Can I Retire But? has partnered with CardRatings for our protection of bank card merchandise. Can I Retire But? and CardRatings might obtain a fee from card issuers. Opinions, critiques, analyses & suggestions are the writer’s alone, and haven’t been reviewed, endorsed or authorised by any of those entities.

A typical theme on this weblog is an emphasis on monetary simplicity. Get the most important issues proper. Automate these selections and actions. Then go reside your life.

Each rule has exceptions. One massive exception in my private life is using bank card journey rewards. There are a number of causes for this.

Personally, I discover studying about and implementing methods to build up bank card journey rewards to be profitable and enjoyable. It permits me to do extra of what I really like, journey. Concurrently, I spend much less of my hard-earned {dollars} doing it.

A lot of private finance methods that get lots of consideration sound too good to be true. That’s as a result of they often are. Most of those methods contain appreciable threat, price, uncertainty, and complexity. 

Conversely, utilizing journey bank card rewards properly is predictable, repeatable, and saves you cash. Should you give attention to reaching the most important wins with the least effort, additionally it is comparatively easy.

Easiest Credit score Card Technique – Money Again

The simplest manner you can begin to get some advantages from bank cards is to make use of a money again card. Spend as you usually would utilizing a bank card quite than money or a debit card. You then get a portion of your spending refunded to you within the type of money again or reward factors.

That is what Kim and I did for years earlier than studying about journey bank card rewards. We typically earned about $500 per yr with this easy technique whereas creating good habits of all the time paying the cardboard on time to keep away from any charges. This concurrently helped enhance our credit score rating.

As a basic rule, the very best playing cards will present roughly 1.5% money again on each buy. Most of those playing cards haven’t any annual payment.

You’ll be able to optimize this technique, selecting a number of money again playing cards that provide extra rewards in choose classes like grocery shops, gasoline, eating places, and so forth. Then use the optimum card for every objective.

This technique looks as if lots of effort to trace and implement for a comparatively small reward to me, however I’ve heard from numerous readers for whom this method is fashionable.

One model of this technique that may very well be profitable is for renters to pay their lease on a bank card. card_name is designed for this. It provides as much as one level per greenback spent on lease funds with out the transaction payment. There is no such thing as a annual payment for customers. This might assist renters to build up rewards shortly.

You will discover an inventory of the current best offers for cash back credit cards here.

The 80/20 Evaluation of Journey Rewards

As soon as we established the behavior of spending on a card and paying it off on time, we had been able to see how a lot we may earn in journey rewards with the least quantity of effort.

Focusing on Signal-Up Bonuses

The one largest factor you are able to do to optimize bank card rewards is to focus on the beneficiant join bonuses that include new playing cards. Join a card. Put all spending on that one card. Earn bonus. Repeat if desired.

We preserve a spreadsheet monitoring when the annual payment is due and what perks the bank card supplies. If the continued worth of the cardboard exceeds the annual payment, we preserve it. If the worth doesn’t justify the payment, we shut it earlier than the payment is due.

Generally, to obtain the bonus you’ll have to meet an outlined minimal spend (typically $2,000-$6,000 for private playing cards) in a set period of time (typically 3-6 months). To make it well worth the effort of doing so, I goal playing cards the place I’ll get a minimum of $750-$1,000 of worth from the join bonus alone.

You’ll be able to earn upwards of 20% on {dollars} spent in the direction of the bonus, as in comparison with the 1.5% common for money again playing cards. You’ll be able to then repeat this course of with a number of playing cards per yr. 

Sustainable Technique?

Chase, Capital One, American Specific and Citi every have a number of playing cards with beneficiant bonuses. As a pair, we’re every capable of individually apply for every card, offering an basically by no means ending supply of journey rewards.

We typically assume we’ll join one card per quarter and earn the bonus with our regular spending. We might goal extra bonuses via the yr if we anticipate extra spending that might allow us to hit minimal spends. 

An instance is present join bonuses in anticipation of shopping for our annual ski passes. One other current instance was signing up for a enterprise card at first of the yr to pay medical health insurance premiums as a lump sum on the cardboard with the intention to get a bonus vs. paying premiums month-to-month.

