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How to Combine Credit Cards for the Best Business Travel Experience

February 23rd, 2017 /

It’s hard to keep track of everything on a business trip. You’ve got twenty cards in your wallet, five reservation itineraries, three high-stakes meetings, and a desperate longing to stick to some sort of routine even though you’re in a new city.

But even though it’s difficult, I see each business trip as a challenge. Namely, how much value can I get out of my plethora of rewards programs this time around? For me, this process involves a creative balance between using points and earning them—a process that can be hard to visualize if you’ve never done it before. So I’ve highlighted the currency choices I made on one particularly successful business trip. Hopefully, the experience gives you a starting place for maximizing your own earnings during travel.

How to Make Your Flight Points Go Further

I was up early for a 7:30 nonstop flight with Virgin America—JFK to SFO. I booked this roundtrip flight a week earlier, using Chase Ultimate Rewards. Since I booked through their rewards portal, my points were worth 25% more. Needless to say, it was a good start to my trip.

18,000 points lighter, I got to JFK in plenty of time to ditch the Terminal 4 crowds and headed to the Virgin America clubhouse. Since I flew with the airline, I was able to get a complimentary massage (which is always easiest to snag in the early morning). I also took advantage of the complimentary coffee bar. The end result? I didn’t have to take out my wallet once at the airport.

credit card combos can make a mundane business trip more engaging

Evaluate all your points and cash options before booking a flight to get the best deal.Image by Flickr user Luke H. Gordon (CC BY 2.0)

Making Transit Pay for Itself

I paid for a round-trip BART ticket in the international terminal using my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and was in downtown SF at the Embarcadero Station within half an hour. Usually, I enjoy the brief walk up the hill to my downtown hotel of choice, but I hailed a cab in front of the Hyatt and put another few dollars on the same card (but effectively saving my shoes).

This card gives you three points per dollar spent on transit, so I also used it for taxis and Uber rides throughout the rest of my trip. On occasion, I’ve been able to use points earned with taxis on one trip to pay for my own rental car on the next (a rental which I can book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal).

combining credit cards with loyalty programs can double your rewards

When booking at the Ritz-Carlton, SF, be sure to get points back. Image by Flickr user Luis Villa del Campo (CC BY 2.0)

How to Score Big with Your Hotel Booking

There’s nothing like walking into a beautifully luxurious hotel lobby out of a pouring rain. When staying in SF, I usually splurge a bit on the Ritz-Carlton downtown—my favorite five-star hotel in the city, in part because they’re pet-friendly.

My JetLux personal reservationist booked my stay, which I paid for with my Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, earning 11,000 points with my three-night stay. (Five points per dollar at Ritz, Marriott, and SPG hotels.) In combination with all my other business trip hotel stays, this means that within six months, I’ll have earned enough for a free three-night stay here—which I will definitely be taking advantage of.

Because I’m also a Ritz-Carlton Rewards member, I received a preferred rate for my hotel that further reduced my JetLux Hotels corporate rate. This is all while I earned additional points because of Ritz-Carlton’s current promotion, which gives me double rewards points for each stay—beyond any points I already earn by using the above-mentioned credit card.

combine credit cards with cashing in points to balance your trip

When you’re packing the essentials, don’t forget the right credit card combinations. Image by Flickr user Markus Spiske (CC BY 2.0)

Over the course of three short days (and including food and drink), I earned over 15,000 rewards points across two travel rewards cards. I saved an additional $300 by using accumulated points for my flights—but if I had chosen to pay out of pocket and earn points for those purchases as well, I could have broken 17,000

The moral of the story is that it’s actually quite lucrative to balance your travel expenses between credit card rewards programs. Any time you can double (or triple) up on rewards points, you should do so. And if you’re already enjoying the reduced rates that JetLux offers, you should remember that they also offer a rewards program—meaning you could be earning even more points per stay. I’m jumping on that bandwagon faster than you can swipe your card.

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