Travel credit cards are worth it for people who travel multiple times per year and who spend enough for the cards’ rewards and supplemental benefits to outweigh any annual fees. People who travel less frequently may also find travel credit cards with no annual fee to be worth it. In addition, it’s worth noting that a travel credit card could be one of multiple cards in your wallet. It’s not necessary to choose between travel rewards and cash back, for example.
Travel Credit Cards That May Be Worth It
7 Tips for How to Decide if a Travel Credit Card Is Worth It
1. Compare expected rewards earnings to the cost of the card.
For a travel credit card to be worth it, the card’s rewards and benefits should outweigh its fees.
2. Compare the value to other credit card offers.
The travel credit card’s net value – rewards and benefits, minus fees – should be higher than what other comparable cards offer. A credit card is not truly worth it if getting that card means bypassing a better deal.
3. Take annual fees into account, but don’t rule them out.
Nearly all of the best travel credit cards charge an annual fee. But there are plenty of benefits that reduce the impact of such a fee. For example, an initial bonus is one factor that can easily make a travel credit card worth getting. The best travel rewards cards offer sizeable bonuses when you meet minimum spending requirements in the first year. Top initial bonus offers cover the cost of their card’s annual fee for several years.
4. Make sure the redemption options suit you.
Typically, you can redeem a travel card’s rewards for travel-focused purchases such as airfare or hotel stays, as well as other options like gift cards, merchandise or cash. The value of those rewards varies by card. But in most cases, you’ll get the highest value when you redeem for travel.
5. Consider co-branded travel cards if you have a favorite airline or hotel chain.
People who frequent a specific hotel or airline may get the most value from co-branded travel cards that offer enhanced rewards for loyal customers. Common perks on such cards include free checked bags, seat or room upgrades and lounge access.
However, you’ll lose flexibility when earning and redeeming rewards, relative to a general travel card. Co-branded travel cards tend to give the best rewards at their affiliated airline or hotel, and your rewards are usually tied to that company’s loyalty program.
6. Make sure there’s no foreign fee if you’re spending internationally.
The travel credit cards that are most worth it for international travelers and shoppers are ones that come with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign transaction fees can be as costly as 3% of each purchase made with a foreign merchant. But luckily, most travel cards don’t have this fee.
7. Check your credit score before applying.
It’s important to check your credit score before submitting an application for any travel credit card. The best travel credit cards tend to require at least good credit (a score of 700+), and some even require excellent credit (a score of 750+).