How to Earn 350,000+ Points Worth Over $6,500 in Travel

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‘Tis the season for families and friends to get together, and if you love to travel you're probably sharing the experiences you've had from the past year — hopefully points and miles played a significant part, allowing you to travel more.

The talk of travel typically inspires and is a great way to counteract the bickering among siblings or the drama caused by cousin Eddie. If your family and friends are surprised by what you're able to accomplish, explain the world of points and miles to them, and give them concrete examples of how you're able to do it. Credit cards and the rewards they earn every day are the easiest way to to get someone on a path to travel.

Family Dinner

More Than 350,000 Points & $6,500 in Free Travel

Whether someone is looking to take a quick weekend trip or go around-the-world in business/first-class it is possible and here's the fastest way to get there:

One of the hottest cards on the market, the Sapphire Reserve offers a 50,000-point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.. Additionally, each cardmember year you receive $300 in statement credits for travel expenses — everything from hotels to Uber/taxi, or taxes and fees on an award ticket. Check out 19 different ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards.

Total Rewards: At least 54,000 Ultimate Rewards (1 point per dollar on spend plus 50,000 bonus points and $300 in travel credits). Our Total Minimum Redemption Value: $1,110.

A business credit card, the Ink Preferred earns the same rewards as the Sapphire Reserve, and the points can be combined into a single rewards account. Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Total Rewards: At least 85,000 Ultimate Rewards (1 point per dollar on spend plus 80,000 bonus points). Our Total Minimum Redemption Value (assuming you have the Sapphire Reserve as well): $1,275.

Our favorite Amex business credit card earning one of the most flexible currencies available! The $200 annual airline credit is also calculated on the calendar year, so you can claim up to $400 value in the first cardmember year.

Total Rewards: At least 95,000 Membership Rewards points (1 point per dollar on spend plus 75,000 bonus points and $400 in travel credits). Our Total Minimum Redemption Value: $1,350.

A personal card, the Arrival Plus, earns a flexible rewards currency that can be cashed in for any travel-related expense of $100 or more.

Total Rewards: $700

All At Once?

Absolutely, not. The cards listed here provide an opportunity to jumpstart your travel bank and quickly realize the value of points and miles.

What points and miles are you recommending to your friends and family this holiday season? Share your picks with us in the comments and if you have any questions, let us know!

How to Earn 350,000+ Points Worth Over $6,500 in Travel
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  • Well presented info. The cc bonus offers really do seem appealing when presented from a viewpoint of total miles/pts possible rather than discussed one offer at a time.

  • Thanks for strategy tips!!

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserved is the best card out there. You can’t beat the bonus categories or the sign up bonus.

  • Not really familiar with the Barclay program. Thanks for the tip!

  • James Eastwood says:

    There are ways to spend 27k in a short period of time without breaking the bank i.e. MS, but obviously I wouldn’t recommend doing that with the Amex card as Amex may freeze your account and claw back the bonus. I’m still starting out in the world of MS and wouldn’t dream of taking on 27k right out of the gate, but an App-o-rama (applying for a bunch of cards all on the same day) is a perfectly legitimate way to jump-start your credit card travel strategy. I just opened 3 cards on 12/20/16 but only 1 has a big minimum spend so I know I can manage the cards. 3 months from now I’ll do another App-o-rama and continue on from there. But all of those cards are fantastic and I may jump on the Business Platinum before the bonus goes away in late January.

  • It’s a good article, except you are presenting $$$ travel credit as a major benefit.

    The way I look at travel credit, it merely cover SOME cards high annual fee.

    Chase Reserve has $450 annual fee and $300 travel credit.

    • Yes, but you are getting 100,000 miles for that net $150 outlay. You’ll add 4000 miles by meeting the spending requirements. 1000 miles more and you’ve got two RT in Business to Europe for a grand total of $150. Of course, I could create a whole lot more scenarios for that 100K.

