A dilemma I face every time I’m plotting my next escape is whether should I use my precious miles for flights or hotels?
It’s like standing at a crossroads in a bustling city, map in hand, wondering which path leads to the best adventure.
As a solo female travel blogger, I’ve waltzed through enough airport lounges and hotel lobbies to know that this decision isn’t just about numbers; it’s about experiences.
Every booking is a strategic move, like a chess game where the prize is unforgettable travel memories. I often find myself weighing my mileage balance, asking, “Do I splurge on a flight upgrade, or do I treat myself to a luxury hotel stay?”
Typically, I lean towards using my points for flights. There’s something irresistibly glamorous about flying in upgraded comfort, sipping on a glass of bubbly, and arriving refreshed.
But let’s be real – sometimes a hotel can be the main event. Picture a stunning resort that’s just too enticing to pass up, especially when it’s available for points. In those cases, I’ve happily flipped the script and indulged in some of the most luxurious stays imaginable.
This post may have affiliate links. When you click on a link we receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. See Our Affiliate Policy for more info.
Each time I’m faced with this choice, it’s a balancing act – assessing my mileage balance, the destination, and what I’m craving more: sky-high luxury or a dreamy hotel experience.
And with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card in my arsenal, I’m armed with options.
So, let’s break it down together. Whether you’re a first-class flyer aficionado or a connoisseur of fine hotels, understanding how to maximize your miles with these top travel credit cards can turn a routine trip into the journey of a lifetime.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Flights or Hotels? Let’s Decide
Let’s chat about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – a true jewel in the crown of travel cards. Every time I peek at my points balance, I’m like a kid in a candy store, pondering whether to cash in on a flight upgrade or a swanky hotel stay.
Let’s break it down:
- Using Points for Flights:
- Why It’s Tempting: With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you get 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and 2X points on other travel expenses. What does this mean for us jet-setters? More points, more luxury in the sky.
- The Sweet Spot: Transferring points to airline partners. This card’s versatility shines here. You can often squeeze out more value per point, especially for international or business-class flights. I’ve sipped champagne in premium seats more times than I can count, all thanks to these point transfers.
- Personal Experience: I’ve whisked myself to Paris in business class using points from this card, turning a long-haul flight into a mini-vacation of its own. Pure bliss!
- Using Points for Hotels:
- Why Consider It: That $50 Ultimate Rewards hotel credit? It’s like getting a free round of cocktails at your hotel bar. Plus, the 1X points on general purchases can surprisingly add up to a free night’s stay at a lovely boutique hotel or a luxurious resort.
- Maximizing Your Stay: Sometimes, it’s all about the destination. If there’s a dreamy hotel that’s calling your name (think ocean views or a cityscape that sparkles at night), using your points here can turn a simple stay into a memory that lasts a lifetime.
- My Go-To Strategy: There have been times when I’ve splurged on an extravagant hotel stay, like a beachfront villa, using points I accumulated through everyday spending. Waking up to the sound of waves, courtesy of my Sapphire points, is an experience I’ll never forget.
So, What’s the Verdict with Chase?
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, it’s all about what you value more at the moment of booking.
Craving luxury in the clouds? 9 times out of 10 I go for the flight redemption.
Dreaming of a hotel stay that feels like a fairy tale? Your points have got you covered.
The beauty of this card is its flexibility – it’s ready to cater to your travel whims, whether they’re up in the air or on the ground.
Details on the Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Welcome Bonus: Let’s start with a bang! This card greets you with a whopping 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s a whole lot of points ready to fuel your wanderlust.
- Jet-Setting Just Got Sweeter: Earn 5X points when booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (just a heads-up, this excludes hotel stays that snag that sweet $50 annual credit).
- Foodie Frenzy: Rake in 3X points on dining, whether you’re brunching in a quaint café or ordering your favorite takeout.
- Groceries and Chill: Yep, 3X points on online grocery purchases too. Because who doesn’t love points for stocking up on snacks?
- Binge-Watching Bonanza: Even your streaming service binge sessions earn you 3X points.
- All Other Travels: Score 2X points on other travel spends, because every journey should be rewarding.
- Everything Else: And for all the other bits and bobs, you’re looking at 1X points.
Travel Benefits That Speak My Language:
- Hotel Hopping Perk: Get a $50 Ultimate Rewards hotel credit annually, plus a complimentary 4th night at Ennismore Hotel properties (hello, extended stay!).
