While I absolutely love fall, I’m sad to see summer come to an end. Our neighborhood pool closes on Labor Day, and I always hate it when that happens. It always feels like the end of an era or something. And by the time it opens again next year, my kids will be one year older. Parents, where does the time actually go?

Still, we’ve got some pretty fun trips planned for the next few months. As Greg shared in a recent travel post, we’re heading to San Diego, St. Thomas, Greece, and Puerto Rico before year’s end. Oh, and we’re going on a super secret surprise trip to what has to be the least convenient island in the Caribbean to get to. If you want the details on that, you’ll have to sign up for my travel group on Facebook.

Once these upcoming trips are over, I have a ton of planning to do! Not only do I have 315,000 Membership Rewards Points to burn, but I have around 200,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, too. I’m not sure where they’ll take me, but I’ll find out soon!

Best Credit Card Rewards for September 2016

If you’re looking for a way to travel on a budget, the top travel credit cards can make it happen. All you need is good or excellent credit, a solid plan, and several months to see the process through from beginning to end. If you need help planning, feel free to hit me up on my Free Travel Advice page.

While there are a ton of excellent rewards cards and signup bonuses available each month, I only pick my favorites for this monthly post. Here are the top cards and offers as I see them for September 2016:

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

In case you haven’t heard, Chase released a premier travel card meant to compete with the American Express Platinum card. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in 90 days, a $300 travel credit, lounge access, and more. This card does come with a hefty $450 annual fee, but it’s more than offset if you can use the $300 annual travel credit twice (this year and next).

Other benefits come in the form of better earnings and redemptions. With this card, you’ll get 3x points on all dining and travel expenses. As an added bonus, your Chase Ultimate Rewards points will be worth 50 percent more when you use them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. I wish I could get this card, but I was sadly denied due to too many hard inquiries. That’s life, I suppose! Either way, this is a smart card to consider if you want a ton of points and travel benefits.

Read our Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

I am so glad the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is no longer a rumor. Unlike the traditional Chase Freedom® card that offers a flat 1% back on all purchases and 5% back in categories that rotate every quarter, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a flat 1.5% back on all of your purchases. This is obviously a better deal if you don’t like keeping track of rotating categories or if you don’t feel you would take advantage of them.

If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, then the Chase Freedom Unlimited might also be a better deal. Since all purchases qualify for 1.5% back and points are unlimited, you can earn a lot more points for travel this way.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited also offers a $150 signup bonus after you spend just $500 on your card within 90 days. As long as you pay your bill in full when it comes due, this is the closest thing to “free money” you’ll ever find.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Everyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with the Chase Sapphire Preferred for myriad reasons. First, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the most lucrative travel rewards points out there in my opinion. And second, they are so flexible! After all, you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for straight-up cash back, gift cards, or even merchandise if you want.

The other cool thing about Chase points is that you can transfer them to all the best hotel and airline loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. That list includes Southwest Rapid Rewards even, which is the best airline program for families by far. Other transfer partners include IHG (the points I’m using for my all-inclusive resort in Jamaica for Spring Break), Marriott, British Airways, Hyatt, and United, among others.

Here’s the best part: The current signup bonus on this card is 50,000 points, which is worth $500 in high value gift cards (some low-value cards cost more), $500 in cash, or more than $600 in travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Meanwhile, you’ll also earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred AMEXAlthough this isn’t a travel card, I’ve been seriously considering signup up for this one the last few months. With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you earn $200 statement credit after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. You earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)!

In addition, you earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and department stores and 1% on everything else. You can redeem all of your points for cash back and use them for everything from travel incidentals to plane tickets and more.

This is an excellent offer if most of your spending takes place at the grocery store, but it makes sense for people who spend a lot on gas and transportation costs as well. There is a $95 annual fee, however, so you have to weigh the pros and cons of paying that fee before you sign up. All things considered, I think this card is an excellent option for most families.



Ink Business Cash Card

I recently earned a ton of Chase Ultimate Rewards points with my husband’s Ink Business Cash Card by buying Lowe’s gift cards from an office supply store to pay for our new floors. Pretty sweet, huh?

With this card, you’ll score a $500 cash back point after you spend $3,000 on the card within the first 3 months. Plus, you’ll earn 5% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year, 2% on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn. Whew – that was a mouthful!

There is no annual fee, so you’re good to go!



 

Want free travel advice? Don’t forget to check out my free travel advice page. Also, feel free to hit me with any questions in the comments!

Love to travel? Want some cash back? Check out Holly's picks for the top credit card rewards offers this month!