If you want to see the world but have no idea how you’d ever pay for it, you’re in good company. That’s because, like it or not, international travel can be prohibitively expensive and the costs aren’t limited to only airfare and hotel stays. Nope. In addition to lodging and transportation, a whole other level of costs exist when it comes to travel, and it includes things like food, taxes and fees, and entry fees to see those amazing attractions you traveled so far to see. Even worse, you also have to keep up on your regular bills while you’re away as well. How on Earth do people do it?
The truth is, some people have enough cash stashed away to see the entire planet and then some, even when the costs are insanely high. But the rest of us need to get creative if we want to travel extensively while also having enough money to have a regular life at home. Fortunately, credit card rewards can open the door to a world of possibilities…if you know how to use them.
How Do Travel Rewards Cards Work?
We all know that credit card issuers have gotten creative when it comes to luring in new customers. In fact, many have begun reeling in some of us with promises of free airline miles, free hotel stays, and more. And for individuals who are savvy enough to take advantage of these offers, the rewards can be huge. For example, airline co-branded credit cards often offer huge sums of airline miles just for signing up for their card and meeting a certain spending requirement. Those airline miles can then be redeemed for airfare that would otherwise cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.
Co-branded hotel credit cards work similarly by ponying up free hotel points, or even hotel stays, for people who sign up for their card and meet certain requirements. Each hotel loyalty program works in its own unique way, but the hotel loyalty points one earns can typically be redeemed for entirely free hotel stays as well as other perks like room upgrades or free wifi. Signup bonuses exist in this realm too, with many hotel card bonuses worth up to ten free nights, depending on the program.
How Do I Take Advantage?
Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, seeing the world on credit card rewards requires much more than randomly picking a rewards card and hoping for the best. In fact, there are several questions you should ask yourself you get involved in the world of credit card rewards in the first place. Here are a few of the most important:
- Can I pay my balance off each month? If you cannot pay your balance in-full each month, you will not really benefit from any rewards you earn. Stay away!
- Will I be able to use these rewards? Racking up airline miles and hotel loyalty points is a fun hobby in itself, but do you have the vacation time to use them? If not, you may just be wasting your time.
- Do I have the funds to pay for other travel expenses? Travel expenses involve much more than hotel stays and airfare. You have to eat, right? Before you plan your epic adventure with credit card rewards, ask yourself if you can truly afford everything else your trip might entail.
- Does the rewards card have an annual fee? Some rewards credit cards come with a catch- an annual fee that can eat up the value of any rewards you earn. Find out whether the card you’re interested in has an annual fee and determine whether it is worth it before signing up.
It’s true that you can see the world with credit card rewards, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Many questions need to be asked before you sign up for a rewards card and there are more than a few things that can go wrong along the way. But for those who are dedicated enough to stay the course and figure out the ins and outs of the game, the rewards can mean the difference between seeing our beautiful planet – and staying home.