Best Travel Credit Card

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best travel credit cards

The holidays are here and this is the perfect time to plan your travel. This is also the best time to apply for a travel credit card. There are many different travel cards available in the market. With a little research, you’ll be able to make an informed choice. The best travel credit card is the one that suits your specific travel needs. Every traveler is different. Before you choose your travel credit card, you’ll need to understand several things.

  • Type of miles or points the card offers

  • The value you will receive per mile or point redeemed

  • Is the earnings point program run by a card issuer? Is the rewards program run by a co-branded partner (hotel chain or airline)?

What’s a Travel Credit Card?

A travel credit card is one whose rewards are redeemed for travel reservations. Most credit cards offer rewards on purchases. The rewards can be redeemed in different ways and this includes travel reservations. 

A travel rewards card offers value when its miles or points are used for travel reservations. Travel specific benefits such as priority service, insurance and other perks are offered when the card is used.

The rewards are offered in two ways. These include:

  • Travel credit cards may offer new applicants a sign-up bonus. The reward is offered when a minimum amount is spent within a certain period

  • A travel credit card may also offer rewards for spending. This can include a bonus for purchases that are made from a hotel or airline partner

When the account gains enough rewards, it can be redeemed for travel reservations. The most difficult aspect of evaluating a travel credit card is estimating the value of rewards it will earn.

Types of Travel Credit Cards

The two types of travel credit cards include:

  • Travel credit cards that offer rewards in a program operated by the card issuer

  • Travel credit cards that offer miles or points with a travel provider

Reward Programs Offered by Card Issuer

There are several types of cards that offer reward programs offered by the card issuer. Some of the miles and points can be redeemed through a designated travel agency. Apart from this, bank programs allow you to transfer the rewards to hotel or airlines.

Bank operated travel reward cards also provide the option of redeeming the miles or points through multiple ways.

Reward Programs Offered by Co-Branded Partners

There are many reward programs that are offered by co-branded partners. The two major types of partner cards include:

  • Hotel cards

  • Airline cards

There are also reward programs that are affiliated with an online travel agency. You’ll earn miles or points when you use these cards. The rewards are often subject to the terms and conditions of the loyalty program of the co-branded partner.

Criteria for Choosing the Best Travel Credit Card

If you want to find a travel credit card that meets your specific needs, you’ll have to evaluate it on different criteria. The different criteria include:

  • Picking the right rewards program

  • Factor in the sign-up bonus

  • Calculate earning potential

  • Subtract annual fee

  • Calculate redemption value

  • Understand the different travel benefits

  • Avoid high foreign transaction fees

How to Choose the Best Travel Credit Card?

Take into consideration your travel habits when choosing the best travel credit card.

Choose an Airline Card for Perks

If you want to select an airline rewards credit card, you should consider how often you’ll be using the co-branded airline. The airline cards will offer miles or points on purchases from the co-branded airline.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you can choose to get a card affiliated with the airline you fly the most. Frequent, travelers will also get other benefits such as checked baggage fee waivers, discount on in-flight purchase and priority service.

Find an airline card that’ll let you redeem your reward miles or points for flights to any destination. Check to see if the airline has an overseas service.

Choose a Hotel Card for Free Nights

When choosing a travel card, you should consider how you travel. Travel budget needs to be taken into consideration. If you are an economy traveler, you’ll not have any benefit by choosing a luxurious hotel chain card.

It’s advisable to look at the geographical locations where you usually stay. If the hotel chain has many properties in the geographical location you stay, it’s best to choose a hotel card that offers sufficient selection of properties.

Choose a General-Purpose Card for Flexibility

You don’t have to consider your travel style when you choose a general-purpose card. The airline and hotel travel credit cards limit how you use the rewards. When you opt for a general-purpose travel credit card, you’ll be able to redeem the rewards towards any travel reservation.

How to Compare Two Travel Credit Cards?

Choose the Correct Type of Travel Credit Card

The choices are overwhelming with so many airline and hotel cards available in the market. Co-branded cards are a good option if you’re a frequent flier of a particular airline or stay in the same chain of hotels.

General-purpose travel cards are a good choice if you’re a travel shopper.

Compare Fees, Sign-Up Bonus, and Ongoing Rewards

Annual fees, sign-up bonus, and ongoing rewards are big factors that you need to consider before you consider a specific travel credit card. Choose a travel card with no foreign transaction fee.

Check the Many Benefits

Different travel cards offer different types of benefits. Most travel cards offer benefits such as travel insurance, shopping benefits, rental car insurance and extended warranties.

Get More than One Card

You can choose to get more than one card. This will enable you to maximize the benefits of an airline and hotel card.

A travel credit card comes with many benefits with its partners. How you spend your travel rewards is as important as how you earn them. If you spend the rewards wisely, you’ll be able to get the most value from it.

Learn more about your different credit card options in our guide!