[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Most travelers are happy to use their credit cards to receive points and miles that can be used for future award travel. But some business travelers would prefer to be compensated for their time away from home with cash back, rather than rewards that would only require further travel.
In addition, many business travelers purchase travel on their personal credit cards, and then submit receipts for reimbursement to their employer or their clients. And since it is very easy for business travelers to spend more than $2,000 a week on airline, hotel and rental car expenses, road warriors need to carefully consider the best strategy for earning the most rewards on these tens of thousands of dollars of charges each year.
The Basic Strategy
The simplest way to earn cash back from travel expenditures is to use a cash-back rewards card. For example, the Capital One Cash card earns 1% back on all purchases, plus an additional 0.5% at the end of each year of card membership.
Yet even higher rewards can be earned from bank rewards programs. The Barclaycard Arrival features double miles on each purchase, and their miles are worth one cent each as statement credits towards any travel purchase. Additionally, cardholders earn 10% miles back when they redeem for travel, which equates to a net return of 2.21% on all purchases.
The Intermediate Technique
A more advanced, and rewarding technique is to book through online travel agencies instead of directly with travel providers. And they key to earning even greater rewards is using a credit card’s rewards portal.
For instance, the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal currently features four extra bonus points for booking accommodations through Hotels.com, and two extra points for booking any flights, hotel stays, or car rentals through Hotwire or Travelocity. These Chase points are worth one cent each as statement credits, or more when used to purchase travel or transfer points to miles using an eligible card.
The Advanced Trick
Some of the popular online travel agencies offer their own rewards credit cards that deliver extra cash back when used to book travel at their respective sites. The best example is the Travelocity American Express card, which earns five Travelocity Rewards points per dollar spent at their site. Once cardholders spend $4,000 on travel, they will have earned 20,000 points that can be redeemed for a $400 statement credit. Therefore, these rewards equate to 10% of the traveler’s total spending on travel booked through Travelocity.
The Extreme Method
There are actually ways to combine the above reward strategies to increase travelers’ rates of return. For example, one could use a bank rewards credit card as well as a bonus from an online travel agency.
Take this scenario: A traveler could go through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal while also using the Travelocity American Express card, and collect rewards from both companies. In this way, travelers would earn 10% rewards from their Travelocity credit card while earning another two Ultimate Rewards points from Chase. And since Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth a minimum of one cent each, travelers would realize greater than 12% returns on their spending, even before considering the value of any frequent flier miles earned from the airlines.
Business travelers make significant personal sacrifices in order to fulfill their company’s mission. But by utilizing the best methods for earning credit card rewards, travelers can earn a fair amount of cash back to make up for some of the inconvenience.
Image: Paul Tearle