When sitting down with my wife's uncle recently, he complained that his travel rewards points from two of the biggest credit card companies were too hard to use. He could never decide between booking through the travel portals, transferring to partners, and the seeming myriad of additional redemption options.
He's far from alone in complaining about how complicated credit card rewards points can be to use. If you log into the redemption sections at some credit card websites, it's easy to see why.
Credit card companies secretly hope you never use those points, so making it confusing and offering a plethora of low-value redemptions isn't a big surprise. But if you have the right card, or know how to quickly navigate the websites, you should have a much easier time turning your points into flights, hotel stays, and other travel rewards.
6 of the best cards for easy redemptions
The Capital One Venture card is the best credit card for people who want an easy time redeeming rewards. After building up a balance with a flat rate 2x Miles per dollar on every purchase, you can use the Purchase Eraser to wipe recent travel purchases from your statement. Each mile is worth one cent.
Venture Miles can also be transferred to travel partners, which might give you more value. But if you want the easiest redemption around, you can use your card for any regular travel purchase and redeem points to erase the cost from your balance.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards give you bonuses for travel and dining purchases and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. The best value for these points usually comes from transferring them to travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. But if you find that intimidating, you can always take the easy route of redeeming for travel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
If you find booking travel on Expedia easy, you should find using your Chase points easy, too. Just log in to your Chase account, click on Ultimate Rewards, and choose on the option to redeem points for travel.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each toward travel in the Chase portal. With the Sapphire Reserve, points are worth 1.5 cents each. That is usually a decent deal for using your points.
The American Express® Green Card, American Express® Gold Card, and Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express offers multiple cards that give you Membership Rewards points with each purchase. I use the American Express Gold card myself for restaurant and grocery purchases. The recently updated American Express Green card and premium American Express Platinum card give you the same points and redemption options.
Like Chase, you can log in and use points for many types of travel. American Express has its own travel agency to use your points. Points are worth one cent each for flights and 0.7 cents for most other travel.
This isn't an amazing value. I recently got more than 6 cents per point transferring points to Avianca LifeMiles and using them to book United Airlines flights. But that was pretty complicated. If you're OK with one cent per point, you can go the easy route and book flights on Amex Travel.
Don't let your travel rewards points get stale
Points tend to become worth a little less over time. If you wait and keep big balances too long, you could lose out on free and discounted travel due to mile and point inflation. Don't let points get stale or sit for too long. If you love to travel, use your miles and points to pay for it! With any of these cards, that dream trip could be just a few clicks away.