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Travel Credit card strategies for non-obsessive cardholders

06:00  16 april  2022
06:00  16 april  2022 Source:   thepointsguy.com

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I’m a rare breed at The Points Guy. While I keep an eye on the points and miles I accumulate on my credit cards and do some spending to accrue more, I’m not nearly as obsessed as some of my fellow TPG coworkers (no offense). I also don’t have nearly as many credit cards as other staffers do.

Related: TPG reader question: How many credit cards are too many?

But that doesn’t mean I don’t use my own strategies to get the most value out of the three credit cards in my wallet.

Here are the cards I use and how I put them to use to maximize my earnings.

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In This Post

My love-hate relationship with credit cards

Before I get into my credit cards strategy, it’s important to touch on my history with them.

Having grown up in a family that was very conservative when it came to finances, I learned at a young age the importance of managing my money and paying off all cards before statements were due (commandment one of TPG’s 10 commandments of credit card rewards).

But then I went to college and, like TPG CEO and founder Brian Kelly, got into trouble with student credit cards. I took on a second job to dig my way out of debt, even managing for a few years without a credit card.

Eventually, I applied for (and got) a basic Capital One Platinum Credit Card in 2000, and for 10 years, that was the only card I had.

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Related: The 5 credit cards The Points Guy is using the most

(Photo by The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by The Points Guy)

In 2010, I decided to branch out, so I got the now-defunct American Express Zync card, which came with some solid Amex perks at the bargain price of $25 a year. In subsequent years, I added the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. And a few years later, I was added as an authorized user for The Platinum Card® from American Express by my ex-partner.

It wasn’t long until things spiraled out of control, though. Because I didn’t have a strategy for juggling all these cards, I found myself in trouble again when an unexpected bill and my expensive breakup from my former partner occurred.

So, I started whittling down the cards in my wallet again until I was left with three.

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Once I came to The Points Guy in May 2019, I learned the importance of using my cards strategically to keep myself out of trouble while making the most of each card’s perks.

Related: How this mom and business owner improved her credit score from 550 to 800

The cards I currently carry

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Of all three cards I have in my wallet, this is my go-to card for booking flights and prepaid hotels. For any airfare booked directly with the airline (or with American Express Travel), I earn 5 points per dollar spent on up to $500,000 in spending each calendar year — and this also extends to prepaid hotels booked via Amex Travel. This even includes luxury properties through the Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts program.

In addition, having the ability to transfer Membership Rewards points (the currency you collect with Amex Platinum purchases) to 12 airlines, including British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines, is an added bonus, too. Plus, I’m a big fan of the automatic gold status at Hilton and Marriott that comes with the card.

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Despite occasional overcrowding, I also love having access to Amex’s Centurion lounges, along with more than 1,300 others through the card’s Priority Pass benefit. There are numerous credits and travel protections as well, so if I was paying the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) instead of the yearly authorized user rate of $175 (see rates and fees), I could justify the high expense with all of the money I save with the included benefits.

Related: High annual fee with big rewards: A full review of The Platinum Card from American Express

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/ThePointsGuy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Eric Helgas/ThePointsGuy)

I hold this no-annual-fee card because I don’t want to jump through the hoops some of my coworkers go through to remember which card offers the most points and miles in various spending categories. My VentureOne card nets me a flat 1.5 miles per dollar spent on anything.

Plus, I earn 5 miles per dollar spent on trips booked through the Capital One Travel portal. The miles I accrue can be used to reimburse myself for travel purchases, book travel through Capital One Travel and cover reservations with 15 airline and two hotel partners when transferred to their loyalty programs. I also receive two free Capital One Lounge passes and pay $45 for additional visits, saving me $20 per visit, and can use miles to buy items through PayPal and Amazon.

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Another bonus: The card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. It comes with a slew of travel benefits, too, including an auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance and an extended warranty — all without charging me an annual fee.

Related: A budget-friendly option: Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by The Points Guy)

I’ll admit, I got this card before I knew better. The card, which has a $39 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, only gets me 1.5% cash back on purchases.

One good perk, though, is the ability to transfer the cash back I earn on this card into Venture points. However, it’s not enough to sway me from my plan to close the card right before the annual fee hits, since there’s really no benefit to having it on top of the VentureOne.

Related: Best Capital One credit cards of April 2022

The cards I hope to one day own

Of course, we’re always looking ahead to our next trip (or credit card application) here at TPG, and there are some specific cards I’m eyeing.

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Because I’ve gone all in with my loyalty to Hyatt, I’d like to soon add the World of Hyatt Credit Card to my wallet. Hyatt has more than a dozen brands and 1,000-plus properties in more than 65 countries, and its loyalty program comes with reasonable points rates and an easy way to achieve even basic elite status.

TPG values World of Hyatt points at an impressive 1.7 cents per point, one of the highest valuations among hotel programs. Hyatt has some amazing properties at reasonable redemption rates, too, not to mention valuable partnerships with companies like Small Luxury Hotels of the World, American Airlines and MGM Resorts International.

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Aside from the chance to earn a hefty sign-up bonus, I can earn 4 points per dollar spent on Hyatt stays and experiences, including purchases made at on-site restaurants and spas, as well as 2 points per dollar spent on transit and commuting, restaurants, flights and gym memberships.

I’ll get a free night in Category 1-4 hotels every card anniversary and have the chance to earn another free night after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. The card comes with Discoverist status, too, and I’ll receive five qualifying night credits toward my next tier status every year. I could also earn two additional qualifying night credits every time I spend $5,000 on the card, which could boost my progress toward Globalist status.

Related: ‘One of the most valuable hotel cards’: A review of the World of Hyatt Credit Card

diagram, schematic: (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy) © Provided by The Points Guy (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

I’ll also strongly consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card thanks to its variety of ways to earn valuable points. Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar spent on travel booked through the Chase travel portal; 3 points per dollar spent on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases; 2 points per dollar spent on all travel not booked through the Chase travel portal; and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Those points can be transferred to 11 airline and three hotel loyalty programs, including my favorites (Southwest and Hyatt) plus United, my airline of choice for international flights thanks to its terrific group of Star Alliance partners. The card also comes with primary rental car coverage, trip delay/cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase protection and an extended warranty.

Last year, Chase added even more perks, including an annual $50 hotel credit and a 10% anniversary points bonus.

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And it just launched an 80,000-point sign-up bonus (after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening). This just may be enough for me to pull the trigger.

Related: New 80,000-point bonus for a top travel card: Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card review

Bottom line

If I could go back in time, I’d play the credit card points-and-miles game much differently. But it’s never too late to take a look at your current strategy and come up with a new plan.

By regularly reevaluating the cards you have in your wallet (and staying on top of your monthly bills), you can accrue points and miles in no time — all without obsessively memorizing the details of each card you own.

Related: TPG’s beginner’s guide to credit cards: Everything you need to know

Featured photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Have you visited these wacky and wonderful sights in US cities? .
From bizarre museums to curious landmarks, America has no shortage of oddities. Here are our favorite wacky sights.

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