Want to travel more in 2017? Use these lesser known travel credit card hacks

Published 2:35 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2017

By Jackson Ross

Do you have a desire to travel more in the coming year, but your budget isn’t exactly large enough to fund your dreams? If so, using some of the lesser known travel credit card hacks could help you to realize your dreams without breaking your budget.

Begin by making sure you choose the right card. Ideally, you should choose a loyalty card that offers generous perks. Look for a card that offers elite status benefits, such as airport lounge access, free checked bags, and the opportunity to collect free flights and award hotel stays quickly. Avoid those cards that require you to pay an expensive annual fee just to collect rewards.

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For most travelers, it’s also a good idea to look for a card that grants plenty of flexibility, including the option to transfer points to different programs. You might be surprised to discover that with this strategy, you can often redeem your earned points with partners for a greater value over your original points. The key to making this strategy work is to ensure that you do not get locked into one program or that you devalue the points you have earned by transferring them. Always take the time to carefully work out the math to make sure a transfer is actually worth it before you do it.

Take into consideration your own personal travel preferences and spending habits. Everyone is different and just because one card works for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an ideal match for you. Your needs should match the benefits offered by the card. Some co-branded cards, including American and United, may not allow you to earn rewards as quickly as other programs, but you might find that the travel perks offered, including priority boarding, make those programs well worth it. It all comes down to what means the most to you and what you will use the most. After all, a travel perk really isn’t very valuable if you never use it.

Try to find a card that will allow you to earn the most points per dollar spent on dining and travel possible. Some cards will allow you to earn 100,000 points for spending a certain amount of money during the first three months you have the card. Other cards give you the opportunity to rack up three points per dollar on certain expenses. Always make sure you understand the terms and exactly how to get the most from your earning potential when choosing a card. If you have a question, do not hesitate to contact the customer service department and ask.

Lucrative sign-up bonuses can also quickly help you to be on your way to jetting away to an exciting vacation. There are many cards that offer incredibly lucrative sign-up offers. For instance, some cards will gift you with 100,000 points as a sign-up bonus. That alone might be enough to give you free airfare. Be wary, however, as there is usually a catch. For instance, you might be required to spend a minimum of $5,000 during the first three months after you sign up for the card. If you use the card to pay for expenses you were going to pay anyway and then pay off the balance promptly, this could actually be a very sweet deal. Just make sure you do not rack up a lot of charges on the card and then fail to pay off the balances. Otherwise, you might end up with an extremely expensive airline ticket.

Always keep an eye on the minimum spending requirements for reward credit cards. Most cards start the clock ticking for minimum spending requirements when your application is approved not when the card is activated. This means that you will need to be careful about tracking your points as well as your spending to make sure you do not lose out on an award just because you failed to meet the spending requirement.

Overall, reward credit cards can be a great way to increase your travel itinerary for the coming year, especially when you take the time to put a few carefully thought-out strategies to work.

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