      • Also, if you wanted to cancel or downgrade the card after 12 months, you can actually get the 300 travel credit twice – its 300 per calendar year not per 12 months. Apply in april, spend 300 this year and 300 in travel in January/feb (leave some time for it to hit your statement before canceling), you actually get paid to hold this card for a year.

  • I hear that Barclays is rather sensitive with approvals, just got Aviator card so any idea how long I should wait on Arrival +?

  • I’ve never had a business credit card. The initial amount you need to spend is high, but now I’m contemplating it. I am really interested in the Barclay card!

  • Awesome post- thanks for putting this together

  • What’s a better option the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred? And why is it better?

    • Jeremy, it depends on your goals. Given the choice, I would select the Chase Sapphire Reserve due to the higher bonus (2x), greater earning capacity (3x on travel/dining) and additional perks available on the card (lounge access, $300 travel credit, and visa infinite benefits). That said, you’ve got to pony up $450 on the annual fee.

  • Getting that Chase card is going on my to-do list!

  • I switched to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and canceled my Chase United card and my Diners Club card and the money I saved on annual fees, paid for the CSR, plus I got all the bennies from it. So, it was a wise call to downsize two older ones and get one new one!

  • Unfortunately, Chase has decided to “terminate our relationship,” which makes so many of the good cards (I had 7 Chase cards) not available to me. (No one seems to be able to tell me why they made this decision. I asked if it was because I pay off every card every month and they have never made any money from me, but they said that didn’t matter.) The biggest problem is that, besides the 7 credit cards, they closed three savings and checking accounts I opened last summer, for massive bonuses, and I’m waiting for $800 to be clawed back because of those closings. (And I was about to transfer around $400K investment funds to my Chase private client advisor.) This happened when I was traveling — flight was cancelled and I had to stay overnight in Denver, pulled out my Marriott card to pay for the hotel and it was declined, then pulled out my United card and IT was declined, their website was down for maintenance so I couldn’t find out what had happened, assumed some fraudulent activity, called the next morning from the airport and was told by the customer service rep that he couldn’t tell me anything, I would have a letter at home. No letter came for several days, I made many more calls, asking for supervisors, no one would tell me anything. The letter finally said after a review of my account(s) Chase had decided to terminate their relationship with me.

  • Great list, but I would include the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has 70k promotion if you apply in branch. Pretty solid deal considering that the annual fee is waived the first year and is only $95/year after that

  • Is it possible for a consultant on a project to avail any of these cards while in US

  • Great summary. Two follow up points. It would be helpful if you had included the annual fees for each card. Also, is it required to have a business to open a business credit card? Thanks.

  • Rebecca Abbott says:

    I love my chase sapphire card although I don’t have the chase sapphire reserve. The points transfer to almost any partner so easily & a real human answers immediately when you call. I also have a chase freedom card which I don’t use, but I see now I should be using it for the 5x points categories & then transferring them over to my sapphire card. Thanks for the tips.

  • I cannot decide whether to apply for Chase Sapphire Reserved or Chase Sapphire Preferred?

    • I’d pick the Sapphire Reserve with the increased bonus offer (100k) and higher earning on travel/dining (3x)

      • Christine Caputo says:

        Just curious, why is the Sapphire Preferred card rated the most flexible, when you can only transfer to certain airlines? I have that card and I do like it, but I’d like to take advantage of bonus miles via one of the Citi Aadvantage cards, since most of my travel is to India (from Chicago) and Etihad offers the best routes. That said, I’m thinking of downgrading to Chase Freedom and jumping on one of the Citi Aadvantage cards. Yes? No? Any other recommendations? I’ve heard Citi Prestige is a good one, and I am interested in the AC perk.I’m trying to navigate mileage credit cards so I appreciate any direction or advice. Ultimate goal is to get elite status via fast track. I’ve done comparisons and researched, but it’s dizzying! Thank you.

