxes I pay on earned income. Bonus miles and points are not taxed under ordinary circumstances.

 

Another way think about it is that, for a high-income earner, $10,000 in free travel is like getting an $18,000 raise. 

 

I have acquired a number of different credit cards, of course, but I can easily meet the minimum spending requirements in a month or two, and when you have a system to track your cards, it’s not difficult to manage.

And I’ve got just the thing you need.

 

Top Credit Cards & Limited Time Offers

 

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa: 1.5% back in Bitcoin on all purchases

 

If you’ve been wanting to dip a toe into the cryptocurrency waters, but haven’t been sure where to start, this is a credit card that will get you started with a Bitcoin balance!

The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa is a simple, no-annual-fee card that rewards each and every purchase with Bitcoin at a rate of 1.5% equivalent cash value. It works much like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card except that it pays out in Bitcoin.

You can either hold your Bitcoin or redeem for cash with a 1.5% transaction fee. Most Americans are eligible, but if you live in DC, HI, IN, IA, NE, NV, NH,NC, WA, WV, or WI, you can’t get this card yet.

 

Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa

Unlimited Cryptocurrency Rewards
PoF Summary

The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Visa offers a flat 1.5% Bitcoin reward for all purchases made. Not available for those in DC, HI, IN, IA, NE, NV, NH,NC, WV, or WI. No annual fee.

 

Wells Fargo Active Cash: $200 Cash

New to the market in 2021 is a simple cash back credit card that gives you 2% cash back on all purchases. No categories to track, no strings attached, and most importantly, no annual fee.

You’ll also earn a welcome bonus of $200 after charging $1,000 to the card in your first 3 months on the new Wells Fargo Active Cash card.

 

Wells Fargo Active Cash

$200 cash back with a $1,000 spend in 3 months + 2% back on purchases
PoF Summary

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card simply offers a flat 2% cash back on purchases. No annual fee.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 60,000 points

 

The “CSP” is a top travel card and for good reason. The perks are great for a card with a manageable $95 annual fee. You get double points on travel and dining worldwide, along with eligible food delivery services.

I say double points, but it’s more like 2.5x points because when you use your points to purchase travel through the Chase portal (run by Expedia), you get 1.25 cents per point.

There are no foreign transaction fees, and Chase has plenty of top-tier travel partners including airlines and hotel chains that can give you even more bang for your buck when redeeming points. See CardRatings’ guide to redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for tips on how to use your points balance optimally.

New in 2021 is a $60 credit towards a Peleton subscription, valid through the end of the year.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

60,000 Points good for $750 or more in travel with a $4,000 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an excellent first (or only) rewards card. New in 8/2021 is a $50 annual hotel credit for bookings via the Chase UR tavel portal & 5x points for all travel via the portal. 3x points on dining, 2x on other travel. Flexible rewards good for cash, travel, or transfer to travel partners, great travel protection and perks, plus Peloton, Lyft & DoorDash perks!

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 points

 

The “CSR” is the premium option for Chase Sapphire Cardholders. With $300 of annual travel reimbursement, the steep $550 annual fee becomes more palatable at an effective $250.

For that, you get unlimited Priority Pass lounge access at airports for you and two guests. Points rewarded for travel and dining are triple, and it’s more like 4.5x points because you can redeem Chase points for 1.5 cents per penny when you’re a Sapphire Reserve cardholder.

You also get a credit for up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ plus some DoorDash and Lyft benefits that were added in 2020. In 2021, a $120 Peleton credit was added.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

50,000 Points with a $4,000 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers great travel perks including Priority Pass lounge access, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ and a $300 annual travel credit. When using Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, get 10x points on hotels and car rental & 5x points on air travel. 3x points on other travel & dining. Elevated Peloton, Lyft and DoorDash benefits. $550 Annual Fee

 

Capital One Venture: 60,000 Miles

 

Known for the “what’s in your wallet?” catch phrase, the Venture card is a great alternative to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for those that don’t want to play the points game. The annual fee is the same at $95, although it is waived for the Venture card in your first year.

