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What are travel rewards cards & why get one?

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    Travel rewards credit cards can help you earn rewards and discounts that you can redeem toward travel. In some cases, they can even score you free nights at your favorite hotels or free tickets on airlines. From complimentary upgrades to first class seats, exclusive airport lounge access to free meals, these cards offer a bounty of benefits and rewards that can leverage your spending habits.

    Here are some important things to know about travel credit cards, as well as the benefits that may matter most to you when reaching for your dream destinations.

    What are the benefits of travel credit cards?

    With general travel, airline or hotel credit cards, you can enjoy benefits designed to enhance your travel experience, such as miles, points that you can redeem toward flights or hotel room upgrades, and no foreign transaction fees. Types of travel rewards cards:

    General travel cards

    A general travel credit card will provide you flexibility in how you earn and redeem your reward points. With these travel cards, you'll have a chance to earn points through everyday purchases and earn even more points through travel and dining purchases. Some cards offer travel benefits that can make your trips more convenient, such as zero foreign transaction fees (which helps you save money on international purchases) and TSA pre-check global entry.

    Airline credit cards

    An airline credit card is a great option if you're loyal to a specific airline chain. When your reward points are tied to an airline's loyalty program, you have the opportunity to earn a generous amount of reward points that can quickly add up. You'll also have the chance to earn points or miles that you can redeem for plane tickets, and you might get to enjoy great perks like seat upgrades, early boarding, free checked bags, and more.

    Hotel credit cards

    Hotel credit cards may offer accelerated reward point accumulation when you use the card to book rooms with the respective hotel. You may also get access to convenient benefits offered exclusively to cardholders. These benefits might include complimentary breakfasts, hotel room upgrades, and access to special events.

    How do travel rewards work?

    With a travel credit card, you might earn reward points from both everyday purchases and travel-related expenses. Below are some common questions answered to help you understand what to expect from some of the reward programs and redemption options.

    How do I earn points with a travel credit card?

    You can earn reward points from purchases made at restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations, just as with regular credit cards. Travel credit cards can offer more lucrative reward points when making travel and dining purchases. The extra reward points you earn from either a general, hotel or airline credit card can accumulate quickly and can be used toward plane tickets, hotel rooms and more.

    What about new cardmember bonus points?

    Travel credit cards often offer new members bonuses to help you start earning points from purchases to redeem toward future travel. To unlock your bonus points, you'll typically have to spend a certain amount of money, say $4,000, within a specified number of months after signup. Since these bonus points can be substantial, you may be able to redeem the bonus points toward an airline ticket or free night at a hotel within just a few months, without changing your shopping habits.

    Are there any travel credit card perks?

    Travel credit cards can also offer a wide variety of complimentary perks that aim to enrich your travel experiences no matter your lifestyle or travel preferences. Travel perks may include:

    • Complimentary drinks, snacks and meals
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Free checked bags
    • Hotel room upgrades 
    • Reimbursement for canceled flights
    • Lost baggage insurance
    • Invitations to premium airport lounges
    • Upgrades to first class

    Do travel rewards cards have annual fees?

    Some travel cards have annual fees. However, when you're considering those fees, you might also want to factor in all of the benefits that a card has to offer. These extras, such as free checked bags, priority boarding, and reimbursements on in-flight purchases, can add up to significant savings.

    How to pick the best travel rewards card for you

    When it comes to finding the credit card that works best for you, it's key to think about the rewards, perks, and benefits that make sense to your lifestyle and spending habits. General travel cards offer great flexibility when it comes to earning and redeeming points and you can leverage your rewards through a variety of airline and hotel chains. Airline and hotel credit cards offer loyalty programs through which your points can carry great value—plus you'll have the chance to enjoy discounts and experiences reserved exclusively for loyalty members. Whichever travel card you decide to go with, enjoy the great savings, convenience and comfort that comes with it.

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