How to Snag a Southwest Companion Pass Without Taking 100 Flights

For many frequent travelers, the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is the holy grail. It allows you to choose a person to fly with you anywhere, for free. You read that right: your partner, sibling, friend, or family member can tag along everywhere you fly, gratis.

Earning the Companion Pass is a real challenge, however. You’ll have to either earn 110,000 qualifying miles or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights, all with Southwest and all in a single calendar year. The Companion Pass is then good for the remainder of that year as well as the following calendar year. In theory, when timed properly, this could give you a full two years of free flights for another fellow flier.

If you’re interested in how to obtain a Companion Pass, read on. Plan carefully, however, as you’ll want to time things to start as early as possible in the new year. It’s much less valuable to earn one over the next couple of months (and only get to enjoy it through the remainder of 2016)!

Earning the Companion Pass

Accruing 110,000 miles (also known as “points,” in some parlances) or 100 one-way flights in a single year seems impossible to all but the most frequent of travelers. Those are quantities that only seem accessible to those who fly very often (for work, perhaps), and have some control over the airlines with whom they fly.

Let’s focus here on the miles. The easiest way to earn Southwest miles is through credit card bonuses. Chase offers three different Southwest credit cards: the Premier, the Plus, and the Premier Business.

Read More About these cards here.

Currently, the Premier and Plus cards offer a bonus of 40,000 miles with a $1,000 minimum spend, but referral links  on the Internet can get you the larger 50,000 mile bonus. The Premier Business also carries a 50,000 mile bonus. You can find local advertising in airports for these credit cards with the 50,000 mile bonus.

If you’re applying for these cards, it’s important to understand that they all fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule. This means that if you’ve applied for 5 or more lines of credit (all types of credit, not just with Chase) in the past 24 months, you’ll be denied for any of these cards.

If you’re just getting started with travel hacking, I would strongly recommend you instead prioritize the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve before looking into the Chase Southwest cards. The Companion Pass is an amazing deal, but the flexibility and large signup bonuses with the Sapphire cards are significantly more valuable to most travelers.

Learn All About the Chase Sapphire Preferred card here.

By applying for and earning the bonus on the Southwest Premier and Plus cards, you’ll have spent $168 in fees and $4,000 in meeting the minimum spends. But, you will have earned at least 104,000 Southwest qualifying miles. You’ll need to earn the next 6,000 miles by making purchases on the cards, taking flights or renting cars, or by transferring from hotel programs.

Hyatt hotel points are a popular option for this, but it transfers at a 2.5:1 ratio. So, you’d need 15,000 Hyatt points to convert to 6,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards miles. Another popular option is using Marriott’s Flight + Hotel booking awards. If you’re points-rich with Marriott, you may be able to earn significant amounts of Rapid Rewards miles.

Finally, keep in mind that the 110,000 miles you earn for the Companion Pass don’t go away — that is, you’re not losing your 110,000 miles by getting the Companion Pass. You can use all of those miles to book flights and then tack on free second flights!

Using Your Companion Pass

Traveling with your Companion Pass is fairly straightforward. The pass has no blackout dates or seat restrictions, so you can book flight any time, in any class, and earn a free second seat for your companion.

To book your companion’s flight, first purchase and book your flight using cash or miles through Southwest, just as you would normally. Then, book a second flight for your companion, again through Southwest, but this time by selecting the “Rapid Rewards Companion Pass” booking option. You can do this easily online, or by calling in to Southwest’s toll-free reservations number.

Both your ticket and your companion’s must be on the same flight on the same date and time. If you end up cancelling your flight, your companion’s flight will also be cancelled. If you’d like to change your flight, you’ll also have to change your second ticket. You also have to show up and check in for the flight together, so make sure to bring the physical Companion Pass and, of course, valid forms of identification.

Changing Your Companion

If you have a Southwest Companion Pass, you should know that you can actually change your designated companion, up to three times each calendar year! Since there’s a limit on the number of times you can change it, it might be good to structure these changes around beginning- or end-of-year vacations. So, for example: start the year off by taking a trip with a sibling or relative somewhere. Then swap your companion to your partner, and enjoy free flights throughout the year. Finally, towards the end of the year, change your companion to another relative or friend, and take another trip.

Keep in mind that changing your designated companion can take up to 21 business days on the Southwest side — so plan carefully!

