Best Travel Credit Card Strategy

We’re kicking off 2023 with a 4-part series covering a topic our community is passionate about: travel. Whether you travel 40x or 4x a year – for business, pleasure, or both – it’s critical to have a travel credit card strategy to maximize your everyday spending to achieve the lifestyle you want.

In this episode, Namaan and Stephanie share:

  • The importance of a travel credit card strategy
  • How travel credit cards help you in this process
  • Top 2 travel credit cards for leisure travelers

Links to learn more about these travel cards are below!

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Transcription: Best Travel Credit Card Strategy

MC: Namaan Mian 

Welcome to this episode of Strategy Simplified, the first in our January installment of our travel series. Here at Management Consulted, you’re used to hearing from us about consulting, case interviews, careers, etc. But all of that is to an end, and the end is living the life that you want. And for us here at Management Consulted, a big part of living the life that we want is being able to travel the world. And I know what a lot of you may be thinking, travel is expensive. And you’re not wrong. And we’ve found over the last decade plus of our own personal and business travel, some ways that we can lessen the financial sting of travel and seeing the world.

And I’m joined today by Stephanie Knight. Stephanie is Chief Learning Officer here at Management Consulted, and what you may not know is closeted world traveler. And Stephanie and I combined have probably seen 70 plus countries, almost all 50 states. We’re big, big travelers. We love it. We’re passionate about it. We talk about it just in our free time. And Stephanie, welcome to the podcast today. You know, how are you and you might just give us a little bit of insight into why someone needs a travel strategy.

Stephanie Knight 

Yeah, thanks, Namaan. Absolutely. So whether you travel extensively for business or not, having a travel credit card strategy can really help boost your rewards and what you get out of the money that you’re already spending towards any type of travel. And we don’t necessarily immediately need to think about this as international travel as well, even domestically. You may be staying at hotels, flying on airlines, even renting rental cars. There are opportunities to kind of maximize those points and actually be rewarded for that, and allow you to do more travel.

So I’ve been lucky enough to start my travel journey even before my time at McKinsey. So it’s nice to think about leisure travel and being able to maximize your travel, in addition to business travel. So in today’s episode, we’re going to, as Namaan said, start to just talk a little bit about general strategy and leisure cards that could make sense for you. And then we’ll go into more detail in the next time around as we go through some of the business cards. But you’re only going to take the most advantage of this, if you to some degree plan it out ahead of time. The totally casual traveler is just going to optimize based on schedule and based on price point. And the totally casual traveler may not even sign up for the free rewards programs that an airline or a hotel has.

But with just a little bit more foresight and planning, you can not only reap the benefits of the free loyalty programs of an airline or hotel group, but also then take advantage of the spending that you’re doing on those efforts and get rewards back from those. So today, we’re excited to cover with you a couple of general travel cards that are going to make sense for that casual or leisure traveler who just puts a little bit more effort and foresight into into their efforts to really make the most out of that travel that you already want to do.

MC: Namaan Mian 

Absolutely. And I’ll pause here with just the travel 101 announcement. If you’re planning to do any kind of travel in 2023 and you have not signed up for the loyalty programs of the airlines that you’ll be flying or the hotels you’ll be staying at, or the rental car companies whose cars you’ll be driving, then please make sure that you do that. It’s free, it takes five minutes, and it unlocks a world of perks and just a more enhanced experience as well. And then allows you, as Stephanie said, to take the money that you’re spending and apply it to a better experience and future points earnings, and just an ability to travel for less money in the future.

And so if this is the first time you’re hearing about this or if you’ve been thinking, hey, I want to get back into travel post-COVID but I’m not sure the most efficient way to do it, baby step one, if you will, is just making sure that you’re signed up for those loyalty programs. And in baby step two is starting to think about if a travel credit card makes sense for you or not. And here at Management Consulted, we think about travel credit cards in three different categories. We think about travel credit cards in terms of general cards in terms of airline co-branded cards, and in terms of hotel co-branded cards as well. And as Stephanie mentioned, next week, we’re going to do a deeper dive into some of these specific credit cards in each category.

Today, we’re just going to give you an overview of a couple of great introductory general travel cards that will allow you to take the money you’re already spending in your day-to-day life on gas, on groceries, on rent, etc, and earn points that you can use towards travel, or towards some travel experiences. And if you decide that, hey, the optimal version of your life and spending is that you earn cashback or that you earn other rewards, then these cards are not for you. But if you decide that the rewards that you care about, and the perks that you really want to pursue from your personal spending are travel perks, and these are a great introduction to the game. And it really is a game. And it’s fun to try and solve for it. It’s fun to try and get all the perks and points and free trips that you can and just see how much that you can travel on the money that you’re already spending instead of shelling out full and top dollar for each trip that you take.

