3 Cards We Love for Travel Hacking

travel hacking

Traveling is a rewarding experience that refreshes your day-to-day routine. The cost of traveling, however, can put a strain on your budget. Whether your wanderlust is calling for a week-long vacation or you’re traveling for business, you’ll want to make sure you’re saving money as much as possible on travel purchases.

Fortunately, there are several popular travel rewards credit cards on the market that can help curb travel expenses along the way. Here are three cards that we recommend, if you’re looking to get more value when planning your travel.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is Chase’s highest-tiered travel card. Although it comes with a pricey $450 annual fee (plus $75 per year for each additional cardholder), its rewards program and benefits can make up for it. 

Not only does it boast an appealing sign-up bonus offer and high rewards potential on travel-based purchases, but it also offers exceptional travel benefits. Currently, new cardholders can earn a 50,000 bonus after spending a minimum of $4,000 within the first three months of opening a Chase Sapphire Reserve account. When redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, the bonus is valued at an impressive $750.

Earning points is easy if you’re an avid traveler or frequently dine out. You’ll earn three points per dollar on every travel or restaurant purchase, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also offers cardholders a $300 annual travel credit, so you can chip away at travel costs faster. But travel cards wouldn’t earn a “premium” label without a few added luxury perks.

Travelers can get through airport and seaport security lanes faster, thanks to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card offers reimbursement for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee (valued at up to $100) which is available every four years. Additionally, you’ll have access to Priority Pass Select which opens the doors to 1,000+ lounges worldwide. 

Who it’s good for: The Chase Sapphire is a good option for those who can take advantage of the sign-up bonus offer, and are typically spendy when it comes to dining and travel purchases.    

2. Capital One Venture Card

If the steep annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve made you balk, the Capital One Venture might be a middle-ground alternative. It charges a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year on new accounts.

Like the Sapphire Reserve, it offers a high-value sign-up bonus. New cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of opening the account. 

Earning points is more straightforward since you’ll earn two miles for every dollar spent on the card, regardless of the purchase type. And through January 31, 2020, Capital One is partnering with Hotels.com to offer a whopping 10 miles per dollar on booked stays using your Capital One Venture card.

One of the helpful features of Capital One’s rewards program is its flexibility. If you are a member of a partner airline’s loyalty program, you can easily transfer your earned miles to the program of your choice. And for a lower annual fee, the Capital One Venture card also offers a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit of up to $100 every four years. 

Who it’s good for: Cardholders who are looking for a simple way to earn miles with a flat rewards structure will appreciate the Capital One Venture.

3. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, issued by Chase, is in the same tier as the Capital One Venture card, when it comes to the annual fee. It costs $95 per year to carry the card but offers travelers, particularly those who have an affinity for Marriott Bonvoy hotels, high-value rewards.

New Marriott Bonvoy Boundless cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending at least $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. You can earn six points per dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels and two points per dollar on everything else.

Card benefits are also tantalizing for frequent travelers. Every year on your card anniversary, you’ll automatically receive a complimentary one-night stay. You’ll also receive complimentary Wi-Fi for all Marriott Bonvoy stays and have access to valuable travel protections, like baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and trip delay reimbursement. 

Who it’s good for: Travelers who mostly stay at Marriott Bonvoy hotels while traveling get the most value out of this card.

How to choose a travel rewards credit card

When choosing a travel rewards credit card, there’s no “one size fits all” approach. Consider your own travel habits, such as how frequently you travel, how likely you’ll use perks like airport lounges, and whether you’re loyal to a particular airline carrier or hotel.

Regardless of which travel rewards card you end up with, it’s important to be mindful of your spending habits. Make sure you can repay the entire statement balance each month to avoid interest charges. 

These cards are great tools when used responsibly for purchases you already make. Avoid putting charges on your new card just to chase rewards — at the end of the day, your budget and savings are better off when you don’t overspend on travel