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Selecting a Travel Credit Card

May 21, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

Plane take off
Many frequent travelers take advantage of frequent flyer programs offered by airlines.  These programs allow customers to gain special status, rewards, and even free flights for giving their loyalty to the airline.  For those who travel often, like business travelers, frequent flyer programs provide great benefits.

Recently, many airlines and major credit card companies have introduced travel credit cards to offer similar rewards to consumers.  Travel credit cards allow users to earn air mileage benefits by making purchases with their travel credit card.  Savvy travelers can earn double miles by using a travel credit card as well as their frequent flyer number when booking a flight.  Travel credit cards also earn rewards and discounts that can be applied to car rentals, hotels, and other travel necessities.  

Any purchase, from groceries to gas, can be applied toward travel credit card discounts and rewards.  Here are the four types of travel credit cards to consider:

  • Specific airline or hotel: Some travel credit cards are tied directly to one specific airline or hotel chain.  This may be a good choice if consistently fly the same airline and/or stay in the same set of hotels.  However, not all airlines fly to all areas so this may not be a good option if you travel to many different areas.

  • Travel club: American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Discover and Diners Club offer cards with generic travel reward options.

  • Local bank: Your local bank or credit union may offer its own credit card with travel rewards.

  • Debit card: You may even be able to find a debit card that offers travel rewards.

There is no single card or option that’s better than another.  The “best card” is the one that offers the features and rewards that suit your individual needs.  Think forward to any traveling you may do in the upcoming year.  Will you be able to fly with the same airline each time?  Will you be staying in the same hotel?  If not, the select a card with broad benefits.

When selecting a travel credit card, don’t forget about the other terms and conditions that go along with the credit card.  Some cards may have an annual fee from $25 to $125.  Also check the annual percentage rate (APR) since travel cards may have a higher rate.

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