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Travel demand has increased substantially in the last year, leading to skyrocketing prices. Savvy consumers have turned to travel credit cards to offset higher prices and generate rewards for future travel. Unfortunately, this has led to lower award inventory unless you book your travel well in advance. That’s what I’m doing right now: planning my 2023 travel, so I can rest easy and avoid the fray.
In preparation for several trips that would otherwise cost tens of thousands of dollars, I’m saving points and acquiring new credit cards to help me maximize my everyday spending for 2022 and beyond.
You might be wondering how this will impact my credit score and that’s a valid concern. Every credit inquiry will cause about a five-point drop in your credit score. However, this drop is temporary. My score will rebound in a few months as my credit profile benefits from increased available credit and a lower utilization ratio. Additionally, I’ll be holding onto these credit cards for the long run.
If you’re looking to save on travel, consider how applying for multiple credit cards may impact your credit and proceed with a long-term goal in mind. That said, here’s a look at five travel cards I’m applying for this month to beef up my mileage balance for 2023 travel:
Capital One Venture
The Capital One Venture Card is at the top of my list for several reasons. I already have the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, a premium card with many great travel benefits. But it also carries a $395 annual fee, and I’m not sure I can justify holding onto it any longer.
The Capital One Venture is an excellent alternative because it has a reasonable $95 annual fee and a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every four years. My entire family is currently applying for Global Entry, so this credit will immediately offset the card’s annual fee.
More importantly, the Venture Card has all the travel perks I value (and none that I want to pay extra for):
I’m currently not getting these perks with my Citi credit cards, so the Venture is a great addition to my wallet.
Lastly, the card’s welcome bonus will help me get closer to my 2023 travel goals. New cardholders receive 75,000 bonus miles after $4,000 spent within the first three months of account opening. Capital One has 17 transfer partners for me to choose from, but I’ll likely transfer the miles to Turkish Miles&Smiles. That program charges just 50,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket to Turkey (my frequent and favorite travel destination). With the remaining miles, I can cover three one-way economy class tickets to Hawaii, costing 7,500 miles each. That’s a lot of value for 75,000 miles.
With the card’s 2X mile earn rate on all spending and 5X on hotels and rental cars booked with Capital One, I’ll continue to earn lots of rewards well beyond the welcome bonus. Needless to say, this card is a long-term keeper for me.
American Express Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card currently offers 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first six months of card membership. However, I was targeted for a higher bonus of 90,000 points, making this a great time to apply for the card. American Express has a once-per-lifetime rule for credit card welcome bonuses, though sometimes members are targeted for offers that exclude this language.
I’ve had the American Express® Business Gold Card before, but the personal Gold is a better fit for me. It earns 4X points at restaurants and grocery stores (up to $25,000 per year), 3X points on flights and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Dining and groceries are my biggest expenses, making this the ideal card for everyday use. Plus, I’ve saved hundreds of dollars through Amex Offers in the past, so I’m confident I’ll recoup the $250 annual fee pretty quickly. Between this and the $10 monthly dining and Uber Eats credits, the card is well worth getting.
Amex Membership Rewards is the best rewards program, thanks to an impressive transfer partner line-up. I plan to use the card’s welcome bonus for a business class ticket to Europe. Transfer partner ANA MileageClub charges just 88,000 miles for a round-trip business class ticket.
Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card
Japan is open to tourists again and I, for one, can’t wait to plan a trip for cherry blossom season. My plan is to use the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card’s welcome bonus to get me there. Japan Airlines is one of Alaska Airlines’ 18 travel partners.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan offers one of the best deals for business class travel to Japan. A one-way business class ticket on Japan Airlines costs just 60,000 Alaska miles. Not only does Japan have one of the best business-class products, but Alaska Mileage Plan lets you add in a free stopover. So I could fly from the West Coast to Tokyo, stop over for a few days, and continue to Osaka without redeeming more miles.
The Alaska Airlines Visa Business card’s welcome bonus is enough to cover a one-way business class fare to Japan. Approved applicants get 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
The card’s $50 annual fee is low compared to other airline credit cards — and well worth it, considering it includes a 20 percent discount on Alaska Airlines in-flight purchases and a free checked bag for the cardmember and up to six travel companions.
Citi Premier Card
Technically, the Citi Premier Card isn’t for me, but I will be managing the rewards. My mom needs a new credit card and since we’re saving up for a family vacation, I’m having her apply for the card and then helping her meet the spending requirement and redeem the points.
The card offers an all-time high welcome bonus of 80,000 points after $4,000 spent within three months of account opening. It’s great for everyday use because it earns 3X points at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets and air and hotel travel. While the $95 annual fee isn’t ideal, it is partially offset by the $100 annual hotel savings benefit applicable to ThankYou travel bookings of $500 or higher.
The Citi ThankYou program is highly underrated, with 16 airline and hotel partners. With 80,000 bonus miles, I’ll probably transfer enough points to Turkish Airlines to cover a one-way business class ticket to Istanbul for my mom. We’ll then transfer 21,500 miles to Flying Blue for a return ticket in economy class. I’m hoping as we get closer to the departure date, she’ll have more miles in her account and we’ll upgrade to business class on the return segment. But, for now, economy class offers plenty of value.
Iberia Visa Signature card
The Iberia Visa Signature® card doesn’t get talked about enough. The card’s welcome bonus is certainly generous: 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of account opening, plus an additional 25,000 Avios after spending $20,000 within the first 12 months.
But the card’s value goes well beyond this bonus. Cardmembers who spend $30,000 in a calendar year get a $1,000 airfare discount voucher valid on two tickets on the same flight. It works on both economy and business class tickets. What’s so great about this discount is that Iberia often has tickets to Spain costing $500 round-trip or less. With the discount voucher, you can essentially get two tickets to Europe every year. It’s a pretty terrific card perk and well worth the $95 annual fee.