I’ve partnered with CardRatings to help recommend my favorite travel credit card products. The Blonde Abroad and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers if you decide to apply through these links. As always, my recommendations opinions and reviews are mine alone and have not been influenced by anyone else. Reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

I have flown Emirates First Class (where I ate caviar and took showers at 40,000 feet). I have booked round-trip economy flights across the country and one-way business class flights across the world. Even though I’ve even booked weeklong rentals for epic road trips right here in the USA!

I did not pay for any of it. All of these things were booked for “ free” using my credit card points.

This isn’t bragging; it’s a wake up call! If you aren’t using travel reward credit cards, it’s time to start.

Points on a travel credit card can be exchanged for rewards.

In the case of the “Points & Miles Game”, it may seem mysterious and almost too good to be true. I will break down specific examples on how I redeemed points, as well as how much it saved me. In addition, I will explain which travel reward credit cards work best for this program. I think you will like the following books.

Here is how I travel the world for free on my credit card.

How I Racked Up Over 1,000,000 Points

Before I do anything, I have five credit cards with a reward program.

Yes, that may seem like a lot but they all serve a slightly different purpose and I’m getting the most bang for my buck. Or in this case the most points for different purchases.

Here’s what’s in my wallet:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve– My most used card for everyday spending and travel
  • Chase Ink Business PreferredIn all business-related purchases
  • AMEX Gold– For dining out groceries, all food-related purchases and also travel expenses for you and your family.
  • Capital One Venture– Another favorite for travel spending
  • AA Advantage – My preferred airline card

I will use all of them, but for different reasons!

I use my credit cards whenever I want. I use my credit cards to pay for everything from my taxes to my car insurance to my groceries.

Where reward credit cards earn bonus points is important.

For example, my AMEX Gold card earns 4 points for every dollar spent on groceries and dining out. That’s better than my Chase Sapphire credit card, so I always reach for my AMEX.

You should also consider using whichever credit card gives the highest rewards on travel.

Which Travel Reward Credit Card is Best?

Chase Sapphire Preferred

I primarily use my Chase cards because I receive great redemption values and travel partners.

If you’re just starting out or don’t have a Chase Sapphire Card in your arsenal, get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card! For every dollar you spend on travel and dining you will earn 2 points. The travel category that Chase considers includes much more than you do. With your Amex, you can earn points on a lot of different things, including airline tickets lodging and car rentals. You earn two points for every dollar you spend on bus tickets taxis limos toll bridges parking lots and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

You earn 1 point for every dollar spent.

This is the best bonus in history! You can earn up to 100,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

You will get a better idea of how far 100,000 Chase Points gets you in this post!

AMEX Gold Card

If you already have a Chase Sapphire card, my second recommendation would be the AMEX Gold Card.

Not that this is a big deal, but it comes in Rose Gold and it really looks pretty.😉

The Amex Gold Card offers great perks at the grocery store and also when you eat out or dine. You get a 60000 bonus plus Amex gold perks for buying groceries and dining out.

The Good Food Box costs a $250 annual fee, but it provides a great return on food.

There are also a ton of cash bonuses.

When you use your American Express Gold Card, there are multiple benefits to consider. First, you earn points for every dollar you spend at American Express-owned travel and dining establishments. You can earn up to $120 in credits per year on those purchases! That’s enough to save $10 off your monthly statement fee!

There are no foreign transaction fees. [This is a feature for me.] [In the past, you spent a lot of money on transactions with your credit card at places like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.]

This is a great card if you are a foodie like me. You get four times the points on groceries, and even coffee!

Booking Free Flights Using Points

Here are some examples of how I have used travel reward credit cards to earn points that I redeem for free flights, hotels, and automobiles.

Yes, free.

Even if I did not earn points for these purchases, they are the average everyday purchases I would make regardless of points. We are talking groceries, gas, eating out and everything in between.

International Long-Haul First Class

Emirates First Class to Los Angeles.

Points Redeemed: 47,250 Skywards Miles

How I Booked:Capital One Venture Points transferred to Emirates.

Value: PRICELESS For this flight I was already booked on Emirates Business. I love flying with Emirates and also Qatar because you can often get a really good business class flight deal.

I have status with these airlines because I fly with them a lot, so I can often get upgraded.

We were already booked on Emirates Business Class from Dubai to Los Angeles. When I checked the upgrade section on my computer, there was a reduced-rate upgrade available.

This is one of the longest flights in the world. It usually takes over 15 hours to fly across the Atlantic, so I should expect this flight to take about 15 hours.

I was at the pinnacle of flying, but it was very exciting! It was like flying with caviar on my toast, and having a hot shower at 40,000 feet.

Capital One is a companion and I used my Capital One Venture points to book the First Class ticket. This was an incredible value because it was so expensive. Emirates First Class is insanely expensive and this would not have been possible without Capital One. There are no points at the end of the stem.

Etihad A380 First Class Flight Review: Dubai to Los Angeles.

When I say my flight was incredible, I mean it was INCREDIBLE. It exceeded my expectations and then some. Here is my review of Emirates A380 First Class Flight from Dubai to LA!

Shop Now

International Long-Haul Business Class

United Polaris Cape Town to Newark

Points Redeemed: I traveled between Cape Town and Los Angeles many times using different routes. I often flew to Johannesburg, so I would stay there for a week or two before flying to Los Angeles.

