Credit Cards

Image courtesy of  phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Before you begin signing up for credit cards have a plan. The first step is to know your CREDIT SCORE. You can get a Free Credit report once a year from  AnnualCreditReport.com but this does not show a score, that is so unfair. It really should be included. Good news is that now many credit cards are giving you your score when you on your initial approval notice (the one that comes in the mail and shows your credit terms).

Credit cards do have different ‘requirement’ standards so be prepared for a few hits and misses. I basically started with a few cards that I knew I loved the brands, offered some great limited time bonus, or had good value for transferring miles to another program.

There are many Branded Loyalty Credit Cards available. Once you begin signing up for these you will notice that one banking company seems to own all of them and it becomes a challenge to find credit cards with programs you like. There is a cycle to applying for credit cards and you can read that in one of my first posts.

One rule you usually want to follow is to sign up for a Branded credit card when they are offering the best rewards, often there will be a *Bonus* available. I personally prefer to sign up for new cards when the bonus is over 50K miles or includes a CASH/ FREE NIGHT/ FREE FLIGHT gift.

Most of the credit cards below come in multiple versions/ levels, basic, premier/ preferred, platinum, personal and business. Usually each level will offer different rewards bonus and have different annual fee’s. Research each version of the card before you decide which you want. Sometimes you can apply for the same card as personal and business and get the both bonuses.

Keeping up with who is offering what…. and when, is one of the best ways to earn mega rewards for your travel… and many other expenses. Timing is crucial. Be patient but be prepared to act quickly. And sometimes these bonuses will alter your strategy.

Before you sign up for credit cards go back and sign up for your Frequent Flyer and Hotel Loyalty Accounts.

I will try to find the best LINKS for these soon. These are what I started with or what I have planned coming up. I have included a small summary with most.

    • American Airlines
      • merging with US Air. If you have US Air.
    • Arrival (Barclay Card):
      • Great deal! If you meet the minimum spend requirement you will earn enough points to DEDUCT $440 from your balance on most TRAVEL related charges like airfare and hotels. I advise getting one for yourself and a different account for your spouse.
    • Bluebird by American Express
      • FREE account. You don’t earn miles or points with this, that would just be too awesome. But this little account will come in handy later, just trust me on this. (google bluebird and you will find some articles on its use).  Some people are switching to the SERVE by American Express. I’m using Bluebird and since it is working for me I don’t feel the need to switch. I may experiment later. NOTE: You can not have both Bluebird and Serve. You can only have one of these.
    • British Airways Visa (Chase)
    • Capital One Spark
      • I got this one because I was so ticked off at CHASE for not giving me an INK card. It is a business card. You may be have a business and not even know. I’ll post more on that later.
    • Chase Freedom
    • Chase INK
      • I got turned down, called the reconsideration line and got no where. Even though I have an EIN (for 12 years).  But many tout this as THE card to have, mostly because you get 5x points at certain merchants. You will see MANY recommendations to get this card on EVERY Travel Hack website. If you don’t want it or can’t get it, don’t worry. I’m am doing fine without it.
    • Chase Sapphire (Highly Recommend)
      • Nice Chip & Pin card. No extra charges when using in foreign countries. I used this in Dominican Republic at a grocery when I didn’t have local cash and it really saved me.  Getting the Sapphire will get you into the Ultimate Rewards program where you can TRANSFER miles to most other travel partners like airline and hotels. I used my bonus of 50K miles to transfer to HYATT 50K and then to SOUTHWEST for 30K. (If your trying to get the Companion Pass from Southwest DON’T transfer directly from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest because they won’t count. But transfers from HYATT to Southwest DO count.  Be Creative!
    • Citibank Thank You Premier
    • Delta Premier (American Express)
    • Hilton Reserve (Citibank)
    • Hilton Surpass (American Express)
    • Hyatt Visa (Chase)
    • Marriot Visa (Chase)
    • Southwest Visa (Chase) Recommended, but wait….
      • Only offering 25K bonus. You should target this one for the 50K bonus when it comes back and time it to give you the 50K bonus (after minimum spend) in the beginning of the year, preferably Jan/ Feb.  I got this card in June and my 50K bonus Aug 6, so I am trying to meet my 110K now for the Companion Pass, which will allow me to have a companion fly FREE for the remainder of this year and all of next year! Then at the end of that I plan to have my husband apply for this one late that year (maybe November) so his bonus will be Jan/ Feb and hopefully they will still have this program.
    • SPG (Starwood) American Express
      • Good card because points transfer to many travel partners. Wait for a good bonus, news is they don’t offer the bonus often. Typically only 25K, I got mine when it was 35K and all the web sites said that was good for SPG.
    • United Airline
    • US Air (Barclay Card)
      • If you fly US Air and want this card at all GET THIS NOW. Because it is going to go away because of the American Airlines merger. The bonus is 40K miles and you get a Fly a Friend Pass, the only down fall to the pass is its $99 and your fare has to be over $250. I got this pass and need to use it soon. Make sure you read the rules about the pass at US Air and the Barclay Credit Card web site. If you can’t decide I would say the Barclay Arrival card is a much better deal. I didn’t apply for the American Airlines Credit card when they had a HUGE bonus because I had just gotten other cards.
    • Wells Fargo
      • I don’t have this yet but I have plans for it. It offers a great bonus for the first 6 months of use. More later.

 

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Earning travel rewards and free or cheap travel through frequent flyer programs, hotel memberships and credit card bonus programs