For New Travel Hackers Only

Unfortunately, due to Chase’s 5/24 restrictions, the Southwest Companion Pass is going to be difficult to earn for veteran travel hackers. People who are new to the scene should strongly consider it as a second priority, after the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred credit cards. When timed correctly, though, the Companion Pass can save you thousands of dollars over the course of two years!


Review of the New USAA Visa and Its Benefits

After first announcing the change almost a year ago, USAA has switched from MasterCard to Visa as its credit card processor. The United Services Automobile Association serves military members and their families, who comprise a large bulk of our population. It’s also one of the largest issuers of debit and credit cards in the United States. So, as you can imagine, this is a big blow to MasterCard.

This change is, of course, good news for Visa. Visa currently holds the majority of market share in the credit card industry — about 50%. Acquiring USAA as a client only puts Visa further ahead.

For USAA credit card holders, this should be good news as well.

What’s Changing

The switch will bring Visa’s state-of-the-art capabilities to USAA credit card holders. For one, Visa is the world’s largest electronic payment network. It’s widely accepted by merchants and ATMs around the world. So, you’ll have no problem using your card across the country and abroad.

Another big feature is the elimination of foreign transaction fees. When you travel abroad, not only will your card be accepted by most merchants, but you’ll also enjoy not having to pay an extra fee on your purchases.

Your card number will change, so that is one downside. A few minutes out of your day to update your billing accounts with the new information is all you need, though.

If you travel abroad frequently, this change will definitely benefit you. Overall, the switch should be a good one for most USAA credit card holders.

What’s Staying The Same

Despite these changes, some things will remain the same:

  • Your PIN will not change during the conversion from MasterCard to Visa.
  • Your rewards points and cash back earned on your MasterCard will roll over to the Visa card. The rewards program is also staying the same.
  • You’ll keep the same terms of your account, including things like interest rate and credit limit.
  • Your account history will remain on your credit report and your credit score will not be affected.

It’s clear that USAA really thought this transition through. They obviously worked hard to make sure the switch was executed properly, with little impact to credit card holders.

Benefits

Let’s take a look at all the USAA Visa credit cards and their benefits:

Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

  • Up to 1.25% cash back on everyday purchases
  • No limit on cash back earnings
  • Redeem cash rewards anytime
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

  • Up to 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases
  • No limit on cash back earnings
  • Redeem cash rewards anytime
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

USAA Rewards Visa Signature® Card

  • One point for every dollar spent on everyday purchases
  • 2,500 bonus points with first purchase
  • No limit on points earnings
  • No expiration date for points
  • Redeem points for cash, gift cards, travel, or donations to a military affiliate group
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card

  • Lowest interest rate card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No over-the-limit fee
  • No annual fee

USAA Classic Visa Platinum® Card

  • Periodic consideration for automatic upgrade to a premium credit card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $35 annual fee

USAA Secured Card Visa Platinum® Card

  • Determine your own credit limit, up to $5,000, with an interest-earning CD
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $35 annual fee

On USAA’s website, the credit cards have an average review rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars. USAA also has a tool on its website for you to answer a few questions in order to get a credit card recommendation.

Wrapping Up

All in all, USAA’s switch of credit card processors from MasterCard to Visa is a good move for all involved — except for MasterCard, of course. As the nation’s largest credit card processor, Visa continues to dominate the market with their share of half the market.

Credit card holders will enjoy multiple benefits that make this card good for use while traveling abroad. First, there is no foreign transaction fee for all Visa cards. Second, Visa is widely accepted at merchants across the world. So, you’ll have no problem using your card at home or abroad.

With six different Visa cards to choose from, USAA appeals to a wide range of people within the population of military members and their families.


Discover Credit Cards

Discover credit cards are best none for cash back rewards. Discover popularized the 5% cash back on rotating categories. In addition, however, Discover offers an excellent travel rewards card and one of the longest 0% balance transfer offers available today.

I’ve carried a Discover credit card since they were called Discover More. Now they have a line of Discover it® cash back and miles credit cards. In addition to the rewards and terms below, these cards offer free access to your FICO credit score.

