Travel Credit Cards

In the next year or two we might be taking several international flights.  Potential flights include U.S. to New Zealand, Australia to Europe and Europe back to the U.S.  We thought it would be a good idea to earn some frequent flier miles by signing up for a couple new credit cards which offer big sign-up bonuses as well as bonus miles for any purchases.

A little web searching brought me to this page which has some good information:  I quickly realized that some people are very serious about earning free flights or free hotel stays!  I found another site I like:  This site is a bit more upfront about the referral bonuses they get for the links on their site.  They also claim to publish links that are a better deal for consumers even if they get a lower referral bonus for themselves.  Sounds good to me!

So after a little research we both signed up for the United Explorer card which offers a 30,000 mile sign-up bonus.  However, some info on the web suggested we could get an extra 20,000 miles if we simply asked Chase for it (and if we spent a minimum amount in a few months).  Sure enough, that worked and we should earn up to 55,000 miles each.  I also signed up for a Chase Sapphire card which offers a 40,000 point bonus (after spending $3000 in the first three months).  The Chase points can be traded 1:1 for United miles.

These new credit cards also waive any foreign transaction fees, which will be handy when we’re making purchases overseas.  However, they do have an annual fee (which is waived the first year).  So we’ll need to decide if we keep the cards after the first year and pay the fee, or look for other cards with no fees.

One handy tip I found online was to use Amazon Payments for sending money.  Caroline and I can send each other up to $1000/month from our credit cards.  We’ve already used this trick to help complete the minimum spend for our sign-up bonuses.  Also, I signed up for the free service at to help monitor my credit score before and after applying for these cards.  Lastly, I’ll make a recommendation for the REI Visa card.  It has been the only credit card in my wallet for the last several years.  I love how you can earn a large REI dividend by using this card for all your expenses.  If you shop a lot at REI and don’t have this card yet, sign up and I’ll get $20 for the referral (ask me for my REI #) and you’ll get a $100 gift card:  Thanks!

4 thoughts on “Travel Credit Cards

  1. How cool that you share what you learn preparing for your trip on here… excited for you…

  2. One thought – we are looking at traveling to Iceland. A friend of my husbands said she had some problems using her credit card in the smaller towns there because European credit cards have pin numbers and American ones don’t. I believe the US is starting to come out with cards with pins and microchips. Just a thought. – Catherine Winter

  3. We just returned from China and not having PIN’s for our credit cards was a big problem in many large cities, even at the hotel. I am not sure how to get around this issue, maybe the credit card companies can give you a PIN to use with your cc’s? I ended up paying cash for many meals and shopping because of this issue. Also, using American Express was rarely an option. There is a cc company that they favored, however I don’t remember what it was.

    • Good tip, thanks, Susan. We’ll have to look into getting PINs on our cards if we can.

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