If you love to travel, either close to home or internationally, it pays to check out the wide range of rewards-based credit cards on the market. From cards that give you free travel insurance and bonus sign-up points, to those who reward you for every dollar spent on trips or other expenses, there are plenty of different options to choose from.
However, it can be tricky deciding which credit card is the best one for your needs. Should you compare airline specific credit cards, or look at those which are issued by hotel chains? Are you best off selecting a card that earns you lots of bonus points, or one that gives you cash back? The answer is: it all depends on what your requirements are and how you travel. If you’re keen to start using a card that will help you travel more often, read on for some tips to choosing the best credit card for your needs.
Decide on Your Travel Goals
Since there is no one credit card that is best for everyone, it pays to know exactly what your travel goals are when deciding which card will be right for you. For example, do you want to earn points or cash back for all the travel you do, and use those rewards to purchase goods or save some money? Or perhaps your goal is to travel overseas once every couple of years, or to get the chance to enjoy nights away in a fancy hotel on a regular basis throughout the year?
No matter your goals, there will be a card (or often multiple ones) that can help achieve the results you’re seeking. By focusing on your specific goals when you compare travel rewards cards, you’ll be able to see which ones really suit your needs, and which ones aren’t worth applying for anytime soon.
Examine How and Where You Travel
To pick the best credit card to suit your lifestyle, apart from being clear on what your goals are, you should also be aware of exactly how and where you travel. For starters, look at your travel patterns to see if you always stay at properties owned by the same hotel chain, or if you typically take flights run by the same airlines (or airline group).
If this is the case, you best option would most likely be choosing a card offered by your favorite company, since you’ll be able to rack up rewards nice and quickly. Many airlines and hotel chains have their own credit cards, and on top of standard rewards may even provide repeat customers with bonuses like room or flight upgrades, concierge services, valet pick up and drop off, additional luggage allowances, and the like.
Similarly, look at how often you actually travel. For example, if you’re desperate for an overseas holiday but can’t afford the flights and hardly ever travel, look for a card that has a large number of bonus points for signing up — this bonus could even provide enough points for a one-way fare, or at least give you a good start.
In addition, seek a card that rewards you with points for paying your weekly and monthly bills on it (such as your groceries, electricity, phone and Internet). These two types of rewards combined will usually be the best way to accumulate points for an international flight if you don’t currently travel much.
Compare Fees and Rewards
Lastly, you need to closely examine all of the various fees and rewards that come with each travel credit card in order to ascertain which will work best for you. For instance, while one card might look promising due to its sign-up bonus, when you examine the fees involved you might find that the annual cost negates a large part of the value of that bonus, or that the interest rate charged and number of interest-free days allowed is just not suitable.
As well, some cards impose spending minimums on the earning of rewards, or have cut offs on the amount of points or cash back that you can earn per annum. Check the fine print to see if you need to charge a certain amount of money to your card before you start earning points — if this number is likely to be higher than any amount you would spend during the year anyway, then the card won’t suit.
Similarly, if you tend to charge very large amounts of money over a year, and the credit card you’re considering only accrues bonuses on the first $20,000, $50,000 or other amount spent, you would be better off going with a card that has no such limit. This will make a big difference to the amount of rewards you can earn over 12 months.