Discover Credit Cards

 Discover it® Miles – Double Miles your first year
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar you spend on purchases.
  • Bonus: Discover will double all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. So if you’ve earned 20,000 Miles, we’ll double it to 40,000 Miles – Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR* on purchases for 12 months—then a variable purchase APR applies.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Discover it® Cashback Match™ with No Annual Fee
  • Rewards: 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, home improvement stores and more-up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $101 cash back, we’ll double it to $202—Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • 0% Offer: 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer (18 Month 0% balance transfer)
  • Rewards: 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, home improvement stores and more-up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $101 cash back, we’ll double it to $202—Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • 0% Offer: 0% Intro APR for 6 months on purchases and for 18 months on balance transfers.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Discover it® chrome – Double Cash Back your first year
  • Rewards: 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter-no sign-ups needed.* 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Bonus: Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $101 cash back, we’ll double it to $202—Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • 0% Offer: 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Annual Fee: $0
NHL® Discover it® card – Double Cash Back your first year
  • Rewards: 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, home improvement stores and more-up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $101 cash back, we’ll double it to $202—Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • 0% Offer: 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Discover Student Credit Cards

Discover it® for Students – Good Grades Rewards
  • Rewards: 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, home improvement stores and more-up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $101 cash back, we’ll double it to $202-Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.*
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.*
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Discover it® chrome for Students – Good Grades Rewards
  • Rewards: 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter-no signups needed.* 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Bonus: Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $101 cash back, we’ll double it to $202-Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.*
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.*
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Citibank Credit Cards

Citibank offers a wide range of credit cards. Its 0% balance transfer and purchase cards offer some of the longest no interest introductory rates available today. Citi’s cash back cards are top ranked. And it offers some excellent points and miles travel cards.

I’ve carried Citi® credit cards for years. Back in the day I took advantage of Citi’s 0% balance transfer cards. Today the Citi® Double Cash is my everyday card because it pays 2% cash back–1% on purchases + 1% when you pay for those purchases.

Editor’s Pick: Without question the top pick goes to the Citi® Double Cash Card. It pays 1% on very purchase + 1% when you pay for the purchase. It has no annual fee and a 0% introductory APR for 15 months.

Citi® Rewards Credit Cards

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
  • Rewards: Earn 3X ThankYou® Points on Travel including Gas, 2X ThankYou® Points on Dining Out and Entertainment, and 1X ThankYou® Points on Other Purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 40,000 Bonus Points after Meeting Qualifications*
  • 0% Offer: None
  • Annual Fee: $95, waived for first 12 months*
Citi Prestige® Card
  • Rewards: Earn 3x points on Air Travel and HotelsEarn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment. Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Points are redeemable for a $532 flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
  • 0% Offer: None
  • Annual Fee: $450
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
  • Rewards: 2 ThankYou® Points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and entertainment / 1 ThankYou® Point on other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 15,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $1,000 in card purchases within 3 months of account opening – redeemable for $150 in gift cards or other great rewards.
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 12 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Citi® Double Cash Card
  • Rewards: Earn 1% on Purchases & 1% on Payments.
  • Bonus: None.
  • 0% Offer: 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Citi® Travel Credit Cards

Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
  • Rewards: Earn 2 AAdvantage® Miles on every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 AAdvantage® mile on all other purchases. First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itenraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*Enjoy Group 1 Boarding on American Airlines flights.
  • Bonus: Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: $95, waived for first 12 Months.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®
  • Rewards: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. Admirals Club® membership for you with guest privileges*10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year. First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation.
  • Bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: $450
Citi® Hilton HHonors® Visa Signature® Card
  • Rewards: Earn 6 HHonors™ Bonus Points for each $1 spent at any participating hotel within the Hilton Portfolio. Earn 3 HHonors™ Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations. Earn 2 HHonors™ Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card
  • Rewards: Earn 10 HHonors™ Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio. Earn 5 HHonors™ Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases. Earn 3 HHonors™ Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: $95
Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi®
  • Rewards: 4 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on eligible Expedia purchases including flights, hotels, activities and vacation packages. 2 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on purchases for dining out and entertainment, including tickets to concerts, movies and sporting events. 1 Expedia+ bonus point per $1 spent on other purchases. Expedia+ gold status is complimentary for as long as you are a cardmember.
  • Bonus: Earn a $100 statement credit after your first eligible Expedia purchase greater than $100 within 3 month of account opening. PLUS, earn 20,000 Expedia+ rewards bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening. Points redeemable for $250 in coupons at +VIP Access™ hotels or $125 at other hotels.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: $95