So for those of you who are leisure travelers, as Stephanie mentioned, you’re planning on taking a few fun trips this year, there are a couple of credit cards that you may find to be helpful additions to your wallet. And I’ll start here by just talking through the first. It’s the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it’s a card that I used to own before upgrading to its cousin, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. But I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers some of the best overall value in the travel credit card space. It’s a low annual fee, just $95. And it’s a very generous introductory offer. So if you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening, you earn 60,000 bonus points. And our friends over at the Points Guy, which is a fantastic travel site and blog, they valued the 60,000 points at a whopping $1,200. So if you even just take the introductory bonus points that you would earn by hitting that spend threshold, the annual fee pays for itself over and over again. And that’s not including the rewards points that you earn on your everyday spending. T

here are certain categories that get you bonus points. That’s not including the fact that you can transfer your points to 14 different travel partners, including United, Southwest and JetBlue, then you can use the points that you transfer to purchase mileage tickets. That’s not taking into account the fact that you get rental car insurance, for example, with this card. There are a lot of perks that come with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can click the link in the show notes to learn all about those perks. But you know, I’ll just cap the conversation today at it’s a great introduction to the points and miles game. It’s a low barrier to entry $95 annual fee. If you’re going to use the points that you earn from just your everyday spending, you’ll earn that $95 back again and again, if you decide that this is going to be a travel year for you. So that’s the chase Chase Sapphire Preferred, one of our favorite travel cards. And Stephanie, I’ll turn it over to you because that’s not the only option here for those who are looking to get into this game.

Stephanie Knight 

We also wanted to cover today the Capital One Venture rewards credit card, which we believe is best as an intro card for earning miles with an introductory offer of 75,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months. Which again, the Points Guy values those 75,000 points at about $1,400. That annual fee of $95, as Namaan said for the last one as well, it really pays itself off. And then you get additional kind of boosts and rewards as you think about five times the points on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One travel. 2X the points on all other purchases with two complimentary passes to Capital One’s new Air Point lounge every year. Now they don’t have too many lounges out yet, but those are expected to continue to expand.

But they do have 15 total travel partners as you think about transferring your points to British Airways, Windham, Cathay Pacific. There’s no major US airlines on there. But again, as a general credit card where you’re able to potentially shift points across companies and and across categories, it’s a good opportunity for you to think about entering this game. And I love that language that Namaan shared a little bit earlier. The reality is, if you’re going to take the most advantage out of these types of cards, you need to be willing and perhaps even energized to go search for and hunt for the ways to redeem these points and redeem these miles. And  with some strategic forethought, some planning, and some digging, you can find a lot of value here out of these points, out of these miles that you’re going to be able to be gaining and earning through the use of these cards. The opportunities really are endless, if you’re willing to look for them and spend the time to figure out your redemption opportunities.

So I think that these are great introductory things to look into it. Certainly we didn’t get to cover the entirety of the details in this short conversation. So we’re going to make sure to put some links in the show notes so that you can get access to additional details. We’ve done some additional writing about these cards and this process and strategy in general, we’ll make sure to link to that so that you can make sure to get the most out of this, whether or not you’re a leisure or a business traveler. Right, Namaan?

MC: Namaan Mian 

Absolutely. So if travel is a part of your 2023 plans, we would encourage you to be strategic about how you’re going to go about that travel. Here at Management Consulted we believe that you should be strategic in every area area of your life that’s important to you, whether that’s your relationships, your career, travel, etc. And so here over this next month, we’re going to be sharing some of our insight just born from our own personal experience on how you can maximize travel rewards that you’re earning, how you can apply those rewards to experiences that create memories and are meaningful to you.

And so we will do a deeper dive next week, Stephanie and I, on the travel cards that make up our own personal portfolio of credit cards. We’ll talk a little bit more about our own travel experience, we’ll talk a little bit more about the loyalty programs where we hold status and why we hold status at those loyalty programs. But for today, we just want to encourage you that if travel is on your bucket list for 2023, you want to get back out into the world post-COVID, to just start thinking now about how you want to do that so that you can maximize the rewards, the points and the perks that you’ll earn from the travel and the spending you’re already going to do.

Stephanie Knight 

Thanks for joining us today. I totally agree with Namaan that this is a game. So if this brief conversation didn’t get you excited at all about trying to figure out these systems, to try to optimize rewards try to optimize points, then maybe this is not the game for you. But if you’re joining us here on Strategy Simplified, that means that some type of strategic thinking is in your nature. And therefore I expect that most of you are already doing this to some degree, or would find a lot of joy and value in launching into this type of travel strategy. So as mentioned in the discussion, we’ve got a link in the show notes to some of our writing on this topic and some more details about the credit cards that we covered. And we’ll be back next week with an in-depth look into which credit cards could make the most sense for you if you’re a business traveler. We’ll see you then

Filed Under: consulting travel, Strategy Simplified