These 2 Credit Cards Want to Give You $2,000 to Spend on Travel

by Elizabeth Aldrich | Oct. 21, 2020

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A woman sitting in a sunny plaza next to her suitcase while she looks something up on her tablet and holds her credit card.

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Earning 180,000 credit card points has never been easier.

Between quarantines and heavy travel restrictions, 2020 has given many of us a severe case of cabin fever. Travel will be possible again, though unfortunately it might seem out of reach in terms of budget -- especially if you're one of many who lost income this year.

The good news is you could earn up to 180,000 credit card points, worth at least $2,000 in travel spending, with just two travel credit cards. Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card are currently offering limited-time sign-up bonuses that are bigger than ever before.

The bonus offers

Each of these credit cards has a limited-time welcome bonus on offer that's worth at least $1,000 in travel spending.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is offering 80,000 points if you can spend $4,000 in the first three months, up from its usual 50,000-point bonus. As a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card holder, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points through Chase's travel portal for flights, hotel stays, rental cars, cruises, and tours at a rate of $.0125 per point, making this bonus worth $1,000. You can also transfer your points to a long list of airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 rate, and these high-value redemptions can help you get even more than $1,000 out of your sign-up bonus.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is currently offering its highest sign-up bonus ever, with the chance to earn a total of 100,000 bonus miles. You'll earn the first 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months, and the second 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $20,000 total in the first 12 months. Venture® miles are easy to redeem for travel because you can use them to "erase" any travel purchase you made in the last 90 days at a rate of $0.01 per point. This makes 100,000 Venture® miles worth $1,000.

There's no published deadline for these limited-time offers, but some clues have suggested the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offer will expire in early November. If you think you can put either of these bonuses to good use, act fast.

How to qualify for the cards and earn both welcome bonuses

It's important to make sure you have a good shot at qualifying for these cards before applying. Good credit -- that is, a FICO® Score of at least 670 -- will give you good odds at qualifying for most travel credit cards, although a score above 700 is ideal.

Submitting lots of credit card applications in a short period of time can damage your credit score, and some credit card issuers won't approve you if you've applied for too many credit cards recently. However, assuming you haven't been sending out multiple credit card applications in the past few months, you can apply for two cards at once. A couple new inquiries might cause a small, temporary dip in your credit score, but it'll start to recover within a few months.

Once you're approved, the trick is to make sure you can spend enough to earn the sign-up bonuses. Going for one or the other might not be hard, depending on your spending patterns, but doing both at the same time can be more challenging.

It's important not to overspend simply to hit your minimum spend requirement. Instead, plan your credit card applications around times when you plan to spend more or make a big purchase -- like right before the holidays, for example. You can also put most of your bills on your credit card until you reach the minimum spend requirement, and ask friends and family if you can pay the tab on large meals or group purchases and have them pay you back their portion.

Making the most of your credit card points during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you still aren't comfortable traveling due to the pandemic, you might wonder what good a bunch of credit card points will do you. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to redeem both Ultimate Rewards points and Venture® miles without sacrificing social distancing, including saving money on groceries and food delivery.

Venture® miles are extremely easy to redeem, because they can be used to "erase" travel purchases on your credit card statement, and this covers a lot. In addition to common travel purchases like flights and hotels, everything from Uber rides, trains, and tolls to Airbnb stays can be erased with miles. Plus, Capital One is temporarily allowing cardholders to use their Venture® miles to erase takeout, delivery, and streaming service purchases until the end of 2020.

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card doesn't allow you to simply "erase" travel purchases, their travel portal has pretty extensive offerings and includes private rental homes as well as activities and tours that can be socially distant. Chase also introduced a new way to redeem Ultimate Rewards points in light of COVID-19: Through April 2021, cardholders can use their points to "erase" grocery store purchases, home improvement, dining, and DoorDash delivery purchases at a rate of $0.0125 per point. This casts a wide net, so it shouldn't be difficult for just about anyone to find ways to redeem 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points at a good value.

Are the annual fees worth it?

Keep in mind that both of these credit cards come with a $95 annual fee. While this fee is more than offset during the first year if you can earn the sign-up bonus, it's worth considering each card's rewards and benefits to determine whether it can offer you lasting value.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you'll earn double on all travel and dining purchases, and you'll also get some of the best travel insurance protections in the credit card game. This includes primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and baggage delay insurance.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns double on all purchases all the time, although the points you earn are arguably worth slightly less than what you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You'll also get some limited travel protections.

Both cards do offer the option to downgrade to a no-annual-fee version. This can be helpful if you realize you're not using the card enough to justify its annual fee but don't want to close your account. That being said, downgrading a card can cause you to lose your rewards. With some issuers, downgrading within the first year can also mean losing any bonuses you've earned.

If spending most of the year at home has you dreaming about getting away, start planning your next vacation now by earning credit card points to pay for it.

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