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

Sep 8, 2021

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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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In This Post

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.

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 100,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of account opening, worth $2,000 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 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, she’d be looking at $1,020 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)
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 $700, helping her book award travel on the Oneworld alliance. The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

(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 photo by jimfeng/Getty Images

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.