Travel Credit Cards: Reviews and Benefits
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Travel reward credit cards can earn you countless benefits, such as allowing you to travel and extending your vacation budget. The best travel reward credit cards can offer you extraordinary rewards and money-saving perks, like international usability, luggage protection, and much more.
Using a travel reward credit card can help you keep your money for the things and places you love to experience, rather than spending it on travel insurance, extra baggage fees, or other services that will drain your hard-earned money.
If you are considering a travel reward credit card, you must take note of their different kinds. One kind offers 'partner rewards cards,' where you earn points or miles with an airline or free stay at certain hotels. The other kind offers' program operated cards' that earn you rewards in an operated program by the card issuer, such as transferable points or fixed value points, both of which can be redeemed in several ways depending on their values.
Before you decide on a travel reward credit card, there are several factors you should consider so you get the travel rewards that would benefit you most. This blog will explain these factors, the common travel credit card features, and our top recommendations.
1. Your credit score
First of all, it is vital to know your credit score to know which travel reward credit cards you are eligible for. Most top travel rewards credit cards require having a good to excellent credit score. If you have a lower credit rating and are still pursuing a great travel rewards credit card, you will need to increase it by paying your bills on time and settling any remaining debts.
2. Your spending habits
Knowing your spending habits is essential whenever you set yourself to get any reward credit card. You should ask yourself, will you spend money in the categories you will earn rewards? Will you be able to offset the annual fee that comes with your travel rewards credit card? Do you want to use one card for all of your purchases?
3. Your traveling habits
Since you are looking for a travel reward credit card, you should consider your traveling habits. Ask yourself the following questions: is your traveling domestic or international? Do you travel frequently or once or twice a year? Do you travel by car or plane? Do you travel on a budget?
All these questions will help you narrow down which travel reward credit card suits you, as you know for sure what kinds of rewards will benefit you because you would not want a credit card that would reward you airline miles if you travel by car or vice versa.
Now that you are familiar with what to consider before choosing a card let us discuss the common features and benefits you will find with most travel reward credit cards to contemplate which benefits suit you most.
If you are a frequent international traveler, you will need a credit card that you can use outside the states. Your credit card is also recommended to be chip and pin ready and has NFC for contactless payments, as some card readers outside the states may require a pin just like debit cards.
No foreign transaction fee
Again, if you are a frequent international traveler, this perk will save you a lot of money. A foreign transaction fee is charged when purchases are passed through a foreign bank or in a different currency than the U.S dollar. The usual transaction fee is a flat 3%, it may not seem like a lot, but with frequent international purchases, the 3%s will rack up and cost you more than you would anticipate.
Moreover, most if not all top travel reward credit cards provide you with a zero foreign transaction fee, so you never have to pay extra money for any transaction.
Luggage protection perks are usually available as soon as you are a cardholder. Luggage protection gifts you with baggage delay insurance and lost baggage reimbursement. You need only use your travel reward credit card to receive these benefits when you pay for your trip. Most plans will offer you up to $100 a day for delayed pieces of baggage over six hours and reimbursements up to $3,000 for lost bags for one passenger.
Auto rental insurance
Auto rental insurance is one of the most common benefits of a travel reward credit card, yet few consumers realize they are entitled to it. With such a benefit, you won't have to pay extra costs for your auto rental insurance.
Travel accident insurance
Some travel reward credit cards also offer their cardholders health insurance while they travel. Hopefully, you will never have to resort to this benefit. You could be eligible for emergency medical and dental reimbursement coverages, travel accident insurance, and emergency evacuation and transportation coverage.
Trip cancellation insurance
Most credit cards also provide you with trip cancellation or interruption insurance for just being a cardholder, where you get reimbursed for non-refundable expenses. You have to pay for your trip using the card to receive this coverage. Any preexisting health conditions that interrupted your trip will disqualify you for the cancellation insurance.
Concierge services provide you with access to a specialist who can help you with bookings and reservations. Most cards also offer 24/7 access to a customer service specialist.
