How to Pick The Best Travel Rewards Card?

July 13, 2018

Did you hear about the guy who traveled around the world – for next to nothing?  Has one of your friends has been gushing about how she flew to Hawaii and it didn’t cost her a cent?
Are you wondering how you can, too?

Whatever your friend’s method may have been, there is a surefire way to travel for free:  Welcome to the world of travel rewards credit cards.

Long gone are the days where you could only get air miles, now you can get points towards flights, hotels, rental card, baggage fees and much more! You can still find your airline branded cards like the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, which earns you points only for that airline. But if you’re not really brand loyal to a specific airline or you don’t fly a lot, a broader travel card is the one for you. Bank of AmericaCitiCapital One and Chase all offer a competitive travel rewards card.

As you begin to explore the possibilities for your future adventures, you should first ask yourself what your travel goals are.  Is it your dream to take your parents on a relaxing trip to Hawaii?  Are you hoping to finally take the kids to Disney World?   Would you be happy with free flights only, or are you trying to cover the cost of accommodations as well?  The best card for you will depend on your answers, so take some time to consider them carefully.

As with most rewards credit cards, the interest rates often more than negate any perks earned, so only choose a new travel rewards card if you know you will pay the balance in full every month.  In addition, many of the travel rewards credit cards do have an annual fee; however, that fee is usually waived in the first year.  So, you can maximize your rewards in the first year and cancel the card before the fee is charged for the following year, or you can see if the travel benefits you’re reaping are significant enough to more than cover the annual expense.

When the time comes to redeem those well-deserved rewards, most airlines can help you book your travel through a toll-free number or a travel center. For example, Bank of America has an entire rewards manager to help you redeem all your points.  You may also want to consider sites like FlyerTalk and MilePoint, where you can get detailed information on how to use those points to your biggest advantage – and maybe even get an upgraded flight for the same miles as coach! What are you waiting for?  A no-cost flight to Tahiti or a stay at a five-star hotel may be just around the corner.

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