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If you’ve been aiming to get away this summer, you’ll likely have noticed that prices for almost everything travel-related are skyrocketing. From airline tickets and hotel rooms, to the gas you’ll need for a road trip and aviation fuel, every part of the experience has become more expensive, forcing some Americans to stay completely at home.
At the same time, Americans are eager to get out and travel again more than two years after the outbreak of the epidemic, so what is the solution?
With a little planning, travel rewards credit cards can help you save a lot of money on your long-awaited adventures. Between the points and miles you’ll earn and the travel-related insurance and protection benefits that come with many cards, these types of credit cards can help make your next trip more affordable. Many also offer cardholder perks such as convertible points, which you can put into free (or near-free) flights and hotel stays with your card’s travel partners, and some may even offer a set number of free nights that you can enjoy once you meet the minimum spending requirements.
Below, detail how you can use a Travel Rewards credit card — or multiple cards — to help you save money this year’s summer vacation.
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Get a welcome bonus as a new cardholder
Credit card issuers are swinging with Big welcome bonuses to meet the growing demand for travel. Here is a look at some of the lucrative offers currently available to new cardholders:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening – that’s $750 for travel when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card: Earn five free nights, instead of the usual three, as each night is eligible to redeem up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points, after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
- Three of the Hilton Co-branded credit cards – the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card – Offers elevated welcome rewards: 130,000 points after spending $2,000 during the first three months of card membership, 100,000 points after spending $1,000 during the first three months of card membership and 130,000 points after spending $3,000 during the first three months of card membership, respectively .
The welcome bonus is intended as an incentive to facilitate people’s return to travel after more than two years of silence in the sky and low occupancy in hotels. Additional welcome bonuses are expected to come throughout the summer as well.
There are more travel rewards cards than sparkly rewards. If you’re up for a vacuum this summer, here are a few other things to consider.
Combine airline and hotel credit cards
It might be an obvious statement because almost everything has become more expensive because of Inflation, but travel was particularly affected. Select last month reported that airline fares are up 25% from a year ago. Add that to the list of other related costs—such as hotels, food, and trip-related activities—and the idea of traveling becomes a major financial undertaking.
However, if you have some travel rewards credit cards in your wallet, you can make it work for less. For example, you can use a combination of an airline rewards credit card (such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority credit card) and a hotel rewards credit card (such as the American Express Surpass® Hilton Honors card) to either take it out in a big way or in a big way. Reduce these two major costs.
Once you meet the minimum spending requirements needed to receive the Welcome Bonus for each card – as long as you spend responsibly and pay your bills on time and in full each month – you can quickly reduce the total cost of your trip by the amount of points and miles you just earned.
Count on a better travel experience
Over Memorial Day weekend this year, the number of people screened at the airport by the TSA was roughly close to pre-pandemic rates – from May 26 through May 30, More than 11 million people have been treated by the TSA, while in 2019 it was close to 12 million.
There is still a significant under-resourced at most airports across the country, largely due to the pandemic and the TSA and most major airlines are still understaffed. As a result, those who do travel have less than pleasant experiences, including long security queues and the looming prospect of flight cancellations.
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve traveled nearly 20 times and had many flights with long delays or cancellations, mainly due to these staffing issues.
To help combat these constant harassment, travel rewards cards offer the following benefits:
Many cards offer enrollment credits for either TSA PreCheck®, Global Entry, or CLEAR. While each program is a little different, they do offer one primary advantage – the ability to save time and energy when you go through airport security.
Even if you only travel a few times a year, it’s totally worth owning a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card, which each offer up to $100 balance on your statement every four years when you apply for prescreening. For TSA or Global Entry.
If you’re interested in CLEAR, the American Express® Green Card gives cardholders $100 credit to help offset the $189 annual membership cost, while the American Express® Platinum Card gives cardmembers $189 a year credit when they use their card to purchase CLEAR.
Entry to the airport lounge
The next time you visit an airport, you may find yourself with fewer restaurant options – whether they are closed completely or cannot open due to a shortage of staff. In that case, getting to the airport lounge could be really helpful.
Not only can you save money with access to free food and drinks, but you’ll also have a quiet place to sit and relax before your next flight. In some cases, the lounge you’re in may also have showers and other perks, such as staff available to help you with any travel issues that may arise.
During my flights, thanks to access via my Travel Rewards cards, I saved myself several hours (and headaches) by using Global Entry to speed up security, while access to the lounge gave me a private place to hang out before I fly.
If you want to enter the lounge the next time you travel, consider signing up for a Capital One Venture X Rewards credit card or the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. A number of other premium and premium credit cards offer this feature as well.
Travel with confidence knowing you have insurance
Airlines are canceling flights in droves and it’s just a sign of the times – Delta, for example, It recently reduced its flight schedules due to staff shortages.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 63,734 flights have been canceled so far this year. In all of 2014, the number was 64,419. With nearly 4% of flights canceled this year, travel insurance is a must.
If you have the right travel rewards card, you don’t even need to purchase a separate policy. By simply putting all of your travel expenses on one card that offers travel insurance coverage – including trip cancellation and interruption, compensation for flight delay and lost baggage, baggage delay insurance, among other protections – your next vacation can be fully covered.
In December my flight from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale was canceled and I had to rebook it the next day. Since I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to book my flight, I was able to get reimbursed for the flight I paid for, as well as the hotel room and board.
Travel has become very expensive lately, and for the average family feeling the pressures of inflation, it can be hard to justify paying any unnecessary costs. But while travel prices have generally gone up — making any snags along the way more expensive — we can see the real value in the travel rewards credit card.
If you want to get away this summer, Consider signing up for one or two Travel Rewards credit cards. As long as you’re able to spend enough to responsibly hit the minimum welcome bonus, you might be on your way to taking a significantly discounted ride this season.
Check your credit score before applying for any new credit card so you know where you are, and be sure to check your budget before any trip.
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Editorial note: The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations contained in this article are those of the editorial board alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.