If your credit card offers the best value for money, you can travel much cheaper than with other credit cards.
Travel rewards cards are great for lowering the cost of future trips, whether you’re taking a trip to see family in another state or planning to take a trip to some of the world’s most expensive countries. Travel rewards credit cards allow you to make points on travel via air miles, hotel points, or whichever travel rewards card you select. They all work the same way: they help you travel more cheaply.
Many rewards credit cards are expensive, and the annual fees range from a sensible $95 to a massive $695. Because traveling rewards often take time to learn about, you need to realize more about them. Consequently, it may be challenging to be sure what you’re getting into, and you may not know all you should know. “Are travel credit cards worth it?”
What is a travel credit card?
Credit card companies offer many different types of travel debit cards, but these three types are the most common:
- Financial institution rewards cards.
- Co-branded hotel credit cards.
- Co-branded airline credit cards.
General Travel Cards
Many travel rewards cards are available to consumers – such as
the American Express Platinum Card,
the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or
the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Some cards allow you to earn points for several travel partners, including airlines and hotels. Some cards allow you to earn cash rewards for using your statement credits to pay bills. So you can check if are travel credit cards worth it with each card issuer to see if they offer travel rewards that are right for you.
Whichever card you choose, learning how rewards work will be an asset if you enjoy them to the fullest.
Hotel Credit Cards
Hotel reward card programs, such as IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, perform a similarly effective function and reward you with hotel points redeemable for free nights. Please note that the IHG® Rewards Mastercard is not a credit card and that for free hotel nights.
Airline Credit Cards
Some airlines offer air travel cards options like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, and UnitedSM Explorer Card. These and other cards help you earn airline miles by allowing you to accumulate enough miles to fly on an airline of choice.
Are Travel Cards with Annual Fees Worth the Cost?
There are downsides to many travel rewards credit cards, such as the annual membership fees that come with them. They are reasonably priced and cost about $95 to renew each year. Some cards cost as high as $695 for a year of use; for example, the American Express Platinum Card® costs $695 per year. Terms and conditions will be as follows:
Travel rewards credit cards allow members to earn rewards by spending points on purchases and earning travel credits.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a $550 fee per year. If you’ve never traveled anywhere before, it can be a little overwhelming to consider the expense of a trip. It also has a convenient $300 travel credit for each calendar year. Other features include up to $60 in DoorDash credits (through December 2024), Priority Pass Select membership, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck/NEUS credit every four years, trip delay insurance, baggage delay reimbursement, rental car damage waiver, and roadside assistance.
That is worth more than using your Visa gift card every year, plus you can earn points toward free travel by simply using your Visa gift card. Using our products, you can earn up to 4x points on hotels and car rentals. And if you purchase an international flight using Chase Ultimate Rewards®, you will earn up to 4x points on airline travel.
Check out our next article: Understand Rewards for Air Miles and How These Programs Work
The logic applies to travel rewards credit cards branded similarly to airline and hotel rewards cards. Compare the benefits you would get by using any of these cards versus paying a fee to join one. When deciding whether to get a credit card to earn rewards, consider the benefits you would use to justify paying the card fee.
- Refrain from carrying a heavy bag. If you are traveling a lot, consider a travel rewards card that offers you the benefits you would use if your only reason for using a card is to check bags while in the airport. Your card is worthless.
- Do chain hotels automatically give you elite status? It is useless if you stay in non-branded hotels.
Be open with the financial rewards programs you consider, and keep your expectations reasonable about the benefits they provide.
Are Travel Credit Cards Worth it?
It can be relatively easy to earn rewards on travel reward cards, but it takes work to use them to earn valuable rewards. You’ll need to figure that out on your own.
It would help if you worked mightily to understand how rewards programs work, and becoming a pro at utilizing rewards is something you can only do in a day. It is not to say that learning the basics of credit card rewards programs is impossible.
If you’re considering a travel rewards card, you may wonder whether it’s worth it.
When you use a credit card properly, the rewards you receive when you use the card can be as valuable as a gold mine for travelers who want to reduce the cost of trips or travel more often. Take full advantage of all the card benefits to reduce the fees, avoid spending more on interest, and understand how the rewards programs work to help you get the most off your card.
How to maximize your rewards
- Cards allow you to transfer points quickly, and many cards have special perks.
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. No monthly fee.
- Cashback on travel with Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
- Bonus rewards and luxury travel perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
- For business travel, select the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.