Citi 0% Credit Cards

Citi Simplicity® Card
  • Rewards: None.
  • Bonus: None.
  • 0% Offer: 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
  • Rewards: Citi Easy DealsSM Get what you want for less. Earn Citi® Easy Deals Points for the purchases you make with your card. Redeem your points for great online deals on name-brand merchandise, gift cards and even local deals.
  • Bonus: None.
  • 0% Offer: 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Citi® Student Credit Cards

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
  • Rewards: 2 ThankYou® Points per dollar spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment. 1 ThankYou® Point on other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $500 within the first 3 months of cardmembership.
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR on purchases for 7 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Citi® Business Credit Cards

CitiBusiness® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®
  • Rewards: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines® purchases. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on purchases, telecommunications and car rental merchants – and at gas stations after 11/15/15. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Bonus: For a limited time, earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: $95, waived for first 12 months.

Chase Credit Cards

Chase credit cards offer something for everybody. Chase cards cover the spectrum of perks, including travel rewards, cash back, and 0% introductory rates on balance transfers and purchases.

I’ve carried a number of Chase credit cards for years. I used the Chase Slate card’s no fee 0% balance transfer to help my wife and I get out of debt. The Chase Freedom® card helped us earn substantial cash back rewards. And today we carry the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

Here you’ll find the complete lineup for Chase credit card offers. We’ll start with the consumer cards, and follow it up with Chase business credit cards.

Chase Consumer Credit Cards

Editor’s Pick: It is extremely difficult to pick the best Chase credit card. If I had to pick just one, however, it would be the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This travel credit card offers 50,000 bonus points and up to 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants.  It was named a ‘Best Credit Card’ for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine.

Chase Freedom
  • Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Earn a $25 bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period.
  • 0% Offer: 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Read our review
Chase Slate
  • Rewards: None
  • Bonus: $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days
  • 0% Offer: 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Read our review
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • Rewards: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: Intro Annual Fee $0 the first year, then $95
  • Read our review
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Rewards: 2 points/$1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases and participating Hotel and Car Rental partners. 1 point/$1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. 6,000 points after your Cardmember Anniversary.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Read our review
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
  • Rewards: Earn double miles on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases. Check your first bag for free – save up to $100 per roundtrip.
  • Bonus: Start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 0% Offer: None.
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Rewards: For every $1 spent, earn 5 points at 4,000 Marriott locations, 2 points on airline ticket purchases directly with airlines, at car rental agencies & restaurants and 1 point everywhere else.
  • Bonus: Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-5 location every year after your account anniversary date.
  • 0% Offer: None
  • Annual Fee: $0 introductory first year, then $85
  • Read our review

Chase Business Credit Cards

Ink Cash Business Credit Card
  • Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.
  • Bonus: Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 0% Offer: 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months.
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Read our review
Ink Plus Business Credit Card
  • Rewards: Earn 5X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Earn 2X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 0% Offer: None
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Read our review

Chase Slate Card Review – 0% No Fee Balance Transfer

The Chase Slate does one thing, and it does it better than any other credit card available today. It offers a 0% balance transfer with no balance transfer fee.

After more than three years of paying transfer fees, the free balance transfer is back. The Chase Slate is now the only card offering a 0% APR introductory rate on balance transfers with absolutely no balance transfer fee. And with no annual fee, this is as close to free money as you’ll ever get. The 0% introductory rate lasts for 15 months.

Chase Slate Snapshot

  • No balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers
  • Free Monthly FICO® Score
  • $0 Annual Fee

0% Introductory Rate

The card offers a 0% introductory rate on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. Make the balance transfer during the first 60 days and Chase will not charge a balance transfer fee.

FICO® Score

The Chase Slate offers access to your FICO® score. With the Chase Credit Dashboard, you get your monthly FICO® score online, an explanation of your score, a summary of the information on your credit report, and helpful information on ways to mange your credit.

Chase Slate FICO Score

Blueprint

Blueprint offers flexible payment options and online tracking to monitor your spending. With Blueprint, your payment and money management options include the following:

  • Full Pay: With full pay, you can select the categories of purchases you want to pay in full each month. Chase will then show these purchases separately on your bill, and you can pay them in full even while you carry a balance in other categories of purchases.
  • Split Pay: For larger purchases, you can set up a payment plan, and track your progress month to month.
  • Finish It: If you want to pay off your balance, you can set up a payment plan that will help you eliminate your credit card debt.
  • Track It: The tracking feature allows you to set spending goals by category and track your progress throughout the month. For example, you can set a spending limit for groceries or restaurants, and Blueprint will track your spending throughout the month. It can even send you alerts as you near your spending goal.

