Have you made a resolution to travel more in 2016? Is it high time that you took yourself off on a vacation or ticked a bucket list destination off your list? If so, it pays to know how to utilize credit cards with travel rewards to help you achieve your goals in less time.
However, when it comes to comparing the best rewards credit cards, it can be a little daunting to know what will be the best fit for your needs. There are plenty of options on the market, from those that provide great bonus points for signing up, or free travel insurance year-round, to those that help you earn free accommodation or flights just by shopping.
No matter whether you want to take a quick trip within your state or have the holiday of a lifetime, you’re sure to be able to find a rewards credit card to help you get there. Read on for some tips to finding the best option for you in 2016.
Knowing Your Goals First
In order to evaluate the various cards on the market, you first really need to know exactly what your goals are. After all, you may want to earn airline miles especially for a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world, or instead to build up points that can be used on hotel stays during relaxing weekends away throughout the year. Alternatively, perhaps you first and foremost want to get some cash back or rewards for all the business travel you have to take each year.
No matter what your plans are, you need to be clear about them in order to work out which card (or perhaps even a few of them) can help you achieve your goals sooner. Once you focus on your specific desires, it will make it much easier to analyze the available options and see which credit cards will work for you, and which you shouldn’t bother looking into any further.
Be Clear on How and Where You Intend to Travel
Similarly, you also need to understand your travel habits before you can settle on a credit card. You should be clear on how you travel (perhaps by plane all the time, or maybe you drive yourself); where you stay (e.g. whether at properties belonging to the same accommodation chain, or at various hotels around the world); how often you head away (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, or only very occasionally); and where you travel (that is, nationally or internationally).
Once you have examined your typical itinerary, you will be able to locate a credit card that suits your lifestyle. For example, if you fly with the same airline regularly, or stay with the same hotel group each time, it will pay to choose a card that is run by, or partnered with, that particular company.
There are a variety of such travel firms who have put out their own credit cards, and many of these programs not only provide standard miles or points, but can also offer you extras such as flight or room upgrades, valet pick-ups or drop offs, extra luggage allowances, late checkouts, concierge services and more, in exchange for your repeat business.
If, on the other hand, you rarely get the opportunity to travel, but are dying to have a big holiday, you might be better off looking for a credit card where you can earn lots of bonus points just for signing up. That way, you might earn a one-way fare, or have a good head start at least, without even needing to spend a stack of cash on travel or other goods and services.
You should also consider a credit card that rewards you for paying your monthly bills on it, such as utilities and groceries. This way, you can earn points throughout the year just by paying your normal expenses, without having to spend more on specific travel purchases.
Compare Cards Carefully
The other big tip for selecting a travel-based credit card is to spend your time researching before you commit. Some cards can look great at first sight, but have very high annual fees, through-the-roof interest rates, or other negatives. Oftentimes the fees charged by the lender can actually negate the value of the rewards you receive for using the card, so take your time before signing on the dotted line.
When comparing options, keep an eye out for other potential hazards such as minimum spend amounts required in order to receive bonus points; a low number of interest-free days; or a cut-off on the amount of cash back, miles, points, or other rewards that can be accumulated annually.