If you have a family, vacations are a great way to get away from the daily grind and make lasting memories. But when you are on a path to Financial Independence, your travel budget may be a little light while focusing on maximizing retirement accounts or paying off debt. That’s where travel rewards come into play.
Best Credit Cards For FamiliesThe average family isn't going to want to jump through hoops to earn or redeem travel rewards. The best credit cards for families have simple, straightforward plans. Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card will give you a lot of value without needing a complicated strategy.
Chase Sapphire Reserve–Premium Travel Card
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the most sought after travel rewards credit cards. It is one of the best credit cards for families because the points that it earns are incredibly value and flexible. Currently, it has a signup bonus of 50,000 after spending $4,000 within three months. You’ll also earn 3x points on travel and dining anywhere in the world, plus 1x points on everything else.
These bonus points are worth $750 when booking travel for your family through the Chase Travel Portal. Or you can transfer the points to ten airlines and three hotel partners to book travel using rewards.
While traveling, your family will have access to Priority Pass airport lounges. Plus, you'll be reimbursed up to $100 in Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees. Here's a full explanation of Global Entry's benefits.
For all of these benefits, there is a $550 annual fee. The net cost of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is $250 when factoring in the $300 annual travel credit. The travel credit can be used to pay for flights, hotel reservations, rental cars, and other travel expenses.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns 2x miles on every purchase you make. Families love this rewards card because you don’t have to remember bonus categories or some complicated earning scheme.
Miles earned can pay for your flights, hotels, car rentals, and more with no blackout dates to worry about. This comes in really handy when booking for peak travel periods like Spring Break, holidays, and summer vacation.
When you qualify for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you’ll receive a signup bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. This is worth $500 in travel. These points can “erase” your travel purchases. There is an annual fee of $95, but it is waived the first year.
Starting in December 2018, Capital One introduced the ability to transfer Venture Miles to airline partners. There are now 15 airline transfer partners to choose from. When booking premium class tickets through these transfers, you could find incredible value with your rewards.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card–Free Companion Flights
To me, Southwest is one of the most family-friendly airlines. They don’t charge bag fees and you can cancel or rebook flights without paying any fees. The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is my pick to earn Southwest points and benefits.
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, you’ll receive 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within three months. Those bonus points are worth over $500 in Wanna Get Away fares and they count towards earning the valuable Companion Pass benefit.
Additional benefits include 7,500 bonus points (~$107 value) every year you renew, four Priority Boarding passes, and 20% back on inflight purchases.
You’ll earn 2x points on Southwest flights and reservations with hotel and car rental partners. And there are no foreign transaction fees when making purchases outside the United States.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card does have an annual fee of $149, but the $75 annual travel credit cuts that fee in half.
Citi Double Cash Card–2% Cash Back On Everything
The Citi Double Cash Card earns 2% cashback on every purchase. You’ll receive 1% when making a purchase and another 1% on your payments. There is no limit to the cashback you can earn which comes in handy as you’re paying bills for the family, like daycare, car repairs, and utilities.
The Citi Double Cash Card does not charge an annual fee and your rewards can be redeemed as a statement credit, transferred to a Citi bank account, or received as a check through the mail.
As of September 2019, the Citi Double Cash Card became even more valuable. You can now exchange your cashback for Citi ThankYou Points. Those points can be used to book travel or you can transfer to any of Citi’s 15 travel partners for even more value.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card–4% Cash Back On Dining And Entertainment
If you're like most families, food, and entertainment make up a big portion of your spending. The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card was designed to reward people who eat out, have fun, and buy groceries. You'll earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining out and entertainment plus 2% cash back on groceries. All other purchases earn 1% cashback.
The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is offering a $300 signup bonus for new applicants that spending $3,000 within the first three months. Plus, you'll earn 8% cashback when buying event tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year, so this card is a no-brainer for families.
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard–Rounds Up Equal Easy Miles
For families looking to earn miles towards free flights, the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is one of my favorites. You'll earn 60,000 miles by simply making a purchase in the first 90 days of having the card and paying the $99 annual fee. That makes this one of the easiest welcome bonuses you'll ever earn.
For big spenders, you'll earn a Companion Certificate to fly a family member with you for $99 plus taxes each year that you spend $20,000 or more.
When flying with American Airlines, you and your family will enjoy several benefits. Your first checked bag is free and preferred boarding (for you and up to four companions), plus all inflight purchases of food and beverages are 25% off after statement credits. The best part, however, is the Flight Cents roundup feature.
On every purchase, your charges will be rounded up to the dollar to buy additional AAdvantage miles for only 0.5 cents each. Those miles add up quickly towards free flights.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card–Great For Small Business Owners
Many families own small businesses instead of working for someone else. Small business credit cards are a great way to turn business expenses into free trips for the family. One of my favorite small business credit cards is the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
It earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on many popular business expense categories, including travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone, and online advertising. Points are worth 1.25 cents each when booking flights, hotels, car rentals, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Right now new applicants can earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within the first three months. These points can be used to purchase $1,250 in travel or transferred to 13 airline and hotel transfer partners.
You can also choose to combine these points with those from the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for bigger redemptions. There is no charge for employee cards so you can accelerate how many points you can earn. Chase charges a $95 annual fee, but the benefits are worth it for many small business families.
The credit cards mentioned above have great perks and earn a lot of rewards. However, when you are booking travel for your spouse and children, earning enough airline miles and hotel points can be a challenge.
By getting your spouse involved in earning credit card rewards, you can accelerate your path to free flights and hotel stays. There are many ways your spouse can participate depending upon their level of interest.
Doubling Up On Bonuses
Banks are limiting how many signup bonuses each person may receive. With rules like Chase 5/24, even those with excellent credit scores can only get approved for so many credit cards.
The way to earn even more travel rewards is to have your spouse or significant other apply for their own credit cards. Just because you have a credit card, there is no rule prohibiting your spouse from getting the same credit card. Or your spouse can apply for credit cards that you’ve had difficulty getting approved for.
Some rewards programs will allow you to combine points, which makes it easier to book free travel for your family. Unfortunately, most airlines and hotels do not allow you to combine rewards without charging a fee. JetBlue is an exception to this rule because family members can combine points into one account.
Just remember that having your spouse apply for additional cards means that you may be paying twice as many credit card annual fees.
Making Spouse An Authorized User
Not all spouses are willing or able to get one of these best credit cards for families in their name. Maybe their credit isn't that good right now or they've recently been declined for a credit card. There are plenty of reasons why they feel that way and that’s ok. There are other ways where they can help.
Adding your spouse as an authorized user to your rewards credit cards is a great first step. When they are grocery shopping, paying bills, or handing other daily expenses, this is an opportunity for them to earn miles and points by using your credit cards.
As a side benefit, becoming an authorized user is a great way to help your spouse build their credit. Over time, their credit history will build and their credit scores will rise. When they are ready to apply for their own rewards credit cards, then they'll have a greater chance of being approved.
The Bottom Line
It is important that families travel together. However, when your eye is on the prize of financial independence, spending money on travel may not be a priority. It is possible to focus your cash on your FI goals, while still traveling the world, flying to see family and friends, or taking your family on fun getaways.
By putting all of your expenses on one or more of these best credit cards for families, you’ll earn valuable rewards that allow you to travel for free.
What is your family’s favorite credit card?
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