Other Perks

The Chase Slate card offers several additional benefits:

  • Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
  • Chip-Enabled Security: Provides an extra layer of security when used in a chip card reader.
  • Purchase Protection: This protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

What we like about the Chase Slate Card

  • No fee balance transfer
  • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Free access to your FICO score
  • No annual fee

What could be better

Summary

  • No balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers
  • Free Monthly FICO® Score
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Regular Purchase APR:12.99%, 17.99%, 22.99% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $15 if the balance is less than $100; up to $27 if the balance is $100 to less than $250; up to $37 if the balance is $250 or more.
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
  • Ideal for those who want a no fee balance transfer
  • A good choice for those looking for a 0% APR introductory rate
  • Well suited for those wanting a rewards card with no annual fee
  • Requires Excellent Credit
    Excellent Credit
    Credit cards for excellent credit are
    intended for those with a credit score of 700 or Higher.
    Get Your Free Score

Best Airline Miles Credit Cards of 2016

The best airline miles credit cards enable you to earn frequent flyer miles with every purchase. And many of the credit card offers listed below come with bonus points that allow you to earn a free plane ticket very quickly. The offers are organized into two categories.

First, we list those all-purpose travel cards that offer excellent rewards. With these cards, you can use points or miles on any airline. Then will list airline specific cards. These are ideal if you frequently fly on the same airline.

All-Purpose Travel Reward Cards

Editor’s Pick: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns top honors for an all-purpose travel rewards card. Its 2x points for every $1 spent and $50,000 bonus points for new cardmembers lead the pack in the travel category.
Credit Card Travel Rewards Rate Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 2 miles per $1 spent 40,000 Miles* $0 intro for the first year, $59 after that
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Up to 2 points per $1 spent 50,000 Points** $0 the first year, then $95
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® 2X miles on all purchases 50,000 Miles*** $89 (waived the first year)
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. 20,000 Points***** $0

*Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel.

**Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

***Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days; that’s enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit.

****Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening –  redeemable for $500 in gift cards, $625 for airfare, or other great rewards.

*****20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days –  that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases

Airline Miles Cards

Editor’s Pick: My favorite airline card is the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. It gets my vote for two reasons. It offers an excellent signup bonus of 50,000 miles. And it’s a great airline to fly.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Credit Card Travel Rewards Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card 2 Points Per $1 on Travel Purchases 50,000 Miles* $99
Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® 2 Miles per dollar on American Airlines, 1 Mile on other purchases 30,000 Miles** $95, waived for first 12 Months
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® 2 Miles per dollar on American Airlines, 1 Mile on other purchases 50,000 Miles*** $450
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. 30,000 Miles**** $0 intro for the first year, then $95
United MileagePlus Explorer Card Double Miles Earned on United Ticket Purchases 30,000 Miles***** $0 intro for the first year, then $95

*Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

**Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

***Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

****Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months.

*****Start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.


2016 Credit Card Signup Bonuses

Credit card companies roll out the red carpet to get new card members. From cash to points to miles, signup bonuses abound from top card issuers. It’s for that reason that I complied this exhaustive list of credit card signup bonuses, deals, and promotions for 2016.

The list starts with the highest bonuses, and then is organized by type of bonus (cash, points, or miles) and by type of card (business and student cards).

As you review this list keep a few things in mind:

  • The signup bonus, while certainly a nice perk, is only one factor to consider when comparing the cards;
  • The higher the signup bonus, the higher then spending requirement you’ll need to meet to get it;
  • The higher the signup bonus, the higher the annual fee; and
  • The value of points or miles can vary depending on how you use them.

With that, let’s get to the list:

Best Signup Bonuses

Here are the cards that offer some of the highest bonuses currently available:

Credit Card Signup Bonus Spend Requirement Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 50,000 Points $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Intro $0 the first year, then $95
Value: $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Ink Plus Business Credit Card  60,000 Points $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. $95
Value: $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Cash Signup Bonuses

As the saying goes, cash is king. The following credit cards pay a cash bonus when you spend a set amount within a certain period of time. Keep in mind that many of the points and miles offers can be converted to cash or statement credits.

