Credit Card Gurus Share Secrets For Big Rewards On Travel Spending

Not all of us are born into generational wealth. While people like Darrell Booker are out there helping educate people on how to achieve financial security and abundance, it’s ultimately up to each individual to read up on life hacks and budget tips to save more money. Financial literacy is our responsibility.

If you’re reading this weekly travel hacking column, you’re already on the path!

Hopefully, you’ve scouted out the best travel credit card for you and learned how to find the best airfare deals. But what about the ways to maximize your rewards with travel purchases? With concert-tripping at an all-time high and winter being the season of soaking in spas, use these tips to maximize your rewards on direct travel purchases to help get you there.

Brighton & Mila (@themilescouple): Use A Credit Card That Specifically Earns Bonus Points On Hotels & Flights

The starting point is to use a credit card that specifically earns bonus points on travel categories, such as hotels and flights. Some of these cards include the Capital One Venture X (10x points on hotels booked through the bank portal), the Amex Platinum (5x on flights), etc.

However, to go a step above that you should always check whether there’s a way to stack rewards! For instance, British Airways has a partnership with Airbnb that allows you to earn three Avios per dollar spent. At the same time, for your next weekend getaway, you could buy Airbnb gift cards from a grocery store using a card that earns extra in supermarkets (such as the Amex Gold for 4x), then use the gift card to check out at Airbnb (though we recommend reading up on Reddit and Flyertalk about the pros/cons).

More generally, always check your credit card offers and shopping portals for any limited-time discounts and bonus earnings. Maybe there’s a “Spend $500 get $100 Off at Hilton” stay offer that you could link to your Amex card, or 12% cashback at IHG Hotels & Resort when you use Rakuten, etc. Finding ways to earn bonus points through more than one rewards stream is the easiest way to maximize rewards on travel spending!

Serena Stone (@passionforpoints): Use A Card With Embedded Travel Protections


serena stone

When paying for flights or taxes and fees on award travel, I always use a card with embedded travel protection such as trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. My favorite cards to use for flights are Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Capital One Venture X. These cards are also great for embedded rental car coverage.

When booking activities, check Cashback Monitor to get the maximum cashback or points for purchasing Viator or Tripadvisor experiences.

When dining, use a credit card that earns you a higher multiple at restaurants. The American Express Gold card earns 4x and the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve earn 3x on dining worldwide.

Also when traveling internationally, always remember to use a card with no foreign transaction fees.

Michele Lowery (@fancytravelpointers): Use Hotel Credit Cards While Staying At That Hotel

Michele Lowery

The best time and place to use a hotel credit card is when you are staying at that hotel for a paid stay. Hotel credit cards often earn 5x – 15x+ points per dollar when staying at that hotel. I personally don’t advise putting every day spend on hotel cards, but using them at the actual hotel is where these cards shine in earning points.

Most hotel credit cards come with an annual fee night certificate (after year one), making hotel cards a valuable part of your overall award travel strategy.

Victor Cheng (@travelhackvic): Get 10X Points On Car Rentals With Capitol One Venture X

Victor Cheng

You might not need to rent a car on every trip you go on, but when you do, make sure you have Capital One Venture X in your wallet. Capital One Venture X can earn unlimited 10X miles on rental cars when you book through Capital One Travel. This will be a huge bonus whenever you need a car. Better Yet, Venture X cardholders are eligible for complimentary Hertz President’s Circle status, and you can Enroll online for the ability to skip the rental counter, choose from the widest selection of Hertz cars, and get guaranteed upgrades.

However, make sure to always compare the price of the travel portal to the other prices on the internet to make sure it’s competitive before booking.

Ryan Horn (@profitsandpoints): Charge All Hotel Expenses To The Room To Ensure Maximize Travel Reward Points


ryan horn

I put absolutely everything I can on a credit card, and I do so strategically by using the right credit card for the right category. When it comes to travel spend, I like to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the American Express Green Card, or the Citi Premier card because all three of these cards earn 3x points on most travel spend.

How do I make sure that I get the full 3x points out of most of my purchases when I’m traveling?

Well, if I’m staying at a hotel, I like to charge everything to the room that would otherwise maybe only earn 1-2x points. This ensures that the purchase will be coded as a travel since it’ll appear on my final hotel bill.

