Strategy The 6 best credit cards for travel rewards, according to a couple who flew around the world for just $1,000 each

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The key to cheap flights aboard luxury airlines is cashing in the right credit card rewards.

Cheap flights can be made possible by signing up for the right credit card rewards programs, Alex and Erin Miller of Upgraded Points said. play

Cheap flights can be made possible by signing up for the right credit card rewards programs, Alex and Erin Miller of Upgraded Points said.

(Courtesy of Alex and Erin Miller)
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  • Cheap flights exist, if you know how to make the most of credit card rewards.
  • Alex Miller of UpgradedPoints.com completed a trip around the world aboard luxury airlines with his wife Erin using the rewards programs from six primary cards.
  • Below, those cards are listed along with his insight on which is best for hotels, dining, and airports.

Any experienced fare hacker knows that strategically cashing in credit card rewards is the key to massively discounted airfare.

But with so many credit card rewards programs out there, where do you begin?

Business Insider spoke with Alex Miller of UpgradedPoints.com, who recently completed a trip around the world aboard luxury airlines with his wife Erin. Their eight-leg trip, valued at more than $55,000, cost the couple just $1,087 each.

Miller shared the six cards he used to pull off the trip of a lifetime, and wrote about his experience on his website. Read on to learn more about all six cards — and decide which one could work best for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred play

Chase Sapphire Preferred

(CreditCards.com)

Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 a year.

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points

Rewards rate: 2x the points on travel and dining

Upgraded Points says: "This is our #1 go-to card without question, because you earn 2pts/$1 spent on all travel and dining purchases worldwide. There are no foreign transaction fees either, so we continue to earn these bonus points when traveling."

More information on Chase Sapphire Preferred »



Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred play

Chase Ink Business Preferred

(Chase)

Annual Fee: $95

Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Rewards rate: 3x points on the first $150,000 you spend each year in six business-oriented categories — travel, cable, shipping, Internet, phone, and advertising

Upgraded Points says: "As a small business owner, these are the categories you'll want for earning points. Plus, the points can help offset the card’s $95 annual fee."

More information on Chase Ink Business Preferred »



Platinum from American Express

Platinum from American Express play

Platinum from American Express

(David Slotnick/Business Insider)

Annual Fee: $550

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Rewards rate: 5x the points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, and five times the points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.

Perks: Access to Global Lounge Collection at airports, $200 in Uber credit

Upgraded Points says: "It's important to note that this card’s benefits are in the luxury category. If you aren’t interested in luxury perks, then you may want to stick with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card."

More information on Platinum from American Express »



Business Gold Rewards from American Express OPEN

Business Gold Rewards from American Express OPEN play

Business Gold Rewards from American Express OPEN

(American Express)

Annual Fee: $450

Sign-up bonus: Up to 75,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months

Rewards rate: Five times the points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com

Perks: Access to Global Lounge Collection, and get 35% of your points back when paying for flights using points

Upgraded Points says: "When you apply for The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN, points can rack up quickly, especially if you travel frequently for business and use the card to book via the American Express Travel website."

More information about Business Gold Rewards from American Express OPEN »



Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express play

Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express

(American Express)

Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 a year

Sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 points after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months

Rewards rate: Earn two points for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG & Marriott Rewards hotels, and earn one point for all other purchases

Perks: Access to Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, complimentary basic or premium internet access at Starwood hotels

Upgraded Points says: "Reaching Elite Status in SPG is easier with this card because you get credit for 5 nights and 2 stays automatically for owning the card. The card gives you plenty of options for earning, redeeming, and transferring points in SPG and Marriott Rewards, which are now combined and one of the best loyalty programs out there."

More information on Starwood Preferred Guest »



Starwood Preferred Guest Business from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest Business from American Express play

Starwood Preferred Guest Business from American Express

(American Express)

Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 a year

Sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 points after you make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months

Rewards rate: Earn two points for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG & Marriott Rewards hotels, and earn one point for all other purchases

Perks: Access to Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, complimentary basic or premium internet access at Starwood hotels, free nights at more than 1,300 hotels & resorts, baggage insurance plan

Upgraded Points says: "For frequent travelers who stay in Starwood hotels, this hotel card could be the ideal partner for you. That's because you could start to see your points rack up right away. If you’re a frequent traveler, then the card could be ideal; otherwise, you might want to seek out an alternative."

More information about Starwood Preferred Guest Business from American Express »

Are you a successful travel hacker or credit card points expert who has tips and photos to share? Email Mark Abadi mabadi@businessinsider.com.