Why use an ordinary credit card when you can use a travel credit card?
Many people love to travel. They love new experiences and they love the fun and excitement of travel. The only problem is, traveling can be expensive. According to Entrepreneur, the average cost of a domestic one-week vacation is $1,145 per person.
Average is the key word here, since a plane ticket can eat up more than half of that amount, leaving you precious little to vacation on. Those who fly to their destinations invariably spend more than those who drive.
So how can we afford to get our travel fix?
Stay with relatives! No, we’re kidding — that would ruin the vacation. You can save money on travel by using travel credit cards. With this type of card, every time you use it you can accrue points toward airline tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and other travel-related expenses.
If you can use your travel credit card for work and then get reimbursed, you can rack up lots of extra points this way.
Offers and rewards differ among travel credit cards. Comparison shop before deciding which one is best for you. For instance, if a card awards lots of airline points but you’re a reluctant flyer and prefer to drive, that one isn’t for you.
Let’s take a look at the top travel credit cards and what each one offers you.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Travel Credit Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card was a favorite of many website reviewers. Money Magazine named it “Best General Travel Card” for 2016-17. What do they love about it? The flexibility and value. Points are worth one cent each, but if you use them for travel, they’re worth 25 percent more. Their travel partners include top airlines and hotels — get a current listing here.
This card also provides up to $10,000 of travel insurance per trip.
You get 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months, and points don’t expire. This translates to $625 toward travel redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The first year this card is free; in subsequent years, the annual fee is $95.
There are no foreign transaction fees and no blackout dates for travel.
Starwood Preferred Guest Travel Credit Card
Money Magazine likes the Starwood Preferred Guest for hotel stays. Right now, this card is offering two points for every dollar charged, but this deal ends July 31, and the rate goes back to 1:1. In August, Starwood will link up with Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards. See how you can redeem points across all these brands.
Starwood is not currently offering a signup bonus, but you can get some credit and some extra points by adhering to some distinct rules in certain specified time limits.
This card offers the same fee deal — first year free, $95 per year thereafter — and there are no foreign transaction fees. In a way, this adds more value, because the Starwood Preferred Guest card is an American Express card, and this company is famous for charging higher fees. Further, it’s possible you could run into more overseas merchants who don’t take American Express, depending on where you’re traveling.
Of course, to redeem your points, you have to stay in Starwood brand hotels. These include Sheraton, W, St. Regis and the Westin. No Red Roof Inns on this list. Not that there’s anything wrong with those.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Travel Credit Card
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card, you can earn one point for every dollar you spend and two points for every dollar you spend on travel on Southwest and its partners, which include Best Western, Hyatt and Marriott.
You can earn points toward free airline tickets on Southwest, but you can’t go to other continents, because Southwest only flies within North America and to Central America and the Caribbean.
Southwest tickets are pretty cheap already, but that just means you’ll earn free tickets faster with this top travel credit card.
What’s great about this card is that you can redeem your points for things that aren’t Southwest tickets, or even travel-related. You can get gift cards for Amazon.com, iTunes and Best Buy, or get merchandise including electronics, luggage, and travel accessories.
This card doesn’t offer a signup bonus, but it does give you 6,000 points on your anniversary. There are no foreign transaction fees. The fee for this card is $99 per year, including the first year (no freebie here).
If you love to travel and save money, a travel credit card is for you. Try one of the cards we listed above, and see how much you can save on travel with a travel credit card.