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Top 5 Credit Card Bonuses That Can Help You Travel for Free

Traveling
Written by Greg Johnson

Earning credit card bonuses is a real, legitimate, and profitable way to travel for free. Based on the long-standing idea of a loyalty rewards program, you can quickly earn credit card bonuses for signing up for new cards and for making everyday purchases, too.

With your desired destination in mind, you can master credit card rewards and promotions to get free airfare or airline seat upgrades to first class. Here are our top picks to narrow down your choices and find the best travel credit card for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Earning you an easy 50,000 point signup bonus is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. With rewards like that, you can get two roundtrip tickets to Europe when you book outside of the typical peak season.

The best part is that the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal has moved to a new site powered by Expedia, giving you even more options for flights and at better prices than before.

Paris, France

Signup Bonuses and Fees

To cash in on the 50,000 point signup bonus, you’ll need to spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s pretty easy to do, though, and switching out your usual card for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will help you get there.

The deal is even sweeter because the annual fee is waived for the first year. Plus, with the generous 2X rewards points earned on travel and restaurants, and 1X points on everything else, this card is hard to beat.

Southwest Visa Card

To get free and reduced airfare, the Southwest Visa Card will get you to the top destinations throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. Southwest is known for having a great selection of low-priced airfare options, and pairing that with the Southwest credit card incentives makes this one of the best travel credit cards around.

Depending on your travel needs, there are three tiers to choose from to suit your style. All of them offer 40,000 signup bonus rewards, and you even get anniversary points automatically each year your account is open.

Travel Rewards Credit Card

Signup Bonuses and Fees

You’ll score 40,000 points as a signup bonus if you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months. That’s often enough points to cash in for two round-trip flights to the Caribbean.

In addition to the signup bonus, you’ll earn two points per dollar on Southwest purchases plus hotel and car rental partner purchases, too. For everything else, you accumulate points at a 1:1 ratio. There is an annual fee with the Southwest credit card, but that will quickly pay for itself as you earn points toward free travel.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Offering the highest amount of signup bonus rewards, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard delivers a delightful 60,000 point bonus. Where most cards require you to redeem your points through their travel portal, this card gives you the freedom and flexibility to book however you want.

As long as you pay with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, you can reserve directly with the airline or hotel, through a travel agent, or using a discount travel site.

Hotel

Signup Bonuses and Fees

Spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months is all that stands between you and this huge 60,000 signup bonus, which is worth a $600 travel statement credit that you can use for everything travel-related. That means this card has you covered when it comes to flights, hotels, baggage fees, rental cars, cruises, and more.

Citi Prestige

This card has made big waves when it comes to the lineup of best travel credit cards. The Citi Prestige recently revamped their premium travel rewards program and are relaunching in 2019.

And it’s better than ever, earning you 5X points per dollar when used for dining and air travel and 3X points per dollar on cruise lines. You’ll also get a 50,000 point signup bonus to use, and an annual $250 credit for any travel expense.

Cruise

Signup Bonuses and Fees

 The benefits and bonuses of the Citi Prestige are outstanding. From the 50,000 signup bonus that’s worth $625 in airfare or other travel purchases to the annual airline travel credit, this card should be in your wallet.

When you add in airport lounge access through the AA Admirals Club plus Priority Pass, the benefits are easily worth $600 a year. Though the annual fee is higher than the others, coming in at $450, it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to cash in on the rewards you earn.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards card was named as the best travel credit card by CNBC for a reason. When the rewards are used to pay for travel expenses, this card has proven it gives the highest return over a five-year period for both average and frequent travelers.

You earn miles on every purchase and can redeem them for any airline or hotel at any time, with no restrictions on dates. There’s no cap on how many miles you can rack up. Since your points never expire over the life of your account, the sky is the limit to earning free travel with this card.

Airport

Signup Bonuses and Fees

With a one-time signup bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months, you continue to earn a high rate of miles on every purchase. After you cash in your signup bonus worth $500 in travel, you get 10X miles on thousands of hotels and 2X miles on all your other purchases.

The annual fee is waived for the first year, and it’s pretty low after that. You also enjoy no foreign transaction fees and no minimum redemption amount, so you can opt for a cheap flight to Mexico or save your miles for that dream vacation.

Which Card Is Best for You

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard offers the highest signup bonus, but also requires you to spend more in the first months than the other cards. Still, there are significant benefits to getting your hands on this card.

If you’re looking to travel most through the U.S. and Caribbean, the Southwest credit card might be a good option. It has a low threshold for earning the signup bonus points and comes with great incentives for everyday purchases.

Before you decide which of the best travel credit cards will give you the most bang for your buck, think about your travel needs. There’s a great travel credit card for everyone, and soon you’ll find your favorite.

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Travel Rewards Credit Cards

About the author

Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a personal finance and frugal travel expert who leveraged his online business to quit his 9-5 job, spend more time with his family, and travel the world. He is the co-owner of the popular blog Club Thrifty, where he teaches others how to spend less and travel more.

1 Comment

  • HI Greg,

    What an amazing post. I wasn’t aware of so many good offers going around. A penny saved is a penny earned. I am glad I landed on your post. It is always wonderful to get some freebies and discounts. I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a very good offer. Quite tempting and money saver.

    Thanks for sharing this post. Have a great day. 🙂

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