You essentially get double “miles” (points) for any purchase. You can use those points to directly offset any travel purchases you make with the card or transfer points to one of 15+ travel loyalty programs.

Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you also get up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, and there are no foreign transaction fees.

The welcome bonus of 60,000 points ($600 worth) currently applies when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

 

Capital One Venture

60,000 points worth $600 bonus when spending $3,000 in 3 mo.
PoF Summary

The Venture Card from Capital One gives you double points on all purchases that can be redeemed directly against travel purchases you make on the card. Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ reimbursement, a $95 annual fee (waived in year one).

 

Chase Ink Business Preferred: 100,000 Points

 

I mentioned that the CSP gave you the largest welcome bonus of any Chase personal card, but the Chase Ink Business Preferred gives you the best welcome bonus of any Chase card. It’s currently a gigantic 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in 3 months.

100,000 points can be used to book $1,250 (when paired with the Sapphire Preferred) to $1,500 in travel (when paired with the Sapphire Reserve) via the Chase portal or can be transferred to one of several popular travel partners.

Those partners include United, Southwest, and Jetblue airlines and Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, or Ritz Carlton hotels. A good redemption of 100,000 points could easily carry a value of $2,000 or more. The minimum spend is high at a total of $15,000 in the first three months.

You’ll get 3 points per dollar on travel and select business categories (on up to $150k in purchases per year). This card also comes with an annual fee of $95 and adds the benefit of no foreign transaction fees.

 

Chase Ink Business Preferred

100,000 points with $15,000 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Chase Ink Business Preferred offers 3 points per $1 spent on travel & select business categores. 1 point per dollar on all else. No foreign transaction fees (unlike other Chase Ink Business cards. $95 annual fee.

 

Chase Ink Business Cash: $750: Straight cash, homey.

 

A simple cash back card with no annual fee and an outstanding $750 welcome bonus after a spend of $7,500 in your first three months with the card.

You’ll get 5 points per dollar spent on the first $25,000 per year on office supply, cable, and phone bills. One point per dollar on everything else, and, as with all Chase Ultimate Rewards points, those points can be worth 1.25x or 1.5x when paired with a Sapphire card and used to book travel.

 

Chase Ink Business Cash

$750 cash back with a $7,500 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Chase Ink Business Cash offers 5% back on up to $25,000 spent on cell and landline service, internet, cable TV, and at office supply stores. 2% back on first $25,000 combined at gas stations & restaurants. 1% back on all else. No annual fee.

 

Chase Ink Business Unlimited: $750: Again, straight cash, homey.

 

Another A simple cash back card from Chase with no annual fee and an outstanding $750 welcome bonus after a spend of $7,500 in your first three months with the card.

The difference from the Ink Cash card is that you get 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases.

I like to think of these cards as the Business equivalent of the personal cards Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5% cash back on every purchase) and Chase Freedom Flex (5% cash back on rotating categories on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the year one and 1% on everything else).

 

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

$750 cash back with a $7,500 spend in 3 months
PoF Summary

The Chase Ink Business Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. 0% introductory APR for 12 months. No annual fee.

 

The Platinum Card from American Express (rates and fees): 100,000 Points

 

The Platinum Card from American Express is a premium card on par with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and in some ways, it’s superior. These are two of the only cards that offer evacuation coverage for medical emergencies worldwide, and the Platinum Card’s coverage is better.

You’ll earn 100,000 Membership Rewards Points as a welcome bonus after spending $6,000 on the card in the first 6 months. In your first 6 months as a cardholder, you’ll be granted 10 points per dollar spent on up to $25,000 spent when you Shop Small in the U.S. and dine at restaurants worldwide. Booking flights and hotels through the AmEx portal will get you 5 points per dollar spent.

