Start earning credit card rewards for your next vacation now - Business Insider - Business Insider

Start earning credit card rewards for your next vacation now - Business Insider - Business Insider

Start earning credit card rewards for your next vacation now - Business Insider - Business Insider

Posted: 07 Apr 2020 12:59 PM PDT

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on this page are from our partners, like Citi, but our coverage is always independent.

Much is uncertain in the world right now, and no one knows exactly when travel will be allowed again. But when it is, you'll want to be ready with enough credit card points to fund a much-needed vacation. If you've been putting off a romantic getaway to Paris or a relaxing week at a Caribbean island resort, 2020 has proven how short life can be, so you'll want to jump on a trip once it's safe to do so.

No matter when travel starts back up again, if you plan right and use a rewards credit card, you can build up enough points and miles to go on the trip of a lifetime, without breaking the bank.

We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Form your plan for earning points

If you don't already have a stash of points or miles, now is the perfect time to start building up those rewards. Even if you do have some points or miles, you could take this opportunity to reassess your current credit cards and rewards programs and see if you could do better with a different card.

If you're traveling with other people, it helps to get them collecting credit card points as well. You can offset the cost of hotel lodgings even more by pooling points together!

The quickest way to accrue points and miles is to take advantage of the welcome bonuses offered when you sign up for a new credit card. The key is to do this without going into debt. Paying interest on your credit card charges completely negates any savings that points will offer, so you should only use credit cards if you're able to pay your statement balance in full each month.

After assessing your budget to see how much you can comfortably spend and pay off each month, look carefully at the minimum spending requirements of the top rewards credit card sign-up bonuses. You'll want to apply for the cards with the highest minimum spending requirements (and most bonus points) first. Apply for and utilize the cards in waves so you don't go over your monthly budget to meet the spending minimums.

Here are some of the best credit card sign-up bonuses available now:

Apply for a new rewards credit card

If you start at least four or five months ahead of your desired trip date, you should have enough time to accrue all the points you'll need to book . There are a few ways to go about this, too: getting cards that offer big and valuable bonuses, or focusing based on this one destination. 
For example, if you want to vacation in Hawaii, the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard can net you 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $2,000 within the first three months of opening the card. This would be more than enough to cover a round-trip ticket — averaging 35,000 to 52,500 miles — and still have some rewards left over. But unless you plan to fly Hawaiian Airlines often, the miles won't be very valuable to you in the future. 

If you want to accrue travel points you can use for more than just this one trip, I love the Chase Sapphire Preferred, where you can earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you spend a much more manageable $4,000 within the first three months of opening the card. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most valuable for booking travel, because they transfer at a 1:1 ratio to a great selection of airlines and hotels including British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, United, and Virgin Atlantic.

Earn a second wave of bonus points

Three months away from your desired trip date, you've hopefully been awarded enough bonus points to cover either a flight or some of your hotel dates. 

Take care of the flights first, as they tend to become more expensive the closer to a trip, whereas hotels tend to become cheaper. 

As soon as you hit the minimum spending requirement on one of your new cards, switch to another. Whenever you meet the spending minimum, the points will be awarded to you at the start of the next statement style. 

If you took my advice and got 60,000 Chase points from the Sapphire Preferred, I recommend the World of Hyatt Credit Card for your second wave. Spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening this card, and you will be rewarded with 25,000 World of Hyatt points. Spend $6,000 within the first six months for 25,000 more. The average cost per night at a Hyatt hotel is 12,000 to 15,000 points, but I've booked for under 10,000.

This one credit card could net you enough to fund a full week of free hotel stays — or even longer if you pool points with friends. Chase Ultimate Reward points transfer to Hyatt as well, so you can use points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred to book Hyatt stays.

A few credit card bonuses can cover your major trip costs

If you were strategic in your spending, two months before your trip you should be flush with credit card points—enough to fund a vacation with much lower out-of-pocket expenses — specially if you're splitting costs with friends or a partner! 

If you like how that feels, remember you can sign up for new credit cards on a regular basis and build up a veritable bank of points and miles to use however you like. Just be sure to keep your spending in check and your credit score up. 

Annual Fee


Regular APR

15.99%-22.99% Variable

Credit Score

Good to Excellent

Editor's Rating

Intro Bonus

60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months
Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • High sign-up bonus starts you off with lots of points
  • Strong travel coverage
  • Doesn't offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit or any other statement credit benefits
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