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Travel rewards are only useful if you know how to use them. It sometimes feels like a full-time job checking your loyalty and card accounts and figuring out how and where to transfer your points. It can also be challenging to understand what points are worth and make sure you’re taking advantage of all the benefits your travel rewards credit cards offer, not to mention selecting the right cards for your lifestyle.
But with travel costs on the rise, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of travel rewards as it can save you money and ensure you can still travel without breaking the bank. Here are the best travel rewards tips to maximize your travel rewards credit card benefits and get the best value from your points and miles.
Get the right Travel Rewards credit cards
With so many different cards on the market, it can be challenging to understand what travel rewards cards are right for you or how they can help you save money. Here are simple steps to find the travel rewards credit card(s) that work best for you.
- Create a destination. If your favorite escape is to Ibiza, get one Iberia Visa Signature® card may be the right fit. If you are more interested in a family vacation to Disneyland, a flexible reward card might be best. Think about your dream trip and come up with the most direct and easiest ways to take it that can lead you to the right map.
- Think about your daily routines. If you drive constantly, consider a card that offers bonus points gas. If you always take Uber rides, a card with Uber credits might be more beneficial.
- Think about your travel habits. Travelers loyal to a particular hotel or airline brand may benefit from a co-branded hotel or airline credit card. Those who rent cars frequently may want to opt for a card that offers elite car rental status car rental insurance.
- Research cards. Once you’ve got your routines down and what you might need mapped out, it’s time to see what’s on the market. We can help with our raids and comparisons on the best travel rewards cards.
- Read the fine print. Don’t forget all the little details. Read the fine print to make sure you understand everything your card does and doesn’t offer.
- Don’t forget the annual fee and foreign transaction fees. Certainly annual fees or foreign transaction fees may or may not be worth it to you. For example, if you live abroad or travel a lot, a card with no foreign transaction fees is ideal. If you’re looking for a beginner card, don’t start with a card with an annual fee of $695.
Maximize rewards by using the right credit cards for the right purchases
Understanding where to get the best value from your credit cards is key to maximizing your points earnings. For example, if you have two credit cards, but only one is bidding triple points on dining, which is the one you should always use in restaurants. It’s not enough just to have a travel rewards card – you also need to use it for purchases for which you can get bonus points.
Always pay your bill on time
Some travel rewards cards can have an APR close to 28%. Paying high interest rates can completely negate travel rewards with credit cards. After all, saving on travel expenses with points and miles or other travel rewards won’t matter if you’re drowning in credit card debt.
It is also possible not to pay your bill damage to your credit, which means it may be difficult to get approved for travel rewards cards in the future. You’ll get the most out of travel rewards if you pay your credit card bill on time each month.
Track expenses and rewards – don’t let points expire
Fortunately, many flexible points currencies do not expire unless you decide to close your credit card account. If you decide to close your account, you can transfer or spend your points in advance to avoid losing them.
Some airline and hotel miles expire. But there are ways to prevent it from happening. For instance, American Airlines A Benefit Miles expire every 24 months. But earning or redeeming points with the airline is an easy way to keep them active, as the 24-month period restarts on the date of your most recent qualifying activity.
And keep in mind that qualifying activity doesn’t just mean flying. Shopping on the AAdvantage shopping portal or spending on a co-branded American Airlines credit card also counts as an eligible activity to prevent your miles from expiring.
In addition to not letting your points expire, it’s a good idea to check your accounts regularly to make sure you’ve received your points and miles by spending, flying, staying or otherwise. Just like you would check your bank account, check your credit card, hotel, and frequent flyer accounts to make sure everything looks good. Just like someone can hack into your bank or credit card account, frequent flyer and hotel accounts can also be a scoop target for hackersso if you notice something is wrong, report it immediately.
Find ways to use benefits and don’t forget to sign up for benefits
Many maps are included additional rewards you should plan to use. Reading the fine print can help you understand the terms of the card and its key benefits and not-so-obvious features.
Many cards offer rewards that require enrollment. For instance, The Platinum Card® from American Express (Conditions apply, see rates & fees) offers a $50 credit to Saks Fifth Avenue twice a year, but you must register. Even if it’s not a store you usually shop at, you can still use this perk for holiday gifts, travel accessories, or back-to-school items.
When it comes to perks like Priority Pass Lounge accessa perk that comes with several travel rewards credit cards, cardholders don’t have access until they enroll in the program and receive a separate physical or digital Priority Pass card.
Of Amex offers, you actually have to add them to your card to receive benefits like statement credits – it’s not automatic. Flexible rewards cards that offer things like hotel elite status benefits also require enrollment.
Credit card travel rewards are only valuable if you use them. Make sure you are aware of all the benefits and perks your cards offer so that you can register, enroll and make the most of them.
Earn extra points with shopping portals and authorized users
Don’t miss out on extra rewards for doing things you already do, like shopping online. Many airlines offer store portals, websites where you can click through to your favorite stores and simply double shop. This means you earn the points you already earn for spending with your credit card and additional points for clicking through to retailers’ websites from the airline’s shopping portal.
add authorized users is another easy way to earn more points and miles. Their spending on your account counts towards your points and mileage balance. Just make sure you’re smart about who you add to your account because you’ll still have to pay their expenses. Remember that any incidents can affect both of your credit scores.
Take advantage of big bonuses
Many travel credit cards offer a sign-up bonus for new users who apply for the card and are approved. welcome bonuses are usually offered for a limited time period and cardholders must meet a minimum spend before they can get the bonus.
When a big bonus appears, take advantage and request the card directly. You never know how long these bonuses will last, so it’s best to click on offers. You may also get targeted offers, so keep an eye out for emails that could earn you more bonus points than what is being offered to the general public.
Finally, if you are approved for the card, pay attention to the time period you have to make the minimum spend to obtain the bonus. If you don’t spend enough within the allotted time, you won’t get the bonus points.
Use travel rewards like points and miles wisely (and when you need them most)
Get the most out of your points and miles
Knowing the value of your points and miles will help you get the best value out of them. For instance, there is a better use of points and miles then redeem for gift cards. Instead, do your research to understand how to transfer or exchange them for flights and hotels to travel for free.
However, travel rewards are often most valuable in extenuating circumstances or emergency situations when cash prizes or last-minute travel can be complicated and expensive. For example, if you need to fly somewhere at short notice for a family emergency, it’s okay if you don’t get the best price for your points or miles because they offer you a different kind of value.
Understand airline alliances
Credit cards have many travel rewards transfer partners which you may not know much about. And understand airline alliances such as Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance can help you figure out how to earn AA miles for a flight to Qatar or use Air France Flying Blue Miles for a Delta ticket.
Stay informed about advantages, benefits and conditions
Credit card welcome bonuses, perks and transfer reward partners change regularly. The value of different currencies of points and miles also fluctuates. Be sure to stay on top of the types of rewards your travel credit cards offer, what’s new in the market, whether loyalty programs are announcing devaluations, and the best ways to use your points.
Use best practices
Make the most of your rewards by doing things by the book. Appearance churning credit card to keep your credit and accounts in good standing.
Maximizing travel rewards takes effort, but it’s worth it
No one said maximizing travel rewards was easy, but when you’re sipping champagne on your business class flight, taking a dip in the plunge pool of your private hotel, or just heading home to visit family thanks to travel rewards, it all seems worth it worth. The more you know about earning and using travel rewards, the more you can efficiently earn and redeem points and miles and take advantage of all kinds of travel benefits that can make your next vacation easy, luxurious and even free.
To view rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, visit this page.