Traveling alone is so empowering and freeing, but if you are not careful, it can be wildly expensive. That’s why I’m excited to share my ultimate goal in life – traveling with points to earn free travel.
It’s not just a dream; it’s a reality that I’ve been living and loving! And since I created this site to help all you aspiring solo travelers out there, I wanted to share my travel credit cards.
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In this post, I’ll break down the magic of three credit cards that have been my wings to the world:
- The Chase Preferred Card® (The One With It All)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (The Best For Boutique Travel Vibes)
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card ( Your Best Friend for Tours & Activities)
1. Chase Preferred Card -The Ultimate Card For Travel Lovers
When it comes to globe-trotting, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is like that reliable friend who’s always got your back. This card isn’t just good for international travel; it’s a game-changer.
With an annual fee that doesn’t make your wallet weep ($95, to be exact), this card is the savvy solo traveler’s dream.
Here’s the deal with rewards: earn a whopping 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal, and 2 points on all other travel purchases.
Whether you’re booking a scenic train ride through the Alps or snagging a last-minute flight to Bali, those points rack up fast.
But here’s my favorite part – no more cringing at foreign transaction fees! These fees are a non-issue with the Sapphire Preferred, which means more savings for you.
Whether you’re settling your boutique hotel bill in Paris or splurging on artisan crafts in Marrakech, every transaction is fee-free. That’s more money in your pocket for gelato, souvenirs, or whatever tickles your fancy.
Now, let’s talk safety nets. The travel insurance on this card is the real MVP.
Up to $10,000 per person in trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary rental car coverage (yes, both in the U.S. and abroad), and up to $100 per day in baggage delay insurance (for a max of five days).
And if your trip gets delayed? Up to $500 in reimbursement per ticket. These are the kind of protections that let you sleep soundly at night, knowing you’re covered for those just-in-case moments.
While I’m a fan of being prepared, these credit card protections offer solid baseline coverage, meaning you might not even need supplemental travel insurance for certain trips. It’s like having a safety net woven out of gold.
This card rolls out the red carpet with a welcome bonus that’s hard to beat. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s a lot of points just waiting to be turned into adventures!
The rewards are what makes this card a gem for travelers like us. Earn 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (minus some hotel purchases), 3X points on dining, online groceries, and select streaming services, 2X on other travel expenses, and 1X on everything else.
The Chase Preferred® Card is like a trusty travel companion offering an annual $50 Ultimate Rewards hotel credit, various insurances (trip cancellation/interruption, primary rental car, trip delay, baggage delay), and more. It’s like having a safety net wherever you go.
Credit Score & Fees:
You’ll need a good to excellent credit score to get your hands on this card, and it comes with a $95 annual fee. (see rates)
Pros and Cons:
While this card has generous bonuses and an excellent rewards program, it does have its limitations. The $50 annual hotel credit is only for Chase Ultimate Rewards bookings, and you need to be mindful of Chase’s 5/24 rule which is denied if you have opened 5 credit cards anywhere within the last 24 months.
The Platinum Card from American Express: Your Passport to Luxurious Travels
Let’s talk about a card that redefines luxury travel – The Platinum Card® from American Express.
This isn’t just a card; it’s your golden ticket to some of the most exclusive travel perks out there.
We’re talking up to $1,500 in annual statement credits that cover everything from those pesky airline fees to hotel bookings and even memberships in programs like CLEAR® Plus and Global Entry.
As someone who’s always hopping between countries, Global Entry is a lifesaver. Breeze through passport control and get to your next adventure faster!
Now, let’s dive into the swanky world of hotel benefits. Without even checking into a hotel, you get bumped up to Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status.
Imagine walking into a hotel and being treated like royalty – room upgrades, complimentary breakfasts, and all those little luxuries that make your stay unforgettable.
The travel protections this card offers are like having an invisible safety net. Whether it’s a delayed trip or a sudden cancellation, you’re covered. That’s peace of mind, and in the world of travel, that’s priceless*.
80,000 points are on the table after you spend $8,000 within the first six months. That’s a lot of points, folks, and a lot of potential adventures.
This card knows you love to fly and stay in style. Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel, and on prepaid hotels through Amex Travel (capped at $500,00 per calendar year, and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.). For everything else, it’s 1X points.
