My Favorite Hotel Near the San Jose, Costa Rica Airport: Only ~$75/Night

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Sometimes, I’d rather pay cash than use my valuable points for a chain hotel.  This was the case in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Here’s my review of the La Riviera hotel near the San Jose, Costa Rica, airport.  It’s a great value!
This Cheap(ish) Hotel Is More Like a Resort
I recently booked TWO tickets on Southwest Airlines to fly to Costa Rica for ~$170 (~$85 per person) in taxes and fees, plus ~20,000 Southwest points for a family vacation in Costa Rica.  These flights would have normally cost us ~$850, making it a great way to get Big Travel with Small Money!
We arrived into Costa Rica at around 7 pm, and wanted to stay the night and drive early the next day.  We decided to try out La Riviera, which got good ratings on Hotels.com and TripAdvisor.  I booked the hotel using Hotels.com.
Note:   If you use the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll earn 10X points when booking and paying through hotels.com/venture !
We Had an Amazing Time on the Hanging Bridge Canopy Tour in Costa Rica
The La Riviera Felt More Like Than a Resort Than a Cheap Hotel in the City Center
I was really surprised with this hotel because I was expecting the usual bare-bones qualities of cheap hotels.  However, this hotel felt more like a resort to me.  It has a relaxing pool surrounded by palm trees.  The hotel grounds were very green and lush.  The rooms are fairly basic, but they are clean.  The Wi-Fi was strong throughout the rooms, too.
Basic, But Clean Rooms
Don’t Miss a Meal at the La Riviera Hotel Restaurant
The restaurant was the true standout of this hotel.  Again, I don’t have high expectations for hotel restaurants, but this one was outstanding.  We ordered filet mignon with seasonal vegetables.  The meat AND the veggies were perfectly cooked and flavored.
The Hotel Restaurant Had Amazing Food
Bottom Line
If you are staying overnight in San Jose, Costa Rica, consider staying at the La Riviera hotel.  I booked the hotel through hotels.com for ~$75/night.  It has a resort-like ambiance, with a gorgeous pool area, strong Wi-Fi, and a wonderful restaurant.  If you use the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll earn 10X points when booking and paying through hotels.com/venture.
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September 2018: The 10 Best Travel Credit Card Offers

Check out our carefully researched list of the best credit cards for travel and cash back.  With the best credit card offers right now you can earn $1,000s worth of luxury travel or flights!  Or if you prefer cash back, we found an offer worth $800!
I Used Points From My Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card to Fly Business Class to Europe and Explore Morskie Oko in the Tatra Mountains
Seeking the Best Credit Cards for Travel?
Here at Million Mile Secrets we constantly track down the best credit card rewards for you.  We reveal the real deals and toss away the junk.  And we’ll tell you which credit cards we use personally!  For instance, I love using 3 of the credit cards below.  I’ll tell you which!
Best Credit Card Offers

Best Business Credit Card:   Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Best Travel Credit Card:   Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best Citi Travel Credit Card Bonus (Worth $750+):   Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Best Southwest Airlines Bonus (Worth $900): Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Best Business Credit Card With No Annual Fee + 5% Categories:   Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Best Business Credit Card With No Annual Fee + 1.5% Cash Back Everywhere:   Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
Best Credit Card for Simple Travel Rewards:   Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Best Cash Back Credit Card for Restaurants & Entertainment:   Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best American Airlines Business Card:   CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Best Travel Credit Card for Premium Rewards:   Chase Sapphire Reserve®

How We Select the Best Credit Cards for Travel
You know how you get credit card offers in the mail and throw them away?  Not us!  We open them all, excitedly run to get our magnifying glass, and read the fine print!  And we spend all day looking for new credit card offers online.  Then we dive in to calculate the true value of the offer.
We let you in on the secrets that the airlines, hotels, and cruise ship companies do NOT want you to know! 
Credit card intro bonuses are the fastest way to earn big travel rewards WITHOUT spending a ton of money.  But here’s the thing — you have to know the smart ways to use these bonuses.  That’s how we help you.  We make it easy.
I Used Credit Card Travel Points to Stay at This Hotel in Europe!
We examine the…
Bonus Offer:   Credit card companies profit each time you use their card and when you pay them interest (so pay those bills on time!)  Like any business, they want more customers.  So they create offers where you can earn a serious stash of miles or cash when you first open your new card.  Some bonuses are VERY appealing — while others are not!  We sort it all out for you.
Minimum Spending Requirement:   Here’s the “catch.”  To earn the intro bonus, you must spend a certain amount using your new card within a certain time frame.  We like reasonable spending requirements that make it easy to get your bonus.  We do list cards with bigger requirements but ONLY if the reward is huge.
We love seeing how regular people like you get to travel First Class, stay in amazing hotels, or earn lots of cash using our insider tips.   For example, our reader Lori is an English teacher who took a $30,000+ trip to Asia for only $500.  Like me, she’s a big fan of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  And she took it on her epic adventure to Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.  (You can see all our Reader Success Stories here.)
Ongoing Bonus Opportunities:   We prefer travel credit cards that KEEP rewarding you, even after you earn the initial big welcome bonus.
Benefits:   Airport lounges with complimentary food and alcohol, no foreign transaction fees, and TSA PreCheck are some of my favorite perks that save money AND time.
Did You Know? With Just a Single Credit Card Intro Bonus Your Can Get Earn $1,000s Worth of Free (and Fancy!) Travel
Million Mile Secrets readers and team members make the most of the best credit card offers to get Big Travel with Small Money.  And redeem miles & points to travel cheaply to destinations like Disney World, Europe, Japan, New Zealand, and many others!
Want to see what it’s like when you master the Million Mile Secrets?  Here is a video of team member Keith:

Always wear your seat belt and always be responsible with credit!  If you’re new to rewards credit cards, be sure to read our post with myths associated with applying for new cards.  Many folks are pleasantly surprised to discover it’s possible to keep 20+ credit cards open AND maintain an excellent credit score!  This is my exact situation.  My score is still excellent because I always pay my bills on time.
And remember, you shouldn’t necessarily shy away from credit cards with annual fees.  Many of the best credit card offers have annual fees, but terrific ongoing perks (like annual travel credits!) that can easily offset the expense!  When I first started out, I really didn’t like the idea of an annual fee.  So I started out with no annual fee cards like Ink Business Cash.  But now I do the math to decide when a “premium” card is worth it.
Best Business Credit Card:   Chase Ink Business Preferred

Apply here:   Chase Ink Business Preferred
Or read our full review of the Chase Ink Business Preferred

 

The Official Offer:   Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
And that means?  This is a fantastic sign-up bonus and a big reason why the Chase Ink Business Preferred is our #1 pick!
Team member Keith used it to book a Business Class award flight to New Zealand worth more than $4,000!
If you like cash back, the 80,000-point bonus offer is $800.
And there is a useful option in between simple cash back and awesome award flights.  You can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the Chase Travel Portal (it looks and works just like Expedia or Orbitz) to quickly book travel with no blackout dates.  Your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Ink Business Preferred are worth 1.25 cents each instead of 1 cent each.  So the bonus brings you $1,000 worth of airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, and more.
Note:   I’ve found flights to cost the same as when I book on other travel sites.  Hotel stays are also usually very close in price.  For car rentals, shop around.  But the Chase portal does often have the best price too.
But tell me more about that $4,000 flight:   With the Chase Ink Business Preferred card you can send your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners.  For example, you can move your 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to become 80,000 United Airlines miles or 80,000 Hyatt hotel points.
So what does that all mean exactly?  Well… 60,000 United Airlines miles is enough for a one-way Business Class flight to Europe from the US.  60,000 United Airlines miles is also enough for a round-trip flight to Europe in economy class.  You’ll be earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all your spending.  So as you stack points, you get closer to your dream trip.
Medieval Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland — Or as I Prefer to Call It, House Greyjoy From Game of Thrones! Experience Europe by Using Chase Points Instead of Cash to Fly There

Another cool thing is just because you move your points to United Airlines does NOT mean you have to fly on United Airlines!  United Airlines lets you use their miles to fly on their cousin airlines in the Star Alliance such as Air New Zealand, SWISS, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, and more!

