3 sign-up bonuses from Amex, Chase, and Capital One that can turn your holiday expenses into a vacation

PFI Disclosure

  • The holidays are notoriously hard on the wallet, but the upside is that your spending can help you earn a trip booked on points if you use a rewards credit card.
  • By applying for a new card and meeting the minimum spend requirement, you can earn thousands of points with a sign-up bonus.
  • If you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and spend $4,000 in the first three months, you’ll earn 60,000 points — enough for a round-trip flight to the Caribbean.
  • Another option is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which is offering 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. That’s worth at least $500 toward travel.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

The holidays are a wonderful time full of family, food, and… expenses. Holiday shopping, travel, and dinner parties with family and friends can feel like required spending, and your budget is likely to feel a bit more stretched than usual at this time of the year.

You should never spend more than you can afford to pay off, and it’s wise to take advantage of seasonal deals to keep your budget on track. Provided you’re practicing financial responsibility at this expensive time of the year, there is an upside to your holiday spending.

The money you spend on gifts, travel, and more can help you book your next vacation thanks to rewards credit cards that earn you travel points on all your spending. You’ll be making these purchases anyway, so you might as well maximize them to get points in return. After all, you might just need a vacation to recuperate from the holidays.

Charge your holiday spending to a credit card that earns you travel rewards

You’ll need to be strategic if you want to use your holiday expenses to score a vacation booked on points and miles.

Most rewards credit cards offer welcome bonuses that can be used to fund travel. In order to score these lucrative bonuses, you’ll need to hit a minimum spending threshold within a few months of opening the card. You should plan to sign up for a rewards card ahead of making any holiday-related purchases so you can put those expenses toward the minimum spending requirement.

How to pick the right card for you

Not all credit cards are created equally. Some offer infinitely better welcome bonuses than others, and depending on the card you could earn bonus rewards in a category like dining or groceries. Here are a few of our favorite cards that could help you secure the vacation many of us crave after the holidays.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best cards for anyone just getting started with travel rewards. The card offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth $750 toward travel booked through Chase. You’ll need to spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account to earn the welcome bonus.

As you make purchases, you’ll earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining. Plus, you earn 1 point per dollar on every other purchase. Although the card has an annual fee of $95, it is well worth the cost. You can redeem the Chase Ultimate Reward points for hotel stays, cruises, trains, plane tickets, and travel excursions through Chase, or you can transfer points to travel partners like Hyatt and United. You simply have to decide where in the world you’d like to go!

One option you could book with Chase points is a Caribbean weekend getaway to the Bahamas. You can score a round-trip ticket to paradise with your welcome bonus and still have points left over to cover part of your lodging cost. A flight from New York City to Nassau on Delta is less than 30,000 points when you book through Chase, using sample dates in March. If a trip to Paris is more your style, you can book a round-trip flight with a little more than half of your points through Chase as well, and spend the rest on hotels for the week.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

American Express® Green Card

The American Express Green card recently re-launched with some amazing benefits that could take you farther this holiday season. With this card, you can earn 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 within three months of opening the account. In addition to this, you can earn 3x points on travel and dining and dining purchases.

The card has an annual fee of $150. However, it offers annual statement credits of up to $100 each toward LoungeBuddy and CLEAR that can help offset the annual fee. Plus, if you apply by January 15, 2020, you’ll get up to $100 in statement credits when you make an eligible purchase with Away luggage in the first three months.

According to The Points Guy’s valuations, 30,000 Amex points are worth $600 toward travel. You can redeem Amex points with travel partners including JetBlue, Emirates, and Marriott.

This welcome bonus may not take you around the world, but it can help you book a short getaway outside of town to recharge your batteries. Plus, the lower spending threshold of $2,000 in three months might be easier to meet if you’re aiming for a more frugal holiday season.

Think of a local destination that you’ve always wanted to visit, and use these points to make it happen. One idea would be a road trip to the beach for a weekend trip without shelling out cash for the hotel.

Click here to learn more about the Amex Green card.

Capital One Venture card

A final option to kickstart your travel rewards journey this holiday season is the Capital One Venture card. You can earn a welcome bonus of 50,000 Capital One miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card has an annual fee of $95, which you can offset with up to a $100 credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

With a sign-up bonus worth at least $500, you’ll easily be able to create a memorable getaway. Instead of redeeming travel through a portal, you can use the Capital One “Purchase Eraser.” It is an easy way to wipe out any travel charges that pop up during your trip. You’ll be able to reimburse yourself for your travel expenses when the transaction posts. This makes it perfect for unique destinations such as Disney or a particular national park that you’ve been dying to check out.

Click here to learn more about the Capital One Venture card.

The holidays can be expensive, but you can take advantage of your spending score travel rewards points for a post-holiday vacation. If you’re still not sure which card is best for you, make sure to check out the best credit card welcome bonuses available now.

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