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Go Places: 5 Tips for Getting a Travel Credit Card

Travel credit cards, specifically the cards that offer reward programs, can usually be considered a very good investment if one is aware of the best ways to take advantage of them (Read: 3 Ways to Really Enjoy Your Rewards Credit Card). While these cards generally charge a slightly higher interest rate, rest assured that they will be competitive, though most of the features and benefits will change dramatically from one offer to the next. The best strategy is of course to shop around, compare all the offers, and select only the best travel card with the most beneficial rewards for your individual needs.

Choosing The Best Travel Credit Card

Maximizing the Savings: To get the most savings on any trip, use the travel rewards credit card wisely. Select a card with the most profitable introductory offer. Certain companies offer large bonus points if you make a specific quantity of purchases with the card in a given time frame, often yielding free hotel stays, airline tickets, more miles, or other profitable benefits. Some cards even offer rewards for purchases made at grocery stores. It is wise to remember to pay off each monthly expense on time to reduce the finance charges to a minimum. Carrying a balance will certainly negate some of the benefits you are trying to accumulate. Make it a habit to charge all airline, accommodations, and other related expenses to the travel card. Even using the company’s travel service can reap more points.

Watch the Interest Rate: The interest rate charge will certainly vary depending on the card. If you happen to have a good credit score, this may qualify you for lower rates, and in some cases, a higher reward package.

Compare the Annual Fees: Most travel credit cards come with annual fees, which can range from small amounts to a few hundred dollars depending on the company and rewards structure. Some may have no fee for the first year, and commence thereafter.

Check Your Credit Score: Usually, the better the credit score, the better the rewards program offered. Most travel credit card companies offer what is known as ‘stepped’ or ‘tiered’ programs, which qualify the user for specific levels of rewards, fees, or interest rates depending on their credit ratings.

Maximizing the Rewards and Points: Between the first introductory offer on up to the earnings gained from long-term use, you need to take complete advantage of every bonus point offered to gain the most long-term benefit from the travel credit card. As mentioned, the tiered or stepped programs earn more points and rewards for certain types of purchases, along with those that can be earned from paying everyday expenses. Usually, the card rewards offer a minimum of one point per dollar spent, or more airline miles, which can certainly add up over the course of time. The purchase of airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, dining and ground transportation, entertainment, and even the local souvenirs all go toward building the point or mileage totals.

Evaluate all of the available options each travel credit card offers before making the choice, such as the different introductory benefits, the number of points or mileage you can earn, the specific types of purchases that earn the points and ways they can be redeemed, and so on. It is prudent to check each interest rate as well, whether it is for purchases, cash advances, balance transfers, and any associated fees for using the cards.

Obviously, every travel credit card will have different benefits, rules and requirements, and the more information you can learn about each one, the better off you will be, and the more enjoyable the necessities, and rewards, of travel become. The bottom line is not only the convenience, but the most rewards you can accumulate from using a travel credit card. If you travel frequently, a good travel credit card can be just as important as good luggage. After all, taking the time to choose the one that best serves your itinerary, and in the least expensive fashion, while providing the rewards and points most relevant to your particular lifestyle and spending habits is what the journey is all about.

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