Credit Card Rewards

Our Credit Card Journey

Back when we first scored decent jobs and began jet-setting more frequently, travel insurance was a non-negotiable for us, especially for the bigger trips. For years, we relied on our trusty Costco Citi Card, which nicely bundled travel insurance with its other benefits. But, as luck would have it, that perk was axed, sending us on a quest for a new go-to travel card.
Enter the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Now, I know what you’re thinking—$95 annual fees? Who pays those? We were skeptical too, but the allure of a juicy points bonus and robust card benefits, including travel insurance, was too good to pass up. Taking the plunge turned out to be a no-brainer. The card isn’t just about racking up points to play the transfer game; cashing out points directly is also insanely rewarding. For the vast majority, the Chase Sapphire Preferred hits the sweet spot: stellar sign-up bonus, top-tier benefits, and straightforward points cash-out. It’s practically a traveler’s best friend.

The 'Why Not' of Credit Card Points

  • Diving into the world of credit card rewards is not for everyone, especially if keeping up with balances isn’t your strong suit. Here’s the deal: if you have a history of late payments, it’s better to steer clear of this strategy. The stakes are high—missed payments can lead to hefty interest charges and fees, not to mention the long-term damage to your credit score.
  • I personally set all my credit cards to auto-pay. It’s a safeguard that ensures I never miss a payment, regardless of what’s going on. Sure, if there’s an overcharge, you can address it afterward without penalty. This approach isn’t just about convenience; it’s about maintaining a healthy credit status and making the most of the rewards without the drawbacks. If you’re not sure you can manage balances meticulously, it might be wise to prioritize getting those habits in place first.

Leveling Up with Credit Card Points: Mastering the Transfer Game

  • For the adventurous or those willing to dive into the details, the real magic of credit card points unfolds when you transfer them to airline and hotel partners. Admittedly, we started out by cashing out our points directly—easy, straightforward, but not exactly squeezing every drop of value from them. The idea of navigating through transfer partners and optimizing every point seemed daunting at first.
  • However, as we delved deeper and tapped into some solid resources, the fog began to clear. Mastering the transfer process turned our point redemption strategy from basic to brilliant. Researching flights and hotels, and planning trips with points morphed into an engaging hobby. Not only did our vacations become more affordable, but they also stepped up in luxury.
  • So, for those on the fence, consider this: a little effort in learning the points transfer game can dramatically elevate your travel game, making those dream destinations a lot more attainable and your travel experiences richer.

Our Go-To Resource for Credit Card Point Mastery: If you’re looking to dive deep into the world of credit card point redemptions, we can’t recommend enough the expert insights from Max Miles Points on YouTube.

What’s in Our Wallet: Our Favorite!

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Referral Link

Why We Love It: This card is a powerhouse for family travelers. Key features we use all the time include:

    • Cool Signup Bonus: It’s generous and very useful.
    • Travel Insurance: Lifesaver when unexpected illness strikes. It helped us get refunds from non-refundable bookings—like that time our Airbnb stay was fully reimbursed.
    • Triple Points on Dining: All our eating out expenses go here.
    • $50 Hotel Credit & 10% Annual Points Bonus: Sweetens our travel deals.
    • Unique Transfer Partners: Especially Hyatt for high-value redemptions—we’ve enjoyed stunning stays in Maui and booked upcoming nights in Calgary.
    • Extended Warranty Protection: Even covered our kitchen appliance just after the warranty expired!

What’s in Our Wallet: Big Boys!

Capital One Venture X: Referral Link

Why It’s a No-Brainer:

    • $395 Annual Fee nets out with a $300 Travel Credit and 10k bonus points each year—essentially paying you $5 to own it.
    • Lounge Access: Priority Pass and burgeoning Capital One Lounges make airport waits pleasurable.
    • Strong Rental Car Perks: Complimentary Hertz President’s Circle status often beats other rental deals.
    • Travel Insurance & Handy Travel Portal: They even credited us the difference when flight prices dropped.
    • 2x on Everything: Perfect for daycare expenses and more.

American Express Platinum: Referral Link

For High Rollers:

    • $695 Annual Fee but packed with perks:
    • $200 Airline and $200 Hotel Credits, plus access to exclusive FHR/Hotel Collection benefits.
    • Lounge Access Galore: Amex Centurion and Priority Pass.
    • Clear Credit: Bypasses long security lines—a true time-saver.
    • $200 Uber and $100 Saks Credits: Nicely offsets some everyday expenses.
    • $240 Digital and Walmart Plus Subscriptions: Great for family entertainment and fast deliveries on the go.

What’s in Our Wallet: Our Go-To Hotel Credit Cards

Chase IHG Premier Credit Card: Referral Link

  • Perks that Pay Off:
    • Annual Fee: $99, easily offset by the free night certificate worth 40K points. We recently redeemed our certificate at the Kimpton Hotel in downtown Washington DC, where a single night would have cost us $345.
    • Sign-Up Bonus: Offers vary from 140K-175K points or 4 Free 40K Nights, which is a massive value right out of the gate. We recently put 120K of our bonus points to great use for a 4-night stay at the Holiday Inn on the Big Island. The cash equivalent for this stay would have been $1600. 
    • Extra Benefits: $50 of United TravelBank cash each year and a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
    • Sweet Stay Bonus: When booking four nights, the fourth night is free—a perk we used for a great stay on the Big Island at a Holiday Inn.

Chase Marriott Bonvoy: Referral Link

  • Why It’s Worth It:
    • Annual Fee: $95, which is quickly recouped with the annual free night award worth up to 35K points.
    • Sign-Up Bonus: Ranges from 3-5 Free Night Awards, amassing a total of 150-250K points depending on the offer. We redeemed two free night awards at the Waikoloa Marriott Resort on Big Island, a location where the stay would have normally cost us $1200.
    • Redemption Perks: Redeem points for five nights and snag the fifth night free. We used two free nights in Hawaii, unlocking about $1500 in value from just those stays.

*These cards not only reduce our travel costs but also enhance our experiences with upgrades and bonuses, making every trip a little more luxurious. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a lengthy escape, these cards ensure we’re staying in style without breaking the bank.

Why Explore With Us?​

At thewanderingfam.com, we believe that travel is more than just visiting new places; it’s about creating lifelong memories with your loved ones. With detailed guides to family favorites like Disney World, Universal Studios, as well as breathtaking locations such as Hawaii and Alaska, and expansive National Parks, we equip you with all the information you need for a hassle-free adventure.

We understand the challenges of traveling with family, which is why we offer insightful tips and strategies to make your journeys smooth and enjoyable. From maximizing credit card rewards to optimizing travel itineraries, our tips are tailored to enhance your travel experience.

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