When it comes to seeing the world on a budget, it's hard to a find a better money-saving strategy than the pursuit of cash back credit card rewards. That's because credit card issuers are clamoring to get your business and willing to dole out huge rewards to secure a new customer.
Some of those rewards come in the form of airline miles and hotel loyalty points, which are must-have tools in any travel-hackers wallet. The problem is, most points and miles are only good for a specific reward redemption. Hotel loyalty points, for instance, are only good at qualifying locations of a specific hotel chain. And those airline miles? They are usually only helpful if the airline that offers them actually flies to where you want to go. It can be frustrating.
The good news is, a wide range of travel credit cards skip the chain-specific rewards and head straight to perks like cash-back. Earning cash-back or travel credit is often the best option for consumers since it doesn't tie you down to redeeming for a specific prize. And for those who love airline miles and hotel loyalty points as well, the benefits can be even greater. Imagine covering the costs of your hotel and flights entirely with points then using travel credit to pay for other expenses such as train tickets, cabs, show tickets, and attractions. It's not only possible, but it's actually easily achievable if you pursue the right combination of rewards.
The Easiest Way to Earn Cash-Back for Travel
With all that being said, the best way to start earning cash-back for travel is to sign up for a travel rewards card that offers this perk. But, which one? The following offers are currently the best out there when it comes to earning cash-back for travel:
Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard- The Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard sits at the top of the class when it comes to earning cash-back for travel, mainly because of its generous sign-up bonus and range of other perks. Start by signing up for the card and spending $3,000 within three months of account opening to earn 40,000 bonus miles. Your bonus miles, in addition to the 2 points/$1 spent, will result in at least 46,000 miles after meeting the minimum spending requirement. However, the "miles" don't spend the way regular airline miles do. Instead of redeeming them for a specific reward, 46,000 Barclay Arrival miles become $460 when redeemed for travel expenses such as hotel stays, airfare, or more. The $89 annual fee is waived for the first year, and other perks include no foreign transaction fees and 10% of your miles back any time you redeem them for travel.
Capital One Venture Rewards- Another leader in the cut-and-dry world of travel credit is the Capital One Venture Rewards card. It's similar to the Barclay Arrival card, but with a twist. After spending $3,000 on the card with 90 days of account opening and earning 2 points/$1 spent on all purchases, you should also have around 46,000 miles to spend. However, it's important to note that the miles cannot be redeemed for partial credit, unlike the Barclay Arrival card. What this means is that you can't purchase $500 worth of airfare with only 46,000 miles. Instead, you would need at least 50,000 miles to qualify for cash-back to cover your purchase. While not a deal-breaker by any means, this unique redemption rule is a good one to know ahead of time. The $59 annual fee for the Capital One Venture Rewards card is waived for the first year, and it also refrains from charging foreign transaction fees.
Chase Sapphire Preferred- Another card offering a diverse array of options when it comes to redeeming points is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Start by signing up for the card and spending $3,000 within three months of card ownership to earn 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. In addition to the bonus, you'll also earn 2 points/$1 spent at restaurants and 1 point/$1 spent on everything else. But that's where any similarities with the other cash-back rewards cards on this list ends. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are simply unlike any points or miles out there for a few reasons. First, they can be redeemed for straight cash-back. In fact, 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for a simply $400 statement credit on your account. Second, they can also be used to purchase travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, and you even earn 20 percent off the cost of your trip for doing so. And last but not least, Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to a wide range of travel partners, including these:
- British Airways
- Korean Air
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Singapore Airlines
Hotel & Rail
- Hyatt Gold Passport
- Marriott Rewards
- IHG Rewards Club
If you have trouble committing to a specific airline or hotel chain, then a cash-back travel card might be right up your alley. Or, if you're already maxed out on loyalty programs, consider them as an alternative option that can free up more choices for redemption.
Regardless of which way you lean, you just can't go wrong with "free." Consider signing up today and seeing just how far those points or miles could take you.