Don’t Get Overzealous

As you watch your journey rewards accumulate after gathering your first few bonuses, it’s simple to go overboard signing up for brand spanking new playing cards. Don’t get overzealous when getting began.

In our family, both Kim or I’ll join a card. We don’t add the opposite individual as a licensed person. This allows each of us to earn the bonus individually. It additionally retains our funds easy as we put every thing on this one card as we spend towards the bonus.

Making use of for too many playing cards too shortly can lead to lacking out on helpful welcome bonuses, might forestall you from getting playing cards you need sooner or later, and extreme credit score inquiries can harm your credit score rating.

Chase has probably the most helpful playing cards for my journey wants. Additionally they have a coverage that limits the number of cards you can obtain from any issuer to 5 in a 24 month period. That is one cause that I like to recommend beginning with Chase playing cards and being intentional with signing up for brand spanking new playing cards.

Finest Playing cards to Begin With Journey Credit score Card Rewards

When somebody who has by no means utilized journey bank card rewards asks me the place to begin, I’ve two go to suggestions: The Chase Sapphire Most well-liked® and the Capital One Enterprise card. Every of those playing cards have a $95 annual payment.

Every provides a profitable join bonus and is easy to make use of. I barely choose the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked® as a result of with a little bit of effort, you may get extra worth out of those rewards.

Should you suppose you’ll join a number of playing cards, this additionally prevents lacking out on this helpful card. Keep in mind, Chase restricts the variety of playing cards you may apply for in a 24 month interval as famous above. You’ll be able to all the time come again and get the Capital One Enterprise card later.

Chase Sapphire Most well-liked® Card

The usual bonus on the card_name is 60,000 Final Rewards factors earned by spending a minimum of $4,000 within the first three months after opening the cardboard. The bonus factors have a price of a minimum of $750 when used to e-book journey via the Chase journey portal.

To earn the factors, you would need to spend a minimum of $4,000 on the cardboard which might provide you with a minimal of 4,000 extra factors. This brings the worth of your rewards to a minimal of $800 in the direction of journey for spending $4,000 within the first 3 months after opening the cardboard.

Whereas these advantages are good, the rationale I really like the card_name is that it’s one among a number of playing cards that provide Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These factors will be transferred in 1,000 level increments 1:1 to journey associate’s reward applications, the place they could present outsized worth. 

You may get nicely over $1,000 in journey rewards by strategically transferring the Final Rewards factors to a journey associate. This occurs immediately with the clicking of a button. You will discover a full list of travel partners here. Two of my favorites are Southwest Airways and Hyatt Inns resulting from their ease of use and unbelievable worth.

The Chase Sapphire Most well-liked® Card, like many journey playing cards, additionally provides important journey insurance coverage protections at no extra cost.

Capital One Enterprise

The card_name supplies a equally beneficiant join bonus and is easy to make use of. 

After you spend a minimum of $4,000 on the card_name inside three months of opening it, you’ll earn 75,000 miles. Once more, additionally, you will earn miles for every greenback you spend in your strategy to the bonus, so you’ll have a minimum of 79,000 miles, price $790 while you obtain your bonus.

Additionally they have their own set of travel partners, which I personally discover much less enticing. I like this card as a result of this can be very simple to redeem these miles for all kinds of journey bills.

Like Chase, Capital One has a journey portal via which you’ll e-book journey. It’s possible you’ll discover higher charges than you might by yourself and pay immediately with miles.

For final simplicity, you may e-book journey and pay for it with the cardboard. Then merely apply the miles at a fee of 100 miles to $1 to offset the fee for any expense coded by the seller within the journey class. Along with motels and flights, these miles can be utilized to offset rental automotive, Airbnb, and rideshare bills.

The card_name has some extra perks. It supplies journey insurance coverage advantages. As well as, it supplies a $100 annual credit score for World Entry or TSA PreCheck®.

Enterprise Credit score Playing cards

I’ve historically centered my consideration on private bank cards. Small enterprise homeowners can apply the identical methods of concentrating on bank card join bonuses when making enterprise purchases. 

This lets you accumulate much more journey rewards. Most private playing cards have the same enterprise model. The draw back of enterprise playing cards is they have an inclination to have larger spending limits to realize the bonus (although the bonuses additionally are usually larger).