Ongoing Earning Potential:

3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)
1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all other purchases

Examples of what counts as “travel” and earns triple Chase points:
Toll bridges & highways
Parking lots & garages
Airlines (including tickets, baggage fees, change fees, etc.)
Hotels, Motels, Timeshares, Campgrounds
Vacation rentals like Airbnb
Car rental agencies
Cruise lines
Travel agencies
Discount travel sites like Travelocity and Expedia
Trains like Amtrak, subway, and metro tickets
Buses like city bus tickets, Greyhound, Megabus
Taxis, Limos, Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft
Ferries
Using Your Points:   You’ve got 3 great options.
1.   Transfer to Chase’s terrific travel partners like British Airways, United Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott (which is connected to Starwood), Singapore Airlines, and more!
2.   Use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points in their travel portal.  This is quick and easy.
3.   Cash back.
Perks:
Cell Phone Protection:   You get up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you pay it with your Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card.   There are a maximum of 3 claims in a 12 month period with a $100 deductible per claim.
The cell phone insurance perk actually works!  Team member Keith filed a claim online and received an $85 reimbursement after he paid to replace his shattered iPhone screen.

Extended Warranty:   When you buy items with your Chase Ink Business Preferred, they add 1 extra year when the warranty is 3 years or less.
Note:  The extended warranty protection is up to the amount charged to your card less shipping and handling fees, with a maximum of $10,000, and no more than $50,000 per calendar year.
Rental Car Insurance:   Cardholders are covered when you rent a car with your card and decline the car rental agency’s collision damage waiver.
Rental car insurance is primary when renting for business purposes in your country of residence or outside of the country.  Otherwise, this coverage is secondary.  You’d be shocked at what they try to charge you for a minor ding or scrape.  This built-in insurance can save you a lot of money and headaches.
Baggage Coverage:   If your baggage is delayed for more than 6 hours, you could be reimbursed for emergency purchases of essential items (i.e. clothing, toiletries, cell phone charging cables, and more)
You can get up to $100 per day for a maximum of 5 days.
Lost Luggage:   This benefit covers the cost to repair or replace lost luggage and personal items inside.  You can be reimbursed up to $3,000 per person each trip with a limit of $500 for items such as jewelry and electronics.
Trip Delay Protection:   If your trip is delayed for more than 12 hours, you could be reimbursed for up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses (meals, lodging, toiletries, medication, and other personal use items).
No Foreign Transaction Fee:  I refuse to use any credit card outside that US the hits you with an international fee.  The Chase Ink Business Preferred doesn’t do that to you.
Employee Cards at No Additional Cost:   By adding employee cards to your account, you can set individual employee spending limits for greater control and earn rewards faster.

Do you qualify?   This is a small business credit card but you might qualify without realizing it.  You can apply with your social security number as a sole proprietor of a for-profit business.  Check our step-by-step guide to completing a Chase business card application.
Note:   Chase will NOT approve you for their Ultimate Rewards points earning cards if you’ve opened 5 or more credit card accounts (from any bank) in the past 24 months (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards).  So be sure to get the Chase credit cards you want before you’re over the limit.

Is the Chase Ink Business Preferred Worth the Annual Fee?   Yes.  It’s $95 for all the above.  It’s a no-brainer.
Chase Ink Business Preferred Bottom Line:   You can’t go wrong with this card.  It’s impossible.  In the absolute worst case, you earn the sign-up bonus and take home $800 minus the annual fee.  Best case, you are flying to your dream destinations and sleeping on 1,000-thread-count sheets at luxury hotels.
Apply here:   Chase Ink Business Preferred
Best Travel Credit Card:   Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Apply here:   Chase Sapphire Preferred
Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the #1 card we recommend for beginners in the miles & points hobby.  I’ve had this credit card for many years and I take it on all my trips.
The Official Offer:   When you sign-up, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
Yeah, and that means?
To get big-time travel, you want to book what’s known as an “award flight.”  You can transfer your Chase points to various airline partner loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.  One Chase point will convert to one partner airline mile.  For example:
You’ll have at least 54,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (because you earn points on the $4,000 minimum spend too).  Here are just a few of your many options:

60,000 United Airlines miles to fly round-trip to Europe
60,000 United Airlines miles to fly Business Class one-way to Europe or 70,000 miles to fly on their partner airlines (Whoa.  That would cost ~$4,000 if you paid cash!)  I just did this maneuver.  I had a stash of 140,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points built-up from sign-up bonuses and regular spending.  And I moved them to United Airlines.  And that gave me access to United Airlines’ cousin airlines to fly Business Class round-trip to Europe.
35,000 United Airlines miles to fly round-trip to the Caribbean or Central America.  Meghan on our team did this to save $700+ on a fun last-minute trip to explore beautiful Belize!

Or you can redeem the sign-up bonus for $500 in cash back or $625 in travel when you book through the Chase Travel Portal.  You’ll get potentially much more value if you transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt.
Hyatt Is One of Our Favorite Chase Transfer Partners Because You Can Redeem Points for Free Nights Even at Their Most Luxurious Hotels, Like the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa!

Ongoing Earning Potential:

2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining
1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all other purchases

I Count Points, Not Calories! With My Chase Sapphire Preferred, I Deliciously Earned Double Chase Points (and a Double Chin) for Eating Nutella French Toast
Examples of what counts as “travel” and earns 2X Chase points:
Toll bridges & highways (this is how folks in New York City earn millions of miles, ha!)
Parking lots & garages
Airlines (including tickets, baggage fees, change fees, etc.)
Hotels, Motels, Timeshares, Campgrounds
Vacation rentals like Airbnb (I’ve earned double points everywhere from Cancun to Krakow this way)
Car rental agencies
Cruise lines
Travel agencies
Discount travel sites like Travelocity and Expedia
Trains like Amtrak, subway, and metro tickets
Buses like city bus tickets, Greyhound, Megabus
Taxis, Limos, Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft (double points to the airport!)
Ferries (random travel tip: Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn in Estonia to experience their Old Town)
Using Your Points:   You’ve got 3 incredible options.
1.   Transfer to Chase’s terrific travel partners like British Airways, United Airlines, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott (which is connected to Starwood), Singapore Airlines, and more!
2.   Use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points in their travel portal.  This is quick and easy.
3.   Cash back.
Options 2 and 3 are super simple and satisfying.
Option 1 takes a bit of learning but results in amazing experiences — the kind that give you a feeling of sticking it to “the man” and feeling superior over all your former friends who you are now too cool to associate with.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio directly to the following airlines:

Singapore Airlines (This is how you fly to Australia in First Class in an actual bed)
Aer Lingus (Ireland!)
British Airways (This is the secret to cheap flights to Hawaii from the West Coast and cheap flights within Europe and Asia)
United Airlines (This is how I fly to Europe.  And I don’t fly on United Airlines, I use their partners)
Flying Blue (KLM & Air France)
Iberia
Southwest (No blackout dates + 2 free checked bags)
Virgin Atlantic
JetBlue (No blackout dates + the most legroom in coach)

And they transfer to these hotel programs:

Hyatt (the BEST use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels.  This is how I stayed at the Hyatt Zilara all-inclusive on the beach for $0 per night instead of $500 per night.  I was very happy sipping margaritas while in the pool that overlooked the ocean)
Ritz-Carlton
Marriott
IHG (they have brands you know like InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, and Holiday Inn)

Using My Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, I Got a Free Business Class Flight to Europe This Summer!
Perks:
Primary car rental insurance: Covers damage due to theft or collision to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card.
Trip delay reimbursement: Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay for expenses such as meals and lodging (because they may not reimburse you for your usual snack of Beluga caviar, stick to the store-brand caviar)
Extended Warranty Protection: Extends the time period of the US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of 3 years or less
Baggage Delay Insurance: Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over 6 hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for 5 days.  (So when the airline stinks, you don’t have to.)
When you’re approved, be sure to read the full details in the Guide to Benefits.
No foreign transaction fee:  Hooray!  That’s why I take my Chase Sapphire Preferred everywhere I travel.  It’s a Visa credit card so it’s accepted just about anyplace and there are no nonsense international fees.
On the Beaches of Mexico, I Had No Problemo (That’s Spanish) Using My Chase Sapphire Preferred to Earn 2X Points at Restaurants With No Foreign Transaction Fees
Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Worth the Annual Fee:   The $95 annual fee is waived the first year, which means you can use the card for free for ~11 months.  Then, decide if you like the benefits enough to pay the annual fee.  I’ve paid this fee year after year, because for me, it’s totally worth it.  (If you do decide to cancel, it’s seriously hassle-free.)

