While I’ve been on the road for my tour, the travel hacking world has been busy. We usually see this phenomenon toward the end of the year, but apparently this time it’s happening much earlier.
I recently mentioned the 100,000 points offer for an all-new card from Hilton, along with an increased offer for another Hilton card. A couple weeks before that, I mentioned the increased signup bonus for the Marriott card.
Since then, two additional new cards have come out, and two other signup bonuses have been increased for a limited time. It’s been hard to keep up with all the new offers that have been flying in, so I’ve compiled the information on the available opportunities below.
Oh, and if you’re new to this, here are a couple of key points:
1. Strategic travel hacking can help you go anywhere, anytime.
I used these strategies to go everywhere for more than ten years of my travel quest, and I still use them for all sorts of other adventures. Two months ago I flew in an Apartment in the sky. Last year I flew in Emirates First Class and took a shower on the plane for the first of four times. It works.
2. Always use credit responsibly.
If you do this right and build a portfolio of credit, you’ll be able to earn points and miles for many years to come. But you should only get cards if you can pay off your balances each month.
Also, if you’re just getting started, don’t apply for a ton of cards at once. Get a couple of cards, preferably from different issuers. With a few months of regular use and paying your bills on time, you’ll be on track to take advantage of many more offers in the future. [Here’s my #1 recommendation if you can only get one card.]
OK, that’s all the preamble. Here are the current big offers!
With this brand new card from Chase, you’ll get $150 cash back when you spend $500 in the first 3 months. You’ll also get an extra $25 if you add an additional user and make a purchase. As a cash back card that’s a good bonus, but the better thing is that if you’ve already got a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Ink Bold, you can easily turn these dollars into Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 100 points for each dollar.
That’s 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points for the signup and a 2,500 bonus for the additional user. This card also has no annual fee and earns 1.5% back on ALL spending. That’s like 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on everyday spending.
(Note: because it’s new, I haven’t had this card before myself, but I’m going to apply for it. I do have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, of course.)
Get 80,000 Marriott points when you complete a minimum spend of $3,000 in 90 days. Plus earn an additional $7,500 points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 90 days. With free nights at Marriott hotels starting at just 5,000 points, you can put these points to good use on summer road trips or adventures in exotic destinations.
As an example, I’m a fan of the Marriott Circular Quay in my favorite city of Sydney, which can be pricey. This bonus can be used for two free nights there. And if you keep the card, you’ll get a certificate for a free stay every year. This is a great value and worthwhile addition to your points and miles portfolio—even if you don’t always stay in hotels.
If you’re a fan of travel with JetBlue, this new card will get you a quick 10,000 TrueBlue points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of card membership. It has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
If you’d rather get 3x as many points and don’t mind paying an annual fee of $99 in order to land them, the new JetBlue Plus card pays out a signup bonus of 30,000 TrueBlue points after completing a minimum spend of $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, every year you keep the card you’ll get a gift of an additional 5,000 points on your card anniversary.
Wondering which of these two cards is better? In short, if you can pay the $99 fee, this card is the best choice. But if you don’t want to pay any fees at all, then the other one is fine.
Another great hotel bonus, for a limited time you’ll get 70,000 IHG points good for stays at any hotel in the IHG property group including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Intercontinental and more after completing a minimum spend of $2,000 in the first 3 months! Card members also get IHG Platinum Elite status as long as they keep the card.
This card has a low annual fee of $49, but it’s almost definitely one that’s worth paying. Every year on your card member anniversary you’ll get a certificate for one free night at an IHG hotel anywhere in the world. Intercontinental Bora Bora? Yes, please.
Get 100,000 Hilton HHonors Points after you spend $3,000 in 90 days. This is enough points to spend 25 nights in a hotel! Plus, you’ll get complimentary GOLD status as long as you keep your card and earn diamond status if you reach a minimum annual spend.
This is a limited time offer and ends May 4.
Get a quick 75,000 Hilton HHonors points plus Hilton Silver status with only a $1,000 minimum spend in the first 3 months. This card has no annual fee and you can earn lots of Hilton HHonors points through spending with a 7x point bonus on all eligible purchases at Hilton Hotels, and 5x points at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets in the U.S.
This is a limited time offer and ends May 4.
382,500 Points = A Lot of Points
All told, there are a total of 382,500 points on offer right now. This is a huge number! Of course, you may not be able to get all of them, and that’s fine. So how do you choose?
In short, you figure out what you want to do (where you want to go, how you’d like to travel, etc.) and then you build your mileage-earning strategy around that. Don’t just get cards for the sake of “more points”—make sure you can actually use them! In the end, free travel is much better than “a lot of points in your account.”
If I can help answer any questions about which cards might be best for your situation, send me a note! I’m on the road every day for the tour, but I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.
Image: Nick Karvounis