In this day and age, nobody ever brings cash with them anymore. Everyone just taps or swipes, and for good reason. Not only is it more convenient, it also minimizes the risk of theft and loss that comes with carrying large sums of money around.
As travel has become more accessible for many, there are now several credit cards that are tailored to cater to every kind of traveler and their needs. Yet, having several choices in the market can also sometimes create confusion. To make sure you get the best bang for the buck, it is important to go through this six-step guide on how to determine the right credit card for you:
- Pick the kind of card that allows you to earn points through everyday purchases
Check with your bank for credit cards that allow you to rake up points that you can redeem for free tickets or hotel accommodations. If you’re using your card to pay for coffee, groceries, car gasoline and other minute expenditures, you would be surprised at how many points you can accumulate with your day-to-day expenses. This is the best type of card to get if you’re constantly dreaming of vacation time. Plus, every bank seems to offer it as they’re more common than you think.
- Check how flexible your credit card choice will be
To make themselves more competitive, some credit card companies have partnered with specific airlines to optimize their rewards programs. If you’re the kind of traveler that’s loyal to just one airline or hotel chain, look into the kinds of cards that have loyalty redemption rewards programs with the specific hotel chain or airline you prefer. This will allow you to hit two birds with one stone! However, if you’re the kind of traveler that doesn’t have any specific preference when it comes to airlines or hotels, you may want to look for credit cards that allow you more flexibility in terms of points earning and redemption capacity. There are pros and cons in both choices, so you just have to be more deliberate with your decision.
- Verify the expiration and restrictions of your earned points
It is best to select a credit card that allows you to claim any rewards only when you want to. There are plenty of credit cards available in the market that offer points that never expire. These are the best kinds of cards you can get, as it doesn’t force you to claim any rewards that you don’t really have any use for. On top of non-expiring points, make sure you also pick a credit card that does not have blackout dates and other restrictions on the usage of points. Remember, these restrictions are there for the credit card to minimize their own expenses, so read the fine print carefully to maximize your rewards and avoid any disappointments.
- Check if there’s a clause to claim the sign-up bonus
Many credit card companies offer sign-up bonuses to lure consumers into opening up a new credit line. However, exercise caution with this, as they often have disclaimers on how you can actually earn the points upon signing up. For instance, you could only claim the 40,000 bonus points if you are able to spend a total of 4,000 USD during the first 3 months of signing up. If this is aligned with how you normally spend, then well and good. However, it is best to always weigh things out before you sign up for a new credit card. Read the print carefully, as you can get suckered into paying for a membership fee for nothing.
- Take into consideration the waived fees
If you’re a frequent overseas traveler, it is best to select a card that lists the waiving of foreign transaction fees as one of its benefits. As these bank fees are normally 3% on all purchases made when you’re not using local currency, can you imagine using your card to pay for everything on the trip and not having to worry about foreign transaction fees? It may not seem like much, but this amount can surely add up if you’re traveling for weeks at a time.
So, if you frequently travel to a specific country, figure out whether your preferred card works well in your destination of choice. You wouldn’t want to end up signing up for a card that you couldn’t actually use when you’re out of the country. Other perks you may want to look out for could include priority boarding and free checked bags. Normally this is applicable for credit card companies that have alliances to airlines and hotel chains.
- Choose the ones with programs that suit you best
When it comes to the final choice, it ultimately boils down to picking the card that offers you the best benefits according to your preferences. Some people may find that free airline tickets are more alluring for them than free hotel stays. So if you’re the type of traveler that’s more interested in the latter, look for cards that offer rewards specific to a hotel loyalty program at a chain you like. Otherwise, you can keep on looking until you find the best one that suits your needs and rewards you in a way that feels rewarding FOR you!
At the end of the day, credit cards work best for consumers who always pay their balances without incurring interests. This is how you’ll be able to save money, as high interest rates are usually how credit card companies make money. When you are able to pay your credit card balance on time, you can rake up a lot of points that can actually go to travel expenses such as airline tickets and hotel accommodations, instead of annual fees or interest payments.
Now swipe away with that card, pay those bills on time and book those travel tickets. The only thing you have to figure out next is, where to?