Do you qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred ?  
Chase has the final say.  Here are guidelines:
You have the best chance of being approved when you have excellent credit.  Your score is likely high enough if it’s 750+.  I wouldn’t recommend applying if your score is below 725, although you never know.
There are other factors Chase will use to determine if they want to allow you to have this metal credit card.  They may consider your income, your banking relationship with them, etc.  Again, this is Chase’s card and they make the final determination on whether or not to let you have it.
That said, they created this card and bonus for a reason.  So don’t be shy!  When I was approved for my Chase Sapphire Preferred I had an 800 credit score (still do) and a middle class income.
Important:
If you’re in one of these 2 categories, you very likely will NOT be approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
1. You have opened 5+ new credit cards from any bank within the past 24 months.  But wait, this does NOT count small business cards from American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo.
2. You already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred OR a Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Bottom Line:   This is our #1 pick for people who are beginners to travel credit cards and airline miles and points.  This was my first “premium” travel credit card and I still have it and use it to this day.
Apply here:   Chase Sapphire Preferred
Best Citi Travel Credit Card Bonus:   Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Apply here:  Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
Or read our full review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

The Official Offer:  Earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  That’s the highest offer we’ve ever seen for this premium credit card!  I have this credit card.  I got it when the bonus offer was lower and it was a very good deal even then!
And 60,000 Citi points means what exactly?

With 50,000 Citi ThankYou Points, You Can Fly Internationally in a Business Class Bed on Delta, Be Served a High Quality Meal, and Wash It Down With a Nice Selection of Adult Beverages
You’ll get $750 worth of travel using your 60,000 Citi points on their travel booking site.  Or you can stretch the points to be worth even more by transferring your points to Citi’s partner airlines!
Here are just a few examples of fun travel you can do with 60,000 Citi ThankYou points:

Fly round-trip to Hawaii on United Airlines by transferring your Citi points to United’s partner, Singapore Airlines (we show you how to do these lucrative tricks!)
Fly one-way in Business Class to Europe or Japan by transferring 50,000 Citi points to Etihad
3 round-trip flights to London from Boston, New York, Newark, or Washington, DC, during off-peak season by transferring your Citi points to Virgin Atlantic
Fly one-way in super comfortable Delta One Business Class from Atlanta or Seattle to Tokyo by turning your 60,000 Citi points into Virgin Atlantic miles
Fly one-way in Delta One Business Class from Detroit to Paris by transferring 50,000 Citi points to Virgin Atlantic
3 round-trip flights between New York City and Vancouver on Cathay Pacific by moving your Citi points to Asia miles.  Or enjoy 1 round-trip flight in Cathay Pacific’s amazing Business Class on this route using just 50,000 of your Citi points

Team member Harlan has had success transferring his Citi ThankYou points to fly to Europe, fly his family to Hawaii, and more!
And Jasmin has flown with her kids from Vancouver to New York in Cathay Pacific Business Class and loved it!
Complimentary Wine and Wi-Fi Equals Airport Paradise!  Team Member Jasmin Flew Business Class Using Points.  She Took This Photo of the Cathay Pacific Lounge in Vancouver.  Remember, Not Only Do You Get the Business Class Seat/Bed, You Also Get Entrance to the Peaceful Business Class Airport Lounge With Food, Snacks, and Cocktails
If you don’t want to transfer your points, you can keep things dead simple instead… use your 60,000 Citi ThankYou points in the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal (it’s just like using Expedia and the prices almost always match).  You’ll get 25% off your flight! 
Because your points are worth 1.25 cents each there.  So your 60,000 points are worth $750.  If there’s a flight for sale, you can book it!  There are no blackout dates or other games like that.
I’ve used my Citi ThankYou points this way when I wanted a specific coach flight to Europe on a specific date.  It was super easy.

Ongoing Earning Potential:

3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations, airfare, hotels, car rental agencies, parking, tolls, and more
2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent at restaurants and on select entertainment like amusement parks, museums, sporting events, movies, and more
1 Citi ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Here I Am With My Citi ThankYou Premier Earning Double Points on Double Drinks Until Seeing Double in Europe.  (Just Kidding.  I Almost Always Usually Drink Responsibly for the Most Part.)
Perks:
Price Protection:   They call it “Citi Price Rewind.”  What’s cool about it is when you pay for registered items at certain online merchants with your ThankYou Premier, Citi will automatically check for a lower price at other stores.  Harlan uses this perk a lot with Amazon.  You can save up to $1,000 per calendar year this way!  When you sign-up you can review the restrictions.  But it’s pretty easy and works well.
Extended Warranty:   By paying for an eligible item with the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you can extend the manufacturer’s warranty by an additional 24 months (total coverage between both the manufacturer’s warranty and extended warranty cannot exceed 84 months).  See the complete Guide to Benefits for all the details.  I can tell you that I always make expensive purchases with a credit card that has this feature.  That way I can turn down the rip-off extended warranty they offer at the store.
No Foreign Transaction Fee:  Use your Citi ThankYou Premier card anywhere in the world and never get hit with an “international fee.”  Avoid using credit cards that slap you with a 3% junk fee!
When you pay for travel with your Citi ThankYou Premier card you’ll get:
Baggage delay protection:  Get up to $100 per covered traveler if your bags are delayed 6+ hours
Trip delay protection:   Get up to $500 per covered traveler to pay for meals and hotels if your trip is delayed 12+ hours.  Nobody thinks about which credit card to use until their flight is delayed and you have to fly out the next day.  Be smart and let your credit card company reimburse your hotels and meals instead of having to beg airport staff for one of those ridiculously cheap $9 meal vouchers they give you.
Trip cancellation & interruption:   You may be reimbursed up to $5,000 per covered traveler per trip if the trip is cancelled or interrupted for an eligible reason.
Do you qualify for the ThankYou Premier?  Citi says, “Bonus ThankYou Points are not available if you have had a ThankYou Preferred, ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card opened or closed in the past 24 months.”  You likely need a credit score around 750 or higher.  But of course Citi has the final say!  I was approved with an 800 credit score and a middle class income.

Is the Citi ThankYou Premier Worth the Annual Fee?   Yes.  It’s only $95 for all the above.  Oh yeah, it’s $0 in year 1 with the card.  Use your points for $1,000+ worth of flights using our tips.  Or for $750 worth of flights the super easy way in their travel portal.
Citi ThankYou Premier Bottom Line:   I have this credit card.  It costs nothing to own for the first 12 months.  It’s got some great perks plus the bonus is worth between $750 and $1,000+ for travel depending how you use it.  That’s why it’s in our Top 10 list!
Apply here:   Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Best Southwest Airlines Bonus: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
Apply here:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Read our full review of the Chase Southwest Premier Business Card

The Official Offer:   Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
This is the highest sign-up bonus we’ve seen on the card.
And 60,000 Southwest points means what exactly?
~$900!  Because in our experience booking flights, 1 Southwest point generally maps to ~1.5 cents.
Two amazing things about Southwest points:
1 – no blackout dates or funny business.  If the flight still has seats for sale, you can book it with points.
2 – We consider the Southwest Companion Pass to be the best deal in domestic travel.  Your designated travel companion flies free with you on all your Southwest flights.  These 60,000 points will get you over half-way to the 110,000 Southwest Companion Pass qualifying points you need to earn in one calendar year to get the Pass.
Whenever Team Member Keith Books a Flight on Southwest, His Wife Can Join Him for Free!  That’s Because He Earned the Companion Pass With Credit Card Points
Southwest has other great perks:

You get 2 free checked bags on every flight
You do NOT pay change or cancel fees on paid or award flights

Because Southwest Has No Blackout Dates, It’s Easy to Redeem Points for Flights to Destinations Like Los Cabos, Mexico!
Ongoing Earning Potential:

2 Southwest points per $1 on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
1 Southwest point per $1 on everything else
6,000 Southwest points after your cardmember anniversary (Keith says that’s enough for him to fly from the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas, San Francisco, or Portland whenever Southwest has one of its frequent fare sales)

Lost Luggage Reimbursement: If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger when you pay with the card.  Now that’s peace of mind.  Unless you think too hard about who’s wearing your pants now.
Extended Warranty Protection: Extends the time period of the US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of 3 years or less.  I love earning points for a purchase AND having the warranty extended.
Baggage Delay Insurance: Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over 6 hours up to $100 a day for 3 days
Purchase Protection:  Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
Free Cards for your employees:  You’ll earn points for purchases they make on the cards
No Foreign Transaction Fee:  Hooray!  So when you fly Southwest to the Caribbean, you can bring your card and use it with none of those tacky tack-on fees that some cards add.
Do you qualify for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card?  Yes, if you have a for-profit business.  It can be a small business of just you!  You’d just mark down sole proprietor on the application and use your social security number.  Keith was approved this way for his eBay reselling business.

