Maximizing Rewards: Top Credit Cards for Cashback and Travel Points

Brandon Elliott, Owner of Credit Counsel Elite

In the dynamic world of finance, credit card rewards and travel points stand out as smart ways to leverage everyday spending for added benefits. Understanding their financial habits and spending categories is crucial for individuals in choosing the right credit card that aligns with their lifestyle and financial goals. Many entrepreneurs, real estate investors, and business owners are now tapping into the potential of credit card rewards to enhance their financial strategies. In this article, part of a series focused on improving and leveraging personal and business credit, Brandon Elliott and the team at Credit Counsel Elite will not only guide readers through the best credit cards for maximizing rewards, exploring cards from major banks like American Express, Chase, Capital One, and Citibank but also share some success stories from their clients at Credit Counsel Elite.

American Express:

American Express is renowned for its rewards programs. For example, the American Express Platinum Card is a favorite for travel enthusiasts, offering substantial travel credits, access to exclusive airport lounges with unique amenities, and a robust points system. To maximize rewards, individuals can consider pairing the Platinum with the American Express Gold Card, which offers exceptional rewards on dining and groceries.


Chase’s ecosystem is highly regarded for its flexibility and value. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers generous travel credits, strong earning rates on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on points redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Combining the Sapphire Reserve with cards like the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited can earn high cashback on various spending categories. Transferring these points to the Sapphire Reserve account enhances their value, turning every dollar spent into more travel opportunities.

Capital One:

Capital One offers versatile cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, known for its flat-rate earning structure and straightforward redemption options. They also have their Premium Venture X card that gives cardholders and their companions lounge access, which other cards don’t generally extend beyond the cardholder. The Capital One Spark Miles for Business provides solid earning rates and travel benefits for businesses. Accumulating rewards from both personal and business cards can lead to rapid rewards accumulation. While Capital One uses the term miles for their rewards points, they are not airline or hotel miles and have more value due to flexibility.


Citibank’s ThankYou Rewards program features versatile cards such as the Citi Premier Card, providing strong earning potential in travel, dining, and other categories. Pairing this card with the Citi Double Cash Card allows individuals to earn cashback on all purchases, which can then be converted to ThankYou Points, maximizing overall rewards.

Maximizing Points through Promotions and Multiple Ecosystems:

Credit card promotions continually change, providing numerous opportunities to earn bonus points or cashback. Individuals should stay vigilant and take advantage of these promotions to augment rewards. Additionally, exploring options from different banks and credit unions can be beneficial, as they might offer unique benefits that align with spending habits and financial goals.

Understanding Spending Habits:

Analyzing spending habits is the first step in maximizing credit card rewards. Different cards offer various rewards for specific categories, so understanding where money goes each month can help in choosing cards that will provide the most benefit. Tools like budget trackers and spending analysis software can assist in this process.

Building a Credit Card Strategy:

Developing a strategic approach to using credit cards is crucial. This could mean using one card for dining and travel, another for groceries, and another for everything else to ensure individuals maximize points and cashback on every purchase. It is also essential to be mindful of annual fees and ensure the rewards outweigh the costs.

Utilizing Credit Card Portals:

Credit card portals are a valuable resource for redeeming points and accessing additional benefits. Individuals should familiarize themselves with their bank’s portal to ensure they are utilizing all available options, from booking travel to purchasing gift cards or merchandise.

Credit Counsel Elite Client Examples

Credit Counsel Elite has numerous members who are seeing success in travel hacking and maximizing their points. Here are a few examples.

The Frequent Flyer Entrepreneur

Name: Sarah Thompson

Occupation: Entrepreneur and Consultant

Credit Cards Used: American Express Platinum Card, American Express Gold Card


Sarah frequently travels for her consulting business and wants to maximize her travel rewards. She chose the American Express Platinum Card for its travel benefits and the American Express Gold Card for dining and groceries.


  • Platinum Card: Used for all travel-related expenses, including flights, hotels, and car rentals, to take advantage of 5x points on these categories. Points could be transferred for airline miles with a 35% bonus with the Platinum card. She also received a 150,000-point bonus for sign-up and her spending.
  • Gold Card: Used for dining out with clients and purchasing groceries, earning 4x points in these categories.


Over a year, Sarah accumulated enough points with spending and her bonus on the Platinum card to cover several international business-class flights and hotel stays, significantly reducing her travel expenses and reinvesting those savings into her business.

The Smart Family Shopper

Name: Johnson Family

Occupation: Dual-Income Family

Credit Cards Used: Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom Flex


The Johnson family loves to travel but also wants to maximize cashback on their everyday spending. They opted for the Chase Sapphire Reserve for travel and dining and the Chase Freedom Flex for other spending categories.


  • Sapphire Reserve: Used primarily for travel perks and transferring points with a 50% bonus.
  • Freedom Flex: Used for weekly grocery shopping, gas, getting 5% back, and 5% cashback on rotating categories (Such as Lowes, PayPal, and Amazon), and 1% on all other purchases.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited Earns 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 3% on drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases as their daily driver.


The Johnsons strategically transferred the cashback earned from the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited to their Sapphire Reserve account, turning it into Ultimate Rewards points. They then used these points to book a family vacation, covering their flights by transferring the points for miles at a 50% bonus and part of their hotel stay, all while saving money through the Chase travel portal.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the world of credit card rewards requires a strategic approach and a keen eye for opportunities. By selecting the right combination of cards and staying informed about promotions, individuals can optimize their rewards and travel points, turning everyday spending into valuable assets. Credit Counsel Elite is here to help guide you through this process, ensuring individuals make the most out of their credit cards and rewards programs.

Stay tuned for upcoming articles in this series, where strategies and tips for optimizing credit and financial well-being will continue to be explored.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Readers should consult a financial expert tailored to their specific circumstances before making any financial decisions.

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