Earn Cheap International Flights with Credit Card BonusesPlay the credit card points game to earn free flights with everyday spending. There’s really no catch as long as you’re responsible with credit. Try and pay off your monthly balance to best maximize this hack. The best choices depend on your budget, style and what city you live in. Here are a few of the many great options in the travel hacking world.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Reward Bonuses to Save Thousands on TravelThe Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card includes a complimentary priority pass. This allows for 10 free airport lounge visits in a year. The bonus offer of 130,000 Hilton Honors points is worth around $700 in travel credit. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card also includes automatic Hilton Honors Gold Status. And as a gold member, you get room upgrades when available. This is fantastic value, as the annual fee is just $95. So even infrequent travelers can find great value in this card! The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card and Delta Skymiles Platinum AMEX cards are great cards if you fly Delta – which ranks as the best US airline for customer service. The Delta Skymiles Platinum AMEX card sometimes offers up to 90,000 SkyMiles as a signup bonus! That can be enough miles to fly multiple roundtrip international flights during off-peak times. Last year I flew roundtrip from Washington, DC to Tokyo, Japan on Delta for 70,000 Skymiles and $60 in taxes. If I paid out of pocket for the ticket it would have cost me $1,300. So I saved over $1,000 on that ticket! Then I was able to replenish Delta miles even during the pandemic. Read how I earned over 120,000 Delta Skymiles in a year without flying and how you can too!
Free Lounge Access with Priority PassRewards credit cards that offer a priority pass are great for free lounge access. Having lounge access makes any flight, especially a long one, more relaxing and enjoyable. We’ve now taken advantage of free lounge access in cities around the world like Istanbul and multiple airports in Tanzania during our recent safari trip. Cards like Chase Sapphire also offer a Priority Pass, but the annual fee is $550! There’s a $300 reimbursement for travel credit, and even Uber counts towards that. With so many cards on the market, that card is not worth keeping beyond a year for some. Bell had this card, and cancelled it during the height of the pandemic. Given the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card comes with a Priority Pass, and the annual fee is just $95, that’s been worth keeping for us during the pandemic.
Maximize Hotel Points With Travel Reward Card BonusesIf you travel a lot for business, there’s value in brand loyalty. So it’s typically not worth alternating between Hilton and Marriott stays unless there’s a massive price difference. The points add up over the long haul, and loyalty has the added value of status. So you can get extra perks like complimentary room upgrades and free breakfast with a higher status. The exception here is with travel hacking – because with big sign up bonuses it can be worth alternating between hotel branded travel rewards cards. Many of them even include automatic status upgrades, so you can hold higher status at hotels like Marriott and Hilton simultaneously, even if you barely stay there!
Hilton PointsMany travel rewards cards offer big sign up bonuses. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card is an excellent travel rewards card to have. They offer 130,000 Hilton Honors Points that you can use towards multiple free Hilton stays. Those points are worth around $700 in Hilton credit. Another excellent perk of this card is automatic Hilton Honors gold status. Hilton gold status offers complimentary breakfasts and room upgrades when available. You can receive a free Priority Pass, which allows you 10 lounge visits in over 1,200 lounges worldwide. At $95, this is the lowest annual fee card I’ve come across that gives free lounge access! One downside is that sometimes the lounge is in a terminal you can’t access. But this is a fantastic travel perk when you can access the lounge. You can enjoy complimentary snacks, drinks and comfortable seating with outlets to charge your devices!
Marriott PointsMarriott is now the largest luxury hotel brand in the world. Westin, Sheraton and Le Meridian are among the hotels that fall under Marriott’s umbrella. So points with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express can be redeemed at many hotel brands around the world. I used this card to book a Sheraton stay in Venice Mestre for two nights for just €6.20! Yes, 6 euro and 20 cents! Among the perks of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant is automatic Marriott Gold Elite Status. That means guests automatically receive free room upgrades when they’re available. The card also comes with a Priority Pass so you can get complimentary lounge access in over 1,200 airports around the world. After the initial spend, the current bonus is 75,000 points, which is good for about $700 in hotel credit according to the Points Guy. You also receive a complimentary reward bonus night each year. The $450 annual fee seems steep, but you only have to spend $300 at Marriott each year, and you receive $300 of it back in credit. Not everyone resides in the United States, and travel hacking through credit cards is not for everyone. So here are some other tips to save money on travel.
Book Hotel Rooms with Free Cancellation When You Know Your Travel Dates
If you have to cancel your trip or you find a better deal later, you can make changes without paying a penalty. We typically use booking.com because they usually offer the best prices. They also seem to offer a higher inventory of rooms with free cancellation compared to many of their competitors. Quickly double check prices by searching the hotel on google before booking. Often times the hotel charges more if you book directly on their site, which is peculiar. But some hotels offers specials for direct bookings – like complimentary breakfasts.