Credit Cards

Credit cards and award point systems can really enhance your ability to maximize miles and points to get the most out of travel experiences.

There are various credit cards available for different situations.

When I look for a credit card I look for one with the following components:

  1. No foreign exchange fee
  2. Flexible redemption possibilities
  3. Low fee or a fee that offers greater benefits

No foreign exchange fees

Traditionally banks have charged a fee in order to exchange currency when you make a purchase in a currency other than the card. This fee has been in addition to the actual fees added into an exchange rate.

By selecting a card that does not add on a foreign exchange fee, you can save money on every international purchase. I use the money saved on getting more out of my travel experiences.

Flexible redemption possibilities

I like card programs that allow for point earning that can be used to transfer to airline and hotel partners. When the programs are transferable it offers protection against mileage devaluations by a particular program and it allows for thinking outside the box in finding a good award redemption. Cards that offer flexible options are more valuable and the points can be worth more than a traditional program.

Low fee or a fee that offers great benefits

Many award cards have an annual fee. I like to make sure that I am getting benefit from the card that makes the fee reasonable. For example, some of the lower fee cards offer points that can be transferred to multiple programs. In addition, the fee is generally modest and can oftentimes come with additional bonus points each year. Cards with higher fees generally offer additional benefits such as lounge access, travel rebates and other promotions that can make you end up saving money rather than spending more on the fee. I evaluate my existing cards from time to time to be sure that I am getting the most out of them.

 

Remember to use credit cards wisely. Only charge what you can pay back in the same month. The interest rate charged on travel and other reward cards greatly outweigh the benefits from the points earned.

 

Cards issued by Chase:

Chase Sapphire Preferred (R)

I recommend this card to frequent travelers. The card offers no foreign exchange fee and has one of the best transferrable and flexible point system called Chase Ultimate Rewards. The card features a low annual fee and it offers bonus point earning on travel and dining.

Chase Freedom (R)

The Chase Freedom card offers no annual fee, no foreign exchange fee and it earns points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards which are transferable and flexible. This is a great card to have if you want to avoid the annual fee. This card offers quarterly bonus point categories that change which can earn as much as 5x points.

Hyatt Credit Card

The Hyatt Credit Card is issued by Chase. The card earns points in the Hyatt program and it gives cardholders Hyatt Platinum status which gives the opportunity for some upgrades as well. The card offers a free-night reward in Categories 1-4 each year which is valued significantly more than the annual fee.

United MileagePlus(R) Club Card

The United MileagePlus Club Card has a $450 annual fee; however, it comes with a full United Club membership which is valued at $550 per-year. The card earns United miles. The lounge access makes travel easier as you can relax in the lounge with free drinks and snacks while you wait for your flight. In addition, the card offers elite status with Hyatt and Avis. It also offers Complimentary Premier Upgrades on award tickets. This card is also issued by Chase.

Card Issued by Barclaycard

Barclaycard Arrival Plus (TM) World Elite Mastercard(R)

The Barclaycard  Arrival Plus World card earns 2 miles for every dollar spent on the card. You can use it flexibly because the miles can be used to redeem for airfare, hotel, rental cars or other purchases that you use on the card. In addition, it offers direct redemptions for booking airfare. It is a great card for the casual traveler.