What’s the Best Credit Card for Travel? A Detailed Look at Credit Card Travel Rewards

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There are many benefits to having and using a credit card while traveling. For example, using a credit card abroad can help you to travel more cheaply as you gain free Airmiles for spending money on your card.

The problem that most people have is that because there are so many different credit cards out there these days it’s hard to know which the best one for you is. Hopefully on this page we’ll answer any questions you may have about travel credit cards and guide you in the right direction so that you can get the most for your money.

What to Look in a Travel Credit Card – Credit Card Travel Rewards

One of the main benefits to having a credit card is the rewards that you’ll get when using it (i.e. spending money on it). Spending money on your travel reward card will earn you points that you can cash in (once you’ve earned enough) on flights, hotel rooms, car rentals and more.

What travel rewards should you look for in a credit card, and which will be most useful to you? Here are a few rewards that you should ALWAYS look for:

  • Sign-up Bonuses – Because competition between credit card companies is so fierce these days, most will offer you a joining large bonus (such as 20,000 Airmiles) just for signing up.
  • Rewards Flexibility – When traveling, you want to be able to use your credit card anywhere, and you want to be able to cash in your reward points in as many different places (on as many different things) as possible, so naturally you want a large amount of flexibility on your travel rewards. Some cards (particularly those that are associated with a certain brand/company) will limit how and when you can spend your rewards. Avoid getting tied down to a particular airline, hotel, etc. so that you can use your travel rewards when and wherever you wish.
  • Free Purchase Protection – Having just paid a small fortune for a local antique you accidentally trip up on a badly paved street, leaving the precious antique in several pieces scattered across the floor. What can you do in a situation like this? Luckily, most credit cards offer free purchase protection (covering accidental damage, loss and theft) so you should be able to claim it back. This also means that you should use your credit card whenever making big purchases (such as booking flights or hotel rooms), as you’ll be protected in the event that something goes wrong. Note that purchase protection varies between credit cards, so make sure to check the details before applying.

Important Things to Consider – What Are You Looking For? What Are Your Needs?

Before applying for a travel rewards credit card, think about your lifestyle, what you want out of your credit card and the ways that you’ll use it.

credit cardsDo you regularly stay in hotels during business trips? Do you fly a lot? Are you loyal to certain brands or companies?

Answering these questions will help you to determine whether you should get a card that gives out generous Airmiles, whether you should get a card that’s associated with a certain company (i.e. a loyalty credit card) and so on.

While one credit card might appear to offer you more ‘on paper’, if you’re not actually going to be making use of the potential rewards it offers, than it’s pointless. The ‘best credit card’ will differ depending on the person who’s using it.

Credit Card Annual Fees

Something that’s often overlooked are the annual fees that some credit cards come with (meaning you’ll be charged a set rate per year to use the card and the advantages it brings).

Typically, these fees range anywhere from $40 to $80, so before taking out a credit card with a high annual fee you’ll need to be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.

Not all cards come with annual fee, but the best credit card for traveling (i.e. the ones with the best travel rewards) almost always do, so if you do travel (or fly) a lot than it should be worth it.

Why You Shouldn’t Choose a Card Based Only on Rewards

It’s important to remember that there’s a lot more to choosing a credit card than simply comparing the rewards each one offers. Oftentimes companies will attempt to reel you in with offers of amazing credit card travel rewards, but then slap on a huge annual fee or an exorbitant interest rate.

When comparing credit cards, be sure to look at things like the annual fee and the interest rate (for the first year and for subsequent years). Try to work out if the rewards you’ll receive will balance out the costs and whether the card is worth it or not. Obviously this is hard to estimate, but it’s good to try and get a general idea.

Recommended Travel Credit Cards

Here are 4 of the best travel rewards credit cards out there.

Further Research

If you fancy doing some more research (so that you can find the best travel rewards credit card for you) here’s a list of useful websites to help you do so:

To really benefit from using your travel rewards credit card you MUST pay off the entire balance (i.e. the amount you’ve spent) on your credit card each and every month.

No travel rewards or bonuses will make up for the interest you’re charge for failing to do so (not to mention the effect it can have on your credit), so before ever taking out a credit card think long and hard about whether you’ll be able to use it responsibly or not.

Remember that whatever credit card you choose should suit your needs and your lifestyle and should work with you (and not against you). Applying for a credit card is a big deal, so be sure to do your research properly to find the one that’s best for you, so that you can start earning travel rewards and Airmiles as soon as possible!

Related posts:

  1. Cash, Credit Cards or Traveler’s Checks – A Guide to Handling Money Abroad

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