Travel Smarter, Not Harder: Is Getting a Travel Card Worth It

Credit Cards1 year ago
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If you are looking to access cheap travel in 2023, then applying for a travel credit card is one of the easiest and most effective ways to earn discounts and freebies. Whether you travel regularly for business or once or twice a year to visit family - travel rewards credit cards can save you money and make your trip more comfortable in many ways.

By earning cash back, points, and miles on your everyday purchases, you can access discounts, rewards, and complimentary items such as TSA precheck membership and elite status at hotels.

However, while there are some no annual fee airline and hotel credit cards, some of the premium reward cards do involve paying a high annual fee. Some cards will charge a reasonable $95 per year, whereas other cards with more luxurious add-ons can charge more than $600 per annum.

When it comes to the higher price travel credit cards, you may be forgiven for asking "Are Travel Credit Cards worth it?" Below we will break down everything you need to know about travel cards and how to work out whether the points per dollar value for a card loyalty program is worth the fee you are paying.

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What Are Travel Rewards Credit Cards?

There are three main types of travel reward credit cards for you to consider if you want to save money on your trip. These include:

  • Airline rewards cards.
  • Hotel points credit cards.
  • Travel rewards credit cards from banks and other financial institutions.


What are Airline Credit Cards?

Airline credit cards will allow you to earn points and miles towards your future travel when you spend on tickets and selected spending categories (which could include groceries and dining.)

Once you build up a certain amount of these points you will be able to spend them using the airline's loyalty program to pay for tickets and other airline-related products.

You may also be able to transfer points to other partner airlines and hotels if that is more convenient or if the points are more valuable that way.

Examples of airline credit cards include the Delta SkyMiles Gold from American Express, and the United Explorer Card. (References to products on this page may change at any time at the discretion of the card provider.)


What are Hotel Travel Rewards Cards?

Similarly, to airline cards, hotel credit cards allow you to build up points towards future stays with an associated hotel chain. Card owners may also be able to qualify for elite status in hotels and discounts on associated products and services.

There are some big-name hotel chains that offer co-branded credit cards with major providers. These include the Hilton Honors American Express card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card. (Please note that terms apply to the offers listed on this page.)


What are Bank Travel Credit Cards?

Most major banks and financial institutions also offer travel rewards credit cards which offer more flexibility in terms of how you collect and redeem points.

You can transfer points to a variety of different partners including airlines and hotels to gain discounts and free travel through loyalty programs and online travel portals. Other benefits can include statement credit towards partner memberships and services, free checked bags, and airport lounge access.

Some general travel cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Capital One Venture Card, and the American Express Platinum Card. (Make sure to check the details and features are accurate as of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and other options.)


Which Type of Travel Credit Card is Best for You?

If you want to maximize your points earning potential and where you can redeem them, then a more general card may be a good choice. if you often book a flight or stay with a certain air carrier or hotel chain, then more specific cards may be more useful.


Are Travel Credit Cards Worth Paying the Annual Fee?

The majority of travel credit cards do have an annual fee that needs to be paid for you to access the associated benefits. These can range from $95 to $600+ annually.

Whether these fees are worth it will depend upon the value of the associated benefits and how much you will save by using them.

As well as allowing to collect points towards future travel purchases, many cards also offer travelers valuable perks such as credit towards Global Entry, monthly Uber Cash, or complimentary airport lounge access.

If you regularly use the service on offer and are paying to do so, the money you will save may more than offset the annual cost of the card.

So, when assessing how valuable a card is, you need to take a detailed look at all of the perks and benefits on offer. It can be helpful to assign a value to each perk that you will use to help you work out whether paying the annual fee will help you to save money in the long run.

Remember, when assessing this, you need to think about the value to you. Complimentary membership to a high-end gym may be worth $150 a month to someone who already uses it. If you don't take advantage, then the value you should assign is $0.

Apply this logic to each card you are interested in, whether from a bank, airline, or hotel. You should only apply to cards that will save you money overall, and not allow yourself to be swayed by features that though flashy, don't apply to your lifestyle or travel habits.


Takeaway - Are Travel Cards Worth the Annual Cost?

taking the time to assess the value of a travel credit card will ensure that you only apply for a card that is worth the annual fee. Rewards credit cards can be well worth the fee if the value of the associated benefits is more valuable.

Assess each feature available and work out whether they are valuable enough to offset the initial cost. This way you'll be able to start earning points and miles while enjoying discounts and savings on regular travel costs you are already paying.

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