For example, card_name provides new cardmembers a 100,000 Final Rewards level bonus after spending a minimum of $8,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening the cardboard. This card could be the primary enterprise card I might personally join if I may meet the minimal spend to realize the join bonus, for a similar causes I just like the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked® for private use.

Nevertheless, I don’t have sufficient enterprise bills to realize the bonus. Once I do have anticipated upcoming enterprise bills I scan the accessible small enterprise playing cards to see if there are any with low sufficient spending limits that I may obtain. I’ve signed up for 2 enterprise playing cards previously couple of years that had achievable spending necessities to realize helpful bonuses. I’ll spotlight them under.

American Specific Membership Rewards

So far, I’ve highlighted Chase Playing cards that provide Chase’s Final Rewards Factors and Capital One Playing cards providing Capital One Miles.

The card_name is the same providing from American Specific. It has a suggestion of 60,000 Membership Rewards® factors which you’ll earn by spending $6,000 on the cardboard within the first 6 months after opening the account. The cardboard has a $250 annual payment. 

I personally wouldn’t begin with this card resulting from offering much less factors and having the next annual payment. Nevertheless, many individuals are interested in the Membership Rewards® Travel Partners. Airline companions embrace Delta domestically and a big selection of worldwide airways. Lodge companions embrace Hilton and Marriott.

One other profitable supply of journey rewards are co-branded bank cards with particular airways and lodge chains. Nearly each airline and lodge chain has its personal loyalty program and related bank cards with the chance to earn factors or miles. I’ll spotlight a couple of of my favorites.

Airline Particular Playing cards

Most airline reward applications are pretty related. You’ll be able to switch rewards from journey companions (Am Ex, Capital One, or Chase) to build up factors or miles. Alternatively you may seek for playing cards affiliated particularly along with your favourite airline. For instance, we first began concentrating on playing cards that provide Delta SkyMiles® since our closest airport, SLC, is a Delta Hub.

My first airline particular card was a card_name. It presently has a join bonus of 70,000 factors after spending a minimum of $4,000 on the cardboard within the first 3 months after account opening. The annual payment is waived the primary yr, earlier than leaping to $150/yr. Cardholders can also verify one bag without cost on each Delta flight booked on the cardboard.

All airline rewards typically work nicely for many who journey alone or with a associate and have some flexibility on timing and magnificence of journey (i.e., many early retirees!). You too can get outsize worth for enterprise class flights.

Those that have extra inflexible schedules, journey final minute, or with household might discover it more durable to redeem reward factors with many airways. For our household of three that tends to journey round our daughter’s college schedule, one airline’s program stands head and shoulders above the remaining.

Southwest Fast Rewards

I really like Southwest Fast Rewards factors for numerous causes, together with:

  • Capability to build up lots of factors,
  • Ease of use,
  • Worth, and
  • The Companion Move

Straightforward to Acquire

There are 3 ways to build up Southwest Fast Rewards factors: 

  • Flying Southwest (paying money),
  • Incomes Chase Final Rewards factors and transferring them to Southwest,
  • Incomes rewards immediately with a Chase/Southwest co-branded bank card.

The primary  is an extended, gradual strategy to accumulate these helpful reward factors. You’ll be able to accumulate factors rather more shortly through the use of bank card rewards.

Southwest/Chase provide three totally different private bank cards. Additionally they have two totally different enterprise bank cards. 

Having this number of playing cards mixed with the power to switch Chase Final Rewards to Southwest makes it simple to rack up a virtually by no means ending provide of Southwest Fast Rewards factors.

Straightforward to Use

When you accumulate the Southwest reward factors, they’re simple to make use of. Merely go to the Southwest web site and choose the place and while you wish to go. 

You’ll be able to show airfare in {dollars} or factors. Click on factors and seek for flights.

Flights then show with airfare represented in factors (plus $5.60, the U.S. 9/11 safety payment, which you need to pay for each one-way home flight). Click on the flight you need, e-book your flight, and factors are deducted out of your account.

Southwest doesn’t black out dates for rewards factors. Additionally they don’t restrict the variety of seats that may be booked on factors, which is nice for households. For instance, our household of three repeatedly flies again to Pennsylvania over the Christmas holidays and we not too long ago flew to Hawaii on factors over Thanksgiving break.

