Why To Not Shy Away From Credit Cards And How To Use Them To Travel More: Part Two

*This post contains some affiliate links (refer a friend links) but at no cost to you. I also want to note this post is factual but is also based on my own personal experiences. I do not advocate making financial decisions that are not right for you.

Read Part One First

In part one, I talked about managing credit cards and all-around beneficial ones for traveling, but now let's talk about company-specific credit cards.

On Friday I wrote about managing credit cards and choosing the best all-around credit card for travel purposes. As a recap, I spoke about Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom, American Express Everyday, and Barclaycard Arrival+. While these are fantastic cards and most of the points programs allow you to transfer your points to certain airline or hotel programs, there are a whole selection of cards out there for this specific purpose.

In this post, I’m going to talk about the cards that come in handy for specific airlines or hotels. Usually getting these cards means that you have a certain loyalty to that airline alliance or to that hotel chain, but it’s not a necessity. When I got two of my hotel chain credit cards I had no loyalty to them, but due to the benefits and signup bonuses, it was worth it for me.

Specific Credit Cards

There are of course many, many cards out there for just about any airline or hotel chain, but I’m going to talk about the ones that I personally have had or currently have that have proved to be most valuable for a variety of reasons.

British Airways Visa Signature

ba credit card

This was one of my most rewarding cards because British Airways miles (called Avios) are so so valuable for traveling within the US on their partners American and Alaska Airlines. BA’s card has an annual fee of $95 (sometimes it has offers where it’s waived, but not typically). Here are some of the benefits you get with this card.

  • 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. There are offers (like the one I got it on) where the signup points can go up to 100,000, so usually it’s worth waiting for.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 10% off any British Airways purchase.
  • 3 Avios per dollar when purchasing with BA, 1 Avios on everything else.

You may ask why British Airways miles are so valuable in the US, and that’s because you can redeem the miles at such a great rate. It’s no secret that the flying in the US can be really expensive, but you can redeem Avios on BA’s partner airlines (American and Alaska) for just 7,500 one way on any flight under 650 miles. There are different brackets for longer flights, but this usually covers most. Read more about the other brackets here.

The redemption amount has increased (it used to be 4,500), but this is still a great value reward ticket on flights that typically can be really expensive.

Hyatt Credit Card

I know, another card with Chase, I’m basically obsessed. This card has some really great benefits that come with it. The annual fee is $75 but is waived for the first year like so many other cards. This Hyatt card comes with some awesome benefits as well.

  • Two free nights at Hyatt hotels after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
  • One free night for every subsequent year you keep the card.
  • 3 points per dollar when spending on Hyatt, 2 points for other travel and one point on everything else.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Although this card hasn’t got many “extra” benefits, the first two free nights in the first year and the free night every year after make this card 100% worth it.

Delta Gold Card

delta gold card

This was the first credit card I ever got, so it will always have a special place in my heart. This Delta card is obviously great if you fly Delta a lot and it’s with American Express. This card has more airline-specific benefits than most.

  • 30,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
  • $50 statement credit if you buy a Delta flight within the first three months.
  • First checked bag for free.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Discounted access to the Sky Club lounge for you and two guests when traveling Delta.
  • 20% off anything bought in-flight.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • MQD waiver. If you’re a frequent flyer on Delta, you know that to qualify for status there’s something called the Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) which means you have to spend a certain amount of money on Delta flights to qualify, but with the credit card you don’t need this, just purely the required flown miles to gain status.
  • Option to pay with miles, meaning you don’t need to spend all your miles on a redemption. You could, for example, pay $200 and spend 10,000 miles, rather than an all or nothing option.

This card has an annual fee of $95, but it’s waived for the first year. As mentioned in the part one post, American Express is unique because of their Amex offers, something you get with this card too.

IHG Rewards Club

I know you probably think I’m a walking, talking Chase ambassador, but it just so happens they have a lot of really great cards. This IHG card (the InterContinental hotel chain) has some really great benefits. In case you’re unfamiliar with the chain, they also own Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Candlewood Suites, Staybridge Suites and Hotel Indigo. What do you get from this card?

  • 60,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
  • 5,000 bonus points after adding an authorized user.
  • 5 points per dollar when spent on IHG hotels.
  • 2 points per dollar on groceries, gas stations and restaurants, one point on everything else.
  • One free night every year.
  • Platinum IHG status (this is the second to most elite status with the chain and sometimes you can get offers for Spire, the most elite like I had, but they’re rare).
  • No foreign transaction fees.

