A recent U.S. News survey indicates travel credit card holders often earn hundreds in rewards each year. However, many cardholders aren’t using their credit cards in a way that helps them maximize travel rewards. More than half of travel credit card holders carried a balance from month to month at least once in the last year. Carrying a balance and paying interest charges can eat into or completely outweigh the value of any travel rewards you may earn.
Cardholders are frequently not taking advantage of credit card benefits. In the survey, nearly half of travel credit card holders did not use any cardholder benefits. These can include airport lounge access, trip cancellation or delay insurance, free checked bags, auto rental insurance, no foreign transaction fee, and priority boarding. These benefits can provide significant value, saving money while traveling and making it more convenient.
An airline credit card may have the potential to earn significant miles, but it’s only valuable if you frequently fly with the airline and can earn enough rewards to get free flights. If you’re an infrequent traveler, but want to earn rewards to take a trip, consider a general travel rewards credit card that will allow you to earn rewards for everyday expenses and redeem them for travel. However, if you frequently travel with a particular brand, it’s a good idea to get that brand’s card, as they typically earn a higher rate of rewards for brand purchases and may offer perks, such as priority boarding and free checked baggage.
Travel rewards cards often have some of the best cardholder benefits available. Airline cards frequently offer free checked bags, airport lounge access, and priority boarding. Hotel cards may offer free upgrades, breakfast, early check-in, and late checkout. Even general travel cards not associated with a particular brand may offer valuable benefits, including airline fee credits that can pay for baggage and upgrades, credits for TSA Pre-check application fees, auto rental insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and roadside assistance. All of these benefits can offer you hundreds of dollars in value each year.
Annual fees, interest rates, and other fees can vary significantly between different travel credit cards. Therefore, you should always be aware of how much you’re paying to use a card. If you’re paying a significant annual fee or racking up interest charges by carrying a monthly balance, you could end up paying more than the value of rewards you earn each year. Additionally, it’s a good idea to pay your balance in full each month. This will help you avoid avoid paying interest charges and creating debt that will outweigh any benefit you might earn from travel rewards.
Visit the U.S. News guide to travel credit cards to read about the full survey results and learn more about how you can get value out of travel rewards credit cards.
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