Credit Card Signup Bonus Spend Requirement Annual Fee
Chase Freedom $150 $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. $0
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express $150 $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. $95 ($75 if application is received by 8/3/16)
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card $100  $500 on purchases within the first 3 months  $0
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express $100 $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. $0
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card $100 $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. $0
Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard® $100 $500 on purchases within the first 90 days after account opening. $0

Miles Signup Bonuses

Here you’ll find the top miles bonuses, followed by the top points deals in the next section. There really is, however, no practical difference between points and miles.

Airlines typically call their rewards “miles,” although there are exceptions. British Airways calls them “Avios.” Go figure. Southwest Airlines calls them points, but we know Southwest just likes to be different (remember how they board planes). Most hotel cards and non-branded travel cards call rewards points, but again, their are exceptions. The Capital One Venture Rewards card calls its rewards “miles.”

So why did I divide them between miles and points? Simplicity. With that said, here are the Miles promotions:

Credit Card Signup Bonus Spend Requirement Annual Fee
Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® 30,000 Miles $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. $95, waived for first 12 Months
Value: Round-tip award travel starts at 25,000 miles (Source: AAdvantage Mileage Chart)
United MileagePlus Explorer Card 30,000 Miles  $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. $0 intro for the first year, then $95
Value: Round-trip award travel starts at 20,000 miles (Source: United Mileage Chart)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express 30,000 Miles $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months. (limited time offer) $0 for the first year, then $95
Value: Round-trip award travel starts at 20,000 miles (Source: Delta Mileage Chart)
British Airways Visa Signature card 50,000 Avios $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. $95
Value: Round-trip award travel starts at 9,000 Avios (Source: Avios Award Map) Note: This will go up to 15,000 Avios starting Feb. 2, 2016 (Source: British Airways)
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® 50,000 Miles $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. $89 (waived the first year)
Value: $500 travel statement credit

Points Signup Bonuses

Here are the points promotions. As with miles, it’s not enough to simply compare these bonuses in absolute terms. You need to understand the value of the points when you redeem them. Often, the value depends on how you redeem the points.

Credit Card Signup Bonus Spend Requirement Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 50,000 Points $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Intro $0 the first year, then $95
Value: $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Value: $500 in gift cards, $625 for airfare, or other great rewards.
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card 80,000 Points $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening $85
Value: Free night stays start at 7,500 points for Category 1 properties (Source: Marriott Rewards Chart)
IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card 60,000 Points $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. $0 for first year, then $49 annually
Value: Free night stays start at 10,000 points (Source: IHG Reward Chart)
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card 50,000 Points $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open $99
Value: Varies based on flight.
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card 40,000 Points $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. $0
Value: Free night stats start at 5,000 points (Source: Hilton)
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve® Card 75,000 Points $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. $0
Value: Free night stats start at 5,000 points (Source: Hilton)
Citi Prestige® Card 40,000 Points $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. $450
Value: Points are redeemable for an $800 flight on American Airlines or US Airways®, a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 in gift cards.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card-Earn 20,000 Bonus Points 20,000 Points $1,500 in card purchases within 3 months of account opening. $0
Value: $200 in gift cards.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express 35,000 Points $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first six months. $0 intro annual fee for first year, then $95
Value: Free night stats start at 3,000 Starpoints (Source: Starwood)
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express 25,000 Points $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Intro $0 for first year, then $195
Value: Up to $250 depending on method of redemption
The Platinum Card® from American Express 40,000 Points $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. $450
Value: Up to $400 depending on method of redemption
The Amex Everyday® Credit Card from American Express 10,000 Points $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. $0
Value: Up to $100 depending on method of redemption
U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® card 20,000 Points $3,500 in Net Purchases (purchases minus credits and returns) on your Card within the first four months of account opening. $0 intro* for the first year, then $49*
Value: Up to $400 if used for an airline ticket.

Business Card Signup Bonuses

As a small business owner, I know the value of a good credit card. These deals span all categories, cash, miles and points.

