Monday, August 20, 2012

The Best Credit Card for Family Vacations (ASAP)

I will certainly be hammering this point home in upcoming posts but it bears repeating.  The best way to turbocharge your points/miles balance is through credit card sign-up bonuses.  Credit card companies such as Chase, American Express, Citi, and Bank of America are practically tripping over themselves to get qualified applicants, and they are doing so through lucrative miles and points incentives.

Card Issuers Are Practically Begging To Send You Here
Chase's Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa (and its sign-up bonus) is a perfect example of a credit card company trying to engender loyal and reliable spending.  The card is also a great way for families to quickly boost their travel budget and open up tons of flexible options and appealing destinations.

Currently, Chase is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points (hereto referred to as RR Points) for spending $1,000 in the first three months of card membership.  The card also offers 1 RR Point for every $1 spent and 2 RR Points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases.  The card also has a $69 annual fee that is not waived for the first year.  

$1,000 in three months is a very attainable spending threshold, and it opens up quite a few travel options.  If you plan ahead enough, you can turn 50,000 RR points into over $830 in free travel!

Southwest Award Chart: Focus Exclusively on 'Wanna Get Away Fares'
As you can see from the award chart above, your RR points redemptive value depends on which of the three fare classes you book (Business Select, Anytime, or Wanna Get Away).  Focus exclusively on redeeming your points on Wanna Get Away fares.  Every $100 in travel will only "cost" 6,000 Rapids Rewards Points when booking "Wanna Get Away" fares.  This is a vastly better proposition than redeeming in the other fare classes.  $100 in "Anytime fares" will cost 10,000 RR Points and $100 in "Business Select" fares will cost a whopping 12,000 RR points!

By doing your research and booking your vacation far enough out, there will be plenty of low "Wanna Get Away" fares available.  You will easily be able to stretch your points incredibly far.  To show you a great example, I priced out a sample trip from Baltimore to Orlando in October.  I chose Orlando due to the many family-friendly attractions in the area.

13,740 RR Points and $5.00 for a Round Trip Ticket?  Yes Please!

This is just one itinerary, but I found several Baltimore-Orlando round-trip tickets that priced out at 13,740 RR Points and $5.00 in government taxes.  That's incredible!  A family of four would only need 55,000 RR Points to get to Orlando and back.  With the Chase Southwest Visa, you are more than 90% of the way there.  I highly advocate that any family planning a big domestic trip check out the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa.  Having more than $800 in flight credit to play with can be a powerful tool, all for a simple credit card application.  The fact that checked bags are free as well means the savings are even greater with Southwest.

This isn't a card for travelers and families taking exotic vacations to Koh Samui or the Greek Isles, but it's certainly worthy of your wallet if you're looking to take the entire family to Orlando/Miami or one of the many other cities that Southwest serves such as San Francisco or Denver.

Two other notes before I go.  There are two version of this card, the Plus and the Premier, that are offering identical sign-up bonuses.  The Premier card has a steeper $99 annual fee, so steer clear and go with the Plus card.  Second, there is no reason that BOTH spouses can't sign up for this card.  Pooling together a whopping 100,000 RR points will guarantee multiple vacations for minimal effort!

Let me know if you have any questions about Southwest Rapid Rewards or this article.  Leave a comment or send me an email.  I have really appreciated all the emails, so far.  Keep them coming.  Until tomrrow!

-Charm City Traveler


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