I would start my trip from Newark, New Jersey to Cape Town, South Africa on United Polaris Business Class. The flight would take me 25 plus hours of flying before I landed in Cape Town. That’s not including the layovers across the Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean.

It was a very long trip and I was flying back and forth three or four times a year. I was exhausted after each trip.

When United launched its brand-new direct flight to Cape Town, I couldn’t wait to book it.

I booked us a Business Class ticket for the flight to the US. We also brought our dog, Bailey, with us.

Note: At the time ESA (Emotional Support Animals) were still recognized. However, they are no longer.

I would have paid any amount of points to get my family to the US safely. Because we had our dog with us, we had to fly on a US airline. I was also sure that we wanted to book Business Class so that we could be comfortable since it is such a long-distance flight. I have ever redeemed for a flight it got my family home safely and made booking a very expensive business class flight possible.

Domestic Transcontinental Business Class

JetBlue Mint JFK to San Diego

Points Redeemed: 62627 points for the flight. How I booked the flight. Downloaded JetBlue Mint. Value: $939 I used points to book the flight. I didn’t spend a penny because it would have cost me a lot of money.

You can book directly in the Chase Travel Portal or you may transfer your points to JetBlue. In this case, it was less points than what I would have needed to book the flight within the Chase Travel Portal than on JetBlue’s website.

International Multi-City Trip

Delta Airlines flies between San Diego and Athens and Barcelona and San Diego.

Points Redeemed: How I Booked: Chase Travel Portal Value $1016.

You can get a lot more done by taking the bus instead of flying.

I recently booked an upcoming European trip where I will be flying from San Diego to Athens and then returning to San Diego for just 67787 points.

That is just as much as your one-way Business Class flight from New York to San Diego would cost.

This flight would have been inexpensive, but only for the points. This round-trip flight would have cost over $1,000.

I typically use points to upgrade to a higher class, but if the opportunity presents itself, I will pay cash to upgrade. For this flight, the points redemption for Business Class was astronomical and I am more than happy to travel in Economy.

International EU Economy

In the Iberian economy, Athens is best known for its classical heritage. In Greece, Palma Mallorca is a popular tourist destination.

Points Redeemed:21500 points + $62.24 equals $300. I booked the flight with British Airways Avios and transferred them to a partner airline (Iberia).

Using points to book with partner airlines is often allowed!

When the British Airways Avios Reward Credit Card I used to have no longer exists, you should definitely apply for a credit card from an airline you fly frequently. I flew British Airways all the time because it is one of the few airlines that flies direct from San Diego via London.

Booking Free Rental Cars with Points

East Coast USA Road Trip (9 Day Rental)

Points Redeemed: 51616 Points How I Booked: Chase Travel Portal Value: $720.21 There are a lot of people traveling domestically right now because there is a pandemic, so when I went to book a car for an East Coast road trip it was going to be over $100 per day. I decided to look into using my Travel I found the points were better than what I would have spent in cash.


Consider the Sign-Up Bonus Points

So many cards offer a special bonus if you spend a certain amount in the first few months.

Think about how much you normally spend on things and compare that with the offer.

For example, some cards require you to spend $4000 in the first three months to earn 60000 bonus points. If you already swipe a credit card for $1500 each month, this will easily meet the minimum requirement. I would not recommend wasting money just to gain bonus points but if you are ready to spend it anyway, go ahead and do You are already paying for groceries, gas, transportation, and things like that. You can easily afford the minimum spending requirement.

Why not earn points on them?

A good rule of thumb is to aim for a point value of at least one cent per point.

When Am I Getting Good Value for Points?

I don’t always book using points when it’s a great deal, even though I do always try!

For me the whole point of points is not to spend money.

It’s personal. I use points to book our flights from Cape Town to the USA.

Everything else I have ever booked has been for leisure.

I have also used points to book DREAM experiences like Emirates First Class and Domestic Business Class when the price to book these flights are typically astronomical.

To get really good deals, you need to be flexible.

A good guide when redeeming frequent flyer miles is to aim for $.01 per mile. So if a flight is $1,000 you should aim to collect fewer than 100,000 frequent flyer miles for it. You can sometimes get the same flight for 6,000 or even less points. I gave him an example of what Always keep in mind that reward flights are not offered every day or on every flight so being flexible with your dates is necessary.

New to Travel Rewards Credit Cards?

If you’re new to the travel rewards credit card space, definitely check out my beginner’s guide. I know it may seem confusing at first but there are so many ways to make points work for you!

If you’re looking for a new card, check out the best travel rewards cards that I recommend.

Final Note

It is important not to treat a credit card like play money. To avoid the temptation of using it to buy things you cannot afford, do not spend more than you can pay off every month.

Interest rates are when “travel hacking” is no longer effective.

Always pay off your credit card each month. The most important thing when it comes to earning is to always pay off your credit card after each purchase.

I have never spent a single cent in interest. Earn those points and use them wisely.

Have you ever booked a getaway with credit card points? Do you have a favorite credit card? Or are you still confused about how to get the most value for your money?

Let me know in the comments below!

I have partnered with CardRatings to recommend my favorite travel credit card products. The Blonde Abroad and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers if you choose to apply through these links. As always, my recommendations opinions and reviews are mine alone and have not been influenced by any third parties. Reviewed by any of these organizations. Endorsed or approved by any of these organizations.