Should you cancel or change journey plans, your factors are absolutely credited again to your account with no change charges so long as you accomplish that ten minutes previous to your scheduled departure time.


Southwest factors provide appreciable worth. They correspond to the value of the flight. So when you have a versatile schedule, you may get nice offers.

Not like many airways, Southwest doesn’t nickel and dime you with hidden charges. You’ll be able to verify two baggage without cost. This contains outsized gadgets together with golf golf equipment and skis.

Past saving on airfare and baggage charges, reserving with rewards factors eliminates all taxes. The lone exception is the $5.60 U.S. 9/11 Safety Payment which is defined above.  

We pay a complete of $33.60 to fly our household of three cross-country and again utilizing factors. That’s far lower than the value to Uber thirty minutes from our residence to the airport!

The Companion Move

Better of all, Southwest provides among the best offers on the planet of journey rewards: The Companion Pass. It’s important to accumulate 135,000 qualifying factors in a calendar yr to earn the cross. When you earn the cross, each time you fly your designated companion can fly with you without cost for the rest of that yr and your entire following yr.

The factors wanted to qualify for the Companion Move will be earned via join bonuses with Southwest co-branded bank cards. (Word: Chase Final Rewards factors will be transferred to Southwest. Thus they are often twice as helpful upon getting the Companion Move, however they DO NOT provide help to earn the Companion Move.)

Early in 2022, Kim took benefit of a bank card sign-up promotion that enabled her to earn a Companion Move. We took benefit of it to redeem ten free round-trip flights in 2022 and 2023.

Her companion cross expired final December 31. Figuring out this, in mid-December I signed up for a Southwest® Fast Rewards private card and a Southwest® Fast Rewards® Premier Enterprise Credit score Card. The factors earned in January between spending on the playing cards and the 2 bonuses allowed me to earn almost 150,000 factors and one other Companion Move which will likely be good via the tip of 2025!

Present Southwest Affords

Southwest bonuses change often. The provides on the private playing cards I took benefit of in December are now not accessible. 

Nevertheless, there’s presently a distinct provide that permits you to earn a Companion Move(R), good via 2/28/25 plus 30,000 factors after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

This provide is obtainable with any of three Southwest Private Playing cards:

The 2 Southwest enterprise playing cards are providing the usual sign-up provide.

card_name provides a 60,000 level bonus after spending a minimum of $3,000 within the first three months your account is open. It has an annual payment of $99.

card_name provides a 80,000 level bonus after spending a minimum of $5,000 within the first three months your account is open. It has an annual payment of $199.

These rewards would go twice as far when paired with a companion cross.

Lodge Particular Playing cards

The foremost lodge chains additionally all provide co-branded bank cards. At one level, we’ve had playing cards with Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott. All will be helpful. I wish to have a financial institution of rewards with totally different chains so I all the time have choices when reserving journey.

I’ll briefly spotlight two lodge rewards applications that we’ve gotten super worth from by using totally different methods.


World of Hyatt factors typically present the very best redemption worth for the least quantity of factors. We attempt to accumulate as many of those factors as doable. 

Examples of locations we’ve stayed in Hyatt properties on factors embrace Instances Sq. in NYC and Park Metropolis, UT. Comparable motels with different chains with related money costs would have required 2-3 occasions extra factors.

The problem is acquiring Hyatt factors. For instance, the world of Hyatt Credit score Card, which has a $95 annual payment, presently has a join bonus of 65,000 factors. Nevertheless, reaching the total bonus requires spending $18,000 on the cardboard over the primary six months of account opening.

That is the place having somewhat understanding of journey companions is useful. Chase Final Rewards factors will be transferred 1:1 to journey companions, together with Hyatt. This makes it a lot simpler to build up these helpful factors.


IHG hotels reward program is one other Chase Final Rewards associate the opposite finish of the spectrum. Their factors don’t go almost as far.

For instance, we spent a couple of nights on the Vacation Inn Specific Kailua-Kona in Hawaii not too long ago. The fee was 40,000 factors/night time for a room that might have been about $350/night time if we paid money. Transferring Chase Final Rewards to IHG to pay for the room would have been a suboptimal use of those helpful factors.

