The Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

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Credit card rewards are a great way to earn free travel and other related services such as accommodation. Travel credit cards can earn you rewards on your everyday purchases, unlike frequent flyer miles which only gives you a free flight after repeatedly buying travel tickets.

Each purchase on your travel reward card contributes towards a freebie; it could be a free flight or a hotel stay. There are as many rewards types as there are travel rewards credit cards out there, and earning the rewards isn’t always clear-cut. The different cards have different types of rewards and vary on how you can use them.

Choosing the best travel credit card can be a little confusing. You need to take some time to understand the options available and choose the right card that complements your travel financial plan. This article will help you pick the right travel card that will earn you travel rewards within the shortest time. Consider the following factors.

What are your Personal Travel Goals ?

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

It’s important to first asses your personal travel goals before you even start sampling the available travel card options. The best travel card for you depends on your travel aspirations. Think about what you want to achieve with your travel reward points. You might be having a specific destination in mind, or maybe you just want a free flight or hotel stay every once in a while. A good look at your travel goals will help you figure out the type of reward points you should concentrate on earning.

Here are a few scenarios to consider;

  • High-End Hotels: let’s say you want a free hotel stay at your favorite destination, you need to accumulate transferrable points or hotel points such a Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Reward points or the Citibank ThankYou Points. These can be quickly converted into hotel points in different eligible hotels.
  • First Class Air ticket: if you’re after a first or business class air ticket, you need to accumulate transferrable points or hotel points American Express Rewards points, Citibank ThankYou points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The points can then be converted into airfare miles.
  • Adventure Travel: You can also use travel reward credit card points to pay for camping, safaris, road trips, bike tours, skiing, scuba diving or other adventurous travels, consider collecting fixed value points. The same applies for vocational rentals such as vocational homes, Airbnb and Villa.

What are Your Spending Habits ?

As earlier mentioned, one of the most important things to consider when choosing the travel rewards card is how quick you can redeem the reward. For travel enthusiast, you want to choose a card that offers your free travel the fastest, having spent the least amount.

The trick here is to go for the card that issues bonuses on different categories of goods or services you spend on from your card. Many cards will offer you bonuses when you spend at the grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, dining and restaurants, Commuter transportation, hotels, airfare and so on.

The bonuses mean that instead of collecting the standard one point or mile for each dollar that you spend, you can earn 2, 3 or even 5 points or miles per dollar that you spend. In other words, you get to earn your free travel ticket or hotel stay much faster. For this reason, the type of card you choose should majorly depend on your spending habits. Where do you do most of the credit card spending? Groceries? Gas stations? Restaurants? A card that offers the most bonus points in these categories should be your best choice.

Consider Cards That Offer Points Transfer or Travel Discounts

This type of credit cards will offer you two ways of redeeming your travel rewards. You can either book a travel via their branded travel portals or transfer your points into other loyalty programs. The catch here is that you need to get stays or flights with the travel card partners. For instance, Chase has partnered with 11 brands including British, United and Southwest Airways, IHG and Hyatt.

If you choose the American Express travel card, you get access to Cathay Pacific, Air Canada, JetBlue, Starwood Preferred, Virgin America, Hilton and much more. If you want to get more value for your points, you need to redeem the points on their travel portal. But you can also transfer the points to their partners and earn free flights. If you take some time to do your homework, you will definitely get the best deal you’re looking for.

Consider Getting More Than One Card

It’s always important to diversify your miles and points strategy. Chances are one single card won’t be perfect for each situation and lifestyle. Different cards have different strengths, and your point strategy should probably involve two cards that will allow you to maximize the earning potential.

You may, for instance, have one card for daily spending which awards 2 to 3 times the bonus points for gas and grocery and another one for buying business travel tickets, which will offer bonuses and perks such as priority boarding and free checked baggage. Applying for multiple credit cards doesn’t harm your credit score contrary to popular belief.

So, which brand?

Most travel rewards cards bear multiple logos and brands, but you should focus on the reward aspect. The best way to do this is to learn about the four major categories of reward cards, and these are;

  • General Travel Cards: these are usually issued by banks and aren’t linked to any specific hotel or airline company. The points you earn with this cards can be used across different hotel and airline chains.
  • Airline Co-Branded Cards: they often bear the name of an airline and when you use them, you can earn points/miles specific to that airline.
  • Hotel Co-Branded Cards: they often bear the name of the hotel chain and when you use them, you can earn bonuses specific to that specific hotel chain.
  • Cash Back Cards: these type of travel cards don’t offer miles or points, instead, holders receive cash backs on purchases which can be later used to pay off travel or stay expenses.

Bottom line

Well, as you can see, travel rewards credit cards are an interesting and fun way to earn free travels and stays for travel enthusiast. The trick is to choose the best travel credit card that complements your lifestyle, travel goals and spending habits. If you want to take advantage of more than one travel card, always remember to pay your monthly balances in full to avoid hurting your credit score.

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