The card gets you access to the Global Lounge Collection at airports around the globe. Additional travel perks include $200 in reimbursement of airline fees like baggage fees.

Cardholders also receive Uber VIP status good for up to $200 in annual Uber savings and an annual credit of $100 at Saks Fifth Avenue in person or online.

 

The Platinum Card from American Express

100,000 points with a $6,000 spend in 6 mo. (rates and fees)
PoF Summary

The Platinum Card offers a generous welcome bonus, Centurion Lounge access, $240 digital entertainment credit, $200 in airline fee credits, $200 Fine Hotel & The Hotel Collection credit, Uber VIP status worth $200 in savings & a $100 Saks 5th Ave credit & emergency medical evacuation coverage. $179 annual CLEAR(R) credit for expedited TSA screening. Elevated status in several hotel and car rental loyalty programs. $695 annual fee.

 

American Express Gold Card (rates and fees): 60,000 Points

 

The Platinum Card’s little brother, the American Express Gold card is lighter on both perks and fees, but you do get some great benefits, including a strong 60,000 point welcome bonus after a $4,000 spend in your first 6 months.

Benefits include a $10 monthly credit to specific restaurant chains or Grubhub, 4x points at restaurants and U.S. grocery stores (up to $25,000 anually, which is a lot of groceries). There’s also $100 in airline fee reimbursement each year, and 3x points when booking flights and hotels via the AmEx Portal.

 

American Express Gold Card

60,000 points with a $4,000 spend in 6 mo. (rates and fees)
PoF Summary

The AmEx Gold Card offers a strong welcome bonus, up to $120 in restaurant credits, $100 in airline fee reimbursement, 4x points on restaurants & U.S. grocery stores,and 3x points on flights & hotels booked via AmEx. $250 annual fee.

 

Hilton Honors Surpass American Express: (rates and fees) 130,000 Points

 

A top hotel card with great perks for Hilton Honors members (which is free to join). The 130,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in the first three months is good for at least a few free nights in a nice Hilton hotel.

When you spend $15,000 in a year, you’re granted an additional free night, and that bonus can be earned year after year. If you reach $40,000 in spending on the card in 12-month timeframe, you’ll be granted coveted Hilton Honors Diamond status, an upgrade from Gold status which is conferred upon all cardholders.

Points are less valuable than other programs (by about 3:1) but this card makes up for it by offering 12x points at Hilton properties, 6x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations, and 3x on all else.

There is a $95 annual fee, which I don’t mind paying when I can earn a free hotel stay that can be redeemed at hotels normally going for $300 and up. There are no foreign transaction fees.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass

130,000 points with a $2,000 spend in 3 months + 50,000 points with additional $10,000 spend in first 6 months (rates and fees)
PoF Summary

The Hilton Honors Surpass has a welcome bonus good for 130,000 points redeemable for free hotel nights. Additional free weekend night after $15,000 in spending annually and Diamond status after a $40,000 annual spend. 12x points at Hilton properties. 10 Priority Pass uses every year. $95 annual fee.

 

Hilton Honors Business American Express (rates and fees): 230,000 Points

 

I like to think of this card as the Surpass equivalent for small business owners, athough there are some differences.

The Hilton Honors Business card is currently offering a whopping 230,000 Hilton Honors points as a welcome bonus after a $10,000 spend in the first 6 months. You’re awarded 180,000 of those points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and another 50,000 points after an additional $7,000 spent in the first 6 months.

As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy Gold status and 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton Hotels. Spend $15,000 any year for a free weekend night with a second complimentary night after another $45,000 spent.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Business

180,000 points with a $2,000 spend in 3 months + $50,000 bonus points with an additional $7,000 spent in the first 6 mo. (rates and fees)
PoF Summary

The Hilton Honors Business has a welcome bonus good for a total of 230,000 points redeemable for free hotel nights after spending $10,000 in the first 6 months. Additional free weekend night after $15,000 in spending annually, 2nd night after $60,000, and Diamond status after a $45,000 annual spend. 12x points at Hilton properties. $95 annual fee.

