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Planning a getaway? There’s no better way to save on your trip than with a free airline companion ticket. But how to find one? That’s easy: travel rewards credit cards. Here, we rounded up a few notable cards with insight from Lee Huffman, the travel blogger behind Bald Thoughts, along with some smart tips for swiping these credit cards.

American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card

With a hefty annual fee of $450, the Delta Reserve Card isn’t playing around. Still it lives up to its price point, thanks to its ability to grant you access to all Delta Sky Clubs, one free checked bag and Receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights; board early, stow your carry-on bag and settle in sooner. Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

British Airways Visa Signature Card

Spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the British Airways Visa Signature Card, and you’ll receive a cool 50,000 bonus Avios (club currency) rewards. With this card, you’ll also earn three Avios for every dollar spent on British Airways purchases and one Avios for every dollar spent on everything else. But getting that free companion flight — also known as a Travel Together Ticket — will require more planning, as cardholders are required to make $30,000 in purchases in one year, Huffman said. You may also be subject to higher taxes and fuel surcharges, he warned, “so you’re better off redeeming the voucher for a business class ticket instead of an economy ticket.”

Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card 

Whether you choose the Premier or Plus card, Southwest offers plenty of ways to score points toward free flights. Both of these cards come with a signup bonus that hands you a whopping 40,000 points — that is, after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening — and additional points on your cardmember anniversary. To earn a coveted Companion Pass, just cash in points from purchases made with either card. “This one is awesome because you can use it an unlimited amount of times,” Huffman said, “the only limit is how many tickets you want to buy with cash or flights.” Fair warning: Both cards come with annual fees, $99 for Premier and $69 for Plus.

Using Your Travel Rewards Card 

Travel rewards cards are hard to beat when it comes to earning perks just for spending. But spend too much — or spend more just to earn the rewards — and you could wind up squandering the savings to debt and high interest. It also goes without saying that lenders don’t like to see excessive debt, as it can show you’re not so great at managing your finances. Experts recommend keeping your debt at 30%, and ideally 10%, of your total credit limit for the best effect on your credit. These premium cards typically require good credit, so before you apply, you’ll want to know where you stand. You can view two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: AleksandarNakic

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