So many credit cards, so many types of reward points! It can get confusing, can’t it? Ultimate Rewards, American Express Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Marriott Bonvoy Rewards, Delta SkyMiles, etc., etc., etc. It’s hard to keep up with all the different types of reward points! Although it can get confusing, the good news is that because there are so many different types, there are many ways to earn more and more points!
One of the biggest fears of travel hackers is that one could run out of credit card points and travel hacking could end. Luckily, there is a myriad of points we can move on to. Let’s break them down in today’s post.
One of the favorite types of credit card points for beginner travel hackers and more seasoned travel hackers alike are Chase Ultimate Rewards, offered by Chase Bank. The beauty of Ultimate Rewards is that they are transferable points. This means they can be transferred to many airline and hotel sites for use in multiple ways. Here are some of the cards that will give you Ultimate Rewards:
Those last four cards are technically cashback cards but if you also have a Sapphire Preferred, Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred you can move the points from your cashback card into one of those cards and be able to use them for travel.
Chase Ultimate Rewards can also be used to book travel in the Chase Travel Portal (similar to and Expedia). Each point is worth 1.25 cents with the exception of the Sapphire Reserve which is worth 1.5 cents in the portal. Using the portal to book travel is super easy but we find that oftentimes you get more value when you transfer your Ultimate Rewards directly to one of Chase’s travel partners. There are several airline and hotel transfer partners. These include:
Alex is the queen of using Ultimate Rewards and she has used them in the following ways:
Check out this post to learn even more about Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Another popular credit card reward point currency is American Express Membership Rewards. These are also transferable points and we love transferable points. While we love our American Express credit cards and are even willing to pay a high annual fee for them, we suggest you get your Chase credit cards first because of the Chase 5/24 rule. These are the credit cards that will get you American Express Membership Rewards:
Some of these transfers are instant. Some may take a few days and some are not a 1:1 transfer. One of the best things about Membership Rewards is that American Express periodically offers bonus points when you transfer to certain partners. That is the perfect time to transfer Membership Rewards. However, all transfers are a one-way deal. Once you transfer your points to the partner, they remain with that partner.
For example, I transferred Membership Rewards for a Virgin Atlantic business class seat to Chile. We had horrible Denver weather close to my departure date, so I needed to fly direct to Chile instead of starting in Atlanta as planned. I was able to cancel my flight and keep my Virgin Atlantic points but couldn’t put them back into Membership Rewards. I have been looking for a way to use them and recently used some on my Costa Rica girl’s trip.
I have opened several American Express cards and have lots of Membership Rewards still. I have used my Membership Rewards in the following ways:
Learn more about American Express Membership Rewards by checking out this post.
Although not as popular as some of the other reward points, Citi ThankYou Points are another great way to build your stockpile of points. They are also transferable points but don’t have as many domestic airline partners and no hotel partners. The credit cards that give you ThankYou Points are:
I used ThankYou points to transfer to EVA and traveled to Thailand in business class for 75,000 miles one way. I even got jammies from EVA and their service was great! To learn more about Citi ThankYou Points, check out this post.
Capital One offers Venture Rewards that can be used in two ways. Like most of the cards we recommend you can use the rewards and transfer them to certain airlines. Additionally, and even easier, you can use the rewards to effectively cancel or “wipe out” expenses that fall in the travel category. To earn these points you’ll want to open a Capital One Venture Card.
Unfortunately, the redemption rate is usually 2:1.5 so not quite as a good redemption rate as other types of transferable points but can still a good value. As a beginner travel hacker, it is easiest to use this card as an “eraser” for travel items other points won’t cover like Disneyland tickets, Airbnb, rental cars, etc.
There are also various airlines and hotels that offer their own credit cards and points. These are primarily used on their own sites to book award travel or hotel stays. Here are some of the main ones:
Additionally, there are other banks that offer their own travel reward programs. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and US Bank to name a few. We recommend starting with the ones we listed above as they are the most rewarding.
Each of these has one or more credit cards and so you can get plenty of points to add to your stockpile of travel points and travel for free or nearly free.
One of the greatest things about travel hacking is that there are so many different types of points we can earn with so many different credit cards. This means that we can continually be finding new cards to apply for thus ensuring that we can enjoy free to nearly free travel for many years. We know that beginner travel hackers can find all these points/names confusing so be sure and reach out to us on our home page for a free credit consultation.
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