1. Using Travel Credit Cards and Maximizing Benefits
My wanderlusting heart consistently drives me to various travel websites longing to experience new destinations. One of the biggest ways I’ve made travel a reality is by having travel credit cards that allow me to use my rewards for airfare, rental cars or hotels.
I’ve been able to travel both in the US and internationally for free, all for just spending money that I would be spending anyways.
Below are a few ways I’ve been able to maximize the benefits of using travel credit cards responsibly, while not getting myself into massive debt.
2. Research Benefits
Before you select a travel credit card, you need to research the various benefits offered and weigh your options. Sign up for a travel reward card whose airlines fly to all of your top destinations, that way you are maximizing the benefits.
Some cards offer both rewards for airlines and hotel networks – those are the best kind!
Make sure to research any additional fees in the fine print. For example, my Southwest Card has a $99 annual fee, but also gives me 6,000 annual bonus points and I love the benefits, so the annual fee is worth it to me.
3. Sign Up During Big Purchase Month(s)
Most credit cards have introductory promotions that you have to hit in order to redeem your reward points. For example, if you sign up for a Chase Sapphire Card (one of my personal favorites), you have to spend $4,000 in the first three months of opening a credit account to get 50,000 bonus points.
Spending that amount is easy for some people, but to ensure you’re not overspending to hit that limit, sign up during months that you’re going to make a big purchase or anticipate spending more.
4. Use Your Travel Credit Cards For Everything!
I link all of my bills that allow me to pay with credit to my travel rewards cards. I also use my card for all other purchases I make i.e., gas, restaurants, student loan payment, you name it, it goes on my card.
BIG NOTE: Don’t start going crazy making unnecessary purchases and make sure to pay your statement balance off every single month. This avoids any interest fees and maximizes the value of your card.
4. Always Stay Active
Some cards have expiration dates on rewards points and you have to be mindful of that so you don’t lose your points.
One of my cards if you don’t have any activity (i.e. use the card, book a flight, etc.) within 24 months, your points expire. As long as you keep activity on your cards and are aware of any expiration dates, your points will always be available for use.
5. Plan Your Destinations Accordingly
Another great way to maximize your points is by flying to destinations when it’s the most cost effective. Using apps like Hopper, an app that analyzes billions of flights to help you find the best deals and the best times to fly and buy can save you thousands of points.
The points you save by researching and planning your trips ahead of time can add up to more free flights!