- Alesha Bradford and Jarryd Salem run the adventure travel blog NOMADasaurus.
- They’re based in Australia, but they’re on the road for a good part of the year, whether leading tours of Kyrgyzstan or spending the winter in Canada.
- Collecting points and miles and signing up for rewards credit cards has changed the way they travel, getting them access to airport lounges and allowing them to enjoy annual statement credits toward travel.
- Trip protection, which you can get on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card among other rewards cards, has provided them peace of mind as well.
- See Business Insider’s list of the best rewards credit cards you can get »
The Instagram account for NOMADasaurus, the travel blog run by Alesha Bradford and Jarryd Salem, looks like the vision board of someone bent on visiting the most beautiful corners of the globe — if that person was also an amazing photographer.
Alesha and Jarryd, both Aussies, launched their blog in 2013 to document their travel from Asia to Africa — a journey they made without flying. These days, though, they’re often in the air. “I can’t even count how many planes we get on in a single year anymore,” Jarryd told me. So yeah, they know a thing or two about how to travel well.
Enter travel rewards
A few years ago, the two began dipping their toes into the world of points and miles, and as Jarryd explained, it’s changed their experience on the road.
While the credit card scene is vastly different in Australia, the upside for us in the US is that credit card offers are even more rewarding here. “A lot of our American friends are flying around the world business class on points and bonuses that they get,” Jarryd said. “Australia is nowhere near that. To get 120,000 frequent flyer points is unheard of. We still have a long way to go before we catch up to the US.”
Step one for the duo — and for anyone looking to get into rewards credit cards — was to open new travel cards and earn their sign-up bonuses, giving them thousands of points and miles to use toward future travel. But that’s just scratching the surface — here are the travel rewards card benefits that have made the biggest difference for the team behind Nomadasaurus, along with the best options for US-based travelers looking to enjoy these perks.
Jarryd and Alesha travel almost full-time, so having travel insurance to protect them in the event that they encounter any bumps along the way is essential. Their ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card, which is co-branded with Virgin Australia, offers comprehensive international travel insurance — including flight delay and cancellation coverage, lost and delayed luggage coverage, and travel accident insurance. While this card is only available in Australia, there are plenty of rewards credit cards in the US that offer comparable coverage.
Using one of these cards to pay for your travel — even if it’s only the taxes and fees on a ticket booked with miles — can save you money if you encounter delays or your baggage goes missing. If you have a card that offers travel insurance, you should use it to book travel.
The best US credit cards for travel insurance:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($95 annual fee) — offers up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip in trip cancellation/interruption insurance, up to $500 per ticket in trip delay reimbursement if your trip is delayed by 12 hours or requires and overnight stay, up to $100 a day for five days when your luggage is delayed for more than 6 hours, up to $3,000 per passenger for lost or damaged coverage
- Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) — offers the same protections as the Sapphire Preferred, but the trip delay insurance kicks in earlier — when your trip is delayed by 6 or more hours or requires an overnight stay
- Certain premium American Express cards, including the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, will begin offering trip cancellation and interruption insurance in 2020.
Annual statement credits for flights and more
Another great benefit of Jarryd and Alesha’s ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card is a complimentary return (round-trip) domestic flight each year. The couple is taking advantage of this benefit to book flights to Perth over the holidays, and they estimate that this perk alone is saving them $900 each — three times the card’s annual fee.
There isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison with this benefit among US rewards credit cards, but some US cards do offer companion fare benefits that can help you get a nearly free flight, such as the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, which offers a companion fare for $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees starting at $22) each year after your account anniversary.
Alesha and Jarryd also have the Qantas American Express Ultimate card, which has a $450 annual fee but also offers $450 in annual statement credits to use toward Qantas flights.
The best US credit cards with annual statement credits for travel:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve — offers a $300 annual travel credit which automatically applies to any purchase that codes as travel (from airfare to parking tolls to Uber rides)
- Hilton Honors Aspire American Express Card ($450 annual fee) — offers up to $250 in statement credits each year toward purchases at Hilton resorts, plus up to $250 in annual airline fee credits each year
- Citi Prestige® Card ($495 annual fee) — offers up to $250 in travel credit toward eligible travel purchases every calendar year (it works similarly to the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s credit)
Airport lounge access
Especially when you travel all the time, lounge access can make a huge difference; you can enjoy a bite and get some work done while escaping some of the pre-flight chaos at the boarding gate.
Alesha and Jarryd get Virgin Australia and Qantas lounge access through their co-branded airline credit cards, but they also use the Priority Pass network, which has more than 1,200 lounges around the globe.
Luckily, several US credit cards offer Priority Pass Select membership:
- Amex Platinum card
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Hilton Honors Aspire Amex card
- Citi Prestige card