There are two things that people really like: traveling and a good bargain. Then, why not put the two together? That’s where cheap flight tickets, cheap accommodation, and travel credit cards come in. Let’s focus on the later.
Frequent travelers need to be aware of which credit card offers them the best rewards before signing up for one. Having the right credit card for your lifestyle can give you extraordinary benefits. Like being able to travel for free, enjoy considerable discounts, or get some free travel offerings.
Of course, you can’t just sign up for a new credit card with special traveling offers and expect to get free services right away. There are a few things you have to do to maximize the points you earn and enjoy all the advantages. That’s exactly what this list is all about!
Here are seven tips that will teach you how to use a credit card for free travel (or nearly free) and other perks!
1. Get an advantageous travel credit card
If you want great travel rewards, you need a great travel credit card. Or perhaps even two. Before checking what credit card companies have to offer, you need to know that there are two types of travel credit cards; general-purpose credit cards that pay higher rewards than others on all travel expenses, and credit cards that pay even higher travel rewards on travel expenses with specific airline companies and hotel chains.
You have to evaluate your travel history to find out whether or not a brand-specific credit card is the right choice for you.
Before making your decision, you need to make sure there are no caps on the amount of money you can earn on the card and that it pays more for purchases made in the area you live or work. Even if it means paying an annual fee – the best travel credit cards have it, so you should expect to pay it anyway.
For those currently living in the United States of America, here are some of the best travel credit cards and what they have to offer:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: great sign-up bonus
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: great for earning miles
- The Platinum Card from America Express: great for airport lounge access
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card: great for hotel rewards
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: great for international air travel
2. Use it as much as possible
If you want your card to give you a free flight, a free hotel night, or any other free thing, you must use it every time you have the chance. That is the only way to earn reward points that you can later exchange for a free service or product.
Get familiar with your credit card’s reward program and, as we have said earlier, do everything you can to maximize your rewards.
3. Take advantage of sign-up bonuses
Sign-up bonuses (also known as welcome bonuses) are the first reward you will get, and in some cases, it can be a very generous one.
But most of these offers force you to spend a certain amount in the first 90 days of opening your new account, so make sure you check all the conditions imposed to redeem the sign-up bonus.
You don’t want to choose a specific credit card to redeem a particular bonus, only to find out a few weeks later that you need to spend 4,000$ in less than three months.
4. Choose the right credit card for you
We have already mentioned this in the first point. But it is worth reinforcing that you should carefully examine the reward programs of several credit cards and consider only those that offer you what you really want.
There is no point signing up for a credit card that offers you a great welcome bonus if that same card’s rewards don’t interest you at all.
That’s why you should try to choose the best of both worlds: a program that offers a good welcome bonus and that make it possible for you to obtain rewards of your interest in a relatively simple way.
Here are some of the most common rewards:
- Free hotel rooms
- Free checked bags at the airport
- Foreign transaction fees cash back
- Free lounge access
- Travel insurance
- Free flights to certain travel destinations
5. Transfer points between credit card programs
Some credit cards allow you to transfer points between different programs to redeem a certain reward. If you use more than one credit card, please consult the conditions regarding point transfer to learn how you can do it.
This is a great way to get enough points to redeem something you want faster since it allows you to use different credit cards to make the most of each one and then combine all the points earned.
Be careful, because in some cases that transfer can make you lose some points.
6. Make your payments on time
You need to be aware that making your credit card payments after the date limit can make you lose the reward points you had been accumulating. It is crucial not to miss them. Otherwise, all the work you had will have been in vain.
The best thing to do is to make these mandatory payments automatic. If that is not possible, set the alarm a few days before the limit to remind you.
7. Be aware of program changes
Credit card companies have the right to change the terms of their reward programs. They can’t do it any time they want, but they can do it frequently enough.
Every time you get your credit card billing statement, you should check if there were any changes made and familiarize yourself with said changes. They may be significant enough for you to have to change your purchase habits, or ultimately make the program less attractive for you.