Get ready for a list that sounds like a traveler’s Christmas wishlist. Statement Credits are given for up to $200 annual airline fee credit, up to $200 for hotel bookings (two-night stay required), up to $200 annual Uber Cash, up to $20 monthly for digital entertainment, a hefty up to $155 Walmart+ Credit, up to $300 for Equinox, up to $50 Saks credit twice a year, up to $189 for CLEAR Plus, and elite status with several major rental car services. Did I mention the trip insurance benefits?*
Credit Score & Fees:
Aim for a good to excellent credit score to get this gem. The annual fee is $695, but for the perks, it’s a worthy investment. (see rates and fees)
Pros and Cons:
This card is like a buffet of travel credits – if you use them, they more than makeup for the annual fee. The Membership Rewards points you earn are like gold in the travel world.
However, keep in mind the high annual fee and the fact that the category bonuses are primarily for Amex Travel and direct bookings. Also, this card is a once-in-a-lifetime affair, so make it count!
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Your Ticket to Unlimited Adventures
Alright, adventure seekers and culture enthusiasts, let me introduce you to a card that’s like having a magic wand for travel: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
This card isn’t just good; it’s a traveler’s best friend, especially if you’re all about tours and activities.
Imagine earning unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. Yes, every single one. Whether you’re booking a cozy Airbnb, grabbing a latte at your favorite café, or even just filling up your tank, you’re stacking up miles like a pro.
And the best part? You can redeem these miles for any travel-related expense. Flights, hotels, car rentals – you name it. It’s like having a ‘travel on us’ card in your wallet.
Now, let’s talk about a little cherry on top: The Cultivist membership. For six months, you get complimentary access to this elite platform, which usually costs $40 per month. What does this mean for you?
Free admission to over 60 world-class museums, including the New York Met, the Paris Louvre, and The Art Institute of Chicago. And guess what? You can bring up to three guests for free. This card isn’t just a credit card; it’s your passport to cultural exploration.
The Capital One Venture Card is the epitome of simplicity and efficiency in the world of travel rewards. Its straightforward rewards structure and hassle-free redemption process make it a no-brainer for those who want to save big on their next tour or activity.
Get ready to jet-set with 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That’s a lot of miles waiting to take you places.
Rack up 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, and enjoy 2X miles on everything else. Simple, easy, and oh-so-rewarding.
Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (because who likes long lines?), Hertz Five Star status for that VIP feel, rental car insurance, travel accident insurance, and exclusive access to Capital One Dining. It’s like a travel toolkit in card form.
Credit Score & Fees:
You’ll need a good to excellent credit score to snag this card. The annual fee is a modest $95, which, considering the benefits, is pretty sweet. (see rates & fees)
Pros and Cons:
The $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years is a major win. The lounge benefits are generous for a card with a $95 annual fee, and the rewards structure is as easy as it gets. The only downside? The lounge network isn’t as extensive as some other cards. But hey, nobody’s perfect!
Q: How should I choose between the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card?
A: Great question! Choosing between these cards is like picking your favorite dessert at a gourmet bakery – they’re all tempting, but it depends on your taste (or in this case, your travel style). Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – This one is a winner if you’re looking for a solid all-rounder with a reasonable annual fee. It’s perfect for international travelers who appreciate a mix of travel rewards and protections, without breaking the bank. Choose this if you want a card that balances cost with perks, especially if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of travel rewards.
2. The Platinum Card® from American Express – If luxury travel and exclusive perks make your heart sing, this is your card. It’s a bit like flying first class in the world of credit cards. With a higher annual fee, it’s suited for those who travel frequently and can make the most of the extensive travel credits and elite status benefits. This card is your ticket to the VIP lounge of travel experiences.
3. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – This card is ideal for those who crave simplicity and flexibility. It’s fantastic for earning rewards effortlessly on everyday purchases and using them for a wide range of travel expenses. If you love the idea of a straightforward rewards system and enjoy cultural experiences like museum visits, this card will likely suit you best.
Ultimately, the choice depends on your travel frequency, spending habits, and the kind of perks that excite you.
Consider what matters most to you in your travels: Is it luxury and exclusive access? Comprehensive travel protections?
Or straightforward and flexible rewards? Your answer to this will point you to the right card. Remember, the best credit card is the one that aligns with your lifestyle and makes your travel dreams a reality!
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.