Credit Card Hacking 101: Our Favorite Credit Cards
Credit cards tend to get a lot of bad rep. With the national debt continuing to rise, consumer debt is a major issue and a lot of it stems from credit cards. However, if you use credit cards right, make your payments on time, and avoid having to pay interests, credit cards have a ton of benefits you can take advantage of--in fact, they can even make or save you money!
We put all of our personal expenses and business expenses on credit cards. Why? Because you get amazing awards such as points or cashback that you can use to redeem for free gift cards, flights, hotels, statement credits and much much more.
Below is a list of our favorite credit cards with rewards and what makes them so great!
**Disclaimer: Links may provide us with bonus points, at not extra cost to you--and some do provide extra bonuses for you!
This is our absolute favorite credit card and with the highest annual fee of all our credit cards at $550/year, you might be asking yourself, why? The annual fee ends up paying for itself if you are a big traveler, like us. Each year, you get $300 back in statement credit when you book travel with your card. Not only do you make $300 back, you also get TSA pre-check and access to airport lounges through Priority Pass. The lounge is amazing when we have layovers in airports as it gives you a comfortable, more quiet place to hang out and typically provides free food! In addition to those perks, it provides a lot of other travel perks like free rental car coverage, trip cancellation coverage, lost luggage coverage, travel medical emergencies coverage, and more. Plus, both cards have no foreign transaction fees so it is great for international travel. If you don't travel a lot it may not be worth it but since we do we don't mind the higher annual fee.
A couple perks not related to travel are their extended warranty program where you get an additional year of coverage for manufacturer warranty. For example, we had a laptop computer that had technical issues about 18 months after purchasing. The manufacturer warranty was 12 months, but we purchased it on this card so our warranty was extended to 24 months and Chase bought us a brand new replacement laptop. It also offers purchase protection, so that if something happens to an item purchased on the card within 120 days, Chase will cover the repair or replacement up to $500 (even if there was no manufacturer warranty to double!). Another great perk is Chase’s partnership with Lyft and DoorDash. You can receive up to 15% off every Lyft car ride, plus other benefits, such as priority airport pickups, relaxed cancellations, and exclusive saving opportunities with one year of complimentary Lyft Pink. You will also get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee on orders over $12 for one year when ordering food through DoorDash.
As you make purchases, you receive travel points that you can redeem for free travel in addition to the stated benefits above. When you sign up and spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, you receive 50,000 bonus points (as of the creation of this point, the amount sometimes even increases during special promotional periods!). You also receive 3 times the points when you purchase travel or eat at restaurants with your card. PLUS, if you redeem your points for travel you get 50% more value. So, if you are a traveler, take a look.
If you have a business you can register a card under, The Chase Ink Business Preferred is our favorite and this link will give you 80,000 bonus points (verses the one above only gives you 50,000) when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. That is equivalent to about $1000 that can be redeemed for free travel. It is only $95/year fee, so the bonus alone pays for itself for 10 years!
Similar to the Sapphire Reserve, this card has travel coverage perks for rental car, trip cancellation, and lost baggage. And a unique feature of this card is that it provides cell phone coverage! If you or any employees on your phone plan break their phone (or is stolen), you are covered up to $600, as long as the phone bill is paid by the card.
Like most credit cards, you can continue to earn points all throughout the year and life of the card that can be redeemed for travel or other rewards. With this card, you earn 3 points for every $1 spent on travel, shipping, internet, phone bills, and advertising. You earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
As a business owner, you also have the opportunity to get employee cards at no additional cost. You can set and change their individual spending limits anytime. Plus, you will earn rewards from their purchases automatically. If you own a business, you should take a look at this card, because the travel and reward benefits are through the roof!
If you don't have a business and would prefer not to spend $550 in annual fees, there are other cards that are good options too, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred (a downgraded version of the Chase Sapphire Reserve). You do not get $300 travel credit, Priority Pass or TSA Precheck, but the Preferred still provides the majority of the other benefits of the Reserve.
Both of the cards mentioned above are great options because the points are flexible across different airlines and hotels, and the same applies for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a 60,000-point bonus when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, and the annual fee is $95. You can earn 2X points when spending money on travel and dining, plus 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
The Preferred card also offers deals with Lyft and DoorDash. You will earn 5X points on Lyft rides, which is 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel. You also get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for one year when ordering food through DoorDash.
If you want a specific travel card, our favorites are Southwest and Marriott. We think they give you the best bang for your buck, and are brands we like. Marriott is a nice quality hotel everywhere you stay and they have bought out so many other chains that there are tons of options. If you sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card right now, you receive 3 free nights when you make $3,000 in purchases over the first 3 months of credit card activation. Annually, you also receive a free night stay every year your card is active, which is worth more than your $95 annual fee, so the card is basically free annually.
With this card, you get 6X points of each dollar spent at Marriott, as well as 2X points on everything else. Don’t want an annual fee? You can sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy Bold card instead, which does not have an annual fee, but you only get one bonus night upon signing up and not one annually. You also only get 3X points on money spent at Marriott, 2X on travel, and 1X on everything else. Plus points earned through your credit card go towards your Marriott status--and not going to lie, high status is pretty great in getting free upgrades and extras when you stay at their hotels! In our eyes, the upgrade to Boundless pays for itself multiple times over. If you love Marriott and traveling, this could be the card for you.
Southwest offers something unique that most other airlines don’t: a companion pass. A companion pass is granted when you get 125,000 rapid rewards points in one calendar year. Once you meet the point mark, you receive a companion pass for the remainder of the calendar year, as well as the full following calendar year. A companion pass lets one person travel for free (or a small $5-$15 tax fee) whenever you fly Southwest. There is a caveat that the person assigned as your companion can only be changed 3 times in a year--but if you have a regular travel buddy or spouse or child you go with, it’s no big deal. There are two ways you can reach the 125,000 points. One, you can earn them through flight miles, like normal. Or two, you can make purchases on a Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card.
There are 3 options for personal Southwest cards: the Plus, the Premier, or the Priority. The Plus’s annual fee is $69/year, the Premier’s annual fee is $99/year, and the Priority’s annual fee is $149/year. We recommend going with the Plus because it's cheaper. Premier and Priority do have a few more benefits, but in our opinion it’s not that much better. When you sign up for any of the cards and spend $2,000 in the first 3 months, you get 65,000 bonus points, which count towards your 125,000 goal. If you pay attention at the beginning of the year, Southwest sometimes does large bonus points. This year, they were offering 75,000 when you signed up at the beginning of the year! All 3 options give you 2 points per $1 spent on all Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. However, Priority gives you an additional $75 in travel credit each year, as well as four upgraded boardings per year and 20% back on inflight purchases.
Hopefully, you can find a credit card that best fits you. Feel free to comment or reach out to us with any more questions you have about credit cards! We would love to help :)
As a disclaimer, make sure to review the terms and conditions, as well as the rewards program, prior to signing up to make sure you know all the information you need. The above is a summary of benefits and not a complete list of credit card company information, and may change with time.