- Safety Net: Comprehensive travel insurance coverage, including trip cancellation/interruption, baggage delay, and even a primary rental car collision damage waiver.
- Always Prepared: Travel and emergency assistance services, because it’s always good to have a backup plan.
Credit Score & Annual Fee:
- Credit Savvy: Aim for a good to excellent credit score to snag this gem.
- The Price of Adventure: The annual fee is a reasonable $95. Think of it as a small investment for big travel returns.
Pros That Make Me Smile:
- Worldwide Welcomes: No pesky foreign transaction fees on purchases abroad. More savings, more souvenirs!
- Travel Protection Plus: Generous travel benefits that have my back, whether I’m sipping coffee in Paris or hiking in Peru.
- That Reasonable Price Tag: An annual fee that doesn’t leave my wallet feeling light.
- Flex Points: A top-notch rewards program that gives me freedom in how I earn and redeem those sweet, sweet points.
Cons to Consider:
- The Fee Reality: Yes, there’s that $95 annual fee. But for the perks, it’s a pretty fair trade-off.
- The 5/24 Rule: Chase plays hard to get. If you’ve opened five or more new credit cards (from any issuer) in the past 24 months, they might give you the “It’s not you, it’s me” line and get denied.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Soaring High or Luxe Lodgings?
Travel buddies, let’s talk about The Platinum Card® from American Express. This isn’t just a card; it’s your golden ticket to a world of luxury travel.
Every time I hold this card, I feel like I’m holding a wand ready to conjure up some travel magic. Should I use its powers for an epic flight or an opulent hotel stay? Let’s dive in:
- Points in the Sky:
- Why Flights Get My Vote: This card is practically synonymous with luxury air travel. Earning 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel (up to $500,000 per year) means your dream flight is just points away. Think lie-flat seats, gourmet meals, and fluffy pillows at 30,000 feet.
- The Upside of Airline Transfers: Amex’s airline transfer partners are like a who’s who of the airline world. Transferring points can often unlock incredible value, especially for those first-class or business-class tickets that redefine what it means to fly.
- Points on the Ground:
- Why Hotels Tempt Me: Let’s not forget, we also get 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel. Imagine using those points at a stunning property where the bathrobes are plush, and the views are Instagram-worthy.
- Elite Status, Elite Stays: With automatic Gold elite status at Hilton and Marriott, your hotel stays become experiences. Room upgrades, late checkouts, and complimentary breakfasts – these little luxuries make hotel redemptions incredibly enticing.
So, What’s the Play?
With The Platinum Card® from American Express, your points are a currency of luxury.
If your heart yearns for the skies, redeeming for flights could be your ticket to cloud nine. But if a serene, luxurious hotel stay is calling your name, then that’s where your points should take you.
It’s all about how you love to travel.
For me, there’s an indescribable thrill in using points for an opulent flight. But I won’t lie – I’ve been swayed by some spectacular hotels, especially when they roll out the red carpet with those Gold elite perks.
The Platinum Card® from American Express Details
Welcome Bonus That Wows:
- Start with a Bang: Earn a jaw-dropping 80,000 points after you splurge $8,000 in the first six months. That’s like a treasure chest of points waiting to be unlocked for your next grand adventure.
Rewards That Make Me Go ‘Wow’:
- Sky-High Points: Earn an amazing 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel (capped at a cool $500,000 per year). That’s your ticket to soaring through the skies in style.
- Hotel Heaven: Also score 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel. Because who doesn’t love racking up points for sleeping in luxury?
- Everything Else: And for all the other goodies, you’re raking in 1X points.
Travel Benefits That Scream ‘First-Class’:
- Credits Galore: Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits, up to $200 for hotel bookings (two-night minimum stay) in statement credits, and up to $200 in Uber Cash. Talk about being showered with perks!
- Streaming and Shopping Perks: Enjoy a statement credit of up to $20 monthly digital entertainment credit, up to $155 Walmart + Credit, and up to $300 Equinox statement credit to keep you fit on your travels.
- Shopping Treats: Don’t forget the up to $50 Saks credit twice a year (given in statement credits) and a neat up to $189 credit for CLEAR® Plus, making airport security a breeze.
- Gold Status Glamour: Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status, because we love the red-carpet treatment, plus elite status with Avis, Hertz, and National rental cars.