Adam Hill (@adamhillyeah): “Double Dip” Or Stack Rewards

adam hill

This is a rule that should come with any purchases or and spend you put on your credit cards, but always try to double dip or stack rewards if possible. Anytime you are purchasing a flight, you should be crediting that flight to a specific airline rewards program.

For instance, I typically credit any One World Airline I buy a cash fare on to my American Airlines account but put in my Frequent Flier number and then pay with a card that earns the best return. Depending on the card, you could be earning 2x-5x points back. It is a great idea to do a little research on Airline Alliances and what airlines are in those groups to understand how you can fly on one airline but receive credit for another one. A great website to use is Where To Credit.

I also will typically look for excursions through Viator and I will activate my Rakuten link to earn Amex points and earn points back with the card I’m using to purchase with. This takes a little bit of research to find the best return as well as a bit of strategy for the points currency you are trying to earn.

Allison Tackette (@luckytictac): Spend Within Your Means


Allison Tackette

It’s easy to get caught up in spending more and more money to watch your points balances grow. The quicker you earn points the faster you can redeem for flights and hotels. Spend within your means just to earn points. Don’t go into debt for points and miles.

Spencer Howard (@straighttothepoints): Don’t Obsess Over Maximizing Every Purchase

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spencer howard

You don’t need to obsess over maximizing every purchase. Yes, it’s great to utilize bonus categories to earn more points on purchases, but it’s not the end of the world if you forget. Points and miles is a fun hobby that can help enhance your travel. It doesn’t need to cause you stress.

Angel Trinh (@pennywisetraveler): Use A Credit Card With Built-In Travel Protections

Angel Trinh

If you have any big expenses coming up, ask your friends/family to pay you back for the purchase. You can also get instant card approvals from Amex right away, so you can easily get a lot of points.

Use a credit card that has built-in in travel protections. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred has the auto collision damage waiver, trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, baggage delay, and lost luggage.

Anytime you buy anything, remember you can layer on points and cash back. For example, for online purchases, you can get cashback/miles from a shopping portal like American Airlines or Rakuten.

If you dine at specific restaurants you can get American Airlines/Southwest/Delta points (you can get only one airline).

Thomas Lonergan (@travelliketommy): Strategize Credit Cards To Earn Points Twice


This is most lucrative spend to maximize your points earning. We want to earn points not once but twice! One from the credit card being used, the other from the hotel/airline program you are booking with!

Having elite status will amplify this significantly.

For example:


  • I earn a minimum of 23.5x points per dollar when staying at Marriott hotels
  • 10x for being a base member
  • 7.5x bonus for my elite status
  • 6x by paying with my Marriott card
  • I earn a minimum of 34x Hilton points per dollar when staying at Hilton hotels
  • 10x base member
  • 10x elite status bonus
  • 14x paying with my Amex Hilton Aspire card


  • American Airlines: I earn 15x miles per dollar minimum
  • 5x miles for base member
  • 6x bonus miles for exec plat status
  • 4x miles for paying with my Citi AA card
  • United Airlines: I earn 16x miles per dollar minimum
  • 5x miles base member
  • 6x miles bonus for 1k status
  • 5x amex points when paying with my platinum card

Vivian Tu (@your.richbff): Transfer Your Points To An Airline Or Hotel Partner

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Vivian Tu

Don’t redeem your points directly through the credit card. Instead, transfer your points to a hotel or airline and then book your travel there. Sometimes it’s even better to transfer those points and rewards to the hotel and airline’s partners. For example, One World United is an airline “class” for American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qatar, Fiji Airways, etc. and it can be cheaper to transfer your points to a transfer partner than booking directly through American Airlines.

  • One World United is partnered with American Airlines
  • Star Alliance is partnered with United Airlines

Angelo Minella (@paidwithpoints): Make Sure The Credit Card You’re Using Has Zero Foreign Transaction Fees

angelo minella

When it comes to using a credit card overseas the biggest tip is to make sure you use a card that has zero foreign transaction fees. I also like to bring my travel wallet which consists of more cards than my daily driver wallet.

This travel wallet holds any relevant cards that I may need for lounge access or airline/hotel spend that I don’t have in my everyday wallet that also provide more benefits and points!