Why now is a great time to get a new travel credit card

Dec 24, 2019

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This is the time of year for shopping for holiday gifts and traveling to visit (or escape) family members. But it’s also a great time to shop for a new travel rewards credit card to capitalize on credit card welcome offers that will boost your 2020 travel plans.

When you apply for a new travel credit card, you typically have three months to hit the spending requirement in order to earn the welcome bonus. There are a few exceptions: Some cards with larger spend requirements may extend the time frame to four months and some with smaller requirements may shorten it to two months. But three months is standard across the vast majority of cards.

If you’re planning summer travel in 2020, applying for a new credit card in June or July is too late. Most people book travel at least three to four weeks before departure, so you’ll want to have those points or miles in your account well in advance of your trip.

You could score a free trip to Hawaii when you take advantage of Brex
Apply for a new travel card now so you can have the points from its welcome bonus before summer 2020. (M.M. Sweet / Getty Images)

If you apply for a new card early in the year, you’ll have time to earn the welcome bonus and wait for the points or miles to deposit before booking your summer vacations.

Related: How fast each bank issues points and miles to your account 

If you’re in the market for certain cobranded cards, there is even more reason to apply at the beginning of the year. Many cobranded hotel and airline cards offer certain perks during a calendar year after hitting certain spending thresholds. By applying now, you’re giving yourself more time to hit those thresholds.

For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, with its $450 annual fee (see rates and fees), offers an additional weekend night reward after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year. If you waited until summer or fall to apply for the card, you’d have less than six months to spend $60,000 in order to get that second weekend night. Getting the card in January gives you the full year to earn the perk.

Let’s take a look at a few of the cards you should consider getting early in the year rather than waiting.

Hilton Amex Cards

All of Hilton’s cobranded credit cards with Amex offer additional perks when you hit certain spending requirements within a calendar year, whether it’s a free weekend night or an increased level of status.

There is a Hilton card for almost any kind of traveler. Beginners and casual travelers can utilize the no-fee Hilton Honors Card from American Express (see rates and fees). The mid-tier Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with a modest $95 annual fee (see rates and fees), automatic Gold status and a TPG-exclusive limited-time welcome bonus of 150,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months and a $100 statement credit after making your first purchase within the first three months. (Offer ends Dec. 31, 2019. Terms apply.) Business owners have a similar option with the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.

Frequent travelers who always stay with Hilton can get a lot of value out of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.

Related: How to choose the best Hilton credit card for you 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

The CSP has a current 60,000-point bonus (after you spend $4,000 in the first three months) that is the perfect jump-start to any planning for a 2020 trip on points. The annual fee is a do-able $95 and you’ll earn 2x on all dining and travel purchases. Plus, this card gives you access to the valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards program, where you can transfer your points to a number of travel partners or redeem your points for 1.25 cents each through the Chase travel portal.

In fact, I used the previous 50,000-point bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred to take my very first points trip to Croatia this past summer. Imagine where you could go in 2020 with the current bonus.

Bottom line

It’s time to start planning for the new year’s travels. By applying for a travel credit card now, you’re setting yourself up for some amazing redemption opportunities for the summer (and even fall and winter) of 2020.

Featured image courtesy of Jessica Ngan.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Surpass Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Business Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Amex, click here.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

This card offers 125,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Terms apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Good, Excellent
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

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