Getting ahead with travel credit cards and points and miles is all about timing. You want to get the right card when it's offering its biggest bonus, of course … but more importantly, you want to time it so that you can easily and responsibly spend the money necessary to earn all those points or miles.
With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the holiday shopping season around the corner, the timing is ripe to open a new credit card before the onslaught of holiday shopping or booking trips for 2024.
Let's be clear, though: Credit cards are serious business. Consumer debt is a serious problem in this country, and this isn't an excuse to rack up charges for holiday spending you can't afford just to earn points and miles. If you can't afford to pay off the card immediately, don't do it.
But if you can be financially responsible with a new line of credit and pay off all that holiday spending in full, here's why now may be the best time to open a new travel card.
Get Your Card Soon & Spend Responsibly
Applying for a new travel rewards card soon should give you ample time to get the card in your hands for Black Friday on Nov. 24.
Most new cards take about five to seven business days to arrive – though some will give you an instant digital card number upon approval. Either way, that timing is crucial: The easiest way to earn a boatload of points and miles is by earning an initial welcome bonus. The spending requirements vary wildly from card to card, from just $500 in spending over the first three months to as much as $15,000 or more in a three to six-month span.
Keep in mind: The clock is ticking. The three-to-six-month timeline to meet a minimum spending requirement starts from the moment you're approved – not from the day you receive your card.
But not every card puts you in a time crunch. In fact, one of the best offers out there right now doesn't have a minimum spending requirement at all.
Here are some of the best offers available right now.
The Best Cards to Get Right Now
A New Limited-Time Offer on the Chase Freedom Unlimited
The *freedom unlimited* is currently offering to match any and all cash back you earn on purchases made on the card during your first year of card membership.
This means all the cash back you earn on the card will be automatically doubled by Chase at the end of the first year. Since the card earns at least 1.5% cash back (or 1.5x Ultimate Rewards) on all non-bonus spending, you'll actually be earning a bare minimum of 3% cash back (or 3x Ultimate Rewards) after Chase completes the end-of-year match.
If you already have a *chase sapphire preferred* or *chase sapphire reserve* the cash back you earn from the Freedom Unlimited can instantly be converted into Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
It's one of the best offers available right now, especially when you consider that the card has no annual fee.
Learn more about the *freedom unlimited*.
Earn up to 90,000 Miles with the Capital One Venture X
We're big fans of both the *capital one venture card* and the *venture x*. Both cards typically offer a bonus of 75,000 Capital One Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. That's a great offer as no matter which version you choose, ass those points are worth a minimum of $750 towards travel – or much more by using Capital One transfer partners.
But right now, you can earn an even bigger bonus on the Venture X by using a personal referral link from a friend or family member: You can get 90,000 Venture Miles by spending the same $4,000 in the first three months. That makes the Venture X Card a solid choice for your holiday spending.
Related reading: Capital One Venture vs Venture X: Which Card is Best for You?
Learn more about the *venture x*.
Earn up to 90,000 Points with the Amex Gold Card
Last but not least, one of our favorite options is the *amex gold*. It starts with a welcome bonus offer of 60,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of card membership. But by using a personal referral link, you can instead get a 90,000-point bonus for the same $6,000 spending requirement in the first six months.
The trick to finding that better offer? You'll need to open the personal referral link above in an incognito or private web browser.
Beyond that big upfront bonus, this card is one of the absolute best for your everyday spending in the long term:
- The American Express Gold card earns an unlimited 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at any and all restaurants
- It also earns 4x points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 of spending in a calendar year (then 1x)
Earn Points and Miles Now for a 2024 Getaway
If you are planning on spending the money regardless, spending towards a sign-up bonus offer will help soften the blow.
Holiday shopping is a great time to lean into online shopping portals to earn some additional cashback or points on each purchase. You can use a site like cashbackmonitor.com to find the best deal wherever you are about to make a purchase. And if you’ve got a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points, you can even earn Amex points instead of cashback by shopping via Rakuten.
The best part: This goes beyond just Black Friday and Christmas spending. With a three to six-month window, you'd have until at least early February 2024 to meet the spending requirement to earn the bonus. Have six months? That gets you all the way until early May 2024.
Just remember that the timer starts from the day you're approved, not the day you get your card.
But it's not just about timing your application right. It comes down to which card you pick, too. The key to getting ahead with points and miles is opening the right credit card when it's offering a bigger bonus. These bonuses are constantly changing, and that can make it hard to ensure you're striking when the iron is hot. That's why we track the best credit card bonuses available each month.
And with the arrival of Thanksgiving, it means one thing for those of us in the northern part of the country: Winter is coming.
If you live where it snows, you need a winter getaway to keep your sanity and get through the long and cold winter. By putting your plan together now for what points and miles you might need to make a trip a reality, it will be easier to book when the time comes.
Follow this method: Set your goal for where you want to go, then work backward. Not all points and miles will be a great option for the destination you have in mind.
For example, if Europe is on your list, earning Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points won't do you much good. Southwest doesn't fly to Europe. Figure out the points and miles you might need, find the right card to earn them, and then use your holiday spending on a card to help you get there.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are nearly unbeatable as they offer a ton of flexibility when it comes time to book your travels. Not only can you use the points to book flight deals through the Chase travel portal, but you can also send them directly to Chase transfer partners to maximize their value.
Now is the time to open a new card for your upcoming holiday shopping. But be strategic about it. Just know that this isn't a hall pass to spend money in the name of earning travel rewards points and miles. If you can't afford to pay off the card immediately, don't do it.
But if you can be responsible and earn some additional points and miles for spending you will be doing anyhow, that's a win. The holiday shopping season makes that a bit easier to pull off – and a slew of huge points and miles bonuses available today makes that case even stronger.