Travel Credit Cards

Q. Can I earn credit card points for paying my maintenance fees?

There are many different rewards credit cards out there, but which ones get you the most points for paying your maintenance fees? The credit card reward game can be tricky and seem overwhelming.  For that reason, we are only going to recommend the cards we feel will give you the best value, and we will try to keep it short.  

Before I do, I would just like to mention a few things.  First, if you have a card with one of these companies already, call them to see if you can upgrade your card to one of these. Chase, for example, will allow you to upgrade a Freedom card to the Chase Sapphire card.  The upgrade will not hit your credit, so you won’t have to worry about dinging your credit score.  You will, unfortunately lose out on any sign-up bonuses if you choose to upgrade instead of applying for a new card.  Finally, pay these cards off every month.  The interest rates on rewards cards are always high.  These specific cards are no exception.  That $300 flight could cost you $800 in interest if you don’t pay off the card.  So please make it a point to pay off the card every month.  

Chase Sapphire – There are two versions of the Chase Sapphire card.  Preferred and Reserve.  Chase will only allow you to have one or the other.  One way around this is for one partner to have the Preferred card and the other partner to have the Reserve card.  Your maintenance fee payments count as travel.  So, depending on which card you get, you can double or triple the points you earn on your maintenance fees.  You can use those points on the Chase travel portal to book hotels, flights, cruises, and rental cars.  Unlike the hotel or airline rewards card, you’re not limited to one specific travel provider.  Plus, you will get a points boost up in value when you book your travel through the Chase portal.  Preferred members get a 25% boost and Reserve a 50% boost.  So that 15,000-point car rental would cost a Reserve member 10,000 points.  That allows you to stretch those points even further.  I like this card the most for travel because you’re not limited to one travel provider, you earn more on your maintenance fee payments, and you get a points boost that allows you to stretch your points.  The downside to the Reserve card is the annual fee.  The reserve card is a $550 annual fee.  However, benefits like the $300 travel credit (which could go towards your maintenance fees), TSA precheck or Global Entry credit, priority pass, etc make up for that hefty fee.  The preferred card annual fee is $95.  These points are transferable to other loyalty programs like Southwest Rapid Rewards, United Mileage Plus, Jet Blue TrueBlue, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, etc.  In most cases, it’s a 1 to 1 transfer.

PreferredReserve
$50 Annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit$300 Annual Travel Credit
2x points on travel and 3x points dining3x points on travel and dining
3x points on online grocery purchases10x points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase
3x points on select streaming servicesPriority Pass™ Lounge Select membership
25% point boost on Chase Travel Portal50% point boost on Chase Travel Portal
10% anniversary points boostGlobal Entry or TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS Fee Credit
Annual Fee: $95Annual Fee: $550

Pro tip: Chase also has a shopping portal where you can earn additional points on purchases.  You access it by signing into the Ultimate Rewards portal, and clicking “Earn Bonus points” link on the left.  Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, Best buy, and Kohls are examples of stores that earn points when you purchase.  You can get those points regardless of which payment method you use, but using your chase card means you get to double dip.  You get points from the credit card and points for using the shopping portal.  

Bonus pro tip: You only get those points if you order online.  Many stores, including the ones I listed, have in store pick up.  Choose in-store pick up if you need the items sooner, rather than later.  You will still get the points and you will get your items much faster.

Wyndham Rewards Earner card – The Wyndham Rewards Earner card is an option for those that want a card more closely linked to your Club Wyndham timeshare. Like the Chase Sapphire card, you get extra points for paying your maintenance fees. On the Wyndham Earner card, you get 2 points per $1 spent on your maintenance fees. The Earner+ card will get you 4 points per $1 spent on maintenance fees. The Earner card has no annual fee.  The Earner+ card has a $75 annual fee.  You can use these points to get a credit towards your maintenance fees.  10,000 points will get you $50 in maintenance fees. This is not a good return.  You would get a better return by using your points for hotel stays. For example, an owner reported booking a hotel within walking distance of a baseball stadium in Atlanta, in May for 15,000 points.  Since the hotel was within walking distance, they didn’t have the expense of paying $20-$40 for parking at the stadium. When you factor in the parking costs, and the hotel stay itself, they saved roughly $250.  A much better return then $50 in maintenance fees.  

They do also offer a shopping portal and bonus point specials as a way to earn more points, just like their competitors.  The downside to this card is you are limited to Wyndham hotels.   If you are not a fan of Wyndham hotels, or there are not a lot of options where you want to go, I would recommend using a card the like Chase Sapphire to give you more hotel booking options.  If you do not want a card with an annual fee, but still want to earn extra points for your maintenance fees, the Earner card would be a good option.

Earner CardEarner+ card
5X POINTS on Hotels by Wyndham and gas6X POINTS on Hotels by Wyndham and gas
2X POINTS on dining and at grocery stores4X POINTS on dining and at grocery stores
2X POINTS on maintenance fee payments4X POINTS on maintenance fee payments
1X POINTS on all other purchases1X POINTS on all other purchases
$0 annual fee$75 annual fee

Bonus cards:

These cards don’t get you extra points for maintenance fee payments, but they are good cards to have for travel.

Chase freedom unlimited– This card gets 1.5 points per $1 on everyday purchased. They also have monthly categories where you get more points. This card pairs best with the Chase Sapphire card because you can earn 1.5 points per dollar on the Freedom card and then move those points to the Chase Sapphire side to use in the travel portal or to transfer to a loyalty partner.

Southwest Rapid Rewards card:  Southwest has one of the easiest to use loyalty programs. The no baggage fees on your first two bags, companion pass, and no blackout dates, make this one of the more popular loyalty programs. With this card, you get anniversary points every year that you can use for booking flights. They also count towards a companion pass. You get 1,500 A list Tier qualifying points for every $10,000 you spend. Depending on which card you get, you can get two free early birds, or 4 free seat upgrades every year. The higher tier card has a $75 annual Southwest travel credit. Annual fee ranges from $69 to $149. You can only have one personal card, but you can also have two business cards. The Families Fly Free program has a wealth of knowledge on how to earn the companion pass fast and book free flights.

Note: The links in may earn us referral bonuses.  This in no way affects our opinion of these cards. 

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