Earn free travel with these cash back credit cards


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When you think of free travel, there’s a good chance you’ll immediately focus on credit cards specific to travel rewards. And while it’s a great strategy for the most part, you may actually be surprised to hear this little secret: Credit cards with cash refunds can also bring you free travel.

But you need to be strategic about what cash back credit cards you are considering. By pairing credit cards, you can actually turn your cash back into mileage points and travel rewards to book your next vacation even faster.

In general, there are two types of cash back credit cards: those that earn only cash back, and those that can earn rewards that are part of a larger travel rewards program. In order to maximize your free travel, we will focus on the latter to show you how cards that are sold as cash back can actually land a ticket or hotel room for almost nothing.

Here are the best cash back credit cards that can change your travel rewards.

The Chase Freedom Flex is a great cash back credit card where you get 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories (up to $ 1,500 on combined purchases). If you can maximize the quarterly bonuses, it will earn you another $ 75 per quarter.

However, instead of a refund, you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you have a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred® card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can transfer points from one account to another. The same maximum of $ 75 that you can earn cash back each quarter is equal to 7,500 points when you choose to use them to travel.

The advantage of using points earned from your Chase Freedom Flex The direction to travel is that you have more versatility. It opens the door for you to claim your travel rewards – either by transfer to many partner airlines and hotels, or by paying directly through the Chase travel portal (where you get a 25% bonus on your points if you have Preferred Sapphire or 50% bonus if you have Sapphire Reserve).

Frequent flyer page The Points Guy Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents apiece when you transfer them to affiliate loyalty programs, which means you get twice the value of the cash you would receive.

For example, if you maximize your rotating quarterly bonus on Chase Freedom Flex card, you earn a total of 30,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points during the calendar year, as opposed to earning $ 300 in cash back. You can then transfer the Ultimate Rewards points to a one-to-one affiliate program such as World of Hyatt, United, JetBlue or British Airways. For example, by transferring these points to Hyatt, you can get two free nights in San Diego, where summer prices are slightly in excess of $ 300 per night. Or if you’re looking for something more exotic, you can use those 30,000 points for a night in the Maldives for free.

Transferring points between accounts is also incredibly easy. From final rewards point combining page, you can choose your cash back card in the first column and then your first class credit card with Ultimate Rewards earnings from the second. Then you can decide exactly how many points you want to move from one account to another. Best of all, point transfers are instantaneous.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to worry about rotating quarterly bonuses, you may want to consider instead Chase Freedom Unlimited map. The card works in a similar way to Chase Freedom Flex where the cash earned is actually in the form of Chase Ultimate Reward points, but the scoring structure is significantly different – and simpler.

With this card you get 1.5% cash back on most purchases. Like the Chase Freedom FlexYou will also receive 5% cash back for travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% cash back for drugstore and restaurant meals, including takeaway and authorized delivery services.

Let’s say you spend $ 3,000 a quarter, but on purchases that don’t fall into any of the bonus categories. You will then receive 1.5% cash back, which can be 4,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per quarter or 18,000 points during the calendar year. You can then transfer these points to United, for example, on a one-to-one basis. With many short-haul flights to United that cost only 5,000 miles one way, it’s easy to get three one-way flights for points from this card alone.

Now, to really maximize your points, you may want to consider both Chase Freedom Flex a Chase Freedom Unlimited along with Preferred Chase Sapphire for maximum Chase trifecta. This will allow you to use the card that earns you the most points for each of your purchases, which will ultimately help you increase your Ultimate Rewards account.


At CNN Underscored, we selected Other Double Cash Card as our best total cash back credit card. But did you know that the points earned on your card can give you more rewards than just a refund? With this card, you get 2% cash back on every purchase you make – 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay a statement – all without an annual fee.

From March 28, 2022 it will Other Double Cash Card now gets the cash back in the form of thank you points, which were usually reserved for premium cards like this Other Premier. Although this new earning option with the Citi Double Cash Card allows you to transfer your points to several selected affiliate programs, the transfer rate is less favorable. If you want to maximize your points and open the door to all affiliate programs, you will still need a premium Citi ThankYou card, such as Prime Minister.

Assuming you spend $ 12,000 a year, you will receive 24,000 Citi ThankYou Rewards if you spend exclusively on Other Double Cash Card. If you are looking for an easy-to-use domestic travel program, you can transfer these points to JetBlue. WITH TrueBlue program from JetBlueThe points are worth about 1.3 cents apiece, giving you about $ 312 for JetBlue flights.

The Citi Custom Cash Card is another Citi credit card that makes money back, but in the form of thank you points, so the rewards can be used for free travel.

With this card you get 5% cash back – or 5 times the points if ThankYou points are used to travel – in one eligible category you spend the most each month, up to $ 500 for purchases (then 1% cash back) . Eligible categories include current household expenses such as gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, selected travel, public transportation options, selected streaming services, drugstores, home remodeling, fitness clubs, and live entertainment.

To maximize your earnings on this card, the best practice is to dedicate your spend each month to a single category – a category that doesn’t fall into the bonus category on any other credit card you own – to maximize the full $ 500. This will then allow you to earn up to $ 25 cash back per month, which equals $ 300 cash back during the year or 30,000 points Thank you.

With 30,000 points you can transfer them to Wyndham Rewards, for example, to book a hotel reservation. With a fixed Wyndham award table, 30,000 points will earn you two nights in many properties around the world. Or you can use your points to book a two-night stay in a one-bedroom apartment through Wyndham’s Vacasa Rental Management. Based on personal experience, this can easily save you $ 1,000 by renting a house for two nights.

As with the Chase Ultimate Rewards, one of the best ways to fully maximize your Citi ThankYou points is to have multiple Citi credit cards in your wallet. Colloquially known as the Citi Quartet, it allows you to earn the most points each time you credit your credit card.

Capital One Credit Card SavorOne Rewards

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Like Chase and Citi, Capital One is another program in which you can make money back, but instead use rewards for free travel. The Capital One SavorOne Rewards credit card is an excellent credit card with a refund of 3% cash back for meals, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores – without restrictions.

With the rewards earned for it card without annual feeyou can transfer them one-on-one to Capital One Venture, Capital One VentureOne or Capital One Venture X cards. These are premium cards within the Capital One portfolio that allow you to pass miles to affiliate travel programs.

WITH Capital One mile worth 1.85 cents apiece, according to frequent flyers on The Points Guy website, this means that your purchases in the 3% bonus categories will bring you more than a 5% return on travel. One simple and enriching way to take advantage of free travel is to transfer your Capital One miles to British Airways Avios, where your miles can then be used on partner American Airlines.

To convert your money back into Capital One miles, you’ll need to go to the “Share My Rewards” feature on the “Rewards” tab on Capital One.

Should you turn your money back into travel rewards?

The short answer is yes if you plan to travel in the future. If you are looking for the best way to maximize your credit card rewards, there is a good chance that turning your money back into travel rewards will meet these goals. And since these programs have a wide range of air and hotel transfer partners, you have endless opportunities for your next vacation. Of course, in some cases, this requires that you have more than one credit card in your wallet, but if you think strategically about the card you use with each purchase, you will soon be on the road around the world. .

Looking for a new credit card but no cash back? See the CNN Underscored list best credit cards of 2022.

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