I’m here going over my last travel trip spreadsheet which includes flight prices expected to pay and the prices we actually paid, from there I remember a question we get asked a lot, are travel credit cards worth it?

A few years ago, as we were learning how to travel for free with credit cards, I felt a bit skeptical how can I travel for free just by using points.  Since the moment we started with our first credit card in june 2015 we made that thought into a reality. We traveled to Hawaii, Italy, Greece and Spain since then all with a few credit cards. Seeing the amount we have saved about $19k in just on one trip alone truly lets me see that travel credit cards are very much worth it.  Let’s look how how on one trip alone you can save with travel credit cards.

What are Travel Credit Card?

Travel Credit Cards come in different options, but all are part of a Loyalty program. This program is offer to those that travel frequently or for those that use the credit cards.  Once you accumulate enough points or miles those can be redeem for future travel tickets.  Travel tickets can vary by airline or credit cards, in most cases the value of each mile is one penny per mile, if a credit card offers a bonus of 50k points that can equal to $500 which may not seem a lot.  The benefit of a travel credit card is getting the bonus points, earning points/miles for every purchase done with the credit card and being able to transfer those points when applicable.

Travel Credit Cards divides into 3 categories, we have the travel card that is for specific airlines another one for specific hotels while the other credit card is for travel reward programs.  The benefit of getting travel cards is you can prepare yourself for future trips, by selecting the right credit cards.  The points and miles earned could cover airline tickets, hotel stays and even transportation by getting the right travel credit cards.

How to get a Travel Credit Card

You must first go through your travel plans, is important you know the route you will be traveling to since not all credit cards will cover the airline/hotel you have plan to go to.  Once you have your list or have an idea the place you want to visit, then you can do a research of the first card you would like to apply to. Not all credit cards will offer the bonus points, so is very important you select the link that specifies the bonus you will get. In order for you to earn the bonus points is necessary to read the fine print, for example the requirement can be purchase an amount of $4000 in a period of 3 months from the day the credit card was open.  Reaching that amount in 3 months can discourage you making you miss a great opportunity, what I suggest is go through a list I share of how you can reach that amount in less than 3 months. Each credit card might include an annual fee which can be waived on the first year but verify to avoid unexpected fees. Once you select the right credit card for you, apply for it which takes less than 5 minutes to complete and you should know right away if you was approved, if not approved the reason will be sent by mail.  If you dont get approved right away dont get discourage it does happen to most of us specially at the beginning, if you do I share some steps that can help you improve your score to get ready for future travel..

Is it a good idea to get a travel card?

It all depends on your goals, if traveling visiting new places is something you are planning to do in the near future but the budget doesnt allow it. Then travel credit cards could be the way to go for you.  Keep in mind before getting your credit card is important to maintain a good credit score, the point of using travel cards is to help you travel for a lot less and is not to get into debt. Travel cards can be a benefit for any family, if you plan your trip well, know exactly were you want to travel, the amount of days and the people traveling you can get there a lot quicker and for free. Travel cards come with many benefits, for example a common airline using there credit card can help you earn more points when booking a flight, travel bags are free and it may include no foreign transaction fees. The reason why travel credit cards are a benefit more to some then others is based on how often and where you travel.  For example, American Airlines credit card has given us an sign up bonus just one time of 50K miles, every year we pay for the annual fee of $95 that may seem a lot but traveling a few times in a year and most flights have been with AA using there credit card we got free checked baggage.

Are Travel Credit Cards worth it?

Working to get out of debt beginning of 2010 we were introduced to Dave Ramsey Debt Free program, which included the envelope system. This meant we set a budget a side for all of our expenses and place cash amount on an envelope by category, once it was time to pay the amount was taken from that envelope.  After a few years trying the system we were impressed how much we saved and how we had progress paying off so many credit cards.  Now considering to save when traveling consisted on applying to credit cards surely threw us off, because we enjoyed the system we were following.  So we asked ourselves are travel credit cards worth it? after doing some research and seeing how we created a system that worked for us we knew we can at least try with just one trip.  Since we had a spreadsheet were we handle all of our finances we decided to pay everything with our credit cards instead of the envelope cash system.  For the first few months we were so surprise how every dollar we spent gave us points for future free travel in exchange.  So, I created a small card which we kept inside our wallet to know which card to use for each transaction.  We love to see how many points we were accumulating just for pumping gas and buying groceries. Being careful how we spent our money staying within our budget in a period of 2 years we were able to save enough points for a family of 3 to travel a few places just for signing up to travel credit cards.  Traveling can be expensive just finding a deal on a hotel and going on a road trip it can easily add up to $1250 which was the case for us when traveling without credit cards.  Now we can use that same amount and take it much further when booking a trip using miles and points..

Only you would know if this is something you can work on, because it takes some time to accumulate the points, it takes great effort to make sure your credit card statements are paid in full on time and then it takes time to search and book the perfect trip for you and your family. If you can keep your credit cards paid in full, you can manage all of your credit cards and do the research on getting the right cards for you then you will see travel credit cards are worth getting.

How can you make the transition if considering to apply for credit cards?

Before making any decisions, do the research, talk it over if this applies with your spouse, and check which credit card will help you achieve your desire travel destination.  The research is necessary this will show you which card will work for you, once you see the cards that can help you achieve a free trip, go over that credit card;

  • see what is the requirement spending limit,
  • what are the incentives,
  • how much is the bonus sign up for,
  • what is the annual fee
  • are the points tranferable
  • and so forth..

Once you have done all of the research and you feel all of the requirements are doable, then you are ready to start applying for a bonus credit card.  If one of the cards you listed includes a Chase credit card I suggest to apply on those first since is part of the 5/24 rule.

What is the 5/24 rule?

This rule I learned as I was starting with mile and points luckily the first few cards we opened didnt affect us much, but for you that may be starting is good to know about the rule so you can apply for the sign up bonuses accordingly.  If you are starting I suggest apply for Chase Credit Cards you have in your list first this will help you eliminate the possibility of being denied by chase.  The rule is to control how many cards a person opens in a period of 24 months, so the rule states the limit of 5 cards within the 24 months but this rule is for some of Chase Credit cards and this doesn’t affect other banks. So planning is key and making sure you have a good relationship with each credit card is a must, I suggest you plan slowly keeping in mind of the 5/24 rule but also not to overwhelmed yourself with the requirements from each credit card.  I shared earlier within 2 years we were able to collect many points but we took our time to earning and understanding how each card work so when we were ready to book our trips we had plenty to make it happen.

I Hope this post answer your question, if you consider applying to travel credit cards to help you earn points for free travel.  On this site I will continue to share our trips, our budget tips and printable that helped us make our trips a lot smoother.  We went from being a skeptical to a true believer on how you can book travels for FREE.  Hope you can find what can help you make those travel dreams or travel bucketlist into a reality..