You can accumulate free travel rewards using your credit card for everyday purchases. It's true! However, it is important to approach travel reward programs with caution, exercise self-control, and develop a strategy to maximize the value of credit card travel rewards. By effectively implementing these you can enhance the benefits of your travel reward program.
HOW TRAVEL REWARD PROGRAMS WORK
The first step is understanding how travel reward programs work. Unfortunately, there's no one size fits all when it comes to travel rewards. Some cards offer points you can redeem on hotels, airfare, car rentals, etc. Others offer specific rewards for their hotels or airline. You earn points or miles that you can redeem for upgraded rooms within their chain of hotels or airfare or upgraded airfare on their airline.
You accumulate points by making purchases with your credit card. Many credit card companies provide bonus points for spending in specific categories or at certain retailers. For example, you may earn double points when you dine at restaurants, shop at supermarkets, or fill up at gas stations. Additionally, you can earn points by staying at select hotel chains or flying with particular airlines. Some credit card issuers even offer introductory bonus miles or points if you spend a certain amount within a designated timeframe.
TYPES OF TRAVEL REWARDS
Different travel reward programs offer different values according to how you spend money (to earn points) and the type of travel you enjoy. In other words, some travel reward programs are better for international travel, while others are better for domestic travel. Some offer airline travel, while others are strictly related to hotel accommodations. Know what type of travel you prefer before choosing a travel reward program.
REDEEMING TRAVEL REWARDS
Before you redeem your travel rewards, carefully review the terms and conditions. Certain cards have restrictions, such as blackout dates or limitations on the duration and frequency of point redemptions. Some individuals redeem their points for economy travel as they earn them. In contrast, others save them for upgraded options or special occasions. There's no right or wrong approach to spending your travel rewards, but there may be instances where paying out of pocket for your travel is more beneficial. That's why having a plan in place is important when utilizing travel reward cards.
While the free airfare or hotel room is a big enough perk, other perks accompany many travel reward programs and are worth a second glance. Different cards will offer different benefits to their members. Some you might be interested in looking for when choosing a travel reward program include those listed below.
- Exclusive airport lounge access.
- Room upgrades.
- Airfare upgrades.
- No fees for foreign currency exchanges.
Whether you use your travel reward card for business or personal travel, choosing a card that complements the way you travel is important. Understanding the perks different cards offer can help you make your decision.
MAXIMIZING TRAVEL REWARDS
There are several things you can do to maximize your travel rewards. Some of the most important things involve getting the big picture about how you can use your points, including details about the following:
- Points/Miles expiration dates.
- Partner hotels or airlines.
- Class restrictions.
- Upgrade options.
- Blackout dates.
- Geographic location restrictions.
- Fees and tiers.
Additionally, ensure you thoroughly comprehend how points and miles operate, allowing you to budget for them, grasp the specifics of bonuses provided to new members, and effectively utilize all the fine print associated with redeeming these bonuses to your advantage.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PROGRAM
With so many travel reward programs, picking the right program may feel overwhelming. The good news is that many better-known travel reward programs are competitive. Some are better than others for the specific way you travel. The key is finding the card that best rewards the items you use your credit card to purchase month after month and ensuring that fees and restrictions do not diminish the potential value of the travel reward program for your travel needs.