Credit Cards

Maximize Credit Rewards, Score a Free Honeymoon

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My friend Marissa is the queen of credit card points, so much so that she managed to score a free roundtrip ticket to Athens, Greece for her honeymoon a few years ago…and continues to maximize her credit card rewards for travel freebies. Here’s how she did it the first time around:

  • About a year and half before her April 2008 wedding, Marissa began paying for her wedding expenses–along with other day-to-day purchases–using her Blue Card from American Express. In general, the card rewards users with one point for every dollar they spend.
  • A little less than a year before her wedding, she and her fiance James decided to book their honeymoon trip to Greece. American Express stated it would cost approximately 99,308 points to book one round-trip airline ticket to Greece. Marissa wasn’t quite there yet, but she was able to borrow the remaining five thousand or so extra points she needed from AmEx. Points accumulated on her card in the future went towards the balance.
  • What about James? Don’t worry. He didn’t fly solo. He used his US Airways miles to book a free seat next to his bride-to-be.

Marissa’s points spree didn’t stop there. She continued to rack up AmEx points and paid for a free flight to Italy the following year. And most recently she got a new camcorder using 20,000 points–to record all the magic of their new baby girl, Brooke.

Of course, the trick to maximizing any reward card is to pay off your balance each and every month in full so you never face any interest charges. If you’re interested in following in Marissa’s footsteps and curious which specific cards offer great rewards for travel, here are two of great cards that offer unrestricted points towards any airline:

Miles by Discover

  • Up to 12,000 Bonus Miles on your first year
  • Double Miles on up to $3,000 in travel and restaurant purchases each year
  • 1 Mile for every $1 on all your other purchases
  • Redeem Miles for travel credits, gift cards, or cash
  • Book travel through every airline, travel agent or online travel site
  • No annual fee

Capital One® Venture Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent
  • Spend points on any airline, no black out dates, no expiration, no limits
  • Annual Fee is $59 but it’s free the first year. During the second year you’ll need to spend at least $3,000 to break even.
  • Rewards can be redeemed for any travel related expense, such as airline, hotel, cruise line and rental car transactions
  • $15,000 in spending earns you 30,000 points/miles which can buy a $300 ticket on any airline.

The Venture Rewards card was also featured in Credit.com’s “Best Credit Cards in America: Best Cash Back and Travel Rewards” by Credit Card Expert, Beverly Harzog. So, if travel rewards aren’t your cup of tea, and cash back rewards are more up your alley, check out Beverly’s top picks for the best cash back credit cards.

Image: Georgios Michalogiorgakis, via Flickr

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