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Consult with Cards: Solo travel to Peru, Australia and beyond

Sept. 08, 2021
7 min read
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Editor’s note: Consult with Cards is a weekly series where the TPG cards team helps our readers decide what their next card should be. If you would like to be a part of this series and receive a personalized consultation, email us.


The pandemic has upended many of our plans to travel far and wide. To make up for lost time, TPG reader Theresa Thimmick is already setting her sights high with ambitions to travel solo to Peru and Europe in the next year and Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

In this week's Consult with Cards story, we help Theresa strategize a way to visit these new destinations by racking up the right credit card rewards.

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About Theresa

Theresa is 56 years old and lives in Tampa, Fla. She currently works full-time and has an excellent credit score above 800.

Aerial view of downtown Tampa and its surroundings. (Photo by CHBD/Getty Images)

She has started to dabble into the world of credit cards and points and miles and is eagerly on the hunt for killer deals. With two international and several domestic trips per year, there are many opportunities to maximize her travel spend and rack up enough miles for her future award bookings.

Travel style and aspirations

On Theresa's current travels, she tends to fly budget carriers to outsize her travel dollars, though she's looking to fly business class for long-haul and red-eye flights. As a solo traveler, she has a bit more flexibility since she only has to find award availability for one.

Breeze Airways is the newest budget carrier servicing Tampa International Airport. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In order for Theresa to fly business on her international trips, now is a great time to start strategizing and apply for cards now that will help her achieve these redemptions later.

Current credit cards

Theresa has already got some great cards in her wallet, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Freedom Flex, American Express® Gold Card, World of Hyatt Credit Card and the Citi Rewards+® Card. Still, she has two open slots in her Chase 5/24 status, as she's opened these cards incrementally over the years.

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Likewise, she has a healthy points balance with top transferable rewards programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. In the next section, we'll discuss our thoughts and best recommendations.

Card recommendations for Theresa

Like many of us, Theresa is enticed by the many great introductory offers on the market, making it challenging to pick just one card to apply for. For instance, the welcome bonus on The Platinum Card® from American Express is 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership, worth $1,600 according to TPG's valuations. But Theresa doesn't know if she can justify the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), especially since many of the annual statement credits may not be useful to her — ahem, the Equinox credit or the (way too narrow) digital entertainment credit.

Switching gears, a card that Theresa has been considering is the Citi Premier® Card. With a welcome offer of 80,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, she'd be looking at $1,440 in value. Since Theresa already has a stash of Citi ThankYou points from her Citi Rewards+, she can combine her rewards for even greater redemption possibilities.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

When Australia opens, she could save up to fly business class on Qantas to Australia. Although we discourage speculative transfers (and hoarding your points and miles for this long), another option would be to use these Citi ThankYou points for a flight to Lima, Peru.

Business class in a Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Source: Qantas)

To double down on AAdvantage miles, another card worth opening would be the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. There's an annual fee of $99, but it's waived for the first 12 months. With a sign-up bonus of 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, that's worth $885, helping her book award travel on the Oneworld alliance.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Plus, when she flies American on domestic itineraries, she'll enjoy benefits such as a free checked bag and a $125 flight discount after spending $20,000 or more on the card during her membership year and when she renews the card.

Finally, another card that she could add to her wallet is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. With an unlimited 2x earning rate, this card is ideal for earning big on those non-bonus purchases. There's a sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening — worth $1,388 for travel.

Since Capital One added new transfer partners earlier this year, the value of this card has only increased. Plus, many overlap with other transferable programs (such as Air Canada Aeroplan and Avianca LifeMiles), with some other enticing options (Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles).

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

There are many sweet spots with the Turkish Miles & Smiles program; for under 34,000 miles, she could fly lie-flat on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, for instance.

(Photo by Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock)

Ultimately, Theresa already has some excellent credit cards in her portfolio. Rather than opening new credit cards, another option for Theresa would be to focus on consolidating her rewards so that she amasses enough points and miles within her favorite loyalty programs. Here at TPG, the name of the game is earn, burn, reevaluate and repeat.

Bottom line

When it comes to award travel, it's always a good idea to have a specific goal in mind. We recommend that Theresa focus on earning and burning her first international trip to Peru or Europe, slowly saving for Australia and New Zealand, and redeeming when the time is right.

Thanks for reaching out, Theresa! If you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a consultation of your own, feel free to email us for a chance to be featured in this weekly series.

Official application link: Citi Premier Card
Official application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023