Recently, in one of my social media groups, a fellow mom asked the question: What is the best travel credit card to earn free travel?
For most normal people, that seems like a simple question. But as many of my readers know, it’s not an easy question to answer.
Reality Check: You can’t travel like my family does with one credit card
If I’m being honest and keeping it real, you can’t travel like my family does by using just one credit card’s travel rewards. I mean sure, you can probably book one trip for a family of four with one credit card’s welcome bonus. But, that’s not sustainable for multiple trips in one year or even one trip every year for multiple years.
Why not? The majority of my miles and points come from credit card welcome bonuses, not everyday spending. It’s much harder to accumulate a ton of miles and points through everyday spending alone.
That’s why, to really win at this travel hacking hobby, you have to be open to applying for multiple credit cards over time. It also helps to have a Player 2 (aka P2, a spouse or partner) apply for credit cards separately to get a second set of welcome bonuses, as well as a small business credit card (see this hot deal that is expiring soon).
Location and Travel Preferences
Another reason that there is not one “best” travel credit card is that people live in different locations and have different travel preferences. For example, I live near DFW, where Southwest and American Airlines rule the skies. I would not recommend that my neighbors start with a Delta credit card, for example.
Also, some folks like to fly, and some prefer road trips. I can’t recommend an airline credit card if your future travel plans include driving to national parks (BTW, this hotel credit card currently has 175k bonus miles!)
Timing of Elevated Bonuses
The “best” travel credit card to get this month might not be the best credit card next month. Why? Welcome bonuses are always changing. In this hobby, you have to strike while the iron is hot! When a credit card gets a new elevated bonus, it usually doesn’t last forever. Many of us got the new Capital One Venture X last year when the welcoming bonus was 100k, but we haven’t seen that elevated offer come back. But sometimes, we see cards alternate higher and lower welcome bonuses throughout the year. Follow this blog to be notified of new hot welcome offers. If you’re unsure if a credit card has a decent bonus, feel free to ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So What’s the Answer?
While there isn’t one “best” credit card for free travel, I do consistently recommend a few of my favorite cards to newbies:
Chase Sapphire Preferred: This card currently has 60k bonus points after spending $4000 in the first 3 months. You can use the points to book travel in the Chase travel portal, or transfer the points to travel partners like Hyatt, Southwest and United. $95 annual fee. See this post for more information.
Capital One Venture Rewards: This card currently has a 75k bonus after spending $4000 in the first 3 months. All purchases earn 2X miles, and you can use the miles to erase travel purchases from your statements. Capital One also has travel transfer partners. $95 annual fee. See this post for more information,
See our list of the best credit cards for March 2023, as well as my entire list of affiliate credit cards here.If you are new to travel hacking with credit cards, read my post Travel Hacking 101.
Readers, what do you think is the best travel credit card?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.
Nishita Khanwani says
Credit Cards of any types can be tricky to deal with. So, before opting for one, it’s necessary to read and understand the policies and all the charges that come up by owning one.