What to expect from a travel rewards credit card?

Travel rewards credit cards are those which offer points or miles on your spending.  These points are redeemable for travel purposes like air fare, hotel accommodations, car rentals or sometimes cash.

When you are in search for a travel rewards credit card, you should look for the following –

  1. Sing-up bonus – Many credit card companies are famous for providing amazing deals for signing up, including huge reward points or miles when you make the first purchase using their credit card.  Make a comparative study of all the credit cards in the market and select one offering maximum sign-up bonus.
  2. Look out for cards which provide opportunities for earning more points.  You can double your points or earn points more than the standard rate if you use these cards with some specific retailers.  Some companies offer extra points for buying a particular category of items like office supplies, home improvement products etc.  Assess your needs and your spending pattern to find out which credit card will offer you more.
  3. Look at the service fees and other fine prints.  Even if you think that the rewards are offering you a fortune, in reality they may not.  There will be some conditions limiting the benefits.  For example, you may not be able to travel on blackout dates.  You may be required to pay extra fees for redemption of rewards.  You have to check these conditions before selecting a particular card.  If you’re not sure, call the credit card company and speak to their customer representative because a specific piece of information may not be easily found on their website or in the brochures you have received from them.
  4. Make an assessment of the rewards – how much “real” value they offer?  Sometimes you have to pay extra fees for participating in the rewards program.  If you don’t, you may take a very long time in earning rewards.  No doubt you can get better services with extra fees paid but the benefits are lowered to that extent.
  5. Decide what you really want – free hotel accommodations, free air travel or free shopping.  If you are not particular about brands, you will find more variety of cards to choose from and the possibilities of earning rewards are improved.  It will mostly depend on your lifestyle and your needs.  You should also look out for the transferability of points for your convenience.  For example, you should be allowed to transfer your hotel points to airline travel.

It is not very easy to switch between cards because you lose the points on your previous card and you will be required to pay joining fees once more. Be clear in your mind about the way you will be using the rewards before selecting a particular travel rewards card.