Visa: While it might not necessarily be ‘Everywhere You Want to Be,’ it is certainly the most accepted card network out there by far. If you’re new to the world of travel hacking and/or credit cards, you need a Visa card in your wallet, as plenty of merchants and stores out there still refuse to take American Express, Discover, and in some cases even Mastercard. Visa also has the most acceptance overseas.
Fortunately enough, Visa has a very strong set of partner banks and co-brand credit card programs that are suited for those of us who like to travel for pennies on the dollar. Here are some Visa cards that I recommend:
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred: In one of my earlier posts I discussed the beauty of Ultimate Rewards points. Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the strongest suited cards for travel (if not the most), as it comes with a signup bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on it within 3 months. The $99 annual fee is waived for the first year, and many recent datapoints on both DoctorofCredit and Reddit are showing users getting their fees waived in the second year and beyond. 50,000 is a ton of points, which you can use to book travel directly through the Ultimate Rewards portal (think of it like $625 worth of flight credit), or get even better value through transferring those points to United, Southwest, Hyatt, and many other travel partners on a 1:1 basis. To give an example, I transferred my 50,000 points to Southwest as I frequently fly between SFO and LAX — if you book well in advance, you can get a round trip for a mere 8,000 points. So, for me it netted out to around 6 trips to LA and back. Pretty sweet! If you travel between the west coast and east coast frequently, United (though not my favorite airline) has flights practically every hour and generally are known to have a large amount of saver award availability.
The card also earns you 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, 1x on everything else. Travel and dining are awesome categories to earn those extra points on, especially because Chase is lenient on what counts for dining (Mcdonalds, Starbucks, and most bars count) and travel (all taxis, Uber and Lyft count!). Lastly, there are no foreign exchange fees on the Sapphire Preferred, so you can keep it top of wallet when you are jet-setting abroad.
2. Chase Ink Plus: The Ink Plus is Chase’s small business card that comes with a 60,000 signup bonus when you spend $5,000 in 3 months. I know what youre thinking…”I dont have a business so I can’t get this card.” Wrong! It does not take much to get your business going. When applying, your “Tax ID” is just your social security number, and you can apply with your business as a sole proprietorship. I buy shoes and sometimes re-sell them on Craigslist and eBay. This is enough to claim my own business and get approved for the Chase Ink Plus (and practically any other business credit card out there). I will go into details of successfully managing a business credit card application in a future post.
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier (50,000 Rapid Rewards points): While it comes with a $99 annual fee not waived the first year, the amount of points you get after hitting the minimum spend is well worth the fee. If you just need one Visa card, though, go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, because you can choose among multiple airlines and hotels to transfer the 50,000 sign-up points to, and arent limited to one airline like with this card.
- Citi Hilton HHonors: Citi is a mostly Matsercard issuer, but they do have some Visa cards here and there. This is one of them that is useful for hotel stays– Hhonors is not considered the best hotel program by any means (I would give that title to SPG), but if you stay at any of the Hilton family of properties often (e.g. Hilton, Conrad, Double Tree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Hilton Grand Vacations) this can be a useful card to use and earn points on.
So here are some places to start if you need a good Visa card that is useful for travel. Note that there are hundreds of other Visa cards out there, that can get you other types of rewards such as cash back. But for traveling purposed, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is easily the best Visa card you can get today. Look no further!
Happy travel hacking!