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When I travel, I like to really dig into a place.

Sure — if you catch me in Rome, you better believe I’m going to check out the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. But as soon as my tourist obligations have been satisfied, you’ll find me wandering down streets less traveled.

Because they’re designed to appeal to the masses, big attractions aren’t typically indicative of the true flavor of a region. Like visiting a mall. Aside from some obvious design discrepancies, a shopping center here in Maryland doesn’t look all that different from a shopping center in Italy.

Beyond the popular spots, though, the local je ne sais quoi really starts to come out.

That’s true of any city — big or small. Which means you don’t have to go far to take advantage of all the travel perks different credit card rewards programs offer.

You can use them in your own backyard.

To get hefty discounts on all sorts of activities… or redeem them for gift cards to your favorite brands… or, if you shop online through the card company’s website, you can earn bonus points, helping you rack up or replenish your points even faster.

There are plenty of cards that offer rewards points. I got a Chase Sapphire Preferred card a little over a year ago. It was a big addition to my cast of low-limit, no-rewards cards.

And you know what? I love it.

First off, I like the physical feeling of this card. With a thin layer of metal inside, it’s got some heft to it. Cashiers comment on it often — in a complimentary fashion — which is nice.

But more than that, the points are the biggest benefit. A few months ago, I flew to Boston for the weekend, on short notice, to help a friend after surgery. And I paid exactly zero dollars to get there and back to Baltimore again.

I waltzed through security… enjoyed a comfortable flight in my window seat with extra legroom… and de-boarded in the Cradle of Liberty. It was just as easy to get home.

And as I said, with my Chase Sapphire card there are plenty of perks for me to enjoy right here in my town.

I can use my points to buy gift cards at over 200 retailers, restaurants and service providers. Department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom… digital media like iTunes and Google Play… subscription services like Blue Apron and Stitch Fix… even gift cards that bundle together multiple restaurants and stores suited to a particular set of interests.

And if I shop online through the Chase portal, I can earn up to 20 times the points for every $1 I spend.

Earn double the points when you shop online at Walgreens and Lowe’s… four times the points at JCPenney and Land’s End… and 20 times the points when you buy from ProFlowers and Magazines.com.

The list goes on. Over 500 stores in all.

All this is to say holiday shopping was VERY easy for me this year.

  • My mother, for example, loves the clothes at Coldwater Creek. Boom. So a gift card for her and four times the rewards points for me
  • Dylan’s Candy Bar covers my nieces and nephews — and sweetly hand me six times the points, thankyouverymuch
  • And I can get a subscription to Norton anti-virus software for my dad, and keep 15 times the points for myself.

And that’s not all… The cherry on top of an already decadent cake? Cash back.

Chase regularly sends me limited-time offers to have a portion of my purchase at certain retailers credited to my statement.

Imagine — paying your card down with other people’s money — while you keep shopping.

Some deals will credit a flat fee to your statement — up to $100 or more. Others will credit 5%… 10%… even 20% of your purchase back to you.

Of course, you’ll never pay down your card solely from spending… But you can select where to shop to get the most bang for your buck.

These offers are constantly cycling — and there are new ones all the time — so it’s worth checking back often. Luckily, Chase makes it super simple to take advantage of all your card’s perks with an online portal that’s easy to navigate.

So, if you’re in the market for a new credit card — one that will be worth owning, that pays you all sorts of rewards and opens up a world of travel at home or abroad — I can’t say enough good things about my Chase Sapphire card.

But — this is just one woman’s opinion. There are other cards out there, with other perks. It’s up to you to find the one that fits you best.

For my money, though, checking out a Chase Sapphire card is a good place to start.


Lucille St. John

Lucille St. John
Managing editor, Unconventional Wealth

P.S. Interested in shopping at an added discount, on top of all other deals? Want to use your credit card to save on everyday expenses… or just get paid every time you open your wallet? This is the best card available from our partners today — though be aware, offers are constantly changing, so what’s true today might not be tomorrow.

Lucille St. John

Lucille St. John is the managing editor of Unconventional Wealth. A gentlewoman and a scholar, Lucille never received much in the way of a financial education. But what she lacks in fiscal knowledge she makes up for in taste.

She’s going to take you with her on her unconventional wealth journey — starting from...

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