As hotel loyalty and frequent flyer programs have become more restrictive, credit card issuers have responded with more versatile offerings. Choosing the right travel credit cards can be difficult, but there are ways to simplify the process. Use the information below to choose the right card and reap the rewards.
Credit Card Types
There are different types of travel-related credit cards, as shown below.
- Hotel, airline, and car rental-branded cards. These cards are linked to a specific rewards program and allow travelers to redeem their points with any program partner. However, lists can be rather short.
- General travel cards. These let travelers gather points and transfer them to partners. The list of partners is typically longer and can include competing airlines.
Things to Consider When Selecting a Card
Every card’s costs and benefits are different, and sifting through them to find the right card can be tricky. Consider these factors when making a decision.
- Interest. This factor is obvious, but if the traveler can pay his or her charges in full every month, it’s less of a concern.
- Annual fees. These can often be avoided. Some issuers waive the fee for the first year and continue to do so if charges are above a certain amount.
- Points expiration. Some cards’ points expire on a regular basis, and some don’t expire at all.
- Points loss. When moving points to a partner, for instance, the traveler may lose some in the process.
- Foreign transaction charges. Many cards charge for out-of-country transactions. While most travel cards waive these fees, it’s important to check before signup.
- Tax considerations. In some cases, card rewards are considered taxable income. Consult an accountant or tax expert for advice.
Learn About Cash Back and Non-Travel Card Choices
Even if a traveler uses his or her card for points or miles, they should check whether the card has a cash-back feature. With this, the traveler can still get the benefits from their points even if they go through a time without travel or if their cash flow temporarily dries up. It’s important for customers to learn about all their options to make an informed decision.