Travel is the part of life that brings us unlimited joy. Whether you are young and old, going on the road solo or with family, adventure is something that never loses its charm.
And, with the advent of travel credit card rewards, it’s also become affordable.
Plus, there are many benefits of traveling across the country or the continent. For one, you get a chance to see the world for yourself, experience different cultures, and traditions, and discover who you are as a person. On the other hand, it helps improve our overall health.
Then why are there so few people who venture out into the unknown for the thrill of experience and adventure?
For many, it’s the cost that holds them back. Thus, here are a few ways to save money on vacation using travel card rewards:
Before you can think of traveling for free with your credit card rewards, you need to find the best carrier company that gives you the options you need.
You'll find two kinds of travel credit cards you can apply for: one, general-purpose cards and two, brand-specific cards. The difference between the two options is that while general-purpose gives you more flexibility in where you use the card, brand-specific requires you to make your travel purchases strictly with the airline or hotel they recommend.
General Purpose cards will get you more rewards on all travel-related purchases, whereas for the brand-specific you get higher rewards only when you use a specific airline or hotel.
So, when choosing your card, be sure of how much flexibility you need and the perks that each carrier offers. List the pros and cons, determine if you are loyal to one airline or want to use other brands.
Or, you don’t need to have just one travel credit card. For more freedom to earn points and faster rewards, you can choose cards that offer points on different purchases. For example, one card might have rewards for gas, and others might give rewards on travel expenses.
Additionally, you don’t have to stick to travel credit cards; cashback credit cards can also be used to rack up points for free travel. But, that comes with more limitations on where you use it and how much you can earn per purchase.
There will also be an annual fee on the best travel credit cards. Some companies waive off the payment for the first year; but, starting the second year, you’ll have an annual fee to payout. Make sure to do so before the final date to avoid accumulating interest rates.
So, pick a card or two that comes with more perks like no caps on points earned; the ability to gain bonuses with a travel partner, and complimentary companion tickets. Waived checked baggage is also something credit cards can do, so read the contracts and benefits and awards offered before you sign up.
When choosing cards, you should also keep in mind where you want to travel and use your card. If you are journeying locally or across the country, any travel credit card will work.
But, if you thought of using your card abroad, then you might want to choose a card that has no foreign transaction fee. That won’t help you earn points and may cost you more than you expect.
Therefore, be conscious of where you are using your card and make sure it works internationally anywhere in the world.
Before you sign up for any travel credit cards, be sure to read the fine print. That will help you get to know where to use your card to get the most points, plus you’ll know when and how you can lose your rewards too.
For example, some cards offer you rewards for dining, gas, or other travel purchases. If you know that fact, then always use your credit card to make these payments and earn maximum rewards possible.
Also, it’ll help to know the interest charges on delayed payments before you sign the contract so that they don’t take you by surprise if you can’t pay your dues on time.
The way your travel credit cards help secure rewards on your purchases, signing up for loyalty programs for hotels and airlines also gives you points when you book a room or flight.
The benefit of signing up is that not only do you get rewards for booking with those specific companies, but you can also add to your credit card rewards if you use your rewards number when booking.
For example, securing a flight ticket for Delta Airlines and a room in Marriot Hotel will get you points on their separate loyalty programs, if you use your rewards number, but you will also gain rewards on your travel credit card for the travel purchase.
The point of loyalty plans is to reward customers for their frequent booking, so make sure to stick to one company as much as possible. The more points you gain, the closer you’ll get to exclusive packages and perks like cheap flight tickets and hotels.
Tip: Choose loyalty programs that offer you the flexibility to fly with partner airlines or ones in the same alliance; that way, you don’t feel like you are stuck with one option.
Another way to save money on vacation using travel credit cards is to use your credit, instead of cash, to make any purchases.
When you are abroad or even within the country, you can use your credit cards to pay for anything that you buy be it your flight ticket, hotel room, activities, dining, and tour guides, even gas.
The fact is more you use your card, the more points you earn; so, learn about your credit card company to know the best way to gain as many points as possible.
