How to Plan a Trip with Friends and Maximize Travel Credit Card Benefits: One Player vs. Two Player Travel

Sometimes traveling is more fun with a friend. What are the most effective ways to use credit card signup bonuses and perks when planning with a friend?

In one player mode, the planning travel is harder because you have to account for both flights and hotels for yourself. In two player mode, the game is slightly easier because you can share hotels, so you can take longer trips with the same amount of cards. 

Another benefit of two player mode is you can get cards that compliment each other instead of getting duplicate cards. For example, one player can have the Amex Platinum and the other can have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. 

Complimentary Cards:

  • Flights: One player can have the Chase Sapphire Reserve for travel benefits like trip delay insurance and the other player can have the Amex Platinum for Centurion Lounge access.
  • Ritz-Carlton card: If you're booking domestic travel with a friend, save $100 on two roundtrip flights. 

To illustrate taking longer trips, let's say you want to take a trip from the U.S. to Tokyo:

1 Player:

  • Flights: Book flights using any airline card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, whichever will give you the best deal with no out of pocket expenses.
  • Hotels: Use a hotel credit card like the Hyatt, IHG, or Ritz-Carlton card to redeem two free nights (signup bonus). You'll have to pay out of pocket or redeem points for more nights.
  • Eating and entertainment: Pick a card with no foreign transaction fees, and ideally one that earns 3x back on dining. 

VS.

2 Player mode:

  • Flights: Each player is still responsible for their own flight. If one player has a credit card with excellent trip insurance, it might make sense for them to buy both flights. 
  • Hotels: If both players have a hotel card with a sign up bonus, combine the nights to extend your trip. For example, Hyatt has a sign up bonus of 2 nights. If both players have the Hyatt card, then you can combine them to stay 4 nights free.
  • Eating and entertainment: Same as one player mode.

Conclusion

The real benefit of 2 player mode is that you can share the hotel perk. Let's say you need 20k points for a free night:

  • 1 Player: 20k points per person, per night
  • 2 Players: 10k points per person, per night (50% "cheaper" from a points perspective)

The other benefit is that you can chain together multiple signup bonuses that would otherwise be impossible. For example, if you wanted to do 4 nights:

  • 1 Player: Card for Hotel A + Card for Hotel B (requires you to switch hotels which might be extremely inconvenient or impossible depending on city)
  • 2 Players: Card for Hotel A + Card for Hotel B (at a worst, you'll have to change rooms but that's uncommon)