If you are a keen traveler, the 2020 Covid Pandemic may have ruined many of your plans. Although many pandemic restrictions may have been eased, the CDC still has some recommendations that may sway your travel decisions. So, if you’re no longer a frequent traveler, does this mean that travel cards are still relevant this summer?
The Benefits of Travel Credit Cards for Occasional Travelers:
While you may not be planning an extensive, globe-trotting vacation season this summer, there are still benefits of travel credit cards for occasional travelers. These include:
● Travel Perks: Most travel credit cards offer perks, with many cards catering to every type of traveler rather than just frequent fliers. For example, free checked bags is a common perk with travel credit cards. Depending on the airline, this could potentially save your travel group hundreds of dollars on your trip. You could also get reimbursement or a discount for your inflight purchases. This could add up to considerable savings, even if you’re only taking a domestic trip this summer.
● Free Nights: If you’re feeling the economic pinch this summer, you may appreciate the free night’s stay offered with travel credit cards. Many cards provide a free night certificate each year, valid at hotels up to a specific point cost. This means that while you may not get a premium hotel experience, you can enjoy a comfortable stay without breaking your budget.
● Non-Travel Rewards: While travel is prioritized, many travel cards offer rewards for your non-travel purchases. Many card issuers have realized that the pandemic changed people’s spending habits, so there are cards offering extra points when paying for gas or groceries with your card. Some travel cards also have additional bonus categories such as dining out. So, even though you’re not traveling, you can still accumulate rewards for your next break.
The Potential Downsides:
Of course, there are also potential downsides to having a travel credit card, particularly if you no longer feel inclined to travel as frequently as you previously did. These include:
The Annual Fee:
While there are some exceptions, travel credit cards can have an annual fee ranging from $95 to $695. A 2018 research shows that over half of American consumers were unaware of the annual fee on their credit cards. While many people may be more finance aware now, you may have signed up for a travel card with the thought that your typical travel habits would easily offset the annual fee.
Of course, if you’re not planning on traveling this summer, you may have greater difficulty covering the annual fee with your card perks. Therefore, you need to take a realistic look at whether your current typical spending patterns will allow you to cover your annual fee with ease; if not, you’re simply throwing money away.
Unstable Redemption Values:
Many consumers have noticed that travel miles have dropped in value in recent years. This was highlighted in June 2021 in a Washington Post article. However, it does highlight a larger potential issue for travel credit cardholders. While the percentage cash back on a standard reward card can’t be stealthily changed, a mile is only worth what the redemption value offered.
This means that if you’re saving up miles for a trip, you may struggle to know what redemption value you’ll receive next month, next year, or further into the future.
How to Consider if a Travel Card is Best for You
With so many credit card options, if you’re unsure whether travel credit cards are still relevant, you will need to think carefully about whether a travel card is best for you. There are many factors to consider, including:
Do You Have a Travel Goal?
If you’re struggling to decide whether a travel card is right for you, you should consider your travel goals. Travel cards tend to be better suited to those planning luxury travel since the annual fees and perks are usually geared towards upgrades and creating a more memorable travel experience.
You must understand the awards and how to best use them towards your travel goal. Just be sure you have a redemption goal rather than an open-ended plan, as miles could be worthless in the future. In this category. The Amex Platinum card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are top cards in terms of luxury.
Think About Your Spending Habits:
Your typical spending habits are vital when determining if a travel credit card is worth it. If you typically only put a few hundred dollars on your card each month, you will likely be better off with a cash-back rewards card. These cards generally have lower or no annual fees and offer a tiered cash back structure for all your purchases.
You can use category bonuses and then redeem your rewards via the card’s travel portal. Just be sure that the value of the points you earn will be higher than the card’s annual fee. The popular cards are the Amex Gold card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Some users prefer the Amex gold card over the platinum card since spending habits include everyday purchases such as groceries and supermarkets.
Assess the Recurring Benefits:
While you may not be able to use a travel credit card daily, if it offers generous recurring benefits, it may be worth keeping it or signing up. For example, the Hilton Aspire card offers Hilton Diamond status and a free weekend night yearly award. These can provide superb value for keen Hilton visitors. So, look at the recurring benefits, and if they can save you money or have a great deal for you, it could be worthwhile.
Are There Cheaper Alternatives:
A credit card packed with perks doesn’t mean it is the best option for you. It is usually well worth checking if there are cheaper alternatives that still offer perks you’ll enjoy. While the higher annual fee cards typically have more benefits, you may find the benefits you’ll appreciate with a card with a lower or no annual fee.