- Safety Net: Top-notch travel insurance, including trip delay and cancellation & interruption coverage.*
- Credit Score Check: Aim for good to excellent to get your hands on this gem.
- The Price Tag: The annual fee is a hefty $695* (see rates and fees), but for a travel connoisseur like me, it’s worth it for the avalanche of benefits.
Pros That Make Me Nod:
- Travel Credits Galore: These credits can really offset that annual fee if you play your cards right.
- Points Paradise: Earning those valuable Membership Rewards points is like striking gold in the travel world.
- Protection Plus: The travel protections are just top-notch, giving you peace of mind on every journey.
Cons to Ponder:
- The Wallet Hit: That annual fee isn’t for the faint of heart.
- Bonus Boundaries: Category bonuses are tied to Amex Travel and direct bookings, so there’s a bit of a limit there.
- Once-in-a-Lifetime Deal: The current welcome bonus is a one-time affair, so make it count!
Capital One Venture Rewards Card: A World of Flexibility for Flights and Hotels
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – it’s like the Swiss Army knife of travel cards.
Whether you’re daydreaming about soaring skies or luxurious stays, this card has got you covered.
Here’s my take on why it’s a fab choice for both flights and hotels:
- Miles for Miles (Flights, That Is):
- Why I’m All About Flights with Venture: With this card, every purchase earns you 2 miles per dollar, and 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. This means your everyday spending is quietly building up your next flight ticket.
- Redemption Simplicity: What I absolutely adore is the straightforwardness. You can use your miles to cover travel expenses like flights without jumping through hoops. No worrying about blackout dates or finding available award seats.
- Miles for Stays (Hotel Galore):
- Why Hotels Can Be a Great Bet: Again, the simplicity wins. You can redeem your miles for hotel stays at a flat rate, which means no surprises. Whether it’s a boutique hotel in the heart of the city or a serene beach resort, your miles have got your back.
- Extra Perks: Don’t forget about the 5X miles on hotels booked through Capital One Travel. It’s like they’re begging you to splurge on that fancy suite.
So, What’s My Pick?
With the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, the world is your oyster, and your miles are the pearls. I lean towards flights because I love the idea of my daily coffee runs eventually turning into a ticket to somewhere exotic.
But I’ve also been swayed by some irresistible hotel stays – especially when it means waking up to a breathtaking view, courtesy of my Venture miles.
In the end, it’s about what you value more at that moment – the journey or the destination.
And with this card, you’re winning either way. Flexible, easy, and oh-so-rewarding, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is like your trusty travel sidekick, ready for whatever adventure you have in mind.
Capital One Venture Card Details
Welcome Bonus That Packs a Punch:
- Hello, Miles! Kickstart your travel adventures with a whopping 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That’s a lot of miles to fuel your wanderlust right off the bat.
Rewards That Keep on Giving:
- Miles Galore: Earn an impressive 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Whether you’re snoozing in a luxury hotel or cruising in a snazzy rental, you’re earning big.
- Everyday Earnings: Everything else gets you 2X miles. Yes, even your morning coffee or that cute souvenir.
Travel Benefits That Make Me Go ‘Wow’:
- Breeze Through Security: Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Because who likes waiting in long lines?
- VIP Status on the Road: Enjoy Hertz Five Star status for those times you need a set of wheels on your travels.
- Safety First: Handy rental car insurance and travel accident insurance because it’s always good to be prepared.
- Dining Perks: Access to Capital One Dining, because good food is part of every great journey.
- Culture Vulture Alert: A complimentary six-month membership to The Cultivist, letting you immerse yourself in the art scenes of the world’s greatest cities.
The Practical Stuff:
- Credit Check: Aim for a good to excellent credit score to get your hands on this travel gem.
- The Price for Adventure: A modest annual fee of $95, which, let’s be honest, is a small price to pay for a world of travel perks.
Pros That Make Me Smile:
- Fee Waiver Wonders: That $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA Precheck every four years is a godsend.
- Lounge Love: A generous lounge benefit for a card with this annual fee is like finding an unexpected travel upgrade.
- Simple and Sweet: The rewards structure is straightforward and oh-so-rewarding, with a wide array of airline transfer partners to boot.
Cons to Keep in Mind:
- Lounge Limitations: The lounge network isn’t as vast as some other cards, but hey, it’s about quality, not quantity, right?
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.