In this uncertain economy, the best travel card for you may be the one that provides the most protection for your purchases. Many people make the mistake of assuming that their current credit card will cover all of their travel needs. Not every card is created equal. Make sure you’re aware of all the features and benefits of each card before you apply.
Protection benefits: With any travel card, you want to be reimbursed in the event that something goes awry. The best travel credit cards will save you in some very unfortunate circumstances, such as with stolen luggage or delayed trips. Some even offer primary car insurance for rentals so that your premiums don’t go up if you have an accident. Others offer frequent flier miles and bonuses for members who use them often. Still others may have special partnerships with hotels and restaurants, which means you can earn rewards for using these locations in your travels. Whatever the case, make sure the cards you are applying for offers you plenty of protection.
Reward rates: You can expect to earn rewards on virtually everything you purchase. The first six months to a year are the safest times to earn rewards because they are when most retailers begin to offer the first set of airline miles, gift cards and points for every purchase. Look out for promotional codes that can save you five or ten percent on purchases and dining plans. Bonus points for gasoline purchases are also available from most gas stations. Make sure the travel card you are applying for has the lowest reward rates possible.
Flexibility: If you use a frequent traveler card with points that can earn you frequent flyer miles, you have a great opportunity to build up your points slowly if you travel frequently. But if you don’t, you can jump right on and earn points faster by purchasing tickets for yourself or your family to travel. You can transfer your points to any airline, and you can redeem them for tickets or for other goods at many participating merchants. Frequent travelers can find that travel rewards credit cards with travel points are the best deals for both short-term and long-term travel plans.
Foreign Transaction Fees: Credit cards issued in foreign countries may come with foreign transaction fees. There are usually no foreign transaction fees for cards issued in US dollars, but the structure of the card may vary so be sure you read all the terms and conditions for any cards you are considering. There are even cards that offer a zero foreign transaction fee but charge extra fees for ATM and check in fees.
Capital One Rewards Miles: This is one of the biggest incentives offered by all issuers, but it’s a little confusing to the average consumer. The way it works is you earn credits by making purchases and by using your card overseas. However, you must keep your balance low to qualify for these offers. You also earn bonuses for every purchase and up to a certain amount of credit that you can use towards future purchases. It’s a great travel card for people who travel regularly or people looking for an incentive for their purchases.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Miles: All of the cards from Chase include air miles that can be redeemed for free or as credit towards other purchases. There’s no annual fee and there are no blackout periods when you redeem your rewards. Every purchase you make earns you a point that you can redeem when you book your next flight. You earn more points the longer you stay on the program, up to a maximum of three years.
Platinum Card of California Gold Card: The Gold Card gives you an opportunity to earn even more reward points, along with an excellent credit requirement. You will pay a higher interest rate than the average card, but if you pay off your balance in full each month you won’t pay any interest at all. This makes the card a great travel card, especially if you fly often. The higher the annual fee and foreign transaction fees you have to pay, the less value you receive out of this card.