Credit Card Signup Bonus Spend Requirement Annual Fee
SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express $400  $5,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership + $10,000 spent in the first year $0
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business $200 $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months $0
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business $500 $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months $0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business  50,000 Miles $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months  $0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Ink Cash Business Credit Card $200 $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening $0
Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business 20,000 Miles $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months $0
Ink Plus Business Credit Card 60,000 Points $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.  $95
Bank of America® WorldPoints® Travel Rewards for Business Visa® credit card $100 $500 in purchases within 60 days of account opening $0
Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard® credit card $100 $500 in purchases within 60 days of account opening  $0
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 25,000 Points $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership  $0 for the first year, then $175
The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express OPEN 20,000 Points 10,000 points after making a purchase within the first 3 months $0
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN 75,000 Points  (50,000 points) – $10,000 spent in the first three months (25,000 points) – $10,000 additional spent in the first three months $450
CitiBusiness® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® 50,000 Miles $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening $95, waived for first 12 months
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card From American Express 35,000 Points $5,000 in purchases within the first three months and an additional $3,000 in purchases within the first six months.  $0 intro for first year, then $95

Student Card Signup Bonuses

Finally, for college students, here are some signup offers on cards with no annual fees.

Credit Card Bonus Spend Requirement Annual Fee
Discover it® for Students – New! Good Grades Rewards $20  Each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.  $0
Discover it® chrome for Students – New! Good Grades Rewards $20  Each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.  $0
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students 2,500 Points $500 within the first 3 months of cardmembership.  $0

 


American Express Credit Cards

I’ve carried American Express credit cards for years. It started with the iconic Green American Express many years ago. Since then I’ve carried the Gold card, Platinum Card, TrueEarnings CostCo card (no longer available), and the Blue Cash Preferred card. Yes, I’m an Amex fan.

Today Amex offers a wide variety of cards with excellent rewards. It offers top notch travel rewards, cash back, and even 0% introductory rate offers on balance transfers and purchases. The list below starts with consumer cards, followed by Amex business credit cards.

American Express Personal Credit Cards

Editor’s Pick: My favorite consumer Amex card is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. With cash back of up to 6%, the $75 annual fee is well worth the cost. The $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months helps, too.

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  • Rewards: 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 10,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • Rewards: 3% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 2% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases.
  • Bonus: Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
  • Rewards: 3x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Bonus: Earn 15,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Bonus #2: Make 30 or more purchases with your Card in a billing period and get 50% extra points on those purchases less returns and credits.
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • Annual Fee: $95
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
  • Rewards: 6% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases.
  • Bonus: $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • 0% Offer: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • Annual Fee: $75
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
  • Rewards: 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases.  $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Bonus: Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 0% Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Rewards: 2X Membership Rewards® points on each dollar of eligible purchases, 1X Membership Rewards® points for every eligible dollar you spend. $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Bonus: Get 40,000 points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 0% Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $450
Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express
  • Rewards: Get 7X Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. Get 5X Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Bonus: Get 80,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Enjoy complimentary Silver status with your Hilton HHonors™ Card.
  • 0% Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $0
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Rewards: Earn up to 5 Starpoints on eligible purchases, & 1 Starpoint on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 35,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and spend an additional $2,000 in the first six months.
  • 0% Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for first year, then $95
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • Rewards: Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. Check your first bag free on every Delta flight
  • Bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months. Additionally, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • 0% Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for first year, then $95

American Express Business Credit Cards

Editor’s Pick:For Amex business cards, I give the top pick to the SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express. As a small business owner, I know the value of 5% cash back on office supplies and wireless. Add to that 3% cash back on a category of your choice and no annual fee, and this card is a clear winner.

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
  • Rewards: Get 3x points – Choose 1 out of 5 categories. Plus, 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases
  • Bonus: Get 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership
  • 0% Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $175
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
  • Rewards: 2x points when you book online with Amex Travel, 1x point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Bonus: Get 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership + $10,000 additional in the first three months. (So spend $20,000 total).
  • 0% Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $450
The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN
  • Rewards: Get a 1.5% discount when you pay early, with no cap on what you can earn back.
  • Bonus: N/A
  • 0% Offer: Take up to 60 days to pay with no interest, if you pay your minimum due.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $250
SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express
  • Rewards: 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of select categories and 1% cash back on other purchases. 5% and 3% apply to purchases up to $25,000 per rebate year then 1% thereafter. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • Bonus: Earn a one-time $200 statement credit after you spend $5,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership & earn an additional $200 after $10,000 is spent in the first year.
  • 0% Offer: 0% introductory APR on purchases for 9 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0
The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express OPEN
  • Rewards: 2X points on each dollar of eligible purchases; 1x points on all other purchases. Plus, get 30% more points on purchases with an annual points bonus
  • Bonus: Limited time offer: Get 10X points at U.S. restaurants for the first six months, on up to $2,000 in purchases. Offer expires 02/01/2017. Plus get 2X points on all qualifying purchases on the first $50,000 for the first year. That’s an additional 1 point per dollar spent on purchases.
  • 0% Offer: 0% introductory APR on purchases for 9 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card From American Express
  • Rewards: Earn up to 5 Starpoints on eligible purchases, & 1 Starpoint on all other purchases.
  • Bonus: Earn 35,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an additional $3,000 in purchases during the first six months.
  • 0% Offer: N/A
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for first year, then $95

