Travel Rewards cardIf you aren’t the traveling type, you may not be impressed by the idea of taking on a travel rewards credit card, assuming that it has nothing to offer you. But many credit card companies have expanded their rewards programs to include benefits that could make the less-frequent traveler smile.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you no doubt seek ways to save money on airline tickets, hotels and car rentals. You might visit various online travel booking services and compare prices, or take advantage of last-minute deals; but these aren’t the only ways to get the most bang for your buck.

Do you use credit cards for everyday purchases, such as gas, groceries and dining out, or book your travel arrangements with a credit card? If so, it pays to look into travel rewards credit cards to reduce your out-of-pocket costs on vacations and other travel expenses.

How Do Travel Rewards Credit Cards Work?

These credit cards work like any other credit card. Pick your items, head to the cashier and simply swipe your credit card to complete your purchase. But unlike other types of credit cards, these credit cards are connected to different rewards programs.

In a nutshell, rewards programs are a type of loyalty program that rewards customers for using their credit cards. It’s an incentive created by credit card companies to encourage credit card use.

Apply for a travel credit card and you’ll earn points or miles on every purchase. Accumulate enough rewards and redeem your points for airline tickets, car rentals, cruises and hotels. Practically every credit card provider offers at least one rewards program, and the rewards vary by credit card.

Don’t select a travel rewards credit card randomly, however. Consider your travel needs, then select the most appropriate credit card for your personal shopping habits. For example, some credit cards focus on airline rewards, but you may need a credit card that offers hotel perks.

Getting the Most Out of Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Travel Rewards ProgramsThe more points or miles you accumulate on your travel rewards credit cards, the more you can travel. For this reason, use your credit card for common, everyday purchases and do your best to pay your card balance in full each month.

In addition to gas, groceries and dining, credit cards can be used to pay mortgages, auto loans or other bills. This maximizes your earnings and you’ll be able to redeem points sooner.

Plus, it helps to apply for a credit card that offers bonus points. For instance, with the Sapphire Chase travel rewards credit card, you earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on the card within the first 90 days. That’s equivalent to about $500 in travel rewards. And if you’re interested in airline miles, the Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express rewards travel credit card offers 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $500 on the credit card within the first 90 days.

Features of a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Determining whether a travel rewards credit card is right for you can be tricky. To help your decision, familiarize yourself with common features.

  • Bonus points: Just about every travel rewards credit card offers bonus points if you spend a certain dollar amount on the card within the first three months of opening an account. This promotion jump starts your earnings and helps you reach travel reward goals faster.
  • Earn points on every purchase: Points earned on each purchase heavily depends on the credit card issuer’s rewards program terms. Some cards allow you to earn 2 points or more on specific categories, such as dining or entertainment, and 1 point on all other purchases, for example. Thus, the more you swipe your travel rewards credit card, the more you can earn towards hotel accommodations and flights.
  • Flexibility: Not only can you redeem your travel rewards for airline tickets and hotels, but some programs let you redeem points for gift cards, merchandise and cash back.
  • No expiration date: With many programs, there’s no cap on the amount of points you can earn, plus points never expire.
  • Priority features: Book your airline ticket with your travel rewards credit card and you may be eligible for a free checked bag or priority boarding.

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