Credit Cards

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Credit Cards Hand Out Free Money??!!

Using the right credit cards for your everyday purchases might be the easiest way to make hundreds or thousands of dollars every year with very little effort.  I have previously described how easy it is for an average household to pocket $1,000 per year simply by picking the right credit cards with the best cash back or travel rewards.

There are many new cards that give 1.5% to 2% in cash or travel rewards on all purchases, and up to 5% on some categories of spending.  To sweeten the deal, most credit card issuers offer sign up bonuses of $100 to $500 paid in cash, free hotel stays, or free flights.  Switching cards is a tiny inconvenience in exchange for mega bonuses and much higher rewards on all your purchases.  It’s like free money for doing something you already do (as long as you keep paying your credit card bills in full each month).

You can also benefit from having cards that have low interest rates if you do need to carry a balance.  Cards that waive the typical 3% foreign transaction fee for overseas transactions can benefit you significantly if you plan on doing a lot of international travel.

Finding the perfect credit card for you depends on how much you spend each month and whether you prefer cash back or travel rewards. The links below are a compilation of the current credit card offers.

Find the Credit Card For You!

(note: compliance rules and US financial regulations prohibit me from recommending a particular credit card but there are credit cards available at the following links. Turn off ad-block software if you can’t see the links or graphics.)

Cash Back Credit Cards

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

 

(Editorial Note – Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank,
credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed,
approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.)


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17 comments

  1. FYI: Thanks for the links to current credit card offers! There are two that interest us. Because we have our credit frozen, when we apply for a new card we need to know which credit bureau the card issuer uses so we can unfreeze it.

    Until today, we’ve had no issue applying for new credit cards as the issuer has advised us which bureau they utilize. American Express claims they use ALL three, and we’d have to pay to unfreeze all of them!!! That’s ridiculous, so I told them we were no longer interested in their card. Perhaps this is peculiar to Amex, because I’ve never had one card issuer (Visa or MC) insist they use more than one bureau.

  2. I just got into credit card travel hacking this last couple of years. Wish I would have figured this out much sooner! I started out with a Southwest card since I was already on their rapid rewards program anyway and fly on them about once a month or so. So far I have gotten 7 free short hops (personal business) for me with them, 1 trip for DS last year, and 1 weekend to Vegas last summer for DH and I. Now I have booked 3 round trip freebies (for family vaca) this fall. It helps that I live in competitive air market and can get $29 to $69 flights out of here fairly frequently. (I sometimes book one ways on separate airlines to take advantage of bargains or pay dollars one way and use points for the more expensive return leg.)

    I snagged a Hawaiian Air card specifically for the 1/2 price companion ticket but the 35,000 bonus points also got us one freebie so it saved us tons on 3 tickets to Hawaii for an upcoming trip. Expensive major airline with a non- stop flight would have been $6000+. By taking SW to the coast and staying overnight then doing Hawaiian from there it cost $1096 + $33 total including taxes, so almost $5000 in savings. This is with a business class upgrade included that I gladly paid $$ for on Hawaiian! Future trips to Hawaii might involve a drive to Vegas, Phoenix, or even West Coast and fly from there after we retire and have more time.

    Most recently I got 2 Hilton cards (citi and amex) and have 5+ free nights worth of points already. Neither card has a annual fee. Miminum spend was meet with one huge dentist bill and some property taxes this year – couldn’t avoid either expense so I may as well gain something from them! 2 nights will be used for the upcoming Hawaii trip in Embassy suites so we don’t have to camp out in an airport overnight! That still leave 3 fun nights for local weekends.

    Next year’s property taxes will probably net another credit card of some sort. I will continue using my airline cards for regular expenses to keep the points adding up. Of course, I stick to a budget and never carry a balance since I pay everything I charge weekly.

    1. Very awesome. We’ve done well with Southwest points (5 one way tickets from Mexico to Raleigh for less than 1 credit card sign up bonus!).

      I’m due to apply for another card soon. So many good options right now! 🙂

  3. Question from a new travel hacker (5 round trip flights for free so far this year! Woo Hoo!)… How many of these cards do you leave open vs close after receiving the rewards? I don’t have any debt, I own my home outright, and I don’t maintain a balance on any credit cards so I’m not really worried about how any potential lenders would view the multiple credit cards, but I still feel strange having multiple cards in my name. Any advice for a newbie to hacking credit card bonuses is greatly appreciated 🙂

    1. I usually cancel the ones with an annual fee before that fee comes due. Other cards I’ll leave open. So far I haven’t seen any real penalty to closing cards or keeping them open.

      The biggest thing to watch out for today in the credit card bonus/travel hacking world is Chase’s “5/24 rule”. For most of the good Chase cards, you won’t be approved for a new credit card if you have five or more new credit cards issued in the past 24 months.

  4. Looking to get a hotel credit card. Just wanting to get one that gives nice points. We usually stay at the lower end brands.. Which do you think are best?? Many thanks!!

    1. I really like the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express since it’s pretty flexible and gets you around 4-6 nights at Sheraton/Aloft/Four Points properties if you can find some in their lower point tier categories. Plus, with their merger with Marriott you get access to many more properties for redemptions.

  5. I am curious as to your thoughts on opening a new credit card every time a better offer presents itself. Is it okay to open new cards on a regular basis? And do you close cards that you are no longer using? We are told to develop a long history of credit card use to help with keeping a higher credit score. I’m asking because I’ve seen in different blogs and podcasts how people are applying for new credit accounts on a regular basis. Thanks in advance!

    1. I usually keep cards for close to the year then cancel before paying the annual fee. I have several “long term” cards with no annual fee though.

      As for credit score, mine hovers in the 800s out of 850 which is pretty close to perfect. Applying for several credit cards doesn’t ding the score too much.

  6. Thank you for the post. I heard your interview with choose FI and decided to check your site, i cant stop reading…
    Regarding opening and maybe closing so many credit cards, it doesn’t seem to affect credit score so much but what about potential for identity theft with so many accounts opened at the same time. Do you have any thoughts on the subject or have you heard from other people into travel hacking talk about this?
    Thank you

    1. I haven’t heard much about identity theft issues. If anything I figure the travel hacking crowd would be more attuned to the issue and more likely to catch it if it does happen because we look at credit scores and reports more often (at least I do so a couple times per year).

  7. Can you shed some light on how hotel and airline points compare to % in cash back? I get 2.75% cash back on all my purchases it’s simple to know what I’m getting. Since 5 and 10% are available now on certain categories I’m considering taking advantage of those soon. I have always shyed away from the point system as I don’t know how much 50,000 points actually gets you. Comparing to percentages to know if it’s actually a better deal seems impossible to figure out. It seems like a way for them to make you think you’re getting a great deal when in reality it may only be 1% or less on every $ spent. I would love to take advantage of travel hacks if it is truly a better deal. I hope this makes sense and that you will be able to explain it. Thanks

    1. That’s a tricky question. Most airline points are worth somewhere around 1-1.5 cents per mile/point IF you actually use them. And if you get a 50,000 bonus it might be hard to use exactly that amount depending no where you’re going. However, in general that will get you around 2 round trip domestic flights in the US. So you could potentially redeem 50k points for $800-1000 worth of flights. So the bonus might be worth it!

      As for earning 2.75% cash back vs earning 1 mile per dollar spent – I’d take the cash every time. So you might be better off occasionally getting cards for the sign up bonus (and other perks they offer) and then keeping your regular monthly spending on your 2.75% back card.

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