IHG points are great because you can redeem them for relatively small amounts, some for even as little as 5,000 points a night, so your 60,000 will go a long way. Gaining platinum status with IHG is also great because you get extra benefits such as complimentary room upgrades, 50% more points for every stay, free Internet, priority check-in and a free newspaper. You can read more about the benefits here.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature

alaska-credit-card-designs

Alaska Airlines is interesting because they’re not in an alliance, so they’ve just got a bunch of random partners. However, this is really useful because it means you can redeem these points on lots of other airlines. You can view their redemption rates for airlines here. These are the benefits you get with this Bank of America card.

  • 30,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
  • Free checked bag.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Annual companion fare after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, read more here.
  • Miles will never expire (most do after a couple of years).
  • 3 points earned on any Alaska Airlines purchase.

This card is notorious for being super easy to get and the fact that they allow you to get it, get the points, cancel and get it again straight away. I personally haven’t done this, but there are plenty out there who do. Plus, you get to choose your card design.

Choosing The Right Specific Credit Cards For You

When it comes to choosing specific credit cards you don’t need to limit yourself, you can get them all if you want. I have, or have had, all of these cards at one point or another and they have given me some amazing benefits. I got to stay at the Park Hyatt in Sydney for my birthday last year because of the free night I got from my credit card. I’ve been able to fly in business on Delta from New York to Amsterdam. I have had countless room upgrades at IHG hotels and have stayed in so many basically for free because of the points I earned from the credit card.

Owning these credit cards has given me so many amazing opportunities and I know I wouldn’t have traveled to as many places or have had such amazing experiences without them. These points and benefits have opened a whole different world for me that wouldn’t have otherwise been in my reach. Before writing off credit cards entirely, people should understand how they work and maximize them to the best of their abilities.

Don’t be afraid to use them and don’t be afraid to get creative. Seeing the world and experiencing different cultures is an amazing experience, anything that helps you get there should be welcome.

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  • Pingback: Why To Not Shy Away From Credit Cards And How To Use Them To Travel More: Part One - Universal Jetsetters()

  • Wow all these sound great..I want the hyatt card and Alaska airlines I will have to check these out, thanks for sharing!

    VAlerie
    Fashion and tRavel
    http://www.mapleleopard.com

    • So glad it was helpful to you, Valerie! The Hyatt card is definitely a really great value one.

  • I had the Southwest card, so I know how you feel about the first airline one being near and dear to you 🙂 I haven’t looked too much into specific airline/hotel cards otherwise so this is helpful!

    • I’m glad you liked it, Rachel! I think a lot of people think you should only get airline/hotel cards if you fly or stay with them a lot, but honestly that makes no difference because sometimes the benefits you get are 100% worth changing your behavior for.

  • Amy Scott

    We use a hotel rewards card and it’s perfect for all the long road trips we have to do to visit family. We often get a free night on our journey and just makes life so much easier!

    • That’s great to hear, Amy! So pleased you’re already on the travel credit card track 🙂

  • Goldwill Digger

    I have the Southwest card that I use for work expenses that I know will immediately be reimbursed. It was been very helpful in travel!

    -Betsy
    http://www.goldwilldigger.com

    • That’s great! It’s always awesome to have a card that gives you benefits and gets reimbursed by work too.

  • I’ve been thinking about looking into travel based credit cards, so this i s great info to have! Might be time to take the plunge!

    • That’s great to hear! There are really some amazing options out there and great cards for every specific use you could think of!

  • All Things Gold ✨

    This was really helpful considering I’m about to start traveling for work and need to look into these cards. Thanks for the awesome post!

    • I’m so glad you found it helpful! Travel cards really give you so many opportunities so I love to hear that you’re thinking about delving into them!

  • I love that you added a part two! I know someone who has the British Airways card and they are always raving about how great it is.

    • It really is such an amazing card. It was one of the first cards I ever had and I’m still using the points I got from it today, and that was nearly two years ago.

  • Carly Ferguson

    I love the travel based credit cards! They have really come in handy when going on trips with my husband 🙂

    • They definitely do, Carly! I think for me one of the biggest benefits other than the points are the ones with no foreign transaction fees because it makes traveling abroad so much easier and less stressful.

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