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9 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Travel Credit Card

martin-dm / Getty Images

martin-dm / Getty Images

A recent survey found that 23% of rewards credit card holders did not use their rewards in the past year. If you don’t want to leave money on the table, it’s important that you take advantage of your travel rewards credit card so you get the maximum benefit from it.

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If you travel often or simply want to get more out of your travel credit card, we’ll help you figure out how to make it happen. We’ll look at insights into efficiently earning and redeeming rewards, navigating travel parks, and managing card features to optimize them.

Find a Travel Rewards Credit Card that works for you

All travel rewards credit cards have different benefits and you want to make sure you choose the right one for your situation. You’ll also want to find a rewards program that you understand, so you know how point redemptions work and what to look out for. There’s no point in collecting rewards if you don’t know how to redeem them for the maximum value.

For example, if you travel often, you’ll need a credit card that offers points based on your spending on flights or travel accommodations.

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Maximize your points with everyday spend

As for maximizing your points, you’ll want to find a credit card that rewards you for your everyday spending so you can easily rack up points.

“In addition to credit card sign-up bonuses, knowing which credit card to use for everyday purchases is essential to maximize your travel rewards,” says Danielle Desir Corbett, personal finance expert at The Thought Card.

That’s why it’s wise to take the time to check out different credit card offers so you don’t miss out on potential points.

“The best thing you can do with a travel credit card is understand which purchases will give you the most cash back or rewards points,” says Scott Lieberman, founder of Touchdown Money.

Once you determine which card will help you earn points the fastest, you can start collecting and enjoying travel-related benefits.

Find airline-specific credit cards

“If you fly regularly, especially to the same places, choosing a credit card that partners with a specific airline can provide the best benefits if you can use that airline for all your travel,” says Phillip Parker, founder of Card Payment Options. . “Not only does this help you collect travel rewards faster, but such cards can also help you achieve status much faster, which can lead to seat upgrades and priority boarding.”

Finding an airline-specific credit card can help you earn points faster, allowing you to earn free flights and other benefits that can help you save money. If you are not loyal to a specific airline, try our next suggestion.

Look for flexible options to maximize rewards

Some travel credit cards have partnerships with other hotel and airline companies that allow you to transfer reward points.

“When it comes to getting the most out of a travel credit card, I always recommend taking advantage of transferable points,” says Gauri Manglik, CEO and co-founder of Instrumentl. “With the right card, you can earn points that can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to various airline and hotel loyalty programs. This flexibility offers incredible repayment value if you know where to look.”

Manglik shared a specific example of transferring points for maximum value.

“I recently booked a business class flight to Asia using points transferred from my Chase Sapphire Reserve to United MileagePlus. The cash prize was over $5,000, but I only redeemed 70,000 points. That’s a value of more than 7 cents per point, which is much higher than the card’s base earning rate. With a little research and planning, transferable points can unlock great prizes.”

It’s worth pointing out that while this is the best method for getting the highest points redemption value, it often involves extensive research into loyalty programs.

Take advantage of additional travel-related benefits

Lieberman emphasized the importance of looking for additional benefits with your travel credits to obtain even more financial benefits. Here are a few to consider:

  • Priority boarding

  • Free checked bags

  • Access to lounges

You’ll want to look for travel credit cards with unique benefits that fit your lifestyle. If you travel often for work, you may want to find a card that offers lounge access so you can work in comfort if there are travel delays.

Lieberman added: “For example, the Marriott Bonvoy credit card automatically grants Gold status with Marriott. That means free upgraded internet, so you never have to pay for it when you stay and have the card with you. Using all your rewards makes a big difference.”

Use tools to track your points

All travel experts agree that keeping track of your points is essential. “I recommend keeping a calendar or setting reminders for when rewards are about to expire,” says Lieberman. “This can help prevent you from missing out on benefits.”

While you can keep track of your points on a notepad or spreadsheet, it can get complicated as you add more cards to your portfolio.

Corbett advised: “I recommend using a travel rewards app like CardPointers as it keeps track of all your cards, active and expiring offers and bonus categories. It shows you the best cards in your wallet for any type of purchase, whether it’s car rental, airlines, gas stations, office supplies, restaurants or anything else.

3 additional tips to get the most out of your travel credit card

Here are some additional tips to help you get the most out of your travel credit card:

  • Double dip by using your rewards travel credit card to book your travel accommodations with companies that also have rewards programs. This way you can earn points with your credit card and other benefits offered through a loyalty program.

  • Look out for special offers. Travel credit cards often offer promotional offers for points or miles based on specific spend.

  • Save your big expenses for new travel credit cards. If you have significant expenses, such as a home renovation or a vacation, it is best to save them for a new credit card to earn bonus points if there is a minimum spending requirement.

Closing thoughts

Your Travel Rewards Credit Card can be a useful tool to improve your travel experience and get more out of your spending. It can also offer perks like lounge access and priority boarding to enhance your travel experience. You can also redeem your points to earn free flights and accommodations with the money you would already spend.

Finding the right travel rewards credit card for your specific goals is critical. Once you have the right credit card or combination of cards, you can optimize your spending by using these cards for your everyday purchases as your travel points increase.

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This article originally appeared on 9 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Travel Credit Card