The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards of 2016

Travel reward credit cards is a very broad category. It encompasses everything from airline miles cards to more generic rewards cards. Some cards offer miles, others use points. As a result, picking the best travel rewards card can be a challenge.

To narrow down the list, I divide travel cards into four categories:

1 All-purpose travel cards: These cards aren’t part of an airline or hotel brand. Instead they offer miles or points that can be used with any travel. As you’ll see below the top cards in this category offer at least 2% in rewards. The “catch,” if you will, is that these rewards must be used for travel.

2 Airline miles cards: Offered from every major airlines, these cards can offer the highest value in rewards. The key is to understand your travel patterns. These cards are ideal for those who fly frequently with the same airline.

3 Hotel rewards cards: As with airline miles, these cards can offer good rewards for those who stay with the same hotel brand.

4 Specialty cards: Finally, there are some travel cards that don’t fit neatly into the above categories. An Expedia credit card is a good example, and I’ve placed these types of cards in their own category.

For each of these categories I’ll share my top choice, followed by several excellent options.

All-Purpose Travel Rewards Cards

Editor’s Pick: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns top honors for an all-purpose travel rewards card. Its 2x points for every $1 spent and $50,000 bonus points for new cardmembers lead the pack in the travel category.
Credit Card Travel Rewards Rate Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 2 miles per $1 spent 40,000 Miles* $0 intro for the first year, $59 after that
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Up to 2 points per $1 spent 50,000 Points** $0 the first year, then $95
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® 2X miles on all purchases 50,000 Miles***

$89 (waived the first year)

*Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel.

**Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

***Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days; that’s enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit.

Airline Miles Cards

Editor’s Pick: My favorite airline card is the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. It gets my vote for two reasons. It offers an excellent signup bonus of 50,000 miles. And it’s a great airline to fly.

Credit Card Travel Rewards Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card 2 Points Per $1 on Travel Purchases 50,000 Miles* $99
Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® 2 Miles per dollar on American Airlines, 1 Mile on other purchases 30,000 Miles** $95, waived for first 12 Months
United MileagePlus Explorer Card Double Miles Earned on United Ticket Purchases 30,000 Miles*** $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

*Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

**Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

***Start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Hotel Rewards Cards

Editor’s Pick: The top pick goes to the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. It offers excellent value in terms of redemptions, and you can earn free night stays very quickly.

 

Credit Card Travel Rewards Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card Earn 5 points on Marriott purchases 80,000 Points* $85
Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card Earn up to 10 bonus points Earn 2 weekend night certificates** $95

*Earn 80,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

**Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening.

***Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Speciality Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Editor’s Pick: For the speciality category the top pick goes to the Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi. The points earned on Expedia purchased coupled with the bonus points and cash bonus easily win this category. Note that the Travelocity Credit Card is no longer available.

Credit Card Travel Rewards Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee
Priceline Credit Card 3x ThankYou Points on Travel Expenses including gas 5,000 Points* $95, waived for first 12 months
Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi 4 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on eligible Expedia purchases including flights, hotels, activities and vacation packages; 2 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on purchases for dining out and entertainment, including tickets to concerts, movies and sporting events; 1 Expedia+ bonus point per $1 spent on other purchases 20,000 Points+ $100** $95

*Earn 5,000 bonus points after your first card purchase – That’s enough to redeem for statement credits totalling $50 toward purchases of $25 or more made in the 120 days before redemption

**Earn a $100 statement credit after your first eligible Expedia purchase greater than $100 within 3 month of account opening. PLUS, earn 20,000 Expedia+ rewards bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.