Moreover, if you are traveling with friends and family, then you can gain more points on your travel credit cards by paying for their purchases. They’ll pay you back in cash, while you’ll get the benefits of rewards without overspending.
Like with any credit card bill, don’t ever slack when paying your dues for your travel credit card. It will not give you a bad credit score but also limit the travel rewards you earned.
Especially when using a travel rewards credit cards, it is ideal if you pay your balance in full each month. Keeping a good credit will also help you meet the criteria for better credit cards.
Furthermore, if you delay the balance payment past the final date, it will negate the points you earned and cost interest on your amount. No matter how minimal the finance charges maybe, return your credit in full every month to truly enjoy your travel credit card for free.
Some travel rewards credit cards offer exclusive sign up bonuses that usually come if you make a purchase with your card within a specified time. That is an excellent way to earn points on your card and rewards as significant as a free flight to your destination.
But the catch to such a great deal is that the time to gain these bonuses starts the minute you sign up not when you get your credit card. So, the total days you have to spend are bound to be less than you see on their website.
When you go for sign up bonuses, search for credit cards that have a spending threshold, you can pay off in full each month. For example, for a 90-day time duration, and a minimum spending amount of $3000, you’ll have to spend and pay off $1000 at least each month. If that is out of your budget, go for sign up bonuses with a lower spending threshold.
Also, unless your wallet allows it, don’t try to earn sign up rewards for multiple travel credit cards at one time. And, various credit card companies have different offers when it comes to sign-up bonuses; you might be able to earn a sign-up reward every two years or just once in the lifetime of your card.
Also, keep in mind, when trying to earn these bonuses is that they may take up to five months to credit the reward to your account after you meet the spending threshold. So, be patient and don’t bombard the company with such concerns every two-three weeks.
You can also shop online with your travel credit card to earn points and save on vacation.
Purchase travel items to take on your vacation or anything else that you piques your fancy, maybe a souvenir for a loved one, via the online portal associated with your travel credit card.
More than shopping at a retail store, the online shopping portal will help you gain points faster.
Like the rewards programs for hotels and airlines, there are also exclusive bonuses for ordering dinner on your travel rewards credit cards.
Some carriers offer rewards for particular purchases, so if your credit card says that you can get more points on dining then put your bill on your card, and your friends and families as well.
The best thing about travel rewards programs is that at times you can gain points just by talking to a friend.
As I said, read the fine print and see if your credit card company participates in referral programs. If so, then ask a friend to sign up, and after they are approved, you get the points accredited to your account.
Another benefit of reading the fine print is that you get to know where your credit card company stands on balance transfers and cash advances.
The two acts almost always come at a price. If you don’t want to add extra charges on your dues at the cost of losing your reward points, then you should stay away from balance transfers and cash advances.
Even with promotional offers on the fee for a balance transfer, the cost could be more than a few dollars depending on the amount you transferred. Not only do you not gain any reward points, but it will take up space on your credit card, leaving you with fewer funds for your travel expenses.
Being part of multiple rewards programs and with more than one travel credit card to your name, you can avail the benefit of transferring points and redeem them for a trip.
But, before you go about doing that read the contract of your credit card and check the details for transferring points; whether you’ll lose any reward points on transfer or not; a 1:1 ratio for transfer would mean you get to keep all the points you earned.
More than referring a friend, this savings hack will help you earn more rewards.
You can add someone you trust like a best friend or family member as an authorized user on your travel credit card and the two of you can rack up points together much more quickly than otherwise.
That feat allows your authorized user to make purchases on your credit card that in turn add up to travel points. But when you do that, make sure you can pay back these spending.
Moreover, sometimes, they don’t even have to use your card; by assigning an authorized user, you get to earn sign up bonuses too.
There you have it, savvy ways to save money on vacation by using your travel credit card rewards. If you employ these strategies to rack up points, then you can travel as much as you please solo or with family and friends without ever using “no funds” as an excuse.
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