But if you’re in one of these next 2 categories… sadness… you’re not eligible:
1. You have opened 5+ new credit cards from any bank within the past 24 months.  But this does NOT count small business cards from American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo.
2. You already have the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card OR have earned the sign-up bonus in the past 24 months.

Is the Southwest Premier Business Card Worth the Annual Fee?   Yes.  The $99 annual fee is more than fair for $900 worth of flights!  Plus you get all the perks listed above.  And the bonus points on your card anniversary can help to offset the annual fee.
Southwest Premier Business Card Bottom Line:   We recommend this credit card for anyone who would fly on Southwest.  And it’s an especially awesome card for those of you who travel with a partner because of the opportunity to earn the lucrative Companion Pass!
For a long time I resisted flying on Southwest because I thought it’d be a bad experience.  I was wrong!  I’ve flown Southwest to Cancun and a few times in the US so far and it’s all been pleasant.

Apply here:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Best Business Credit Card With No Annual Fee + 5% Categories: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Apply here:   Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Read our review:   Biggest No-Brainer Deal of the Year: $500 Cash Back (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!)
 

With the highest-ever Ink Business Cash sign-up bonus, you’ll earn $500 cash back (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points!) after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.  Earning $500 in cash from a card with no annual fee is an AWESOME deal!
It also comes with:

5% cash back (5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on phone, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year
2% cash back (2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
1% cash back (1X Chase Ultimate Rewards point) on all other purchases
Primary car rental insurance (CDW) when renting for business purposes, covering damage due to collision or theft to your rental car when you pay with your Chase Ink Business Cash card. Secondary coverage when renting for personal reasons

Million Mile Secrets team member Keith has kept this card in his wallet because it has no annual fee.  He uses it to earn 5% cash back (5X points) at Staples when shopping for his eBay drop shipping business.
And I’ve kept my Ink Business Cash card for many years because I earn 5X points on my monthly internet bill and 2X points at restaurants.  Liquid Hint:   Many times your business cocktails and networking wine earn 2X points too!  Because bars and lounges often code as restaurants to the credit card company.
Using Your Points:  If you ONLY have the Chase Ink Business Cash credit card, you’ve got one option: cash.  However, if you ALSO have the Chase Ink Business Preferred (yes, you can own both cards) OR the Chase Sapphire Preferred OR the Chase Sapphire Reserve you now have travel superpowers.
Because you can lift all the points you earn with your Ink Cash above your head, create a impressive fiery orb, and hurl them over to one of those “premium” cards.  And from there you have access to all the travel partners I talked about in the Chase Ink Business Preferred section!
I Took This Photo of the Infinity Pool While Staying at the All-Inclusive Hyatt Zilara in Cancun. Not Bad! I Paid $0 for the Stay Because I Moved the Points I Earned With My Chase Ink Cash to My Chase Sapphire Preferred. And From There I Transferred Them to Hyatt to Get My Free Stay
Perks:   Primary rental car insurance (when renting for business purposes), extended warranty, delayed baggage, and lost luggage protection.
You can check all the details of the fantastic benefits when you get to the Ink Cash card offer page.  But I’ll give you a real-life example.  I walked into my local Staples ready to make a significant purchase.  Naturally I was prepared with my Ink Cash business credit card because with it I earn 5X points at office supply stores such as this.  I made my significant purchase.  And that’s when it happened.
The sales person pitched me about the, you guessed it, the dreaded extended warranty.
He said, “You fool!  You’re about to pay big bucks for your significant purchase yet you won’t pay this relatively tiny amount to protect your investment for an extra year?” 
I inhaled my Zen.  And exhaled, “Nah.  I’m good.” 
He dug in.  “How could you be so feckless… so irresponsible… have you no regard for society?!” 
But his pleas for extra cheese were for naught.  For I own, behold!… the Ink Business Cash credit card!  And it adds an extra year to the warranty.  Be gone, extended-warranty-pusher!
Is the Chase Ink Business Cash Worth the Annual Fee?  Yes.  Because there is no annual fee!  But this card DOES charge foreign transaction fees, which is why I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred when I travel abroad.
Chase Ink Business Cash Bottom Line:   I use this business credit card all the time.  It costs $0 to own.  Enjoy.
Apply here:   Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Best Business Credit Card With No Annual Fee + 1.5% Cash Back Everywhere: Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
Apply here:   Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

The Intro Offer:   You will receive 50,000 bonus points which you can redeem for $500 cash back when you make purchases totaling $3,000+ during the first 3 months from account opening.
Ongoing Earning Potential:   You can earn an unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase.
Using Your Points:  What’s cool here is that this works the same way as the Ink Business Cash.  You can use your points for cash back OR, if you have a “premium” Ultimate Rewards card (AKA it has an annual fee) like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can then move your points to those premium cards for premium travel rewards.
Really, the Ink Business Unlimited is very similar to the Ink Business Cash.  It’s possible to have both cards.  But if you’re trying to decide, I think of these cards like this…
Do you prefer your love partner to be pretty good looking all the time, no matter the circumstance?  Then choose Ink Business Unlimited because you get 1.5X points on all your purchases without having to think about it.
Or do you prefer your romantic partner to look just OK most of the time but drop-dead gorgeous for special occasions… like when you walk into office supply stores.  And when you pay your phone and internet bill.  And your partner is doubly-attractive when you go out to restaurants and gas stations.  If that’s your pick, go with Ink Business Cash (the card listed above this one) instead.
Ink Business Unlimited Bottom Line:   You really can’t go wrong here.  No annual fee and you earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases AND you can earn a $500 sign-up bonus?  Easy pick.
Apply here:   Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
Best Credit Card for Simple Travel Rewards:  Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Apply here:   Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Read our full review of the Capital One Venture Card
 

You can earn 50,000 Venture miles (worth $500 in travel) by applying for the Capital One Venture card and spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months.
The card has a straightforward rewards program, which means the miles are easy to redeem.  All you have to do is pay for travel expenses (like airfare, hotel stays, parking, and much more) with your credit card.  Then, log-in to your account and “erase” the charge by redeeming your miles.
The Capital One Venture is perhaps the best credit card for points that you can use for nearly ANYTHING travel related.  Check out this post with outside-the-box ways to redeem Venture miles, like Costco travel packages!
Prefer Airbnbs or Staying Off the Beaten Path? The Capital One Venture Makes Redeeming Rewards Easy!
In addition to the card’s valuable sign-up bonus, you’ll get:

2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases
Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
10 Venture miles per $1 you spend on hotel stays booked and paid for with your card through this Hotels.com link (through January 31, 2020)
NO foreign transaction fees

Cards that offer to reimburse Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees usually have much higher annual fees (often between $450 and $550).  But this card has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year!
The card also comes with Visa Signature Benefits, which include:

Rental car insurance – Secondary protection for damage due to collision or theft
Travel accident insurance – Up to $250,000 insurance for accidental loss of life, limb, sight, speech, or hearing
Lost luggage insurance – Up to $3,000 per trip, provided the luggage was lost from theft or misdirection by the airline, cruise, etc.

