Should you apply for a travel credit card?
In a world with tons of credit cards to choose from, it can be hard to determine what kind of card is right for you. One variety of credit card – with rewards getting more and more competitive every year – is the travel credit card. This type of credit card is great for spenders who like to use credit and reap sweet, sweet travel rewards in the process. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to spend money on travel purchases to benefit from a travel credit card.
Many travel cards allow spenders to earn points and miles on everyday purchases, making travel rewards more accessible than ever. While travel cards may be perfect for some people, their benefits may fall flat for some types of spenders. In addition, there are a few things everyone should know about the possible drawbacks to travel cards. So, how do you know if a travel credit card is right for you?
Travel card perks
If you’re an avid traveler, a travel credit card can provide a lot of valuable perks. Instead of cashback rewards, travel cards typically award spenders with miles or points that can go toward flights, hotels, or even special vacations. Some of the best travel credit cards have partnerships with frequent flyer programs and hotel rewards programs, making it easier than ever to use rewards with a variety of airlines and hotels.
Depending on what type of card you invest in, these rewards may vary. Some travel cards will even boost your reward points by if you book travel through their branded portal. Other travel bonuses include access to exclusive airport lounges, free flight upgrades, free checked bags, trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance, and purchase protection against damage or theft.
What’s more, if you score a travel credit card that’s co-issued with a hotel brand, you’ll have special access and rates to hundreds if not thousands of properties across the world. If you are someone who travels quite a bit, these travel credit card bonuses can quickly start to add up, making your life a whole lot easier.
Unfortunately, nearly all travel credit cards charge an annual fee. These fees to utilize the card can range anywhere from $95 to $499, annually. Therefore, you should always be conscious that the travel rewards you are reaping are worth more than the price of the annual fee. In addition, travel rewards aren’t always the most flexible. First, some cards only allow users to redeem points for flights on certain dates.
This can be a real bummer if you were planning on spending your travel rewards during peak times like holidays or special events. What’s more, you may not get as much bang for your buck if you choose to use your travel card rewards on other offers like cash back, statement credits, or gift cards. The value of the point is much lower if you stray from flights or hotels. If you primarily travel overseas, you’ll want to be especially careful signing up for a travel card. This is because some travel cards charge a foreign transaction fee. These fees can range anywhere from 2% to 3% on every purchase made abroad. These fees can stack up quickly – and potentially outweigh the value of the card as a whole if you consider the annual fee, too.
Finally, depending on your card issuer, you may only be getting valuable rewards points if you spend money on certain categories. For instance, some card issuers may award three points for every dollar spent on dining and one point per dollar spent on everything else. If you don’t go out to eat much, you won’t be earning rewards as quickly. Always be sure to read how your rewards are applied to your spending categories.
How to decide
So, how do you determine whether a travel credit card is right for you? First, you should evaluate how much you currently travel and how much you want to travel in the future. If you’re already flying quite a bit, for business or pleasure, a travel credit card may be a great way to earn valuable rewards that can turn into free flights or hotel stays. If you don’t travel often, or you can’t use a travel card enough to rack up rewards that are more valuable than the annual fee, it’s best to stay away from travel credit cards. You’re probably better suited for a more straightforward, cashback credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.
Even if you dream of traveling the world, you should definitely consider just how much you can spend on traveling. While flights and accommodations may be free or discounted with a travel card, you’ll still need to spend a decent amount of money on food, fun, and other activities as you travel. Finally, before settling on a travel credit card, determine your desired travel destinations. If you’re looking forward to traveling to several new countries, make sure you find a travel credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees. All things considered, a travel credit card is a great investment for someone who’s already spending quite a bit while looking to earn rewards they can easily use on travel. However, you should seek a different kind of credit card if you don’t think you’ll utilize these specific travel rewards or you don’t typically use credit as your primary payment option.