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Sky Smarts: Which Travel Rewards Credit Card is Right for You?

For the serious traveler, a travel rewards credit card may be a great idea. These credit cards can help save on travel expenses, and unlike airline miles cards can be applied to a wide variety of costs: airline fare, hotel costs, car rental expenses, etc., etc. If you’re anything like the majority of travelers, you already use your credit card to cover these costs while away anyways; why not help pay for future trips while on your current one? There are many travel rewards programs out there, and finding the right one can seem tricky. Here are some of the best travel rewards credit cards, with a brief description of the qualifications necessary and the perks offered.

Chase Sapphire (standard)
•    Regular APR: 12.24% Variable
•    Credit needed: None
•    Annual Fee: $0
•    The Chase Sapphire has a very flexible reward system. Earn double points by booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards or 1-to-1 for most major carriers. You’ll essentially get the rewards of an airline miles program without the annual fee.
•    Chase also offers a Preferred Sapphire card, with an annual fee of $85 but with the opportunity to earn a free flight and no restrictions such as blackout dates or points expiration.

Citi Diamond Preferred Rewards Card
•    Regular APR: 12.99% Variable
•    Credit needed: Average
•    Annual Fee: $0
•    Use points from the Citi Diamond Preferred Rewards Card to book through their Expedia-powered website. Not only will you be able to use your points, but you will be doing so through one of the best cheap fare search engines. Get a 0% Intro APR for the first 12 months. Citi also has their Thank You Bonus Center, an online mall where card holders may earn 4 to 1 rewards from purchases made with over 400 participating merchants.

Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
•    Regular APR: 15.24% Variable
•    Credit needed: Very good
•    Annual Fee: $45
•    The Starwood Preferred Guest Card is one of the most popular programs for frequent travelers. Its hotel rewards program is considered the best and it recently won Smarter Travel Editor’s Choice Award for Best Travel Awards Card for Domestic Use. You do not have to use it with any Starwood business, but users can earn double point rewards if they do. Also, whereas most programs require 25,000 points earned to have enough for a free domestic flight, most Starwood Preferred Guest card holders can get one for as little as 20,000.

United Mileage Plus Select Visa Card
•    Regular APR: 13.24 % Variable
•    Credit needed: Excellent
•    Annual Fee: $95
•    Visa’s United Mileage Plus card has awesome rewards for those who tend to fly United or Continental. Users may earn 3 miles per dollar spent on United or Continental flights and earn 2 miles per dollar spent on everyday needs such as gas, Star Alliances purchases, and food and dining (all from participating retailers). After spending just $250 on the card, users may earn 30,000 bonus miles and a $50 United travel certificate — enough for roundtrip ticket to most anywhere in the continental United States.

Joseph Gustav is a guest blogger for Pounding the Pavement and a writer on the subject of earning your High School Diploma at Home for the Guide to Career Education.


  • RonLeyba
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Thanks for this round up about credit cards. Having credit cards and using it wisely really helps in terms of travel and tours expenses.

  • Natalie
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I have one credit card which I use purely for travel. It does not have any benefits but then I do not travel that frequent to receive anything worth while. I can imagine for those who travel for business, that the above would be benefical to them and their pockets.

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