How to Select the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

How to Select the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card

credit card advice

Alexandra Leslie
By: Alexandra Leslie
Posted: August 1, 2014
Our personal finance experts dish out the most trusted credit card advice on the web, including juicy tips, tricks and secrets from inside the credit card industry.

The perfect travel credit card not only allows you to earn reward miles or points for your everyday purchases that you can eventually redeem for free travel, but it also can serve as a handy companion when traveling abroad.

Use these tips to select the best travel credit card for your wallet.

1. Choose your loyalty.

Do you always fly on one specific airline and never stray from it? Then it may make the most sense to apply for their credit card since you earn more points or miles for flying with them.

If you are not loyal to one specific airline or you do not travel frequently, you should choose a general frequent flyer credit card so you can redeem your reward points or miles for a flight with any airline.

2. Seek a sign-up bonus.

Many credit card companies run promotions where you can earn a large bonus of reward points or miles if you apply for the card and are approved.

For frequent flyer credit cards, the bonuses are sometimes large enough to send you on a free domestic flight. Look for these bonuses and try to take advantage of one to help you earn rewards sooner.

If there are no good signing bonuses when you are looking, and you are not in a rush to get a credit card, you may want to check back in a few weeks to see if there are any new promotions to take advantage of.

You should avoid applying to many different credit cards for the bonuses and then canceling them all later. This can wreak havoc on your credit score. Pick one or two great cards and stick with them.

“It’s common for travel reward cards

to have no annual fee the first year.”

3. Avoid foreign transaction fees.

Will you be taking your credit card with you when you travel abroad? Then look for a card with no foreign transaction fees. This means you will not get dinged on every purchase for spending in a foreign currency.

Capital One cards do not have foreign transaction fees, and an increasing number of other credit cards now come without them.

4. Make sure rewards are attainable.

Before you apply, take a close look at the reward structure. Are there so many restrictions that it looks impossible to actually get a flight? Is the number of points or miles required for a free trip so high that it would take a decade before you will have enough?

Some frequent flyer programs let you buy additional miles. Do your research and do the math to make sure it is realistic that you’ll ever get a reward.

5. Pay attention to the fee.

It is not uncommon for travel reward credit cards to have no annual fee the first year but a fee of nearly $100 every year after that. The perks are better on these cards, but they may also have an expense.

When you are thinking about the free travel you might earn, make sure to subtract the amount you will pay in fees over the years. Keep that in mind when considering a card with a fee. There are plenty of reward credit cards without fees.