Choosing The Right Travel Credit Card

Discussion in 'Travel' started by nuss, Jun 19, 2020.

  1. nuss

    nuss Platinum IL'ite

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    Several readers asked me about travel credit cards. Here are my suggestions, as always, please do your own research. This is not an endorsement.

    Travel credit cards are rewards cards that help you earn free travel, achieve elite member status with hotels and airlines and enjoy many other travel-related perks. However, every traveler has distinct priorities for travel rewards, so think about what’s most important to you when choosing a travel rewards credit card.

    My tips on choosing a travel credit card:

    1. Know which airlines you use frequently. If you are not committed (and you shouldn’t to a single airline, look for airlines that you might be using for your upcoming travel.

    2. The signing bonus (points)- I look for a minimum of 60,000 points (50,000 for SouthWest). Can get a one-way trip for 7500 points or fewer.

    3. Annual Fee. To me, the annual fee defeats the purpose of a points card. If you can’t find a credit card without an annual fee, look for the minimum fee (no more than $100).

    4. I look for credit cards that have a first-year fee waived and then just call before the end of the year. The company will usually waive another year of fee. If not, just cancel it. You can still use your miles for another year. I have never paid annual fee for miles.

    5. Read what amount you have to spend in order to get free points. $3000-4000 in 3 months is quite standard. However, if you don’t usually spend that much in credit card, don’t open a card just to get miles.

    Benefits of Travel Credit Cards:

    1. The biggest benefit for me is getting 60-70k miles that can pay for full/partial trips.

    2. Travel insurance- Some travel cards like BoA provide travel insurance (more on this later)

    3. Cashback- Again BoA cards earn 2.5 points per $ spent on travel. Quite sweet deal.

    4. No foreign transaction fee (A big plus for frequent travelers)

    5. Free checked luggage. United, Delta, and AA- all allow free checked bags for 2 when booked with a credit card. Good deal for domestic travel.

    Some of the good cards:

    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Not restricted to an airline)
    5X Points per dollar on Lyft rides; 2X Points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants, 1X Point per dollar on all other purchases

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card (good if you use SW airlines, also allows you to enter the aircraft first, better seats)
    2X Points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, 1X Point per dollar spent on all other purchases

    Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
    2X Miles per dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants; 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases from American Airlines; 1X Mile per dollar spent on all other purchases

    United℠ Explorer Card
    2X Miles per dollar spent at restaurants and on eligible hotel stays; 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases from United; 1X Mile per dollar spent on all other purchases

    Delta SkyMiles® American Express Card
    2X Miles per dollar on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets; 1X Mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases

    Above cards are airlines or airlines associated cards. The one travel card that I like the best is Bank of America Travel Reward Card

    Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

    Best value: 25,000 online bonus points (a $250 value) and no annual fee. Only need to spend $1000 in 90 days to receive $250 bonus

    · Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. We are preferred members.

    · Redeem for cashback as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center. can also be credited to 529 accounts (we don't use credit cards enough to make it worthwhile to credit in 529 accounts). Credit towards travel expenses gives the best value.

    · Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits (TSA pre or Global) + valuable travel insurance protection

    · No Foreign Transaction Fees

    Travel protections include trip insurance for delays, cancellations, interruptions, baggage delay or lost luggage, and emergency evacuation.

    Keep in mind that Bank of America® has one of the broadest definitions of "travel" of any credit card issuer. It includes not just the usual airlines, hotels and car rental agencies, but also attractions like museums, amusement parks, and zoos, as well as common transportation expenses like trains, buses, taxis, parking lots and garages, tolls and bridge fees. So you have ample opportunities to earn 2X rewards.


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