We’ve simplified things with our “Best Of” rankings here. If you don’t have time to research cards, take advantage of our expertise! Need a primer on Rewards Cards, check out Rewards Cards 101. You can support Travel Freely by using our partner links when you sign up for a card, which may earn us a commission. See full advertising disclosure below.
Please note: If there’s a better link I can offer that will not earn us commission, I will post the better offer. One example is the new Capital One Venture Card offer. I don’t have access to the affiliate link. My affiliate link only gets you 50k bonus miles, but I’ll show the best link that earns 75k bonus miles. That’s another $250+ in value for you. I hope that earns your respect and trust over time.
Best Credit Card Offers
At Travel Freely, we are all about maximizing great sign-up bonuses. It’s part of our approach to get the most amount of points in the least amount of time. Sign-up bonuses are the #1 way to rack up points WITHOUT traveling or spending a lot of money. Some people get more rewards in one bonus than they would in an entire year’s worth of spending on the same old card they’ve had for 5 years. Check out the BEST deals here.
What’s BEST in December? There are a lot of offers. We’ve got a special section below on the Southwest Companion Pass since this is the absolute best time to be going for it. Please email me (zac at travelfreely.net) if you need to talk strategy. It needs to be part of your free travel in 2019 AND 2020!
- Overall Best Travel Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (50,000 points)
- Overall Best Business Travel Card: Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (80,000 points)
- Best Airline Personal Card: Chase Southwest Priority Credit Card (40-60k miles
- Best Airline Business Card: CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard (70,000 miles)
- Best Hotel Personal Card: World of Hyatt Credit Card (40k-60k points)
- Best Hotel Business Card: Starwood Preferred Guest Business American Express (75,000 points)
- Best Travel Personal Card With No Annual Fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card (30,000 points)
- Best Travel Business Card With No Annual Fee: Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card ($500 bonus)
- Best Card for Easiest Redemptions: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (75,000 points) or Barclaycard Arrival Plus Mastercard (70,000 points)
- Best Cash Back Personal Card: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card ($500 bonus)
- Best Cash Back Business Card: Capital One Spark Cash for Business Credit Card ($500 bonus for $5k spend – add’l $1,500 bonus with $50k spend)
- Best Ultra-Premium Card: American Express Platinum (Personal) or American Express Business Platinum (100k using Card Match Tool)
- New Business Card: American Express Business Gold Card (4x categories)
- Best Card for College Students/Grads: Chase Freedom or Discover It Student
Southwest Companion Pass
This is THE time of year to be thinking about the Southwest Companion Pass. WHY? Because if you earn your pass in January of 2019, your pass will be good through the end of 2020! Get going now and maximize your free travel. =)
The Companion Pass allows you to add a travel companion who can travel for free (have to pay taxes and fees) on any flight that you book using cash OR Rapid Rewards points. The pass is good for the rest of the year in which you earn it AND the following year! So if you earn it in 2019, the pass is good for ALL of 2019 AND ALL of 2020. That is a lot of value right there, especially if you get on this early in the year. Unlike other airline incentives, the Southwest Companion Pass can be used an unlimited number of times!!!
To earn a companion pass, you have to achieve 110,000 points of flying in a calendar year. Yikes! BUT, the way Travel Freely members earn this easily is through the sign-up bonuses of Southwest credit cards.
The easiest and fastest way to earn this pass is that you (or a spouse) sign up for one personal card (Priority, Plus, or Premier) and one Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card, which has a current sign-up bonus (as of Dec 1, 2018) of 60,000 miles. That’s a total of 104,000 points after hitting the bonuses!
Note: Many people stop when they realize they have to get a business card. But, it is possible to get a business card even if you don’t run a large company. Read our post “Am I Eligible For a Business Credit Card?”. Note: It’s not necessary to have an EIN number to apply for a business credit card if you are a Sole Proprietor. If you are, then you use your SSN as the EIN and make sure to put your actual name as the business name instead of the business name.
Southwest Personal Cards
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Personal Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Personal Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Personal Card
Southwest Business Card
For more info and more details, check out this article on the Southwest Companion Pass.
What’s Our Criteria for the Best Cards?
- Value of points – Not all points and miles have the same value when it comes time to redeeming them. We take this seriously.
- Bonuses – Travel Freely seeks to maximize sign-up bonuses, so if great sign-up bonus offers come out, those cards will move up in the rankings.
- Type of Card – We value airline cards higher than hotel cards because airfare never goes on sale (whereas hotel sites can get you almost 50% retail rates). So airfare is the highest value in free travel. So, if we see airlines and hotel cards as similarly great deals, the airline card will get the edge in the rankings.
- Bonus spending requirement – We rank cards lower that require major spending as part of sign-up bonus. For example: Some cards offer 50,000 points if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, but then they’ll offer an add’l 25,000 points if you spend $10-15k in additional spending over the course of the year. This is considered major spending to us and we do not factor that in for the normal free traveler.
- Ease-of-use – Factors such as customer service and redemption fees play a factor in our rankings. We don’t want you to spend hours on the phone with poorly trained, off-shore customer service when you have a question about your card. Avoiding ridiculous fees for redeeming free travel are also important to us. For example: Frontier – You might get a “free flight” on Frontier Airlines with 20,000 points. But, you have to spend a reward redemption fee, bag fee for carry-on or checked luggage, and a seat booking fee. You might spend $96 in fees for a “free” $110 flight!
Here’s Help with Rewards Programs:
The three major bank rewards programs are Chase, Amex, and Citi. Here are some comprehensive guides to help you understand them better.
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