If you’re an avid traveler, a rewards travel card is a must! Or even if you just enjoy traveling once in a while, a credit card that gives out points per dollar will be beneficial. You may have seen this tip included in my previous post Travel Tips: How to Travel for Cheap, but allow me to go into detail which credit card I swear by.
Now, there’s a ton of travel cards out there. Almost all hotels and airlines offer credit cards to earn points towards free rooms or flights. Then there are general travel rewards cards, some with annual fees and some without. So, how do you choose? Here are a few questions I ask myself before applying
- What credit score is needed to apply?
- You want to apply for a card that is within reach. If you know your score is low, don’t apply to a card that you need excellent credit for. Start to build your way up and strengthen your score.
- What is the APR range?
- For those who pay off your credit card in full at the conclusion of each statement, the APR doesn’t really matter. You’ll never be paying interest on your purchases if you pay your balance completely. However, if you believe you may occasionally slip up then aim for a card with a reasonable APR
- What is the point per dollar reward?
- This should be at least 1 point per dollar. There should also be some additional perk on certain purchases
- Is there a sign up bonus?
- Sign up bonuses are the main reason I sign up for new cards! I normally wait until a card offers 50,000 bonus points because the standard is 30,000 for most. After you spend a certain amount in a time frame (usually 3 months), the bonus will hit your account.
- Are there additional benefits?
- It’s important that the card offer additional benefits besides just a point system. Is there travel insurance? This is a huge plus to travel credit cards. Also, certain airlines will provide benefits such as free checked bag, airport lounge access, and priority boarding. If you fly with a specific airline, these perks could be quite valuable to you.
- What is the redemption value for points?
- This is something to pay extremely close attention to. There are a bunch of cards out there that offer reward points, but what good is it if there’s limitations on what can be redeemed? If you’re looking at a specific airline, check their award chart to see how many points it takes to get a roundtrip flight. Convert the point into cents to get a better idea of what it’s worth.
- Is it worth the annual fee?
- Consider the overall value. Do the benefits outweigh the annual fee?
I went through these series of questions as I was researching the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the answers pushed me to apply. I am so satisfied with this card and use it for basically all my expenses. It’s a great card to start off with because sometimes they will reject your application if you’ve applied to too many cards in a short period of time. Here are the answers to the questions above relating to the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
- Credit score must be good/excellent
- APR ranges from 16.5%-23.5% The upper range is definitely high, so be sure to pay all the full balance at the end of each statement closing as best as you can
- 2 points per $1 for travel and dining expenses, 1 point per $1 for all other purchases. The 2 points add up extremely quick! Hate to admit, but I eat out a lot so majority of purchases I make earn 2 points on the dollar. Also, these dining purchases include bars and quick service restaurants. Also travel related expenses include Airbnb bookings, train tickets, airfare, and so forth.
- 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. $4K may sound like a lot, but if you put all your purchases on this card and certain bills, it actually is very reasonable. The bonus is sometimes only 30,000 points, so be sure to use the link below to earn the full 50K
- No foreign transaction fees, travel insurance (including car rentals overseas), no blackout dates or travel restrictions, great fraud team, nice fancy metal card
- You can choose to either book through Chase’s travel portal or transfer your points to multiple airline/hotel loyalty programs.
- Booking through Chase Rewards Program directly: Receive 1.25 cent per point. This means your 50,000 sign up bonus is worth $625.00
- Transfer points: 1:1 point transfer to loyalty programs such as United, Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, etc . If you have an airline or hotel you use frequently, this can be extremely useful and beneficial.
- There is a $95 annual fee on this card, but the first year is free. Personally, I do think this card is worth the fee due to all the additional benefits. If you look at the sign up bonus alone, the fee is pretty much covered for 7 years. Overtime if you notice that you stopped using this card, you can call to downgrade to the Chase Freedom, which is free but doesn’t provide as much rewards/benefits.
So, there’s my favorite travel credit card! Do you have a different favorite? If so, comment below and fill me in on what you like about it! I like having multiple cards and taking advantage of high sign up bonuses. Of course, don’t apply to a large number of cards if you’re looking to take out a loan soon (mortgage, auto, etc.) as it will temporarily affect your credit. Be sure to always pay on time and try not to pay JUST the minimum value.
Earn 50,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire Preferred using my link below!