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Uber and Airbnb are two of the fastest-growing companies on the planet right now. Travelers like these two services because they often times can be more convenient & enjoyable than a traditional taxi or lodging services. The only drawback, while many credit card programs consider purchases with both companies as “travel expenses” to earn bonus points, it can be rather difficult to find a credit card that allows reward points to be redeemed for Airbnb stays & Uber rentals. Although, that is slowly changing as an increasing number of “reward travelers” seek to maximize their credit card points to pay for these travel expenses.
Airbnb might be the tougher of the two nuts to crack for redeeming points. This is mostly because only a select few credit card issuers allow rewards points to directly be redeemed for Airbnb stays. Do not let this fact deter you as it is still possible to redeem points for Airbnb purchases! It just takes an extra step or two.
Mentioned previously, American Express is the only issuer to have a direct partnership with Airbnb that allows card members to redeem Amex Membership Reward points for all or part of the purchase price. While this can be a great way to travel without having to pay with cash, the redemption rate is pretty lackluster at 0.7 cents per point. This means 1 Amex reward point is only worth 7/10 of one cent. For example, as the current American Express welcome offer for their Premier Rewards Gold credit card is 25,000 bonus points. It is intriguing to have the opportunity to partially pay for AirBnB stays with partial points, similar to some hotel rewards programs that charged a reduced cash rate when a reservation is paid for with a combination of points & cash.
The better option for Amex cardholders is to exchange the Membership Rewards points for an AirBnB gift card. Amex card members get the most “bang for the buck” with rewards points when they redeem them for airfare or gift cards. Travelers can exchange points for AirBnB gift cards at a 1% redemption rate. The two options are $100 and $250 gift cards that cost 10,000 or 25,000 points respectively. As an apples-to-apples comparison, 40,000 Membership Rewards points is redeemable for $400 while the direct stay is only worth $280. For an extra $120 in rewards, most people will view the extra step of paying for an AirBnB stay with a gift card as a good deal.
Another positive with the American Express relationship is the fact that paying for an AirBnB stay with Amex points or an Amex credit card also adds an extra layer of verification. This can help make the reservation process more secure and comfortable for the booker and host.
You cannot use Virgin America Elevate points to pay for an AirBnB stay, but you can earn points and get a discount. For reservations made before November 1, 2017, first-time AirBnB users that provide their Elevate loyalty program membership number will earn a bonus of 1,500 Elevate points and a $20 AirBnB travel credit for a booking of at least $150 in value. Existing AirBnB users will only earn 1 Elevate point per $1 spent. Although the points cannot be redeemed for a purchase, the 1:1 ratio is still great to offset future Virgin purchases and you can still earn extra rewards from your rewards credit card too.
AirBnB stays can also be redeemed for AirBnB stays with the Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® in the form of a statement credit. With this option, you must book and pay for the stay with the credit card to earn Arrival points. As Barclays offers a 5% bonus redemption rate for travel purchases this can be a great way to offset the entire rate or only part of it by earning a statement credit of 1 cent per mile. You can also earn 2% rewards on all purchases.
The Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is the best credit card to redeem points for statement credits from AirBnB purchases, but, this method can also be used with the Capital One Venture.
On to Uber. The worst nightmare of traditional taxi companies. Credit cards are more flexible with Uber but are still rather restrictive compared to other transportation methods such as rental cars.
Similar to AirBnB, American Express has partnered with Uber that allows cardholders to directly pay Uber fares with Membership Rewards. The redemption rate is 1% (better than the AirBnB redemption rate of 0.7%). This means 10,000 reward points are worth $100 in Uber credits. Also, Amex users will earn 2x Membership Reward points on Uber purchases. And, first-time Uber riders that use the promo code UBERAMEX can earn a $30 credit for their first ride purchase.
Another solid option is the American Express EveryDay card for those that use Uber several times per month, can enjoy a 20% Membership Rewards boost for a recurring purchase of at least 20 times per month. And, cardholders can still take advantage of the 2x Membership Reward bonus compliments of Amex’s partnership with Uber.
Capital One Quicksilver [Expired]
Cardholders of the Capital One Quicksilver can earn every 10th Uber ride free (up to $15 value) through November 2017. Users just need to link their Quicksilver credit card to their Uber account and pay for the first nine rides with their Quicksilver card to earn the free ride. If the 10th ride costs more than $15, the cardholder will pay the difference in excess of the $15 credit. In addition to the credit, you can also earn 1.5% cashback on all purchases, including the first nine Uber rides.
Similar to AirBnB, Uber rides can be paid, after the fact, by redeeming reward points for statement credits. The best option is the Barclays Arrival Plus with a redemption rate of 1 cent per Arrival mile redeemed and a 5% travel redemption bonus.
Uber rides paid for with the Capital One Venture Card can also be redeemed for statement credits, similar to AirBnB purchases.
Cash Back Credit Cards
While this method will not redeem points for AirBnB or Uber purchases, they can offer better redemption rates. While it’s always great to not pay cash for lodging or transportation, sometimes it is not worth the tradeoff. Other travelers, simply don’t want the hassle of going through a rewards portal to convert points into rewards travel or a statement credit.
If that is the case, some of the best cashback credit cards to consider are the Citi® Double Cash Card (earn up to 2% back: earn 1% when you buy, plus earn anther 1% when you pay for those purchases) or any rewards card that pays at least 2% for everyday purchases or on travel purchases.
The good thing about AirBnB (unlike VRBO or HomeAway) and Uber is that many credit cards include them in the travel purchase category. By earning enough cashback from purchases, the rewards money can be used to indirectly pay for a stay or ride.
And of course, you can use your Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for statement credits, or cash back. But UR points are more valuable when transferring them out to a travel transfer partner. But you will earn 2x points per $1 on travel purchases with your Chase Sapphire Preferred too, so there’s that.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.