If you’d like to travel a bit this summer but don’t want to go broke, credit cards can be a smart way to save some money. I’m not saying you should use your credit cards to collect a bunch of travel expenses that you can’t afford. I’m saying you should take advantage of some of the travel benefits credit cards offer, which could save you hundreds of dollars on your summer travel expenses.
1. Miles and cash back rewards
This is the most obvious way to use credit cards for free travel, but it is worth mentioning. If you’ve earned enough miles or hotel points with your travel credit cards, consider redeeming them for free flights or rooms. Or, if you’ve earned a lot of cash back points, you can redeem them to help pay for your travel expenses.
However, if you are thinking ahead, consider taking advantage of an introductory offer from one of the best travel credit cards. There are some pretty lucrative deals that can give you up to $ 500 (or even more) in free travel after meeting a certain spending requirement in a few months. This could be a smart way to prepare for a free vacation.
2. Free checked baggage
One of my favorite travel perks is free checked luggage. Offered by some airline brand credit cards, this benefit generally allows you and the person you are traveling with to check in a suitcase; my reference credit card allows a free suitcase for up to eight other people, as long as they are traveling with the same reservation as me.
It’s nice to be able to check your luggage. Who wants to fight for less and less space in the overhead compartments? Every time I take a trip with my family (there are four of us), this benefit saves me $ 200 and a lot of hassle.
3. Travel reimbursement
Some high-end travel credit cards have various travel reimbursement benefits. My favorite credit card reimburses up to $ 200 of additional charges on my preferred airline each year. Other cards offer as much or more, and with fewer restrictions. That means you can even use your annual travel rebate allowance for airline and hotel tickets. One popular high-end credit card It even offers free Uber rides worth $ 200 a year, which can help you get around for little money once you reach your destination.
High-end credit cards that offer these types of benefits tend to have high annual fees ($ 450 or more), but if you use the benefits, it could well be worth the cost.
4. Free TSA Pre-Check
A free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (the international equivalent) membership has become a common benefit among mid-tier travel credit cards. While you don’t need one of these for travel, it’s a treat to have my laptop in its case, my shoes on my feet, and my belt around my waist, not to mention the fact that PreCheck’s safety rails are generally much shorter than the alternative .
5. Hotel benefits
There are several hotel-related benefits that you can find on credit cards. For example, some hotel co-branded credit cards offer late check-out privileges, so you could get some extra time in your room for free. Others have programs that will give you a free night when you pay for a certain number of nights, or a certain amount of resort credit during a qualifying hotel stay.
Also, some hotel credit cards give you a free night each year on your account anniversary, so this could help you travel for free. Next summer.
6. Access to the airport VIP lounge
This is another benefit that is common among high-end travel cards. If you’ve never been, airport lounges can be a great luxury for traveling and saving money. You can find a quiet place to work or read a book, and you can eat and drink (even alcoholic beverages in many salons) for free.
Depending on the lounge network, an annual membership in an airport lounge can cost more than $ 500 per year. Some, like American Express’s Centurion Lounge network, are only available to cardholders and their guests; you can’t even buy your ticket.
7. No fees for foreign transactions
Most travel-specific cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees, but many other credit cards do. The typical fee is 3%, so you can add $ 30 for every $ 1,000 in …