Apply here for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Best Cash Back Credit Card for Restaurants & Entertainment
Apply here:   Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Or read our full analysis:   Capital One Savor Review

The Intro Offer:   $500 cash back after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  Nice.
Ongoing Earning Potential:   

4% cash back on dining (secret: oftentimes bars and nightclubs code as dining too!)
4% cash back on entertainment (concerts, tourist attractions, theme parks, and more!)
2% cash back at grocery stores

You’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Best of all, there’s no limit on how much bonus cash back you can earn!
Using Your Points:   You can request a check or statement credit, any time, with no minimum redemption amount.  Or set-up an automatic redemption such as $25 back per month.
Capital One Savor Bottom Line:   I typically use my Chase Sapphire Preferred while traveling overseas.  But I’m very much considering adding the Savor card to my wallet.  Because it also has no foreign transaction fee AND rewards you with a fat and unlimited 4% cash back on dining out and entertainment.  Typically my biggest expenses overseas are restaurants/bars, tourist attractions, and groceries.  (Since I usually use points for flights and hotels.)  What I also love about Savor is you can try the card free the first 11 months.  Then if you feel like it’s really been saving you money, you only pay the $95 annual fee starting in year 2 with the card.  All that plus the $500 intro bonus makes this a strong offer.
Apply here:   Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
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Best Business Credit Card for Simple Travel Rewards: Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Apply here:   Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Read our review of the Capital One Spark Miles Card

 

The Spark Offer:   You earn simple rewards with the Capital One Spark Miles.  When you sign-up, you’ll earn 50,000 Spark miles (worth $500 in travel) after spending $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months.  And you’ll earn 2 miles per $1 on all purchases.

You can use to offset nearly any travel purchase you put on this business credit card.  It’s a very good deal!

Ongoing Earning Potential:   2X Spark miles per $1 you spend on all purchases.

These Spark miles are worth 1 cent each toward travel purchases.  Spark miles are NOT airline miles.  You basically get 2% back to offset travel purchases you make with this business credit card.

Using Your Points:   Use the card to pay for travel like you normally would.  Then log-in to your online account to “erase” the travel purchase with your miles.

Perks:

Purchase Security and Extended Protection:   They will replace, repair, or reimburse you for eligible items of personal property up to $10,000 per claim for 90 days from the date of purchase in the event of theft or damage.

And “Extended Protection” doubles the time period of the original manufacturer’s written US repair warranty up to 1 full year on warranties of 3 years or less when you purchase the item entirely with your Capital One Spark Miles Business card.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver:  You receive primary coverage, at no additional cost, for damage due to collision or theft when you charge your entire rental transaction to your Spark Miles Business credit card and decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver.

This saves you money when you rent a car for business.

Lost Luggage Reimbursement:   Your checked or carry-on luggage is covered up to $3,000 if lost or stolen when you charge your entire common carrier ticket to your Spark Miles Visa Signature Business credit card.

No Foreign Transaction Fee:  This is how it should be!  Plus Visa is accepted almost everywhere.

Free Employee Cards:   Add employee cards at no additional cost, and earn all the rewards from their purchases.

Is the Capital One Spark Miles for Business Worth the Annual Fee?  It certainly is in your first year with the card.  Because you’re not charged the $95 annual fee until after your first year owning this business credit card.  At ~10 months with the card, I recommend you look over your spending habits to see if the card makes sense for you to keep.  Whenever I have to cancel a credit card (which is unusual for me) I’ve found it to be quick and hassle-free.

Capital One Spark Miles Bottom Line:   If you like Capital One and you like this business credit card, it’s definitely worth adding this ice cream flavor to your freezer.

Apply here:   Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business –>
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Best Cash Back Business Credit Card With 2% Everywhere: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Apply here:   Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Read our review of the Capital One Spark Cash Card

The Capital One Spark Cash back credit card in one of our best rated credit cards because you’ll earn a $500 cash sign-up bonus after spending $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  You’ll also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases!

$500 Intro Bonus for Capital One Spark Cash! That’s Enough for Your New York City Shopping Spree! You Could Buy a Shirt

I like that there are no foreign transaction fees and that you can redeem your cash back for any amount.

Apply here:   Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
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Best American Airlines Business Card: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Apply here:  CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Or read our full review of the CitiBusiness American Airlines Platinum Select Credit Card

The Official Offer:  Earn 70,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 4 months of opening your account.
And 70,000 American Airlines miles means what exactly?

The Long Flight to Asia Is SO Much Better When You Can Lay Down to Sleep in Cathay Pacific Business Class! (Book With American Airlines Miles)
With 70,000 American Airlines miles you can:

Fly round-trip to Europe, Hawaii, Asia, or South America
Fly one-way in Business Class to Japan or Korea
Get 2 round-trip flights to anywhere in the continental US

Fly one-way First Class from coast to coast in the US
Get 2 round-trip flights to the Caribbean, Central America, or Mexico

Those are just a few of the awesome options you’ll have with your 70,000 American Airlines miles!
Many of you will combine the credit card bonus with your current stash of American Airlines miles.  Or you’ll keep using the card to earn more miles.  So here’s an idea of what you can do when you collect more American Airlines miles:
Sleep Your Way to Australia on Qantas Airlines by Using American Airlines Miles to Fly in a Business Class Bed

Fly one-way in Business Class to Australia or New Zealand for 80,000 American Airlines miles on partner airline Qantas
Fly one-way in First Class to Japan for 80,000 American Airlines on partner Japan Airlines
Fly one-way in First Class to Europe for 85,000 American Airlines miles

I’ve got to say, I usually fly coach to save miles and take more trips, but… wow, life sure is better when you’re able to lay down and sleep on a long flight.  Plus you’re treated to much tastier food and liquor.
Ongoing Earning Potential:

2 American Airlines miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases
2 American Airlines miles per $1 spent at $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations
1 American Airlines mile per $1 spent on other purchases

Perks:
Free first checked bag:  You get a bag!  Your travel companion gets a bag!  Everyone gets a bag!  OK, not everyone.  But up to 4 travel companions get a free checked bag on the same reservation on domestic American Airlines flights.  That’s a huge money saver!
Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights:  Nice.
Discounted in-flight Wi-Fi:  Get 25% off when you purchase with your card.  Not amazing, but I’ll take it.

No Foreign Transaction Fee:  Excellent perk.
Extended Warranty:  This benefit doubles the original manufacturer warranty up to a maximum of 12 months on warranties of 5 years or less for most items you purchase with your eligible CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® Mastercard.  So you can feel at ease when you turn down the store’s extra warranty coverage that they try to sell you.
Purchase Protection:  You’re covered for most items you purchase with your eligible CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® Mastercard if the item is damaged or stolen within 90 days of the date of purchase.  This is a major reason I’ll NEVER make product purchases with a debit card.  Your credit card gets you miles and peace of mind.
Mastercard Easy Savings:  CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® cardmembers (that was a mouthful to say) are enrolled to receive automatic rebates on eligible purchases with Mastercard® Easy Savings.  OK, so I looked over these and some of the savings are pretty cool.  Currently (keep in mind these can change) you can save 4% at many hotels and restaurants.  Being a food lover, I took a closer look at the dining perk.  Here’s what it says:
“Just dine at a restaurant within the Dinova network and use your eligible Mastercard business credit card to pay for your meal as you normally would.  Nothing else is required.  The rebate will apply to the entire charge, including taxes and tips. The rebate will appear on your statement in the form of a credit.”
Woo-hoo!  I know what you’re thinking… Dinova network?  So I did a quick search of New York City as an example and a ton of restaurants popped up ranging from upscale steakhouses to chain restaurants.  So it’s easy to automatically knock 4% off your bill!

