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Monday, June 21, 2021

10 Great Reasons to Consider a Travel Card 

Reasons To Consider A Travel Card

credit card advice

Marcie Geffner
By: Marcie Geffner
Posted: May 12, 2021
Advertiser Disclosure

Travel cards may be the most coveted of all the types of cards you can apply for. That’s because these cards come with not only the prospect of going places, but also special travel-related perks and benefits that can make your trips more comfortable, enjoyable, and affordable.

While you won’t find every travel benefit with every travel card, some attractive card offers come with multiple travel benefits.

With that in mind, here are 10 great reasons you may want to consider a travel card:

1. Travel Rewards

Credit card rewards come in a variety of flavors, including cash back, points, and, yes, travel rewards, just to name three examples.

Travel cards are designated so because they tend to offer especially valuable travel rewards. These may include airline miles, hotel stays, restaurant meals, and concert and event tickets, among other options. Check out our top-rated travel cards below:

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—including flights, vacation rentals, car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 14 months
10.99% Intro APR for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 15+ travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

You can earn travel rewards by using your travel card to make purchases. Every dollar you spend may get you one or more points or miles closer to the travel benefits you want. Some travel rewards programs also offer a cash back option or let you transfer your rewards to one or more travel brands.

For example, you can transfer your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card miles to more than 15 travel partners. These options make travel cards even more flexible.

2. Travel Upgrades

Co-branded travel cards may give you special benefits with a particular airline or hotel group. Examples include upgrades from coach to business class for flights or from standard to luxury rooms or suites for hotel stays.

You may qualify for a higher status in the travel brand’s customer rewards programs, which can get you access to extras like priority check-in for flights, priority late check-out for hotel stays, or free use of a hotel’s WiFi or fitness center.

3. Bonus Reward Points For Travel Purchases

Using your travel card to make travel purchases may get you extra miles or points and other travel rewards. Instead of getting one point for each dollar you spend, you may get two, three, four, or even five points per dollar for qualified travel purchases, such as airline tickets, hotel stays, or car rentals.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Rewards

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is an example of a card that pays more rewards on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The more you spend on travel, the more valuable these bonus rewards can be. With the right card, you may get 2,000 points — or more — for $500 of travel purchases rather than just 500 points for the same expenses. The only difference is the card you choose to use.

4. Welcome Bonuses

Generous signup bonuses are another enticing perk of many travel cards. Sign up for the right card at the right time and meet the requirements for the bonus, and you can earn rewards worth hundreds of dollars.

Welcome bonuses can be used just like any other points or miles toward a variety of benefits, including airline flights, hotel stays, room upgrades, cruises, or vacation packages. You can also redeem rewards for car rentals, gift cards, concert tickets, exclusive experiences, and other special offers.

You’ll typically have to meet a minimum spending requirement within the first few months after you open your account to earn your welcome bonus. Minimum spending amounts vary by card, but most are within the $500 to $5,000 range.

Read the rules before you apply so you’ll know whether you can meet the requirement within your budget.

5. No Foreign Transaction Fees

Novice travelers may be surprised to discover that many card companies charge a foreign transaction fee when a card is used outside of the U.S. and the transaction amount is converted into the local currency. The typical amount of this fee is 3%, which adds $3 to every $100 you spend.

Foreign Transaction Fees

Some cards charge foreign transaction fees to convert U.S. dollars to another currency.

Many travel cards eliminate these pesky additional charges as a card benefit. That’s why smart travelers try to use no-foreign-transaction-fee cards when they’re outside the U.S. The savings can add up fast, making this type of card good to have when you’re on the go.

6. Statement Credits For Travel-Related Expenses

Travel can involve a variety of other relatively small expenses that may not be in your budget. Examples include fees for flight changes, hotel cancellations, and checked baggage, and in-flight food and beverage purchases.

Some travel cards offer a statement credit, up to a set amount per year, to offset these charges. A maximum of $250 annually is typical.

Some travel cards offer a statement credit to reimburse you for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications fees.

Global Entry allows preapproved travelers to access an expedited clearance process through automated kiosks when they arrive at certain U.S. airports. The fee to apply is $100.

TSA PreCheck offers preapproved passengers an easier security screening process when they board a flight at many U.S. airports. The application fee is $85.

7. Access to Airport Courtesy Lounges

Airports can be noisy, crowded, uncomfortable, and inconvenient places to wait for your flight after you’ve checked in. Airport courtesy lounges give you a place to escape to with comfy chairs, free snacks, free newspapers and magazines, free WiFi, and other amenities you may not find in the airport’s public areas.

Airport Lounge Access

Airport lounge access is a benefit offered by some premium travel cards.

But without the right credit card, it can cost you $25 or more per person, per visit, to use an airport courtesy lounge. Admission is free if you have a travel card that comes with this valuable benefit.

8. Trip Insurance Protection

Traveling can involve unexpected delays and interruptions. Maybe you missed your flight, your luggage got lost, or you had to change your plans due to a medical emergency or natural disaster. When something unexpected occurs, trip insurance may reimburse you for all or part of your financial loss or additional expense.

While you can — and may want to — purchase separate travel insurance, paying for your trip with a travel card that offers this perk could give you additional protection and peace of mind. Before you book your travel, find out what your cards offer. If you’re not wowed, another card may give you a more valuable benefit.

9. Rental Car Insurance Protection

Whether you’re renting a car on the road or close to home, rental car insurance can add to the cost of your car rental. Using a travel card that offers this protection may wipe out that expense or give you extra protection just in case your rental car is damaged or stolen while you’re responsible for it.

Credit Card Rental Insurance

Some credit cards offer primary or secondary insurance coverage for rental cars, which means you can deny the insurance offered by the rental agency and save some money.

Keep in mind that rental car insurance from a credit card may be secondary coverage, which means it will be used only after your personal auto policy is exhausted. Medical expenses, damage that you cause to someone else’s car, and rentals for business purposes and/or international travel (to specific countries) may be excluded.

10. Free Checked Bags

Airlines used to include checked bags as part of your flight fee. Nowadays, there’s likely to be an additional charge, unless you’re flying first-class or you purchase your ticket with a card that includes a free checked bag benefit.

Some cards offer only one free checked bag per flight. Others will allow you one free checked bag for each ticket you purchase.

With checked bag fees of as much as $30 to $60 for the first bag on some airlines, the savings can add up fast. The more you travel, the more you’ll save.

Travel Cards Offer a Range of Benefits

Travel cards tend to lean toward the premium end of the range of available credit cards. That’s not surprising given all the great benefits these cards offer.

Premium cards may have annual fees that are sometimes waived for the first year. These cards generally come with attractive rates. And you may need to have good to excellent credit to be approved for a premium travel card.

If you’re ready to shop for a new card, a travel card can be a good option to consider.

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