Premium travel benefits
Travel reward credit cards also pack a ton of additional benefits for being a cardholder, such as access to:
- VIP airport lounges
- Special car rental privileges
- Complimentary hotel upgrades
- Annual travel reimbursement statement credits
Now that you are ready to find and compare your new card options let us present our top three recommendations for travel reward credit cards and their benefits and features.
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card provides you with tons of premium perks such as access to airport lounges, concierge services, three times extra points on dining and travel purchases, and much more.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card has an annual fee of $550. It may be quite costly and unsuitable for non-frequent travelers, but it will sure make the benefits it offers worthwhile for those who are. As for APR, it will range from 17.24% to 24.24%.
Its travel benefits also include travel insurance. You get lost luggage reimbursement up to $3,000 per passenger baggage delay insurance up to $100 a day for five days for delays over six hours. In addition, you get reimbursement of up to $2,500 for emergency medical expenses and coverage of up to $100,000 for emergency evacuation and transportation.
If your trip was delayed for more than six hours or required you to stay overnight, you get reimbursed up to $500 per ticket. If your trip was canceled or interrupted, you have insurance up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for your non-refundable, pre-paid travel expenses. Moreover, The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card offers comprehensive car rental insurance coverage. You will be covered for up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage for rental cars abroad and in the U.S when booked with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Your foreign transactions will be charged no fees with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. If you spend $3,000 with your Sapphire Reserve® card while traveling abroad, you will save $90 rather than pay them with a card that charges you 3%.
As for bonus rewards, you are gifted 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months from account opening, which calculates to $750 when you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
Lastly, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card will earn you five times more points on air travel and ten times more points on hotels and car rentals purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. You also get to earn three times more points on other travel and dining, plus 1 point per every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Terms and conditions apply.
2. American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card is a great travel reward credit card that can fit almost anyone's lifestyle. It can earn cardholders points for everyday purchases at supermarkets, restaurants, and flights.
Its annual fee costs $250, it may be a little pricy to some, but the perks that come with it will make it worth every penny. Its APR is variable between 20.24% to 27.24%.
You are also gifted a welcome offer, where if you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first six months of membership, you can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points. You can redeem these points directly for travel and flights or purchases on Amazon.com using the Shop with Points feature.
The American Express Gold card will earn you 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar spent when you dine at restaurants, take out and delivery included, and 4X points on U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, and then 1X. Booking flights with airlines or amextravel.com will earn you 3X points, and finally 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
In addition, when you add your American Express® Gold Card to your Uber account, you will automatically receive $10 each month in Uber Cash, which will add up to $120 per year.
As for its travel benefits, you get the following:
Hotel Credit – When you book two consecutive nights with the American Express Travel portal, you get a room upgrade upon arrival, plus a $100 hotel credit to spend on any qualifying hotel or resort activities.
Rental Car Insurance - Any rental car theft or collision damage will be covered in select territories.
- Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply.
- Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.
- Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
Dining Benefits - The American Express Gold Card also offers extra dining benefits to restaurants' previously mentioned 4X points. You get up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Boxed, and some Shake Shake locations. However, enrollment in this offer is required.
Zero foreign transaction fee – You will not be charged any extra fees for international purchases with the American Express Gold Card.
Terms and conditions apply.
3. Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard provides extraordinary awards that frequent American Airlines flyers appreciate. The card has an annual fee of $99, but it is waived for the first 12 months, so you get to enjoy its perks for the first year without the extra cost. The card's APR is variable from 15.99% to 24.99%.
The Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® will earn you 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $2,500 on your card within the first three months of account opening. In addition, you get to earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and eligible American Airlines purchases.
Lastly, after spending $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renewing your card, you can earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount. Moreover, the AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for hotel rooms, rental cars, or vacations booked through American Airlines Vacations.
The Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® charges no foreign transaction fees, so you can freely use it abroad without having to worry about any added transaction charges.
Terms and conditions apply.
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This article includes the author's opinions, reviews, and analyses alone that have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Please note that the information regarding each card's offer is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written and as card offers change regularly; reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information.