Is the CitiBusiness American Airlines Credit Card Worth the Annual Fee?   Yes.  You pay $0 your first 12 months with the card.  Then it’s $99 a year.  If you’re flying on American Airlines it’d be hard to NOT make up the annual fee in checked bag savings!  I really dislike baggage fees.  But at least there’s a way to wiggle out of them.
CitiBusiness American Airlines Card Bottom Line:   The 70,000 American Airlines bonus miles are worth ~$1,500 depending on how you them.  That’s an awesome intro bonus!  You’re going to save a lot of money on baggage fees.  You board early.  For folks who fly on American Airlines or want to fly on great partner airlines to Hawaii, Europe, Asia, and more, this is an excellent deal.
Apply here:   CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Best Travel Credit Card for Premium Rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Apply here:   Chase Sapphire Reserve
Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve
 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the #1 premium travel credit card… premium because of the price tag but also because of the perks.
When you sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
The sign-up bonus can get you $750 worth of travel when you redeem points for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more through the Chase travel portal.  Because when you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each on travel booked through Chase!
And if you have other Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning cards, you can move points to your Sapphire Reserve account to increase the value of your points!
You Can Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Travel Almost Anywhere in the World. Even the Far-Flung Islands of the Maldives!
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll also get:

3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining
$300 statement credit for travel purchases (like airfare, Airbnb, hotels, car rental, Uber, etc.) each account anniversary year
Priority Pass Select for access to airport lounges
$100 statement credit for Global Entry
NO foreign transaction fees

The card comes with a $450 annual fee.  But you can offset this fee with perks like the $300 travel statement credit and airport lounge access.
Team member Keith says this is the #1 card he uses.  Because he loves to earn easy and valuable bonus points for dining out!
Bottom Line
Our favorite credit card offers for this month are:

Best Business Credit Card:   Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Best Travel Credit Card:   Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best Citi Travel Credit Card Bonus (Worth $750+):  Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Best Southwest Airlines Bonus (Worth $900): Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Best Business Credit Card With No Annual Fee + 5% Categories:   Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Best Business Credit Card With No Annual Fee + 1.5% Cash Back Everywhere:   Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
Best Credit Card for Simple Travel Rewards:   Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Best Cash Back Credit Card for Restaurants & Entertainment:   Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best American Airlines Business Card:   CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Best Travel Credit Card for Premium Rewards:   Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Your turn to comment… let us know which credit card is best!

Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: I’ve Had This Card 5 Years. Here’s How to Get $1,000+ Worth of Travel

Scott:   I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for over 5 years.  And I’ve used it all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and Europe.  Here’s my personal experience.  I’ll also reveal the secrets to getting $1,000+ worth of travel from the sign-up bonus.  These insider tips can get you First Class flights, luxury hotel suites, and more.  Yes, really.

With My Chase Sapphire Preferred I Earn 2X Points on Fancy-Schmancy Cocktails. Then I Use My Points to Travel, Where I Drink More Fancy Cocktails
2018 Chase Sapphire Preferred Review  (My Personal Experience – Short Version)

You earn 50,000 amazing Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account.  I’ll show you tricks to get $1,000+ worth of travel from those 50,000 points.  Or instead, you can get $625 worth of travel with no brain-work whatsoever.  Or…turn the 50,000 points into $500 if you love cash.
There is a $95 annual fee.  But, awesomely, you do NOT have pay this in your first year!
Chase Sapphire Preferred has the BEST travel transfer partners.  I’ll explain more in the long version, but the transfer partners are how you’ll pay $0 for luxury hotel suites on the beach and pay ~$10 to fly to Hawaii, Europe, and more
Earning 2X points on restaurant and travel purchases is great.  (Chase points are often worth more than points you earn on other types of cards.)
Primary car rental insurance – Covers damage or theft to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card.  (This can save you BIG time.)
Trip delay reimbursement – Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours  (This is clutch.)
$0 foreign transaction fees (I HATE cards that tack on dumb fees just because I’m using their card outside the US)
A human answers the phone when you call customer support.  Those prerecorded menus (Press 1 if you would like to speak English, press 2 if you would like to talk about your childhood) drive me nuts!
The card itself is kinda cool — it’s metal
If you are a person who doesn’t pay credit card bills on time, do NOT get this card.  Because the interest rate is very high.  Do not charge more than you afford.  Do not pay bills late.  If you can handle that, this is a fantastic card.

Do You Qualify for the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
Now that you’re all excited, you want to make sure you can actually be approved.  Chase has the final word so the following is a mere guideline.
You have the best chance of being approved when you have excellent credit.  Your score is likely high enough if it’s 750+.  I probably wouldn’t recommend applying if your score is below 725, although you never know.
There are other factors Chase will use to determine if they want to bless you with this card.  They may consider your income, your banking relationship with them, etc.  Again, this is Chase’s card and have the final say on whether or not to let you have it.
That said, they created this card and bonus for a reason.  So don’t be shy!  When I was approved for my Chase Sapphire Preferred I had an 800 credit score (still do) and a middle class income.
Now Here’s Something Sad
If you’re in one of these 2 categories, you very likely will NOT be approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
1. You have opened 5+ new credit cards from any bank within the past 24 months.  But wait, this does NOT count small business cards from AMEX, Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo.
2. You already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred OR a Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
So do you qualify?  Great!  Now get ready to unlock some serious Big Travel with Small Money.
Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
I Enjoyed Summer on the Beach in Europe by Using Points I Earned With My Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
3 Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
1.   Cash Back
I used to be a cash back person.  But then Million Mile Secrets showed me how to get double my money’s worth when using points for travel.  And now I’m Managing Editor of Million Mile Secrets.  So you can see the progression. 
50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points turns into $500.
You need at least 2,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($20) to get your cash back.  You can apply this as a statement credit or as a deposit in your bank account.
If you want to use your Chase Sapphire Preferred as a cash back card, you certainly can.  You’d earn 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar you spend on travel and restaurant purchases.  So that’s essentially 2% cash back in those categories.  And you’ll earn 1 point on every other dollar you spend, or basically 1% cash back.
I still use cash back cards.  But to me, using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back instead of travel is like using a Ferrari only to pick up groceries once a week.
Instead of Cash Back, I Now Use My Chase Points for Big Travel with Small Money! I Slept Comfortably on My Flight to Europe This Summer
2.   Select Nearly Any Flight, Hotel, Cruise, Rental Car
This is very easy.  And many of you will be very happy to use your points this way.  Heck, I still use my points this way sometimes!
You just log into the Chase Travel portal and pick your flight or hotel just like you do on Expedia.  Yes, the prices are the same or very close.  (But when booking rental cars or cruises, shop around.  Though many readers tell us they get great rental car prices through the portal.)
What’s cool about this method for booking airlines and hotels, is there are NO annoying blackout dates.  So if there’s a flight for sale, it’s yours with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points nets you $625 worth of travel when you use their portal.
It’s very easy to book with the Chase portal.  You’ll see it looks very similar to booking on Orbitz or any other such sites.
If You Can Figure Out Travelocity or Orbitz, the Chase Travel Portal Is Just as Easy
In the screenshot above, you might notice that a $356.60 ticket does NOT cost 35,600 points.  That’s because your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are NOT worth just a penny!  They’re worth 1.25 cent each when you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred, so ticket prices are discounted 20% with points.
So, again in the screenshot, you’d use 28,528 points for this flight.  Would you rather turn those 28,528 points into $285.28?  Or into a $356.60 flight?  Or… into a flight to Europe?  But more on that in this next section…
3.   Transfer Your Points to Travel Partners (This Is How You Can Get $1,000+ Worth of Travel From 50,000 Chase Points)
This is where the magic happens.  Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the best points currency.  Because you can transfer to the best airline partners to get just about anywhere in the world.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio directly to the following airlines:
Aer Lingus (Ireland, here we come!)
British Airways (Shh!  This is the secret to super cheap flights to Hawaii from the West Coast and cheap flights within Europe)
Flying Blue (KLM & Air France)
Iberia
Singapore Airlines (take their amazing First Class bed and champagne service to Japan or Australia)
Southwest  (No blackout dates + 2 free checked bags)
United Airlines (This is how I fly to Europe.  And I don’t fly on United Airlines, I use their terrific partners)
Virgin Atlantic
And they transfer to these hotel programs:
I Used 25,000 Points From My Chase Sapphire Preferred to Stay in a Room With a Jacuzzi Tub Overlooking the Ocean
Hyatt (the BEST use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels.  This is how I stayed at the Hyatt Zilara all-inclusive on the beach for $0 per night instead of $500 per night)
Ritz-Carlton
Marriott
IHG
Quick example:  Transfer 50,000 Chase points to Hyatt.  Stay 2 nights at a hotel like the Grand Hyatt New York or Park Hyatt Vienna.  Oftentimes those luxury hotels cost over $500 per night!
Another quick example:  Transfer 26,000 Chase points to Aer Lingus.  Fly round-trip during the 8 months of “off-season” to Ireland.  There are non-stops from Boston, Chicago, New York, and more!  These flights often cost $1,000+.  Hint: Last-minute flights that would be expensive are a great deal with points!
After you get your card, come back here to Million Mile Secrets and we’ll show you step-by-step how to book your award flights with points.  Here are some real-life examples of how folks on our team have used their Chase points:

Keith flew First Class with his wife from Singapore back home to Los Angeles on their amazing honeymoon
I flew round-trip in Business Class to Europe this summer using 140,000 Chase points instead of cash
Meghan on our team is sometimes spontaneous!  And she wanted to jet to beautiful Belize.  But tickets were over $700!  So she transferred 35,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines instead of paying money

Here’s Our Team Member Keith With His Wife Liz Using Chase Points to Fly in the Incredible and Private Singapore First Class Suites
This works with hotels too.

