How to Use Your Credit Card to Get Amazing Deals on Summer Travel

If you love to travel and you aren’t already using travel rewards credit cards, summer 2024 is a great time to start. Chase Sapphire credit cards have a limited-time welcome offer where you can get 75,000 bonus points after meeting qualifying spending criteria.

The best travel credit cards help you earn reward points and frequent flyer miles that you can use to buy cheap airfare, hotel stays, and more. Let’s look at the nitty-gritty details of how to use these cards to actually get deals on summer travel.

First, rack up lots of credit card points

The first goal of using travel rewards credit cards is to earn reward points. You can do this with everyday spending, or even with a few big-ticket purchases — every time you swipe your credit card at a store or buy online, the credit card company gives you 1% (or more) of credit card points to reward you for using its credit card for that purchase.

The best way to quickly rack up lots of credit card points is with a one-time bonus from a welcome offer, when you sign up for a new card as a new customer. But you will typically have to spend a significant amount of money in the short term to qualify for that bonus.

For example, Chase Sapphire credit cards have a limited-time welcome offer of 75,000 bonus points, but you have to spend $4,000 on your newly opened card within the first 3 months. That’s about $1,333 per month — many people can probably spend that much just by switching some regular monthly bills to their newly opened Chase Sapphire card. Remember: you can often use a credit card to pay for monthly bills like car insurance, utilities, streaming subscriptions, home internet, and more.

Next, redeem your credit card points for travel

After you’ve started to use your travel rewards credit card and have started earning points, it’s time to think about how to spend those points. Spending points on travel or other reward items is known as redeeming points in the official industry lingo.

How many credit card points do you need to buy travel? It depends on where you want to go, and there’s no one right answer. Many credit card rewards programs will let you buy travel with points, with your card, or with both — this gives you flexibility for how and when to use your points.

The best travel credit cards give you extra value when you use your points to buy travel. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card makes your Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth 25% more when you redeem the points for travel with the Chase Travel portal. And the higher-end Chase Sapphire Reserve® makes your points worth 50% more for booking travel with Chase. (There’s a reason why so many travel rewards card customers are happy to pay an annual fee — ideally, you get a lot more value out of the card than you pay for the fee.)

For example, let’s say you’ve earned 10,000 points with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Those points are equal to $100 of cash back value, or 25% more if you use the points to book travel — so that means 10,000 points on this card are worth $125 for travel. You could use that amount of points toward booking a flight or hotel, or other travel purchases on the Chase Travel portal.

Advanced skills: Transfer your points to travel partners

Want to take your travel savings to the next level? Many of the best travel rewards credit cards will let you transfer your points to travel partners. These partners include a range of airline frequent flyer programs and hotel loyalty programs.

Transferring your points might sound complicated, but it’s actually really easy and works like magic: You get to change your credit card points into airline frequent flyer miles. And you often get a 1:1 conversion. So if you have 10,000 Chase points with a Chase Sapphire credit card, you can choose to move those points over to United MileagePlus® (or another Chase partner airline) and get 10,000 frequent flyer miles instead.

Transferring your points gives you more flexibility for how to save money on travel. If an airline is offering a flight for 20,000 miles, and your credit card travel portal is charging 30,000 points, you can move 20,000 credit card points to the airline’s frequent flyer program and save 10,000 points ($100 of cash back value).

Bottom line

Travel credit cards help you get better deals on summer travel, and all year. Start by earning points with your everyday spending and monthly bills. Then look for smart ways to redeem your points for travel — either through your credit card company’s travel platform, or by transferring points to participating airline and hotel programs when you can.

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