 

Credit Card Spreadsheet — Track the Details

 

I’ve been on a spreadsheet-building spree lately, and I made another one just for you. Well, it’s for me, too. I took the one I’ve been using and spruced it up, including some of the better offers available for those who love free travel and cash back.

There are columns for all of the pertinent information, and I’ve pre-filled the current info for some of the top cash back and travel reward cards available. I’ve blurred the data as it changes often, but I frequently update the actual spreadsheet available for download.

 

Personal credit cards

 

Credit-Card-Tracking-Template-Spreadsheet

 

Business Credit Cards

 

Credit-Card-Tracking-Template-Business

 

I’ve also summarized the best perks for these cards in the sheet. Again, since these change frequently, I encourage you to download the spreadsheet to see current perks of these cards.

 

Credit-Card-Tracking-Perks-Blurred

 

Finally, if you prefer to start with a blank slate, entering only cards you currently own, the third tab in the file gives you an empty canvas on which to paint your card rewards masterpiece.

 

Credit-Card-Tracking-Template-Blank

 

If you’re already a subscriber, you shouldn’t be double-subscribed when you enter your info to download this template.

If you would like a copy of your own, please enter your e-mail below, and I’ll send you a link. You’ll be subscribed with the option to receive a weekly digest and can opt out completely with one click.

 

 

Credit Cards I Have Used

 

I plan to update this spreadsheet with new offers and updated information when it becomes available and subscribers will be alerted to new copies of the updated spreadsheet when it becomes available.

Note that I have not acquired all the cards listed on the spreadsheet, but I have used each of the following cards in recent years:

 

 

Tips to Simplify Managing Multiple Credit Cards

 

Always Autopay Your Credit Card!

The first thing I do when I acquire a new card is to set up autopay by connecting the online credit card with my bank account and ensuring the full statement balance will be paid on time automatically.

It’s a good idea to keep at least a few thousand dollars in a checking account and / or have an automated sweep from savings into checking at your bank.

If you can’t afford to pay credit cards in full every month, you should not be using a credit card, plain and simple.

If you have the option to set your monthly due date for the credit card, there is some advantage to having each of your cards due at the same time to keep things simple.

If you fail to do this, it’s not difficult to miss a payment — and, yes, I have. The late fee or finance fees may be forgivable if you call the credit card issuer and make an honest plea, but it’s best to set it, forget it, and not have to make that awkward phone call.

 

No Companion Credit Cards

You will often be enticed to pick up a second card for a spouse on the same account with a bonus of points or miles that might be worth a small fraction of the welcome bonus.

I advise against this.

The better option is to apply for a new card under your spouse’s name and social security number, using household income on the application.

By opening a new account rather than obtaining a companion card, you can get double the bonus for each card you choose to acquire. Would you rather have 105,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points or 200,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points?

 

Chase Credit Cards First

If you are new to travel rewards, start with Chase cards. The bank has a “5 / 24” rule. If you have applied for five new credit cards in the last 24 months, you can expect to be denied.

Companion cards count, unfortunately, even if you’re not the person who originally opened the account. We learned that lesson the hard way.

Chase Ultimate Rewards are among the most desirable and flexible reward points out there. They can be transferred to a number of travel partners including Southwest, United, Hyatt, Marriot, IHG, Ritz-Carlton, and a number of international airlines. Points can also be redeemed directly for travel at 1.5 cents per point with the Sapphire Reserve or 1.25 cents per point with the Sapphire Preferred.

 

Chase Personal Credit Cards

First Chase Card

If I were starting anew today, I would start with a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card.

