Cards that pay for a Valentine getaway

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(MoneyWatch) Want to go big, but spend little, this Valentine's day? Consider getting a credit card that will pay for a weekend away. There are three cards with travel rewards rich enough that you could present your honey with a rose and a promise -- "I'll take you anywhere" -- and know that a good portion of the cost is going to be shouldered by a rewards plan, says Odysseas Papadimitriou, chief executive of CardHub.com.

"One particularly attractive idea is to plan a vacation for spring or summer," he says. "The prospects of warm weather will put your love in a positive frame of mind and you'll have plenty of time to apply for a rewards card with a great initial bonus to help foot the bill."

Be aware, however, that if you don't have pristine credit, you may not qualify for these offers. But if you do, the rewards can make your romantic weekend far more cost effective.

The cards?

Hilton HHonors Surpass: This card provides a 60,000-point initial bonus -- 40,000 after the first purchase, and another 20,000 after you've spent $3,000 on the card. That bonus is redeemable for between one and eight free hotel nights, depending on the Hilton hotel you choose.

British Airways Visa Signature: This card offers 50,000 miles bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first three months. But if you spend another $10,000 in the first year, you'll get 25,000 miles more. If you spend $20,000 in that first year, your bonus rises by another 25,000 points - for a sum total of 100,000 points available. That 100,000 points can buy you one transatlantic flight on British Airways, or it can pay for between two and four domestic flights. British also has a partnership with American Airlines, so the points are good on either carrier.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: If you charge $3,000 on this card within the first three months, you'll get a 40,000 point bonus, redeemable for $500 in travel accommodations or a $400 statement credit.

One last caution: Never charge more on the card than you can afford to pay off quickly because revolving interest charges can quickly eat away the "bonus" savings. If you do charge more than you can pay off in a month or two, Papadimitriou suggests you consider transferring the balance to a fourth card -- Slate from Chase. That card doesn't charge for balance transfers (a rare benefit) and gives you 15 months interest free borrowing.

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