Travel Reward Credit Cards

There are a wide variety of travel reward credit card options out there. For those who don’t know, travel reward credit cards allow you to accumulate “points” (or “miles”) which can be used to purchase items, redeem for travel, etc. Points are earned by making purchases with the credit card. Banks, credit unions, airlines and hotels all have various types of travel credit card options. A few things we considered when looking at these cards included:

  • Points Sign-up Bonus Offers – Many will offer a large bonus if you charge a certain amount of money in purchases (often $3,000 – $4,000) on the card over a limited period of time (often 90-120 days).
  • Point Redemption Value – What are points worth? How can you redeem them (i.e. flights, hotel stays, regular purchases, etc.)?
  • Annual Fee – Some have annual fees, while others don’t. Typically, those with annual fees have better benefits that those without. In most cases, the annual fee is waived for the first year.
  • Foreign Transfer Fees – Since we will be using these cards (1) to accumulate points before the RTW reset, and (2) in foreign countries while traveling, we want a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Other Benefits – Many cards offer various travel-related benefits, such as primary car rental insurance, airport lounge access, free checked bags, trip cancellation coverage, and priority boarding.

Rather than bore you with pros/cons of various cards – there are enough of those types of reviews out there – we decided to tell you what cards we decided to go with.

Card #1 – Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa

We have had one of these cards for several years and have been very happy with it. In fact, we used points successfully to fund a last-minute family emergency flight. Here is why we decided to go with this card.

  • Regularly top-rated
  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • Points have 25% more value when redeemed for airfare, hotels, care rental, and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • You earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • The annual fee is waived for the first year
  • 24/7 customer service – we have used this before and it was top notch!
  • Other benefits include car rental insurance, trip delay coverage, and trip cancellation coverage
  • This is a Visa; note that our other choice is a MasterCard to give us options
  • One negative is that it is not a true “Chip & PIN” card
What is “Chip & PIN”?
These types of cards require users to enter a PIN (Personal Identification Number), instead of a signature, to complete a transaction. Most United States issued cards are “Chip & Signature”. “Chip & PIN” is the standard in much of the rest of the world. One example of where this is relevant would be trying to purchase tickets at an unmanned kiosk. There would not be a way to sign your name; therefore, you would want a “Chip & PIN” option.

Card #2 – Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

We have not had one of these cards before, but it was another that regularly showed up on top travel credit card lists. One of the primary reasons we selected this card is that it is one of the few “Chip & PIN” cards available in the U.S. Here are a few of the other reasons we selected this card.

  • Regularly top-rated
  • 50,000 miles sign-up bonus
  • You earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem
  • Miles can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, or cash back statement credits
  • 24/7 customer service
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • The annual fee is waived for the first year
  • Other benefits include travel accident and trip cancellation insurance
  • This is a MasterCard, versus the Chase card being a Visa
Spending Money to Earn Bonuses

One interesting challenge we discovered is that in order to fund our RTW life reset, we have decreased expenses to the bare minimum. However, to get the sign-up points/miles bonuses, you have to spend a large amount of money in a relatively short period of time. Rather than open all of the cards simultaneously, we are phasing them in over a series of months so that we can guarantee that we will reach the minimum charges for each card.

Helpful Resources

The Points Guy –
Nerd Wallet –
US News Top Rated Cards –

We may consider other cards that will allow us to accumulate points and miles. Any suggestions on other cards for us to consider? Please share those below!