The Credit Card Connection: How To Swipe Right

Let me start by saying that this is simply my opinion and I am in no ways offering financial advice. Getting a credit card or making any kind of big financial decision should not be taken lightly and you should conduct your own research before signing up for one. As such, I will not be providing links (ain't no ads over here, B) and I encourage you to look into other options as well.  Lehgoo.

Credit cards are tricky characters. Having one with poor money management skills can certainly be a recipe for disaster. Not having one when an emergency situation arises whether at home or abroad can be equally troublesome. For anyone traveling outside of their hometown I would certainly recommend having a piece of plastic on your person. If you'd like to increase the amount of time you actually spend traveling while gaining freebies and the potential for additional FREE travel, then selecting the right credit card becomes that much more important. There are hundreds of cards on the market that offer rewards and incentives for signing up but I've narrowed the list down to my top 2 choices will increase your ability to travel and see the world in style and for free. 

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

This is absolutely my favorite credit card currently. The features on this card alone are enough to make any soon-to-be traveler giddy thinking about the points and opportunities it has to offer.  If you dine out frequently whether locally or internationally you get 3 points per dollar spent each time you use it to pay for your meals, and 1 point per dollar for all other purchases. Most credit cards charge you a fee for using their card while outside of the U.S. This forces you to have to exchange money, carry lots of cash, and is just inconvenient in general.  With this card, use it wherever, whenever, free of charge. 

TSA lines are undoubtedly a pain. Pre-check was free when it first started, now it costs about $85. With the Chase Reserve card, that fee is covered. Simply pay for the service using your card and the rest is automatically taken care of. If you're a big time global traveler the same thing applies to the Global Entry program. The entire fee of $100 is covered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This saves an enormous amount of time waiting in line for immigration and general airline processing as well. 

Two of the best features the card offers are the $300 Annual Travel Credit automatically applied to your account for travel purchases charged to your card, and complimentary airport lounge access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide. Want to take a quick trip to Vegas? No worries, the card will cover that flight cost. Delayed at the airport and don't want to sit in uncomfortable waiting area seating? Find one of the lounges available to you in that airport and wait in style and comfort. These are top of the line airport lounges we're talking about. Some equipped with free food, beverages, showers, wifi, fax machines, you name it. All free, all for you, all just because you have this card. 

Just when I thought the card couldn't get any better it did. The points you earn, which is a lot especially if you dine out frequently and use it properly, can be used to buy things on amazon, restaurants, hotels, and more. In just three months I had gained enough points to cover six months of domestic and international roundtrip flights just by being smart and using the card wisely. 

I'll keep it real with you. The $450 annual fee that comes with this card caught me off guard a little as well. But the 100,000 bonus miles that came after spending a certain amount in 3 months, the $300 travel credit, access to travel lounges, concierge service, TSA and Global Entry fee waivers, free travelers insurance, and free auto insurance on rental cars cover this cost and so much more. It's all about actually using the benefits that the card has to offer. Benefits that make travel easier, more convenient, and most important- free. 

2. Capital One Venture Card

The Capital One card isn't as stacked as the Chase card, but it has a lower annual rate and can be equally as useful if used effectively. For this card you get 2x miles per dollar spent on everything you purchase, unlike the Chase card where it's 3x points per dollar on flights and restaurants, and 1 point on all other purchases.  

The flexibility in how you use your miles to redeem either cash back, account credit, or to book a full trip altogether is another perk that sets this card apart from others. The Capital One card is more beneficial for gaining points faster if you don't dine out or travel very often.The high rate of redemption is very appealing, and the simplicity allows you to not get caught up in maintaining and maximizing all of the benefits that the card could potentially offer. It's straight forward, it's easy, it's simple. Get your points, redeem them for travel related purchases, statement credits, or trips.

For an everyday person looking to gain points and miles to use in the future to cover the cost of a flight, hotel, or Lyft expenses. Capital One Venture card is the way to go. 

 Habits you need to succeed:

  • Swipe and pay the same day. Get into the habit of buying things that you can afford to pay with cash. Swipe your card, and at the end of the day, pay your bill right away. Avoid those interest charges and letting your balance get away from you. It also helps your credit improve quickly. 

  • Be the leader of the pack. When you go out to dine with a big group of friends, pick up the check. Not the entire thing obviously, that's crazy. Divide the bill first, then grab it, have everyone else quick pay you or hit you with the cash and swipe your card as you collect points. 
  • The most important habit to develop is to have a realistic goal in mind. If you're working toward a trip of a lifetime and need a little help either with the flights, or you want to make it a truly VIP experience and upgrade, use that as motivation to properly manage your card usage. At the end of the day the card should be working for you. There are several credit cards to choose from, and if you're going to have one, get one that gives something back to you. 
  • The cards I listed above are my top choices. The benefits and customer service that both companies offer have been A1 since day 1.  If I missed any or if you have suggestions of cards that have worked well for you, let me know. The more we know, the more we grow.