The best travel cards always offer reward points in form of miles that can be redeemed towards the next trip. The more you use your card the more you earn. Travel points credit cards offer more than just miles but a lot of other rewards that make them stand out from the rest.
If you’re new to Travel Points Credit Cards, this guide will help you to maximize your card and earn as many points as possible.
How to Earn Rewards With Travel Points Credit Cards
Travel points credit cards come with different rewards programs, but they have one thing in common—you earn points or miles for making purchases. Knowing your card’s rewards structure is key to maximizing your rewards. Many travel points credit cards pay higher rewards on travel purchases and a base rewards rate on all other purchases. While some others have a flat-rate reward structure on all purchases. The flat-rate rewards structure is a better option if you want a simpler way to earn rewards.
You can maximize your rewards by using your travel card primarily for purchases in the categories that pay a higher rewards rate and using another rewards card that pays a higher rate on in other categories. But if your goal is to earn travel rewards as quickly as possible, you can speed up the process by using your travel points credit card for all purchases—even bills, as long as there’s no additional fee.
Bonus for New Customers | Travel Points Credit Cards
Sign up bonus is one of the appealing features of any travel points credit card. Many of them offer a one-time, lump-sum signup bonus. It is usually easy to earn the bonus — you just need to spend a minimum amount on purchases in the first few months of opening your credit card and you automatically receive the bonus. While the spending amount and bonus points vary by credit card, most credit cards give you three months or 90 days to earn the bonus.
Balance transfers and cash advances typically don’t count toward the signup bonus. Credit card issuers also require a minimum net spend, meaning returns or refunds will be deducted from the number of your purchases.
Combining With Other Loyalty Programs
Most airlines and hotels have loyalty programs that give you points each time you fly or book a hotel stay. Some credit cards even allow you to transfer your travel rewards to airline and hotel partners, meaning you can more quickly earn free travel or even loyalty status. Even if your travel rewards credit card doesn’t have hotel or airline transfer partners, you can still strategically book travel to maximize your credit card and loyalty rewards.
Let’s say you use your card to book all your air travel with the same airline, you’ll not only rack up credit card rewards, but you can also earn frequent flyer miles with that carrier. Then you could potentially pay for a flight with the airline rewards you’ve earned and redeem your credit card rewards for another portion of the trip, like lodging or a car rental.
Biggest Credit Card Fees to Watch For
Unless you’re a heavy spender, it’s advisable to choose a card with lesser fees. Many travel points credit cards come with an annual fee, but free isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. Whether you choose a credit card with an annual fee depends on if you’re able to earn enough rewards to offset the annual fee and still benefit from the credit card. Some light spenders will be better off choosing a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.
If there’s an international trip on your bucket list, look for a travel points credit card that doesn’t charge a fee on foreign transactions. This will save you the typical 3% surcharge on purchases you make in a non-U.S. currency.
Qualifying for the Best Travel Points Credit Cards
To qualify for the best travel points credit cards, you’ll typically need to have a good credit score. So before you shop around, it helps to know your credit standing to have an idea of the type of credit card you can qualify for. You can check your credit for free using a tool like Discover’s FICO Credit Score Card or Credit Karma.
You should also regularly review your credit reports—that’s what your credit scores are based on. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, which you can get by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. See if there’s any inaccurate information that’s potentially hurting your credit score. You can dispute credit report errors by writing to the credit bureaus and providing any proof you have of the errors.
Cleaning up credit report errors can take a few weeks, but monitor your credit score in the meantime for upward movement.
Redeeming Travel Points
Once you’re ready to use your points for a trip, you’ll have several redemption options depending on your credit card. Some credit card issuers have their own online booking tool where you can make travel arrangements and use your points right away. You may even get a better redemption rate when you use your points with certain travel partners. However, you may have to book your trip around blackout dates and flight availability.
Other credit cards allow you to redeem your points as a statement credit toward travel purchases made on your credit card. That means you’ll have to book your travel first, then redeem the points.
In some cases, you can transfer your points between loyalty programs. Points don’t always transfer 1:1 between programs, so it may not be the strategy for making the most out of your rewards. However, it’s nice to have the option if you need to combine points from different programs to fund your trip.