I travel for free around the world by outsmarting the credit card companies and the airlines. How do I do it? I focus on credit cards that offer reward points that can be transferred to miles with several different airlines.
But there’s a problem: Many of these reward cards charge a hefty annual fee, which some people don’t want to pay. The American Express EveryDay card is the only one offering points that can be exchanged for miles with no annual fee. It also has a big brother, the EveryDay Preferred, which offers even more points but does have an annual fee.
Let’s take a look and see how these cards can get you traveling for free…
The Amex EveryDay
You earn double points on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere.
You also receive a 20-percent points bonus during each statement when you make at least 20 transactions.
American Express Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, travel reservations, and a variety of other rewards. But if you want to get the most value from these points, and you love award travel, you’ll embrace the point transfer options. Works like this:
You can transfer your points to the frequent-flier programs of 17 different airlines, and most offer award flights on its partner airlines. For example, British Airways is partnered with American, US Airways, and Alaska. Furthermore, its distance-based award chart offers some amazing deals — such as flights under 650 miles for just 9,000 points round-trip, or flights from the west coast to Hawaii for just 25,000 miles.
Other airline-transfer partners including Delta, Hawaiian, Jetblue, Air Canada, and Virgin America.
The Amex EveryDay Preferred
Step up to the “Preferred” version of this card and the bonus points can just flow in: Triple points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent each year, double points on gas, and one point per dollar on all other transactions.
Better yet, use your card at least 30 times during a statement period and you earn 50 percent more points. So groceries can earn 4.5 points per dollar and gas can earn 3 points per dollar, plus 1.5 points for all other purchases.
In addition, new cardholders earn 15,000 points after spending $1,000 within three months. You also get a year’s subscription to Amazon Prime, which offers free 2-day shipping plus streaming of movies and TV shows. That’s worth $99, which offsets the $95 annual fee.
How to use them
These cards were originally marketed to working mothers who are on the go and don’t want to worry about which card to use to earn the most rewards. By offering a bonus based on how often the card is used, American Express is certainly hoping that cardholders use this single card for all of their purchases.
I use all sorts of reward cards, but I still manage to get in my 20 transactions each month on my Everyday card to earn the bonus, which gives me 2.4 points per dollar on my groceries. Yet most people (who aren’t obsessed with points and miles) will be happy to use this card all over town, just as Amex intended. And if you only pay an annual fee on one card in your wallet, the Preferred version isn’t a bad choice.
The path to free travel can be a little complicated, but these two cards make it easy.