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My son was my parents’ first grandchild. As such, they travel to us a lot — at least six times a year. While they can appreciate the occasional road trip, the nearly 800-mile trek from Ohio to Florida can be a bit tedious, while the cost of bimonthly flights can add up quickly. That’s why I’m getting them on board with using points and rewards credit cards to help lessen the financial burden of their constant travel.
Read on for some stellar rewards credit card options for grandparents on the go: from cards that earn airline companion passes to those that earn you 2x points on dining and travel, to those that match your miles earned at the end of your first year.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has no shortage of perks. First, there's the sign-up bonus, which has a spending threshold that’s quite a bit lower than offers from other rewards cards: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
» Learn more: Southwest Priority Card review: Pay more, get more
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card also allows you to earn 2 points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases, such as gifts for the grandkids. After all, that’s essentially what grandparents do, right?
You’ll also get 7,500 points every year on your cardmember anniversary. Think of it as a little “birthday” gift.
But perhaps the biggest perk of this card is the ability to earn the famous Southwest Companion Pass. This benefit is pretty well known in the airline rewards space and with good reason. It allows you to choose a companion to fly with you free of charge (minus taxes and fees) each time you purchase a flight, either with cash or miles.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
To earn a Companion Pass, you need to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in one calendar year — note that this sign-up bonus counts and gets you over halfway there. The Companion Pass is good for both the remainder of the year in which you earned it and the next year. Then, two grandparents can fly for the price of one. This card’s annual fee is $149.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great option for grandma and grandpa, especially if they (like my parents) haven’t really used points or miles much.
The significant sign-up bonus is the first reason why: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
This card is also great for grandparents because it offers 2x points on travel and dining. And "dining" covers it all, from a nice dinner out (hey, grandparents need breaks, too) to that early morning coffee run for mom and dad.
And if they need to redeem their Chase points for whatever reason, this card offers a 1:1 points transfer option with rewards programs from partners like JetBlue, Southwest and Marriott. This card’s annual fee is $95.
Discover it® Miles card
This $0-annual-fee card makes redeeming miles for flights easy. Simply charge airfare to the card and then redeem rewards toward the cost of flights.
The Discover it® Miles card lets you earn 1.5x miles for every dollar spent. But what really stands out about this card is that at the end of your first year, they’ll match all the miles you’ve earned. That means you can easily turn 20,000 miles earned into 40,000, which would be $400 to use toward your next trip to visit the grandkids. Christmas, anyone?
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: 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: Discover it Miles review: Travel rewards with a cash-back twist Find the best travel credit card for you 8 pro tips for smart and cheap family travel