 

In addition to the difference in travel redemption, there is a drastic difference in annual fees. The Sapphire Reserve is $550 per year with the benefits of $300 of reimbursed travel and a $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ credit. You’ll receive 50,000 Ultimate Reward points when meeting the minimum spend of $4,000 in the first three months

The Sapphire Preferred has a much smaller $95 annual fee. The welcome bonus is also higher.

 

 

 

Second Chase Card

Grab either the Freedom Flex (5% on rotating categories on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter), 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1% back on all additional purchases) or Freedom Unlimited (3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all purchases). These will give you Ultimate Rewards points that are more valuable if transferred to one of the Sapphire cards you obtained first.

 

Third Chase Card

Consider a travel card co-branded with your favorite hotel or airline. The following are all Chase cards:

Chase Business Credit Cards

Fourth Chase Card

If you have any kind of business, the Chase Business Cards are outstanding options.

 

The Ink Business Preferred card gives you 100,000 Ultimate Reward points as a welcome bonus (equaling the best welcome bonus out there) when you meet the minimum spend of $15,000 in the first three months and comes with a $95 annual fee.

That’s good for a minimum of $1,000 in cash, can be paired with a Chase Sapphire Preferred card to book $1,250 in travel or $1,500 in travel when points are transferred to a Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited cards give you $750 in cash after meeting the minimum spend of $7,500 in three months (and have no annual fee, ever).

 

Don’t Carry a Dozen Cards

You don’t want the George Costanza wallet bursting at its leather seams. There’s probably little need to carry more than about three cards at any one time, and if you’re not a dedicated optimizer, one card will do.

You can always swap out the card(s) in your wallet, purse, or manbag before traveling overseas, flying a certain airline, or staying at a particular hotel chain.

In my  wallet, I tend to keep one cash back card and one card that I’m using to meet the minimum spending requirement in the first three months. Depending on our travels, I may also have a card that matches the airline on which I’m traveling. If traveling overseas, I make sure I have a card with no foreign transaction fees. Most of the cards on the spreadsheet qualify.

 

Don’t Stress

I don’t always use the most optimal card for the situation. As is true with most facets of personal finance, I’ve found there’s a point of diminishing returns when trying to use the ideal card in each and every transaction.

Applying the Pareto principle, 20% of the effort is likely to get you 80% of the results.

The same is true for redemptions. Don’t do anything foolish, like getting 0.8 cents per point when shopping on Amazon when you could have 1 cent per point in cash (there’s actually a card that does this). And use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points wisely. This often means transferring to a travel partner for a better redemption.

Don’t stress if you can’t remember which category gives you the most points this particular quarter. I can’t, either. If you’ve got a system that works, let me know in the comments. I can see where a label maker could come in handy, but I’m just not that into squeezing every last point out of my card collection.

Finally, I wouldn’t be too concerned about the effect of multiple cards on your credit score. My understanding from what I’ve read and what I’ve seen is that a new card can temporarily decrease your score by five to ten points. This is what mine has done over the last six months.

If you want to make things really easy, just get one great cash back card and receive 2% back on absolutely everything.

 

Wells Fargo Active Cash

$200 cash back with a $1,000 spend in 3 months + 2% back on purchases
PoF Summary

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card simply offers a flat 2% cash back on purchases. No annual fee.

 

Finding the Best Travel Credit Cards

 

Many of the best credit cards can be found via my relationship with CardRatings. I implore you to consider using a link on this page, as I donate a large portion of my profits to charity. Any site that refers you to a credit card issuer receives a referral fee, and I’m not aware of anyone else being as generous with their affiliate income.

With that in mind, you can find all of the cards from the spreadsheet here. You’ll see a couple of my favorites, along with some limited time offers below.

If you’re a small business owner, see my post detailing some of your best options: The Best Business Credit Cards for Your Small Business

 

Free Money with Credit Cards: How One Card Saved Us $3,000

 

How valuable are these points? To give you one example, I booked our flights to Honduras (we left Friday, April 27th) on March 7th. Based on the AAdvantage award chart, we can get to Central America for 25,000 points round trip with MileSAAver Off Peak seats.

