Credit cards are an integral part of the miles and points game. Lucrative credit card bonuses can easily help you book an amazing award trip. Here are my favorite two card combos to get started with earning points and booking fantastic trips. For the rules of this post, each combination can only have one “premium credit card” (annual fee over $450) and points must be redeemed with the programs that belong to either card. For example, if a combination has the Chase Freedom and the Chase Business Ink Cash, you will not be able to redeem by transferring your Chase points to another partner as it wouldn’t be possible. In addition, when discussing two card combinations, both cards must be from the same issuer.
1: Chase Business Knockout! Chase Business Ink Preferred and Chase Business Ink Unlimited
This is my favorite two card combo for starting out with points and miles. This card combination offers a solid number of points with a small annual fee, while also granting access to Chase transfer partners. The one drawback of this card combination is the extremely higher minimum spend requirement, $15,000 for the Chase Business Ink Preferred and $7,500 for the Chase Business Ink Unlimited. Spending $22,500 is not easy at all and for many it will be impossible.
Both of these cards don’t offer luxury perks, but the biggest benefit is Chase’s partnership with Hyatt Hotels. Having a Chase Business Ink Preferred allows you to transfer points over to World of Hyatt where you can book luxury hotels around the world for under 30,00 points per night. For example, 5 nights at the Park Hyatt Washington DC came out to only 20,000 points per night. This program provides you with a few unique transfer partners that can truly help you on the hotels side. In addition to Hyatt, Chase also has a partnership with IHG (Intercontinental/Holiday Inn), which also provided excellent value.
Ways to Redeem
Some of my favorite ways to redeem Chase Points is with Hyatt. With 175,000 points, you could book a few nights at breath taking properties such as the Thompson in Cabo, Hyatt Regency Birmingham, Carmel Valley Ranch, Thompson Seattle, and much more. In addition,
175,000 190,000(Update Chase Business Ink Cash and Unlimited is now offering 90,000 points)points is enough for a redemption in business class to Europe(pending award space).
- Good Singup Bonus
- Excellent Partnerships and Transfer Partners
- Strong Hotel Partnerships with Excellent Value with IHG and Hyatt
- Small annual fee $95 per year
- Ability to redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Extremely High Spend Requirement $22,500
- 0 Perks (can be helpful for international travelers especially lounge access
2: American Express Platinum and Gold Special
Let’s be honest, the American Express Platinum Card doesn’t carry the same status or as young kids say it “clout” as it did in years past. With an increased annual fee of $695, a $6,000 spend requirement, and a plethora of added benefits geared towards everyday uses, the American Express Platinum Card has become less travel centric, but still offers a solid signup bonus of 150,000 points (if you can find the elevated offer or 125,000 points. In addition, you are also given $200 in hotel credits for Amex Fine hotels, $200 airfare credit, $240 Uber credit, $100 Saks Fifth Credit, $240 streaming credit, and complimentary Walmart Plus( ~$150 per year).
The Gold Card is a step down from the platinum card, but still offers a 90,000 point sign up bonus if you can find the offer. In addition, this card earns 4 points per dollar on dining and groceries, but also carries a $4,000 spend requirement. This card also offers $120 dining credit and $120 Uber credit and is a good way to top of your American Express Points.
Ways to Redeem
Amex points are extremely valuable if you can find award space on ANA (All Nippon Airways). While award flights on ANA carry a heftier surcharge, you can book round trip business class flights from the United to Japan for under 100,000 points. American Express also offers the ability to transfer to other programs with potential sweet spots such as Virgin Atlantic and British Airways(now partners with Qatar).
- Excellent Signup Bonuses
- Solid transfer partners for award flights
- Great secondary benefits such as Centurion and Priority Pass Lounge Access, Uber Credits, Flight Credits
- High Cost $945 in Annual Fees (not waived for first year)
- Poor hotel transfer partners
- Uber credits are provided on a monthly basis
3: New Kid on the Block: Capital One Double Trouble Capital One Venture X + Spark
Capital one is the new kid on the block with a revamped product offering. The Premium Capital One Venture X card is a premium travel credit card with a lower fee than most of its competitors. With an annual fee under $400, this card is cheaper than both the American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Cards, and also offers complimentary access to Capital One Lounges( Dallas Fort Worth is the only location with more to come). The Venture X also includes priority pass, a $100 TSA or Global Entry credit every 4 years, $300 in travel credits on bookings through Capital One travel. For those without hotel loyalty, the perks effectively knock down the net cost of the Venture X to $95 per year. This card is currently offering 75,000 miles for $4,000 spend in the first 3 months along with a 10,000 miles anniversary bonus.
The Capital One Spark 2x Miles card currently has signup bonuses of 50,000 miles and a minimum spend requirement of $4,500. The card has its $95 annual fee waived for the first year. While this card does not provide additional perks, the ability to earn 50,000 miles with no annual makes this card a fine sidekick to the Venture X.
Ways to Redeem
Capital One miles are extremely flexible, but the best value redemptions are going to be Business Class award flights via Turkish Smiles and Miles. Hotel can also be booked via transfers, but since the Capital One Venture X card comes with $300 statement credits on Capital One travel bookings and earns 10 points per dollar on booking made through the portal, I would save most of my points for flights. Capital One also has Air Canada as a transfer partner giving the ability to add a stopover for only 5.000 additional miles. Other partners that could potential be valuable include Etihad Guest and Emirates.
- Lower Annual Fees
- Access to Capital One Lounges (Dallas Fort Worth is the only one currently open, but more are on the way) and Priority Pass Lounges
- $300 Travel Credits for booking with Capital One Travel
- 10,000 Miles as an Annual Bonus
- Ability to transfer points to Turkish Miles & Smiles
- Solid second tier hotel partners
- Smaller signup bonuses of 125,000 total points
- Lack of true premium perks with a premium price tag on the Venture X
- No big 3 hotel transfer partner
- No major U.S. airline as a partner
When I began thinking of the best 2 card combos to start journey into miles and points, flexible currencies were at the top of my list. Rather than get stuck with a certain airline or hotel brand, the ability to transfer points for over 20 programs provides immense value. If all else fails, you can also redeem points for at minimum value of 1 cent per point. If you are beginning your journey into miles and points, I would definitely emphasize earning flexible currencies! What are some of your favorite credit cards? Let me know in the comments section.