  • Kevin Martin says:

    How else could you get 100,000 miles in such a short period of Thanks for the comprehensive recaps of all the offers. the? I’m signing up for the Chase Saphire Card today!

  • Best free card out there– Costco’s CC. So much cash back— just put it in a savings instead of as points and you dont pay a $.
    Almost as good of returns as Chase Sapphire- but no bonus sign up.

  • I’m not self employed or have a side business. What’s the trick to getting approved for the Ink Business Preferred Card?

    I have applied to Chase Southwest Business cards in the past. Both times they want business financials, of which I don’t have. And I get denied. I have great credit otherwise and always qualify for personal credit cards.

    • Unfortunately, you need a business. It can be a small business, but it must be a legitimate business.

      • What kind of documentation do they require to prove you are a business?

        • LGV, it varies with each issuer, however, on your initial application, it’ll ask about the age of business, type of business, revenue and perhaps a couple of other details — questions similar to what you’re asked on a personal card application but with some additional details specific to your business.

          Depending on how your business operates and its history you may have to provide additional documentation about your business to be approved, which could entail faxing documentation about incorporation, bank account info, etc. There isn’t a list of “here is what you’re required to show” — it really does differ with each card issuer.

  • Is the Barclay Arrivals card a good all-around card for travel?

  • Can you please elaborate more on the “you’re able to cash in on it twice within the first 12 months of card membership if you time it correctly” for the Enhanced Platinum Amex? how would you structure that?

    • Ricardo, here is a scenario:

      You open the card account in August 2016 and pay the annual fee. In September 2016 you use the $200 credit. Come January 2017, you are eligible for another $200 credit — but you haven’t paid a 2nd year annual fee, which would come up in August of 2017.

      $200 credit is calendar year based
      $450 annual fee is a 12-month rolling cycle

      • If you were to get it towards the end of December get $200 credit #1, January get $200 credit #2, the annual fee would post in late December and need to be paid in January when you could get $200 credit #3 before actually paying the 2nd AF.

        Timing is everything 🙂

  • Robin J Norman says:

    So what’s a good strategy to a) avoid going into huge debt and
    B) what if I already have a few Chase cards?

    • Robin, what cards do you have, when did you get them, what points/miles do you already have and what are your travel goals? This information is critical to start to put together a plan — even if you do it on your own.

      • I have Chase Slate and Chase partner Rewards Visa. I’ve had both for a couple of years now. I’m new at this so I don’t have many points.

        • Robin, your goals will help dictate the cards that make the most sense for you. Start by putting them together and then piece together credit cards. What is the Chase Partner Rewards Visa you have? I’ve not heard of that.

  • Bill from Maine says:

    Howie, great article with lots of valuable information. Now that I know where you’ve landed, I’ll be checking out this blog more often.

  • Short Question to all of you: Germany only has very few Branded Cards (LH/HH/AB) – will there be more of them in the next year?

  • Excellent points. I love cousin Eddie. I really want the chase sapphire card but I got other chase cards before and now have to wait….

  • These all sound great. I do tend to go after cards that do not have an annual fee. I am looking into the Chase Sapphire card..I don’t know about the Reserve one though. It sounds awesome but, since I don’t travel that much right now wouldn’t be something I’m that interested in.

    It sounds like lots of people have Chase cards? Didn’t really know that they had such a big market of “point” cards out there. I didn’t know about the termination thing another poster posted! That sounds stupid on their side and very frustrating. I wouldn’t want to get somewhere and not have a card open to me because they decided to terminate my accounts! A little scary!

    I know Visa holds most of the reward cards without annual fees out there. MasterCard I hadn’t really been able to find any for. If anyone knows of a good MasterCard without annual fee reply please!

  • Good but it’s tough to spend so much money in a short period (unless you’re buying a new car or something) and doesn’t work if you already have those cards.

  • Thank you for the summary – helpful info

  • Already appear to give credit for 2017 travel.

  • awesome, want to get a CSR in 2017

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