I was able to find flights to Tegucigalpa that fit our itinerary at that point level, allowing us to partake in an amazing medical mission with One World Surgery as a family, paying only the taxes and fees for international travel, which totaled $74.70 apiece for the round-trip flights. If we had purchased the flights ourselves, we would have paid about $3,300 for the four tickets.

 

NPH_Honduras_Nerve_Block
a bedside peripheral nerve block in honduras

 

 

So for 100,000 points, we were able to fly round trip to Central America. Using the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® card to pay for the fees, we were credited 10% of the miles back, so it actually only set us back 90,000 miles.

Currently, obtaining two (one for you and one for your spouse) of any of several available Citi Aadvantage Mastercards will get you enough points to get you to any American Airlines Caribbean, Mexican, or Central American destination and back.

The welcome bonus on two cards get the four of you to South America and back (or you and a loved one to Asia or Europe and back).

Surprisingly, far more people prefer cash back to travel rewards by a nearly three to one margin, according to statistics from Finder.com. It’s unfortunate, as travel redemptions can be substantially more lucrative.

Compare this airline card to other top travel cards here. 

 

 

You can always find these links quickly from the menu bar at the top of the page. On a desktop, it looks like this:

 

AAdvantageTGU

 

Finally, please exercise caution with the language in the comments. The card issuers don’t like the terms that rhyme with “travel snacking” or “travel packing.” Also, please avoid the yearning to use any word that starts like “church” and ends like “burning.” Thank you for your discretion.

Download the spreadsheet and start earning that cash back, those flexible points, airline or hotel points today!

 

 

Have you scored some nearly-free trips using travel rewards? What has your strategy been?

If not, what’s stopping you?

Physician on FIRE has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician on FIRE and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

11 thoughts on “Credit Cards for Free Travel & Cash Back”

  1. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  2. Get Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard. For the $99.00 fee you get 60,000 points after first purchase.

    1. apply and get the card
    2. Buy a pack of gum
    3. get 60,000 AA points and Anniversary Companion Certificate

    Great deal if you know how to use AA miles

    Reply
  3. AMEX gold seems like a pretty good choice with 4X on dining…wow.

    It’s like Reserve card, except it’s cheaper and you get strictly more points. I guess the main thing is with the gold you won’t get lounge access and you won’t get global entry.

    But it seems like AMEX gold could be your mainstay card for travel/dining points, and then you can just use an AMEX plat or some other card with lounge access and you’re all good?

    Reply
  4. I absolutely LOVE credit cards!! Great comprehensive list.

    Question, I know that longer credit histories have higher scores. Would you recommend someone amass a sizable number of credit cards so that if you ever want to request a new credit card in the future, it won’t hit your credit history as much?

    I have some so getting a new one won’t bring down my credit history as much but it’s still a lot compared to someone who has like 25 credit cards.

    Would like to get your perspective.

    Reply
    • Hey dude, I would recommend amassing credit cards if they have great sign on bonuses and if you want to boost your credit score for something like a house mortgage 2 years or more in the future. This is what I did, and after 2 years from opening my last credit card I had so many credit cards with high limits that my debt to utilization ration was almost nil, the credit inquiries after 2 years all fell off, and my FICO score (actually the free FAKO score you get off credit Karma) was above 800! However, when they ran my credit score officially at the bank it was usually less than 800, so just be aware when the run a FICO based score at banks or other others companies it seems to be lower and my best guess is because the FICO score software they run is trying to compensate for people that gain the system like I did. Still it seemed to increase my score overall 🙂

      Reply
  5. one easy way I keep track of all my credit cards and bonuses is evernote. I can quickly look up on evernote which rotating categories have the highest cash back while I’m buying an item or entering a store. You could probably use notes on the iphone as well.

    Reply

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