Jason got a ~$3,259 All-Inclusive Resort stay for 65,000 Chase points (that he transferred to Hyatt).  He said it was the “best hotel points booking I’ve ever made.  [My wife and I] couldn’t have been happier or more relaxed when we left.  The service, food, and setting were top notch.”
I’ve stayed twice at a Hyatt all-inclusive on the beach using 25,000 Chase points per night instead of $500
Jasmin transferred 45,000 Chase points to Hyatt for a 3-night stay at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile.  (Notice the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus is 50,000 points).  If she paid money instead of points, it would’ve cost her $800.  She loved the view of the Eiffel Tower from her room!

Team Members Jasmin, Emily, and I Have All Loved Our Various Visits to Paris! And We Got Heavily Discounted Travel Using Chase Points!
How to Earn Points With the Chase Sapphire Preferred
You earn 2X points on travel.  This includes airlines, hotels, Airbnb, campgrounds, car rentals, cruises, travel agencies, trains, taxis, ferries, toll bridges, parking lots, and more.
You earn 2X points on dining.  This includes any establishment that codes on your credit card bill as a restaurant.  In my experience I’ve earned 2X points at restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and fast food places both in the US and overseas.
Insider Travel Tip: Warsaw, Poland Is Amazing Restaurant City! I Earned 2X Chase Points With No Foreign Transaction Fees at the Delicious Port Royal in Hala Koszyki Food Hall
You earn 1 point per $1 on every other purchase.
Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
I absolutely love the “extras” you get with this credit card.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
I hate cards that hit you with a junk fee when you use them outside the US.  That’s why I take my Chase Sapphire Preferred on all my international trips.  Plus it’s a Visa credit card so it’s accepted nearly everywhere.
Primary Car Rental Insurance
This covers damage due to theft or collision to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card.
Quick real-life experience:  Joseph on our team rented a car for nearly a month in Ireland.  He turned down the rip-off car insurance at the desk because it would’ve cost him $300!  He relied on the primary rental car insurance from his Chase Sapphire Preferred.  He scraped and dinged the car.  Avis tried to bill him $2,300 for this minor damage!  Thank goodness Chase completely took care of it.  And Joseph was in the clear.
Trip Delay Reimbursement
Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay for expenses such as meals and lodging
Extended Warranty Protection
Extends the time period of the US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of 3 years or less.
Baggage Delay Insurance
Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over 6 hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for 5 days.
Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Worth the Annual Fee?
Absolutely.  First of all, your entire first year with the card is $0.  So it’s worth trying out to see how you like it.  Each year after it’s $95.  I’ve paid this fee 4 times because I ALWAYS get MUCH more than my money’s worth because of the points and perks.
Customer Support for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
It’s great.  I love that a human answers your call instead of one of those annoying robot menus.  Also, throughout the years I twice had fraudulent charges on my card.  And twice they quickly removed the charges and mailed me a new card without any problem whatsoever.
Credit Cards Similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred
If the Chase Sapphire Preferred isn’t a match for you, these 2 competing cards are fairly similar:
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
I like both of these and I have the Citi ThankYou Premier card.  I recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred before you get those.  But really you can’t go wrong with any of the three.  But I do like the Chase Sapphire Preferred the most because its points are the most valuable.
Bottom Line
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the #1 credit card for those of you who are pretty new to using points instead of cash for travel expenses.  I’ve kept my metal Chase Sapphire Preferred in my wallet for years because I love it.
Right now the sign-up bonus is 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points in your account after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your card.
Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
What’s your Chase Sapphire Preferred review?  Would you recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred to a friend who’s just starting out with using points for travel?

My Family Spent ~$480 Each for Flights + 7 All-Inclusive Nights in Cuba: Part 3 – Memories Holguin Resort Review

Last summer, my boyfriend, 3 kids, and I enjoyed an all-inclusive beach vacation in Cuba after a long (and grueling) school year.  We really needed a trip with NO agenda, non-stop tourist attractions, or pressure to see as much as we could – just sunshine and ocean!
I did NOT use miles and points to book the trip (yikes!).  But we saved a LOT of money by stacking discounts and choosing the right season for Cuba travel.
Because of the kids’ other summer plans, our travel dates weren’t very flexible, and I had trouble getting award flights and hotels in the Caribbean to line up with our schedule.  If you’ve ever found yourself in that situation, don’t despair!  There are ways to book paid travel with flexible points and no blackout dates – even package vacations.
The Memories Holguin Beach Resort Is Massive! You’ll Do a LOT of Walking and Stair Climbing If You Stay Here
In this series, I’ll share how I booked the trip and our flight and hotel experiences.  And give you tips about traveling to Cuba, especially with kids!
A Family Vacation to Cuba Trip Report Index

Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
Part 2 – Sunwing Flights to Holguin
Part 3 – Memories Holguin Beach Resort

