One way to achieve luxury travel with the minimum expense is by booking hotels and flights using loyalty points from credit cards. As long as you don’t use your credit card for borrowing, they offer a great way to generate significant hotel and airline rewards. Credit cards can also offer benefits like free club lounge access, which can be extremely worthwhile having.
When you get to your destination, don’t forget to use our secret to getting the best deal at luxury hotels, so that you not only fly but also stay in style.
If you are based in America, I outline my best recommendations hosted on the cardratings.com website (to be launched shortly). On this page, you’ll find a list of our favorite credit cards for travel hacking, as well as the lounge and point benefits you get from each card.
If you’re based in the UK, I recommend one of three credit cards:
1. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – Free Card With 2 Free Airport Lounge Passes
This card gives you the best sign-up bonus for a free card. It is also gold in color, so it looks stylish in your wallet. You receive 10,000 Amex points for signing up (=10,000 Avios), and you earn 1 Amex point (= 1 Avios) per £1 GBP spent. There’s no fee for the card in Year 1 (the card then costs £140 GBP from year 2). You also receive two Lounge Club airport lounge passes along with other benefits.
This sign up bonus is increased to 12,000 Membership Rewards points (2,000 extra) if I refer you via the Amex ‘refer a friend’ scheme. Please contact us on our luxury travel concierge page if you would like a referral for extra free points.
The signup bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card, which issues Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months. This includes the Green, Gold, Platinum, and the American Express Rewards credit card. You are OK if you currently or recently only had a British Airways, Starwood, Costco, or Nectar American Express card.
2. American Express Platinum Card – Best For Travel Insurance & Airport Lounge Access Ongoing
This card gives you the best airport lounge access with complimentary access to over 1,200 airport lounges across more than 130 countries worldwide with Priority Pass for up to 4 people. You and your supplementary card member can BOTH take one extra person into the Priority Pass lounge for free, which means this card is great for families. I have detailed the other free lounge access that you get with the Platinum Amex below.
It’s also worth mentioning that the card is a real metal, which is nice to have in your wallet.
The signup bonus is 30,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £4,000 GBP in your first three months of card membership, and you earn 1 Membership Rewards® point (= 1 Avios) per £1 GBP spent. You also enjoy comprehensive worldwide protection for you, your family, and your supplementary cardmembers. But there is a fee of £575 GBP per anum for this card.
This signup bonus is increased to 35,000 Membership Rewards points if I refer you via the Amex ‘refer a friend’ scheme. Please contact us on our luxury travel concierge page if you would like a referral for the additional points.
The signup bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card, which issues Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months. This includes Green, Gold, Platinum, and the American Express Rewards credit card. You are OK if you currently or recently only had a British Airways, Starwood, Costco, or Nectar American Express card.
Free Lounge Access In Addition To Priority Pass
You also get Centurion Airport Lounge access. Access to The Centurion Lounge network is complimentary for both global Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members. Platinum® Cardmembers who receive complimentary access may enter with up to two guests at no additional charge.
You also get access to International American Express Lounges. To enter, present your valid Platinum Card, a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel, and a government-issued ID.
You also get access to Delta Sky Club Lounges. To enter, just show your valid Platinum Card, valid ID, and same-day boarding pass for a Delta flight. You may purchase guest access for your spouse or domestic partner and a child under 21, or up to two other traveling companions for $29 USD per person.
You also get access to Plaza Premium Airport Lounges, which is particularly relevant for travelers flying out of London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. This is an excellent lounge, and Priority Pass members cannot access this airport lounge.
To enter, present your valid Platinum Card, a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel, and a government-issued ID. You may enter with up to one (1) complimentary guest per card (so and your partner both have cards, the main card, and a supplementary card, up to 4 people can access the lounge on your two Platinum cards)
You also get access to Eurostar Business Premier Lounges in London, Brussels, and Paris, whatever your class of travel. To enter, present your valid Platinum Card (issued in ICC, UK, France, or Belgium) and a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel. Guests are not permitted.
You also receive permanent status in these hotel loyalty programs:
- Gold in Marriott Bonvoy
- Gold in Radisson Rewards
- Gold in Hilton Honors
- Jade in Shangri-La Golden Circle
- Gold in Melia Rewards
You can also match your Shangri-La status to ‘Inner Circle Gold’ status in the Taj Hotels scheme as they have a special partnership.
There is also an exclusive hotel booking scheme called ‘Fine Hotels & Resorts’ which offers valuable additional benefits on your stays, but you get the same or better benefits with our luxury travel concierge , so you do not need a Platinum card to access these benefits.
3. British Airways Premium Plus American Express – Best For Avios Collectors
Get this card primarily to benefit from the 2-4-1 voucher that you receive for spending £10,000 GBP each year. This is valid on British Airways Avios flight redemptions in all classes.
As an example, if you would usually spend 200,000 Avios on two Club World airfares (100,000 each), use one of these vouchers, and the same two tickets will cost just 100,000 Avios using the 2-4-1 voucher (+ the same taxes and fees). This makes this card a must for anyone who regularly flies on British Airways.
The cost of this card is £195 GBP, and it earns you 1.5 Avios per £1 GBP. This signup bonus is 25,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 GBP in the first 3 months, but is increased to 26,000 Membership Rewards points if I refer you via the Amex ‘refer a friend’ scheme. Please contact us on our luxury travel concierge page if you would like a referral for the additional points.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor.
Disclosure: Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.