The Best Travel Hacking Credit Cards for Beginners


When sharing how we travel for free people are very intrigued and interested but sometimes also a little overwhelmed. Knowing what credit cards to open and then figuring out how to best use those points can seem confusing if you have never done this, we get it. If you are one of those people then this post is for you! Today I’m sharing the best travel hacking credit cards for beginners. Each of these cards comes with a great signup bonus, have flexible points, and is great to get you started in the world of travel hacking. If you aren’t ready to dive in full force and get card after card as we do then consider opening one of these cards and using it for a while. As you get more comfortable with having a travel reward card then you can always open more cards later!


Travel Hacking Credit Cards for Beginners


Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our top pick for beginner travel hackers. We love the transfer partners available with this card! We also recommend this card first because of the Chase 5/24 Rule.


Welcome Bonus: The standard signup bonus on this card is 60,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. This bonus is worth a minimum of $750 with the possibility for much much more. The annual fee is $95.

Perks of the Card: Besides the great welcome bonus, this card will earn you 5x the points on travel booked in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3x on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery orders, 2x on all other travel purchases, and 1x on everything else. Each year on your account anniversary you’ll get a $50 statement credit for a hotel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal. With this card, you’ll get great benefits like; primary auto rental coverage, trip delay, and trip cancellation insurance, extended warranty and price protection coverage as well as coverage for delayed or damaged baggage. I have used the damaged baggage coverage and it was easy to use. When the airline broke my stroller I submitted a claim and received a check in the mail for the original price of the stroller!

How to Use the Points: These points are so great because of their flexibility. You can book just about anything in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (very similar to Expedia) from flights, hotel nights, rental cars, and more. When booking in the travel portal each point is worth 1.25 cents. When booking in the portal you have the option to pay totally by points or use cash and points. Another way to book travel using your points (and my favorite) is to transfer your points to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners. Some of their partners include Southwest, United, and Hyatt. You will usually get the most value by transferring your points vs booking in the travel portal. If you’d like to know the value of your points when transferring just divide the cash price by the total cost of points.


Capital One Venture

The Capital One Venture is probably the easiest-to-use travel rewards credit card out there and a great option for a beginner travel hacker.

Welcome Bonus: The Capital One Venture has a standard welcome bonus of 60,000 Venture Miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months. The bonus is worth $600 and potentially more depending on how you use the points. The card has an annual fee of $95.

Perks of the Card: In addition to the signup bonus this card also comes with a statement credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. The card earns 2 miles for every dollar spent. Other benefits of the card include lost luggage reimbursement, extended warranty protection, and trip accident insurance.

How to Use the Miles: Like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles are very flexible. The points are worth 1 cent apiece and can be redeemed for any travel purchases (Airbnb, rental car, Disneyland tickets bought through a travel agency, cruise tickets, etc.) To redeem your points you first need to make your travel-related purchase on your card. Once the purchase shows up on your account you can apply your miles to essentially erase the purchase.

Another way to use your points is to transfer them to Capital One’s travel partners. Capital One has a variety of airline partners as well as a few hotel partners. You will get more value out of your points when you transfer them. To learn more about their partners, check out our post all about the Capital One Venture card.


Bottom Line

If you are a beginner travel hacker and are wanting to dip your feet into the world of travel hacking, we recommend starting with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture as one of your first travel hacking credit cards. I prefer the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card because I find more value with their transfer partners but Capital One Venture Miles are really great as well. They are both great beginner cards, in fact, I have both!




best credit cards for beginner travel hackers

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