Travel credit cards can offer some great rewards and benefits that can not only help you to save money on travel, but also enjoy a better travel experience. However, if you want to get the most from your travel credit card, you need to know how to maximize your benefits. So, here we’ll explore how to maximize your travel credit card.
Before you can get the most out of your travel credit card, you need to ensure that you have the right card for you. Your travel credit card needs to fit your travel preferences and spending habits. You need a card that works for you, as you won’t be able to use your card strategically if you need to drastically change how you typically shop and travel.
For example, if you prefer to shop around to get the best deals, a flexible travel rewards card will be the best option for you. You can redeem your rewards for more types of travel. However, if you are loyal to a specific hotel chain or airline, you are likely to find a branded card is more valuable to you. You’ll be able to earn points on flights or stays and redeem them for more flights or stays later.
It can be very impressive when your new credit card has a massive list of benefits and freebies. This can include perks such as airport lounge access, free checked bags and priority boarding. However, this does come at a cost. Typically, travel credit cards with annual fees have more high value benefits.
If you don’t make use of these perks, the cost savings will be lost against the annual fee. If you won’t use the card benefits frequently enough to cover the annual fee, you should consider a simpler card with a low or no annual fee.
If you only use your card to pay for your travel expenses, you will be missing out on opportunities to earn rewards. While they tend to be weighted towards travel, many travel cards offer extra points in other spending categories. For example, you may be able to earn bonus points when you purchase gas, groceries or dine out.
If you use your card for your everyday spending, you will find you accumulate rewards more quickly.
This follows on from the above point, but it is important to check the reward category terms before you start spending. The rewards you earn will depend on how your purchases are categorized.
For example, you may be able to earn double points on groceries, but if you buy them from a convenience store, the transaction may not be categorized as a grocery purchase.
You should also check if there are any category spending caps. Some cards limit how much you can spend in a specific category at a higher reward level.
Many cards have a welcome bonus offer if you meet a spending minimum. However, even after this point, there may be special incentives where you can earn extra points or enjoy discounts on certain products or services.
Some bonus opportunities are a limited time offer, but others may depend on how much you spend, how you redeem your rewards and where you tend to travel. For example, you may be able to earn extra points when you buy back to school supplies or get a bonus if you spend $20,000+ in a calendar year.
The bonus opportunities can be a great way to maximize the benefits and rewards of your travel card.
The redemption values for rewards can vary greatly, but travel cards typically heavily favor travel redemptions. You’re likely to find that your rewards can be worth almost double compared to redeeming for non travel purchases such as gift cards.
So, even if you have the multiple options to redeem your rewards, you will typically be far better off to use them for travel.
Even if you can receive extra points with your travel purchases, don’t mean all your travel purchases will qualify. Most travel credit cards encourage loyalty with the highest rewards rate when purchases are made through its travel portal. If you use a third party platform such as Expedia or book through a travel agency, you won’t earn as many rewards.
If you’re unsure, check the terms for your specific card before you book a flight, hotel or rental car outside the rewards portal.
Some cards allow authorized users to enjoy the travel benefits. For example, some cards offer free airport lounge access or free checked bags for all authorized users on the account. Not only will this allow your travel companions to enjoy some great perks, but their charges can help you to accumulate more rewards.
However, there is a note of caution. If you add an authorized user to your account, they will have authority to charge transactions to your account. So, while it is tempting to try to add more users to get more rewards, you need to be sure that any authorized users are financially responsible and you’ve agreed who will be paying for the items when the bill comes through.
Finally, if you don’t pay your card balance in full each month, you’ll start accruing interest charges. When you pay interest charges, there is the potential to lose the value of your rewards and card benefits. So, while it may be tempting to charge all possible purchases, remember that you’ll need to cover the cost when your statement arrives. You’ll need to be disciplined to have the money waiting in your bank account or limit what you charge to your card.
Travel credit cards can offer some great rewards, but if you want to get the most from your card, be sure to follow these tips.
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