Traveling to far-off places, experiencing new cultures, and seeing extraordinary sights are important life goals for most people. However, many of us find that we can't travel as much as we would like to due to the costs involved.
But did you know that with some research, careful planning, and strategic spending you can drastically cut the costs of flights, hotels, and rental cars?
Using reward travel credit cards and airline credit cards, you can earn big points on your everyday spending which can then be used to pay for your future flights. And it won't only be a few dollars here and there - if you pick the right card for your lifestyle, you could potentially save hundreds or thousands of dollars while crossing the globe.
And you don't even have to adjust your lifestyle all that much. Just pick the right credit card for your spending habits and you will start earning air miles on the money you would be spending each week on groceries and dining anyway.
Below we will talk you through the key things you need to know about earning points for airlines and hotels using travel credit cards. And we'll also give you a quick breakdown of some of the best credit card offers for you to consider when you get started!
Citi Premier Card
Best for Regular flyers
What Are Travel Reward Credit Cards?
Travel rewards cards will help you to build up points or miles when you use them which can be redeemed against your future travel.
A lot of airlines and hotels have loyalty programs and frequent flyer programs, but these are usually only of use to those who travel very frequently and can build up points on flights.
If you travel only for vacation or have a limited amount of business trips per year, it can be difficult to build up a decent number of miles using a frequent flyer program only.
However, if you are savvy when it comes to choosing a travel credit card, you could find yourself racking up air miles each and every week with your everyday spending. This is a much more convenient and quicker way to access big discounts for travel for most people.
How Do Travel Credit Cards Work?
You can use your travel credit cards to pay for your everyday purchases. And you may find that you get bonus points for choosing to buy from partner retailers or spending within certain categories.
Once you have built up a healthy amount of points, you can redeem them against your most expensive travel costs such as flights and hotel bookings to substantially lower the bill for your next vacation.
You can also redeem points for in-flight purchases, seat upgrades, partner car rentals, and a host of other travel-related services. You just need to earn the rewards and transfer points to spend with loyalty programs from partner travel providers to get the most value!
You can also use the online shopping hubs associated with your card to access discounts and built up more points on your online shopping.
What are the Other Benefits of a Travel Credit Card?
As well as accessing heavily discounted to free travel, owning a travel credit card will usually come with other related perks. This can include free travel insurance for delayed flights and car rentals. and lost luggage. Some premium travel cards even offer a 24-hour travel assistance hotline for you to consult while you are away!
You may also be able to access free upgrades, airport lounge access, and elite status with partner hotels and airlines.
What Are the Best Travel Credit Cards?
The best travel credit card for you will depend on your lifestyle and spending habits. The goal with one of these cards is to rack up as many points as possible without spending any extra money, so finding the right fit for you is essential.
Remember - Making sure that you don't overextend your spending to rack up points is important to make sure you maintain a healthy credit score and don't fall into debt.
All of your spending on travel credit cards should be saving you money overall, so don't be tempted to purchase more than you normally do to hit point targets if it doesn't make overall financial sense.
Take a look at our picks for the best travel credit card offers below and think about whether they are the right fit for you.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Meet the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, this travel reward card will give you a mammoth 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points bonus if you spend $4, 000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening! That can total up to $750 off your next vacation when you book your flights and hotel through the Chase travel hub.
So, if you normally spend that much on your credit cards anyway, the $95 annual fee is more than worth it.
You can also transfer points with partner airlines directly at a ratio of 1:1 with carriers such as Southwest and United Airlines and hotel chains such as Marriott and Hyatt.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Card
This travel credit card offers discounts of up to $750 in travel purchases by rewarding you with 75,000 miles if you spend $4,000 within three months of opening your account.
These miles won't expire for as long as you keep your account open by paying the $95 annual fee.
This flexible card allows you to redeem travel with any brand, by simply booking your travel. Statement credits will then be credited to your account.
Another great perk for frequent travelers is that you can enjoy up to $100 statement credit towards your Global Entry or TSA precheck membership!
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
This card is a great choice for beginners as it will reward you with 50,000 points after spending only $1,000 within the first three months of the account opening. CNN states that these points can usually be redeemed at a rate of 1.4 cents per point.
So, with 50,000 points you could save hundreds of dollars on your next flight or hotel booking. This dwarfs the $69 annual fee in comparison.
You'll also get access to a Southwest Companion Pass which allows you to invite a companion to travel with you on a Southwest flight for free! Another potential major saving for your family vacation!
The Chase Freedom Flex Card
With these travel credit cards you only need to spend $500 within the first three months to get a $200 cash back bonus you can put towards your travel costs.
And you can add to this with your 5% cash back on the travel purchases you make through the Chase travel portal. And you can earn a further 3% on your dining purchases and unlimited 1% cash back on all your other purchases using the card.
These credit cards offer 5% cash back on category purchases up to $1,500. Categories in the past have included everyday items such as groceries and online streaming services. However, you need to remember to activate each category you hope to earn from.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
If you regularly travel and stay at Marriott hotels, then this card is definitely one to consider. When you spend $3,000 within the first three months, you'll be rewarded with 100,000 Marriot reward points. And you'll also enjoy one free night award, 15 Elite night credits, and Silver Status for each annual anniversary that you hold the card.
As well as these initial bonuses, you can also earn 3x points per dollar on up to $6,000 you spend at grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations. You can also benefit from 2x points on all other purchases you make on the card.
And all the purchases you make while staying at Marriot Bonvoy properties will earn you 17x points. So, you can be earning discounts for your next stay while enjoying your present one!
The annual fee of $95 is a lot lower than some other premium travel rewards credit cards, and the hotel benefits you will enjoy should more than cover this cost.
Takeaway - How to Travel for Free With Credit Cards: A Detailed Guide
If you want to start enjoying discounts and free services across all of the important aspects of your travel in 2023, selecting the right travel credit card is an important step.
The cards we have detailed above will reward you with a substantial amount of points towards your next trip simply for hitting the minimum spend requirement within an initial time limit.
And finding a card that allows you to earn the greatest level of points on purchases you would be making anyway means that you can cut costs with no extra effort or changes at all! You simply need to find the right fit for you.
Take another look at our picks for the best travel credit cards above and think about which option best fits your spending habits and travel goals for 2023.
Are Travel Credit Cards Worth It?
When it comes to cheap ways to travel, using the best travel points credit cards can be a great way to lower costs and enjoy fantastic perks as you travel.