Does your New Year’s resolution include travel? Have you figured out how to use credit cards to make this travel more affordable? In the last few years, I have been working on making the most of my cards to supplement my travel budget. Below I share which travel cards have worked best for me.
I write a travel blog, so obviously, I travel a lot. I also run two businesses, so I have a lot of chances to charge money onto credit cards. I am not an accountant, have any financial training, or even a business degree. So take the following as just what works for me to use my regular charging of money to pay for many of my travel expenses. Using the following cards, I have paid for multiple flights and upgrades, hotel rooms and upgrades, airline lounges, Global Entry, and more. Also, most travel credit cards do not have a foreign transaction fee.
One key to working points to make travel within reach is to pick your favorite brands and join their loyalty programs. Then it would be best if you looked at their cards. Using the brand and its card often magnifies your advantages. For example, I mainly stay at Marriott brand hotels, and if I can’t find one I like, I book with Hotels.com. Between the two places, I end up with free nights from both each year. Now onto the cards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
This card is a big-ticket item with a $550 yearly annual fee, but I have found it to be the card that gives me the most freedom, as it isn’t limited to one brand.
Here are the perks that I use that make the card pay for itself:
- Automatic $300 travel credit per year.
- Reimbursement for Global Entry, which speeds up going through security at airports. Global Entry includes domestic TSA-precheck and saves me so much time at the airport. Getting Global Entry is a no-brainer even if you don’t get this card.
- Travel insurance for travel charges made with the card. This first drew me to the card, as I realized it was not the smartest to travel routinely without insurance which I had been doing for years.
- If you spend enough in a year, you get 5x points on certain purchases. I have had enough points in the last year to pay for two round-trip tickets to Dubai, a week’s worth of car rental, and two round-trip tickets to New Orleans. No blackout dates or restrictions exist because you book your tickets through Chase’s travel engine.
- Lounge access at airports. I thought this sounded like a fun perk, but I had no idea it could save me money. Almost every lounge I have visited offers complimentary food and drinks, so I pay for fewer overpriced airport meals. The only drawback is that sometimes the lounges are full, so you can’t rely on them, but that has only happened to me twice.
This card has many more perks, but these are the ones I use regularly.
Marriott Bonvoy Card
Just opening this card gave me Silver Elite status; with the Boundless card each year, you get one free night hotel stay. I just used mine for an upcoming trip to New Orleans. My $95 yearly fee was more than recouped with the room, which would have cost me $400.
We also scored big with some sweet upgrades. Our simple room in Dubai was upgraded to a four-bedroom penthouse overlooking the water. I would never stay in anything close to this fancy on my dime.
Which is your favorite airline to fly? I have cards for both American Airlines and JetBlue. For under $100 a year, I get free seat selection and baggage on these airlines. Again this fee more than pays for itself each year, although I don’t charge much on either card.
Credit cards as a way to save money only work if you never run a balance. The interest rates on all these cards are so high that having them is an awful idea if you can’t pay them in full each month without fail. These are ideas to use in conjunction with saving for travel.
What travel cards do you use? What is the best trip it has provided you? If this has inspired you to check out a travel credit card, using the links above will give me a referral bonus and more chances to travel and share ideas with you!