Nevertheless, we now have an abundance of IHG factors as a result of they’re really easy to acquire on IHG co-branded bank cards. Over the previous few years, each Kim and I’ve every individually signed up for an card_name

This card often lets you earn 140,000 factors after spending $3,000 on it within the three months after account opening. They’re presently providing a restricted time provide sign-up bonus of 165,000 factors! It additionally supplies a free night time annually on the anniversary of card opening amongst different perks. The cardboard has an annual payment of $99.

The card_name requires spending solely $3,000 (low for a enterprise card) within the first 3 months after account opening to realize a sign-up bonus of 140,000 Bonus Factors. This has been my enterprise card for the previous few years, enabling me to build up extra factors whereas simply monitoring my enterprise bills.

Utilizing these three playing cards, we’ve obtained lots of of 1000’s of IHG factors in addition to free anniversary nights for the enterprise card that I preserve open. We’ve redeemed these rewards for lodge stays all around the nation, whereas nonetheless having a well being steadiness of factors in our account.

Premium Credit score Playing cards

For years I’ve learn private finance and journey bloggers write concerning the card_name ($695 annual payment) and the card_name ($550 annual payment). I by no means noticed the worth, so I merely prevented this class of bank cards.

Final yr, we determined to strive Capital One’s premium card after they launched the card_name. We flew quite a bit final yr and the factor that drew us to this card was entry to airport lounges.

The card_name supplies limitless complimentary entry for you and two company to 1,300+ lounges, together with Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounge companions which added lots of consolation whereas saving us appreciable cash when flying. Of specific curiosity to us was the model new Capital One Lounge in Denver the place we often lay over since there are not any direct flights between our present residence in SLC, UT and our household close to Pittsburgh, PA.

Apart from the airport lounge profit, this card capabilities similar to the card_name card which as famous above has lengthy been one among my favorites. You earn 75,000 bonus miles while you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in journey.

The Capital One Enterprise X has a $395 annual payment. Nevertheless, that’s simply recouped since you obtain a $300 annual credit score for journey booked via Capital One Journey. This can be utilized to e-book something from flights, to motels, to rental automobiles.

As well as the cardboard supplies a $100 credit score for World Entry or TSA PreCheck® . You additionally get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 in the direction of journey) yearly, beginning in your first anniversary.

So if you’re keen to use somewhat little bit of effort to e-book journey via the Capital One Journey portal and you’ll reap the benefits of the airport lounges, this can be a nice card that justifies the payment.

In Credit score Card Journey Rewards?

For readers who share my curiosity in journey bank card rewards, I’ve  established an affiliate relationship with CardRatings. This creates an outlet to generate income to assist the weblog whereas writing about this technique that I personally love and use.

It additionally motivates me to remain abreast of the latest developments and greatest provides for my very own profit and to share them with you. This can assist us all to journey extra whereas spending much less.

If you wish to assist the weblog while you join new bank cards, we’ll earn a fee if you happen to click on on the hyperlinks on this put up to take action. I’ll be conserving this web page updated as a reference, with updates to any new provides as they turn out to be accessible.

It gained’t price you something extra and also you’ll be getting the very best present provide on the web via CardRatings. Thanks in your assist and blissful touring.

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  • Free Journey or Money Again with bank card rewards and join bonuses.
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    • Join a free Empower account to achieve entry to trace your asset allocation, funding efficiency, particular person account balances, internet price, money move, and funding bills.
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[Chris Mamula used principles of traditional retirement planning, combined with creative lifestyle design, to retire from a career as a physical therapist at age 41. After poor experiences with the financial industry early in his professional life, he educated himself on investing and tax planning. After achieving financial independence, Chris began writing about wealth building, DIY investing, financial planning, early retirement, and lifestyle design at Can I Retire Yet? He is also the primary author of the book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence. Chris also does financial planning with individuals and couples at Abundo Wealth, a low-cost, advice-only financial planning firm with the mission of making quality financial advice available to populations for whom it was previously inaccessible. Chris has been featured on MarketWatch, Morningstar, U.S. News & World Report, and Business Insider. He has spoken at events including the Bogleheads and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants annual conferences. Blog inquiries can be sent to Financial planning inquiries can be sent to]

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