Top 5 Travel Rewards Programs

At least once a week I’m asked what’s the best credit card to get for the points? or How do I travel for free?   I’ve compiled the  top 4  “goto” cards that I personally either still use or have used in the past.  I must start with this caveat…  ALL travel rewards cards are based on credit, which means you MUST have reasonably good credit to get them.  If at first you get rejected don’t feel defeated… work on building your credit, making your payments on time and keeping your debt to income ratio low.  Last but certainly NOT least… all is not lost you can sign up for each airlines loyalty program without having the credit card and each time you fly you’ll start to collect mileage points.


  • Hawaiian Airlines:  HAWAII anyone?  As a whole.. my recent experience with H.A. was less than what I wanted it to be but lets stay focused.  The end game is to go to HAWAII for the cheap/low.  With that being said..  This card is ideal.  When you spend $1000 within 3 months you’ll get 35k miles and a …. wait for it….  50% off companion fare coupon.  Why do you care?   This makes for a great almost FREE vacay for you and a mate.   THE CATCH:  I discovered through my intensive research that mileage points are really only available when you book flights that originate in either LAS(LasVegas) or LAX(Los Angeles).   Ex.  I looked just yesterday..  for 25-30k miles roundtrip in July/August from LAS you can fly to MAUI (OGG).  That same flight runs $750 roundtrip.  With the companion promotion that means 2 people can go to Maui for $350.     So you don’t live in Vegas or LA.  Here’s how you work that… with your Delta/American miles book a flight using cash and points or just points.  From my home state for example the r/t to LAS was roughly $350 ( not bad.. but I’m going for the CHEAPO route)..  So the best thing to do is use my sky miles and pay.  That scenario looked like so..  ( for $190 and 15k points)  I can travel from my home city to Vegas ( why not have fun and make it a 2fer).  You know how I love those types of scenarios!  Spend a few days in Vegas then relax in Hawaii.   So for $600 you and a mate can fly roundtrip to HAWAII ( YOU CAN’T BEAT THAT WITH A STICK)..    BUT WAIT…. ( I feel like I’m doing an infomercial…  if the mate applies as well.. that makes it $380 r/t for 2 ppl.  See how this works?   … moving on.


  • Starwood/Marriott: Since the merger of Marriott and Starwood(spg) the gauntlet is OPEN.  You now have access to high end brands like my fave St. Regis and all the boutique Collection of hotels.   This deal.. although requiring a higher spend of $3k in 90 days gives you 25k points.   What I like about this is that with SPG you can use points and pay or just points.   So while the stay may not be 100% free it’s heavily discounted so you can spend your real money on excursions and eating.  Also note there are NO foreign transaction fees.. which is huge.


  • Delta: Good ‘ol faithful..  While Delta is not a major hub in my city… I still benefit from the miles.  Ex.  if I want to do a one way and pay the other leg to places like Chicago/NYC or LAX  these points are very useful.  Here lately Delta has been sporadically running sky mile promotions at reduced mileage.  When you see that jump on it.  This helps when it comes to maximizing a GREAT FARE SALE.   Most of which seem to originate either on the West Coast of Nyc/Boston/DC.    With only a $1000 spend in 90 days and $95 annual fee..  This card makes sense.   PROTIP:  If you bank with Suntrust you can also accumulate miles using their co-branded card with Delta that’s NOT a credit card.  Earn points on your everyday purchases and usage. 


  • Lastly…  American Airlines ... personally myself and husband have this card.  It just works!  This is the ultimate deal.. 50k miles which is HUGE and pretty much the highest offer or miles any carrier will provide with a $3k spend over 90 days.   I don’t know about you but I at least have $1k worth of bills each month so you easily reach the $3k spend if you take a step back and just breathe.


  • Hilton Honors … Similar to other hotel rewards cards what I love the most about Hilton Honors is their  POINTS and PAY feature.  This feature works in cases where you may not have enough points for a FREE night stay but want to get your stay of choice at a deeper discount by using a combination of points and cash.   ProTip:  If you ever get a chance to stay at the Waldorf Astoria you’ll be spoiled for life and will never want to stay anywhere else!

PROTIP: The best time to apply for Airline Cards is while in the air.  I’ve found that when in flight they offer higher points versus what you’d get online, so listen to the announcement and grab an app from the flight attendent. 

I hope you see that by playing the credit card shuffle you can at minimum get a really nice vacation at least once a year and go somewhere fabulous!   As I see great fare per usual, I’ll continue to post them.  Make sure you subscribe and follow on Social media and Youtube. IG: @randmlyrasheeda  HAPPY HUNTING for the ultimate vacay!!

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