Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
In 2018, Kimberly Stephens, a 37-year-old lead records coordinator in Olympia, Washington, used her Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card to get her family four tickets to California and two tickets to Las Vegas.
She and her husband focus on funneling travel rewards into her account so they can reach their mileage goals faster. It’s a good system. But they made one mistake: They let a companion ticket offer expire, an annual perk offered to the cardholder.
Here are a few things you can learn from Stephens’ experience with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card.
Pick a credit card based on where you travel
Alaska Airlines has many destinations on the West Coast. The Stephens live close to Seattle, an Alaska hub, and love the convenience and ticket prices. So the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is a natural fit for them.
» Learn more: How to choose a travel credit card
Don’t let welcome offers expire
Stephens recommends taking advantage of special offers such as a companion fare discount. “We are going to Nashville in May, so one of us will only cost $99 to fly with the companion offer,” she says.
Just be sure to watch out for expiration dates on great perks.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
Pay off purchases in the same month
“Don't wait for a bill or run up a balance,” Stephens says. “You can earn the points just the same and not go into debt.” She pays off all her purchases every few days as if it was directly from her bank account.
» Learn more: How to get out of credit card debt in four steps
Stephens says she uses her card for all purchases that allow credit cards so she can earn as many miles as possible on her spending. Her mortgage and car loan companies don’t allow her to pay bills with a credit card.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Why the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card is great for frugal travelers Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Your complete guide 5 things the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan gets right