If you’re constantly itching to hit the road, you know how expensive air travel and hotel stays can be. Many people let the costs prevent them from traveling, but savvy travelers know that credit card rewards can get them there at a fraction of the price.
If you’re looking for a holiday rewards card to cash in on miles and points this holiday season, here are some of the best options on the market today.
Use a holiday rewards card responsibly
Before looking for the perfect holiday rewards program, keep in mind that the strategy below is only for people who can pay off the entire credit card balance in full each month and don’t struggle with debt.
You know yourself better than anyone else. If you can’t resist the temptation to spend more than your budget, avoid getting a new holiday rewards card. The miles, points, and cash back are simply not worthwhile if you have to pay expensive credit card interest each month.
That said, if you’re responsible with spending and credit cards, you can earn thousands of miles and points that can help you score free flights and hotel nights around the world.
Pick a card that gives you the most value
Each rewards credit card offers different miles, points, or cash back programs. It’s important to choose a holiday rewards program that gives you miles and points you will actually use.
If you live in Minneapolis, for example, Jetblue miles won’t be worth much to you because they don’t fly to Minneapolis. However, there are plenty of airlines that do, so make sure your rewards credit card allows you to book with them.
Some cards are airline- or hotel-brand specific, while others offer general rewards programs. If you’re loyal to a specific airline or hotel, getting that branded card could make sense.
Otherwise, many people do well by getting a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or American Express Everyday Preferred, which offer a variety of partners and redemption options to give you the most flexible points to use for each dollar you spend.
Use holiday spending to reach signup bonuses
One of the most important tricks in travel hacking is taking advantage of the massive signup bonuses that some cards offer. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve currently has a 100,000 point signup bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months you have the card.
Many savvy budgeters gasp at that hurdle, but those 100,000 miles are valuable enough to take you from North America to Europe and back — twice in coach, or once if you treat a special someone to a trip to Europe with you.
Take advantage of the holidays to reach spending milestones for signup bonuses you normally don’t spend enough to qualify for.
You’ll also notice that the cards below each have an annual fee. Annual fees are completely worthwhile if you use the card regularly for your spending and earn enough rewards to cover the cost. However, cards with an annual fee don’t make sense for everyone.
The top cards to earn holiday points
This holiday season, there are a few noteworthy credit card offers you can take advantage of. If you’re already going to buy gifts or travel during the holidays, you might as well get the best points or miles for your spending!
Chase Sapphire Reserve
This Chase card currently offers 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three month you have the card. It also offers airport lounge access and 3 points per dollar spent on restaurant and travel purchases.
The $450 annual fee is partially offset by a $300 statement credit on travel purchases each year. This card is only available to the most creditworthy applicants.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
If the $450 annual fee from the Sapphire Reserve scared you off, you’re not alone.
I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Preferred in my wallet for years, and it only has a $95 annual fee (waived for the first year). This card has a 50,000 point signup bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months, and offers 2 points per dollar spent on restaurant and travel purchases.
EveryDay Preferred from American Express
Another premium card, the EveryDay Preferred from American Express offers 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months and has a $95 annual fee.
Get 3 points per dollar at supermarkets ($6,000 spend limit annually), 2 points at gas stations, and one point everywhere else. Plus, get a 50 percent bonus if you have 30 or more transactions per statement period.
You’ll have a free flight before you know it
With great signup bonuses, you’ll be jetting off to Europe, Asia, South America, or wherever you’ve always dreamed before you know it. Just pick the right card, make sure you earn points for every dollar possible, and watch your miles grow.
Domestic flights start around 25,000 points and international tickets fall between 30,000 to 50,000, points depending on your destination. The signup bonus alone could get you a free flight (or four), or hold on to your miles until you have enough to book your dream trip.
Whatever you do, don’t use cash or debit — you don’t get miles or points from those. Pick the card that’s right for your goals and you’ll be the jet-setting envy of your friends and family.
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