5 Things To Look For In A Travel Rewards Credit Card
If you love to travel, but not spending on travel, it may be time to consider a travel rewards credit card. Yes, a credit card. A travel rewards credit card could be the answer to your problems. The more you spend using a rewards card, the more points you earn — and you can turn those points into things like airfare and hotel stays. It's a great way to make the money you're already spending go a little further, and help you take your next dream vacation.
But if you've decided a travel card is for you, there’s still the matter of picking out the perfect card. Let's take a look at the most important features of a travel rewards card so you can make an informed decision on the card to get.
Easy to earn reward points
You're in this for the rewards, so you want them to be easy to earn and easy to understand. Most cards reward 1 point — sometimes travel cards will refer to them as "miles" instead of points — per dollar spent, so anything you can get beyond that is a bonus. Many cards will offer extra points for purchases in certain categories, with travel cards likely to offer double points (or more) for purchases on airfare, hotels, or other travel-related expenses. Ideally, you want to get bonus points in a category you spend the most in.
However, be aware that not all points are created equal. What may cost 1,000 points on one rewards card could cost 5,000 points on another. Points are one indication of a card's value, but you have to look into rewards, too.
Rewards you'll use
While all travel cards offer travel-related rewards, you want to be sure they're rewards you'll use (and that they have a reasonable points price tag attached). Some cards may be tied to specific partners, meaning you can only redeem points on certain airlines and hotels — and it's no good getting a card that offers great rewards with Hilton hotels when you'd rather stay at the Marriott.
Don't make any assumptions about the rewards offered just because a card is called a “travel” card. Before you sign up, be sure to find out exactly what kinds of rewards you can redeem your points for and be sure they're the rewards you want.
Easy point redemption
Some rewards cards make you jump through hoops to get the rewards you want, with blackout dates or other restrictions that make it tough to turn points into vacations. You should investigate how point redemption works to ensure that going on your next vacation doesn't turn into a headache.
Most cards offer some kind of sign-up bonus, like bonus points for spending a certain amount, an introductory period with low interest rates, or a balance transfer offer that makes it easy to consolidate any other credit card debt on to your new rewards card. Many travel cards offer travel-centric perks, too, like travel concierge services or access to airport lounges. The ideal card has money-saving — or money earning — offers you'll take advantage of.
No (or low) fees
Rewards cards tend to have somewhat higher interest rates over ordinary cards, but you should still look for cards with the lowest interest rate possible. Fees are also common on rewards cards: most carry an annual fee (which can be in the hundreds of dollars a year) and some have a foreign transaction fee (which can be a frustration for overseas travel). The less you're paying for the card, the better, so keep your eye out for cards with few fees.
Consider PenFed's Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card
Our travel card offers 1 point dollar spent on any purchase, with 5 points per dollar spent on airfare, making it a stellar card for frequent fliers. With low interest rates, no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, EMV chip enabled for added security, 24/7 travel concierge and more much – why not apply today?