Getting Started In the Points Game – My Top 4 Loyalty Programs for Travel

4 Top Loyalty Programs for Travel | Cobalt Chronicles | Washington, DC | Travel Blogger

If you’ve been reading my travel posts for a while, you know I’m a huge proponent of taking advantage of the points/miles opportunities out there.  It’s how I’m able to travel as mush as I do! (News Flash: I’m not rolling in the dough!) I get asked pretty frequently about how I managed to accumulate miles/points that make travel so attainable. It can definitely be overwhelming if you’re just starting out.  Today I’m sharing the programs that I’m most loyal to because of both the rewards they offer and how the programs themselves play into my future travel plans.

Here are where my loyalties currently lie:

  • Chase Sapphire
  • American Airlines
  • Southwest
  • SPG

Now lets take a quick look at why these top my list.

Chase Sapphire

You can read here why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best travel card ever and here as to why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is my favorite card (I don’t currently have the Reserve, but that’s a story for another day.).  You can compare the two cards and other travel cards here for yourself!

Regardless of what Sapphire card you have, the major perk and the reason I love accumulating Ultimate Rewards points is that they transfer to SO MANY PARTNERS. And most transfer at a 1:1 ratio, meaning 1 UR point = 1 United Airlines Mile, for example. Michael and I used our UR points to book two round trip tickets to Europe this summer by transferring our UR points to United Miles. Perfecto! (Note – If you ONLY have the Chase Freedom card, you can’t transfer your UR points, that’s why the Sapphire and Sapphire Reserve cards are the ones to get. However, if you have the Freedom + the Sapphire or Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer UR points earned on your Freedom to the Sapphire account so that they can then be transferred to a travel partner.)


Y’all know I’m obsessed with the Southwest Companion Pass, and Southwest is actually my favorite domestic carrier (I’m a fan of the boarding process and hello $8 WiFi!).   Also, when Southwest tweeted this tweet to me, they really won me over. 😉

The Companion Pass is the if you’re always traveling with someone – you basically split the cost of 1 ticket anywhere Southwest flies. I had the pass in 2015 and 2016 and Michael just got it for 2017 and 2018. You can read how I got it here (and how to get it for two consecutive years here), however, Southwest made a few major changes to how you can obtain the pass, which go into effect on March 1, 2017.  I’ll be doing an updated post on how to obtain the pass soon, so stay tuned!

I also love accumulating SW points because they’re super easy to redeem (no black out dates), and it usually doesn’t take too many points to get to where you want to go!  I amassed my original bank of Southwest points by signing up for the Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card.  Both cards usually offer a nice sign up bonus if you hit the minimum spend requirements. Compare the personal card to other travel cards card here!

American Airlines

I started accumulating AA miles kind of by chance. I used to travel a lot for work, and I always flew U.S. Airways. I accumulated a ton of points this way and then U.S. Airways merged with American. So now I have a nice base of American miles. American Airlines is part of the One World Alliance so AA miles can be used to book flights on carriers that are also One World members. Michael and I used our AA miles to book our round trip flights to Southeast Asia last year on Cathay Pacific.

SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest)

I had never really stayed at Starwood properties until I got into the miles/points game. But then I learned how valuable Starpoints can be.  These points have a lot of perks, but here are two of my favorites: The fact that a very small amount of points can go a LONG way.  Michael and I used a few thousands points for a long weekend stay in the West Village (NYC) during the Christmas holidays.  And second, similar to the UR points, Starwood points can be transferred to several different airline partners – and there’s a huge bonus – For every 20,000 points you transfer, you’ll get a 5,000-mile bonus.  So say you need 100,000 miles to fly first class on American from NYC to Rome, you’ll only need to transfer 80,000 Starpoints and you would receive 20,000 bonus points for free!

I amassed my initial bank of SPG points by signing up for the American Express SPG credit card, and it’s still how I earn most of my SPG points!  You can see if that card is a good fit for you and read more about it and other travel credit cards here!

With all of this said, these are just the programs that work best for me and my travels. If you’re just starting out. Pick one loyalty program and stick to it. You don’t want to have a small amount of points spread across a ton of different programs. Once you accumulate a good number of points/miles with one program, then you can start diversifying depending on your travel and what programs will be most beneficial to you!

I hope this helps to get you started! If you have any questions about accumulating points/miles or any questions about the specific programs that I mentioned, please let me know! Comment below or shoot me an email ( I’m more than happy to help!

Disclaimer: If you click and/or sign up for a credit card through certain links on this site or any of my related social media platforms, I may make a commission from that click and/or purchase.  As always, all opinions are my own.


  1. I just got a Chase Sapphire card! So excited to use those POINTS. Hahah. Love your travel tips!

    Posted 2.14.17
    • Ashlee wrote:

      Nice! The UR points add up quick! So excited that you’ll get to put them to good use! Thanks so much for the love of the travel posts, they’re my favorite to put together! =)

      Posted 2.14.17
  2. Richard Kerr wrote:

    Good stuff – now we just need AA to release some sAAver space!

    Posted 2.14.17
    • Ashlee wrote:

      Thanks Richard! Cheers to that!

      Anxiously waiting to see if you receive that $1500 bonus you alluded to on Twitter yesterday (and how!)!

      Posted 2.15.17

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