Memories Holguin Beach Resort Review
Getting There and Checking In
The Memories Holguin Beach Resort isn’t actually in the city of Holguin (though it’s in Holguin province), so it’s ~1 hour drive from the airport.  Our tour package included airport transfers and there was an air-conditioned bus waiting for us on arrival to bring us to the resort.
By the time we got to the hotel it was well after dark.  There were about half a dozen other families on our bus, so we had to wait ~20 minutes before we could check-in and get our wristbands.
Someone’s Tired!  Getting a Wristband to Wear for the Week
The resort is sprawling with different buildings scattered on various levels of the property.  Owing to it being nighttime, the hotel staff shuttled us to our building in a golf cart.  In the darkness it was hard to get a feel for where we were or just how big the resort is!  But the next morning, we were able to get a better sense of our location.
Rooms at the Memories Holguin Beach Resort Are in Smaller (~12 Rooms Each) Buildings Scattered Throughout the Property. We Had 2 Interconnecting Ground Floor Rooms
Rooms
We were assigned 2 interconnecting rooms, each with 3 single beds that could be pushed together.  The rooms were brightly decorated and very clean, with ice-cold air conditioning, a mini-fridge, and satellite TV.
The Rooms Weren’t the Fanciest We’d Ever Stayed in, but Were Super Clean With Tropical Decor and Everything We Needed for a Comfortable Stay
Every day the room attendants made the beds up slightly differently, which the kids thought was neat!
The Kids Got a Kick out of How the Beds Were Made Each Day
Each room had its own balcony with comfy chairs and a small table.  It didn’t take long for our rooms to turn into an explosion of swim gear, bathing suits, and kids’ messes!  Ugh.
Vacation Apparently Means Your Can Throw Your Stuff Just About Anywhere
The bathrooms were tidy and functional with a separate stall for the toilet …
The Bathrooms Were Clean and Recently Re-Done
… and another for the shower.  One day there was (briefly) no hot water but otherwise everything worked as it should.
Nothing Fancy, but Just Fine for Our Family
Each day, the room attendants left several liters of bottled water in the fridge, so we were never short.  And you could ask for more to be delivered if you needed it.
Food
Being an all-inclusive resort, all meals and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) were included.  There was a main buffet area where we took most of our meals, plus a handful of snack bars, a beach bar, and several a la carte “fancy” restaurants you needed to make a reservation for.  While the upscale meals were also included, we were limited to 4 dinners at the a la carte restaurants over the course of our stay.
There were also options to pay a bit more for extras, like a lobster lunch at the pool bar or premium cocktails made with top-shelf liquor.
Here’s the Main Buffet at Memories Holguin.  Did I Mention It Wasn’t Busy?
One of the things we’d read on TripAdvisor was that the food here lacked variety.  We didn’t think that was the case at all!  And even my picky son always found something he could eat.
Pancakes With Chocolate Syrup for the Win
For breakfast, there was always fresh tropical fruit, rolls, pastries, cereal, juices, cold cuts, cheeses, and (amazing) coffee.  Hot options always included an omelette station, different types of eggs, sausages, bacon, and usually some kind of stew with rice.
Pro Tip:   Peanut butter is uncommon in Cuba, and their jams and jellies are different from what we’re used to back home.  So if these are your go-to items at breakfast, it’s a good idea to bring your own.
My Typical Breakfast at Memories Holguin – Custom Omelette, Papaya, Rolls, Cheese, and Very Good Coffee
The buffet stations and food were always nicely arranged and presented with carved fruit and vegetables as decoration …
There Was Always Fresh Tropical Fruit Available – the Papaya Was Especially Delicious
… and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many varieties of ham in one place.
If You Don’t Eat Pork You Might Have a Trickier Time
Lunch and dinner always consisted of similar fruit, cheese, and cold cuts.  There were always several hot stew or meat dishes, rice, potatoes, and vegetables.
There Was a Good Mix of Local-Style Dishes and International Options
Plus, there were stations for grilled meats, burgers, hot dogs, and fish, a pizza bar, and a create-your-own pasta bar.
There Was a Pizza Bar at Just About Every Meal
Oftentimes for lunch or snacks we’d just order from the beach bar.  Again, the pizza was a hit with the kids.
Poolside Lunch! The Kids Thought This Was Very Civilized
The staff at all the restaurants and bars were outstanding and super friendly, constantly coming by to refill drinks and check on the kids.  On Canada Day, they put on a special event at the buffet with Canadian-themed decor, desserts, and drinks.  Not surprising, because the resort is Canadian managed and gets a ton of visitors from Canada.
O Canada!  The Resort Did It Up Big for Canada’s Birthday
We visited an a la carte restaurant once during our visit.  I wasn’t actually super impressed – despite there being more varieties of seafood and fancier drinks, we all preferred the selection and quality of the buffet.
The Seafood Restaurant Wasn’t as Spectacular as We’d Hoped – Here’s the Shrimp Cocktail
The only time any of us had any tummy trouble was actually after this meal!  So we stuck to the buffet for the rest of our stay.
A few other tourists complained the food was bland.  We’d made friends with a Canadian family who’d visited Cuba before, and the hubby had his game down to a science – he brought his own jar of hot sauce to every meal to spice things up!
All told, we thought the food was decent and there was certainly enough variety to keep from getting bored over a week.  It’s not 5-star resort food by any means, but we didn’t pay 5-star prices either.
Around the Resort and Activities
The Memories Holguin Resort is humongous and there are lots of stairs.  If you’re mobility impaired or lugging around a stroller, it’s probably not a good pick.  But the grounds are beautiful!
The Kids Had a Blast Exploring the Resort
My daughter was intrigued by all the banana trees on the property …
Banana Blossom! The Kids Thought This Was Pretty Cool
… and there were plenty of winding trails and pathways to explore.
The Resort Is Well Maintained and Has Lots of Nooks and Crannies to Check Out
We were most impressed with the multiple cascading pools on several levels …
No Shortage of Pools for Little and Big Kids to Splash Around In!
… and the beach was generally quiet with it being off-season, so there were always plenty of spots to set up and relax.  I can still feel the white sand between my toes!
While there were some weedy patches in the water, hotel staff were out there each morning clearing out debris in the popular swimming areas.
The Beach Was Usually Pretty Breezy, so We Stuck to the Pool Much of the Time
The beach bar was a popular spot with all kinds of cocktails and snacks.  A lot of guests congregated on the beach in the afternoons to enjoy a few drinks and chill out.
The Tropical Drinks Were Mostly Heavy on the Cuban Rum, Which Was Excellent
Non-motorized water sports are included at the resort, so one morning we went for a sail on a Hobie Cat.  My boyfriend has a similar boat back home, but the staff wouldn’t let us take it out by ourselves (understandably).
The kids had a blast and were amazed at how fast we went – although we all got a little soaked.
Gone Sailing! This Was One of the Highlights of the Resort for the Kids
Every afternoon, the hotel activities staff set up a different event at one of the pools.  The kids especially enjoyed the kayak races around the big pool.
The Hotel Staff Kept us Entertained Each Afternoon With a Different Pool Activity
And the swim-up bar was an especially popular spot in the mid-afternoon.  The kids were fans of a multi-colored “Superman” cocktail the bartender made for the little ones.
The Kids Took Full Advantage of Unlimited Kiddie Cocktails at the Swim-Up Bar
We’d brought inflatable toys from home, so the kids spent a lot of time floating around and relaxing.  This pool was their favorite owing to the waterfall effect.
Life Is Good When You’re on Your Float!
Before dinner, we’d usually check out the lobby bar which offered a much better selection of cocktails and spirits than the pool bar.  It was a cooler spot to unwind after a long day in the sun.  If you were feeling splurgy, they offered imported beer and liquor (European and Mexican) for an upcharge.
Hanging in the Lobby Bar Like They Own the Place!
Most evenings, the resort put on a different musical show in their open-air theater.  Often these were interactive and they’d get folks up on stage to dance and sing with them – some of the shows were really elaborate!  The entertainers were very talented and really went above and beyond to include the kids.
The Musical Performances at the Memories Holguin Resort Were Surprisingly Well Done
There was a small disco which was open late, but we never checked it out because after dinner and entertainment we were usually pooped.
Bottom Line
All told, we felt like we got incredible value for our money at the Memories Holguin Beach Resort.  It’s not luxury by any means, but the grounds are gorgeous, the rooms were clean and comfortable, and there was no shortage of things to do around the property.
And the food was good – not outstanding, but there was plenty to choose from and none of us got sick except for a bit of tummy trouble after one meal.  The beach bar and swim up bar were a huge hit with the kids!
If you’re ever booking a package resort stay (anywhere), remember you can use miles from cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® to erase most travel purchases.
We did manage to check out the local area a couple of times, but I’ll share that experience in the next post!
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Every City Should Have Lots of Airbnb Apartments — Except Mine. Here’s Why.

Scott:   I am an Airbnb hypocrite — because I love to travel.
Airbnb makes travel more affordable for tourists but renting more expensive for locals.  Is this really true?
Has the Popularity of Airbnb Driven up Rental Prices in Popular Tourist Cities?
There have been various studies and investigations that say so.  Of course, some of these may or may not have been corrupted with hotel sponsorship money.
But I’ll go with my intuition / common sense on this one.  Have rents in (insert popular tourist city here) gone up because of people snapping up apartments to list on Airbnb for more money than they could get from a tenant?  I’ll say YES… in the popular neighborhoods of those cities.
It’s supply and demand.  I’m NOT talking about the person who lives alone in a 2-bedroom apartment and rents out their spare bedroom on occasion.  This is about the person / business who buys or rents an apartment (or many!) then makes it into a mini-hotel.
Airbnb has been a big part of how I’m able to stay so long overseas.  I like to rent a regular place in a convenient area, but not on the main tourist strip so I save money and get a more authentic experience.
Then I’ll use points to splurge for a fancy weekend hotel stay.
I Rented an Airbnb in Cancun (Away From the Main Tourist Area) for 5 Weeks, Then Splurged With Points to Stay at This All-Inclusive Resort for a Couple of Nights
I can’t imagine all the Airbnb apartments for rent do NOT drive up rents for locals.  It seems to me that it’s a great business for the locals who participate and not so great for those who don’t.
For instance, I stayed in Krakow, Poland, where my host had apparently created a network of apartments all over town — and with multiple units in our building.
You can’t tell me that kind of thing doesn’t cut some of the supply and thus raise prices… unless there’s just a glut of affordable housing in the area.
One argument I do NOT buy is that hotels lose a lot of business to Airbnb.  Because they’re totally different experiences.  And because — take my situation for example — I want to stay 6 weeks in a city.  I’m never going to buy 6 weeks at a hotel.
But I have purchased 5 weeks at an Airbnb and added on a week at a hotel using money and points.  So the hotel got business it wasn’t going to get if I didn’t have a way to stay longer in that city.  And local businesses got more of my tourist spending and so on.
So I like all that for MY neighborhood in MY city, but naturally I don’t want that to increase rents.  Unless of course I decide to become a landlord…
Get Free Airbnb Stays With These 2 Credit Card Bonuses
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – The bonus offer is worth $500 off travel expenses like Airbnb
Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® – The bonus offer is worth $600 off travel expenses like Airbnb