The number of travel cards has dramatically increased in the past few years. They have taken the world by storm, and everywhere you look, someone is talking about how they have traveled different places thanks to the travel reward cards.
The magical cards are said to make the wildest dreams come true. It's easy to get lost in the hype and forget to evaluate whether the cards are a practical choice for you. Luxurious destinations, five-star hotels, and first-class tickets all sound amazing. But do the cards make sense for a non-aspirational traveler? Learning the pros and cons can help you decide if the cards are worth it.
Benefits of Travel Credit Cards
Rewards Accumulate Very Fast
Travel reward cards have become very popular. So you can rack up many rewards after a short while. New card-owners have welcome packages and bonuses that can go up to $ 1000. Every card issuer is trying to lure travelers to their side. This is a one-time travel offer bonus, but you can still get a lot of rewards after a few travels.
Travel rewards cards have proven to be better than most cash-based programs. They have accelerated reward points on airline spending that you can't compare to other rewards programs. Even if you don't travel all the time, you will still feel the benefits.
Travel reward cards are better suited for frequent travelers, big spenders, and aspirational travelers. But some advantages make them worth it for a basic traveler. Airlines offer some benefits to cardholders than can make you think about getting a travel credit card. You can easily reserve the specific flight you want when you have the card. These kinds of advantages make the cards look reasonable for an ordinary person.
There is an additional award inventory that’s only available to cardholders. The reduced mileage awards are also great when you want to save on your travels. When you consider the free checked bag offered, the costs of having the card won’t seem so bad. If you are consistent with paying the annual fee on your hotel card, you can enjoy a free night every year.
Some of these cards have complimentary memberships, extra luggage allowance, and even priority check-ins at partner airlines. But you should remember that because of such advantages, it's difficult to find a card with zero annual fees. But you can get a waiver when you achieve the target spending every year.
Reimbursement For Canceled Flights
You can rarely get your money back after canceling a flight. But that can be possible when you are a cardholder. This makes it more appealing for people who are on a budget. You don't have to lose the money because something unavoidable happened. Upgrading to first class will also be easy for you than for a common traveler.
If you must pay the annual fees, ensure you get the most out of the travel reward card. If it offers access to airline lounges, ensure you visit them when you travel. The reimbursement on a canceled flight is a major benefit because it affects the basic traveler.
You Can Transfer Rewards
You can transfer your rewards to hotel or airline partners and use them whenever you need them. It doesn't limit how you are going to spend your hard-earned rewards. If you feel like they can serve you better in the hotel rather than the flight booking, you can easily switch. But this depends on the kind of card issuer you choose.
Some of them don’t have any partners that allow you to switch rewards when you want. When you want to explore every possible benefit, pick a travel card that allows you to transfer points. The cards can have increased upside potential when you put the time into learning how you can redeem points and how the cards work in general.
The Downsides Of Travel Credit Cards
Hotels and airlines can limit availability when you want to redeem your travel rewards. They release blackout dates for when cardholders can and can't travel. Even if you have enough points to enjoy a mini-vacation, you will have to wait until the hotel or airline is available again.
The bad thing is that blackouts usually happen during peak seasons. That might be the only time you have away from work, and you can't travel. The travel points won’t be worth it if you can’t use them anymore. Frequent travelers take flights and stay in hotels all year round. This can be very inconvenient for them. It might be a bid deal if you only take one vacation a year.
Most travel reward cards carry an annual fee that can go beyond a couple of hundreds. The annual fee makes sense when you use the card frequently. But if you only take it out once in a while, the fee will feel like a burden. That is why you have to be realistic when looking for these cards.
If you feel like you won’t be experiencing the benefits often, maybe you should leave the cards alone and move on. There is a set of values for every point you earn. This value can be very unstable, which is also a disadvantage. If you must have the card, look for the one with a reasonable annual fee.
How To Pick A Travel Credit Card
You must think about the rewards and benefits that make sense for your spending habits and lifestyle. Most credit cards offer a lot of flexibility on how you will earn and redeem points. But it's still crucial to do a little research before you take the card.
The annual fee should be a motivating factor. Some fees go over $ 500, while others are below $ 100. Get a cheap card if you know the annual fee will be an issue down the road. It's great for a trial; you can always fall back on the cash-based programs if things don't work out.
Some of the options to consider for everyday travel are Marriot Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Cards. These cards have terms and conditions just like any other card. Ensure you read them first before you start using them. You can also use recommendations from friends and family who have used the cards before. They are better positioned to tell you if the cards are worth it or not.
Travel credit cards are for everyone. Even though most people will argue that a frequent traveler is the one that benefits the most. However, anyone can reap a few benefits from being a cardholder. There are exclusive travel benefits that no one else can access. You may also get to visit your favorite destinations without paying the full amount during flight booking.