If you want to start traveling but don’t even see how it is feasible financially, I will give you the NUMBER ONE trick to get you going.
The absolute first thing you need to do, is get a travel rewards card. I am not talking about some random bank card that gives you rewards or “cash back”, I’ve tried those and I am telling you that I NEVER saw a benefit to using it. There was always a loop hole to when you make your payment, and if you don’t roll over a balance you don’t get the points, and if you try to cash out your rewards at a certain time there may be a black out date…
NO! Get a REAL rewards card for REAL travelers. Get a TRAVEL CARD.
Here is what you want to look for:
- No foreign transaction fees
- No black out dates
- Free checked bags or VIP perks
- Mile bonuses (loyalty rewards)
Foreign transaction fees- what is this? When you’re in a country with a different currency and choose to use your card, most credit card or debit card companies will charge you a fee per swipe to do the currency exchange. (It can be super risky to use a debit card over seas, so check with your bank before packing one with you.) These fees can add up quickly, no foreign transaction fee means that the bank accepts the cost of the exchange.
No black out dates- Choose a card that is not going to have travel restrictions. If there is a seat on the plane, you should be able to purchase it with your points.
Free checked bag and VIP perks- If you choose to travel with a bit more luggage, a checked bag fee varies from airline to airline, and can cost more when traveling domestically. Booking with a travel card can often wave several fees and make checking in and boarding easier.
Mile bonuses- The more you spend the more they deposit into your miles account. There are often entry bonuses with travel cards, spend $3000 in your first 3 months and receive 50k in bonus miles; that is about a round trip ticket to Europe with most airlines. The way most miles are earned, is for every dollar you spend you receive one mile, but when you go to book a flight with miles, they are not dollar for dollar… So having a card that will have bonus months, or perks for signing up can really help get those miles in your account.
Keep in mind that MOST travel rewards cards do have an annual bonus fee for carrying the card. I have never had a problem paying an annual fee, because the flights I have earned would have cost me 5-10 times what the fee is per year.
I have an American Express Platinum Delta Skymiles Card
I went with this card for a number of reasons, the number one reason being, I live in a small town with a small airport and Delta is one of the only airlines to have consistent flights coming in and out each day. There hasn’t been too many occasions where I have had to book with other airlines, so being limited to flying with Delta has not affected me too much, and loyalty is rewarded!
Pros and Cons in my opinion:
Pro- I received a 50,000 mile bonus when signing up for my original Gold card and another 70,000 mile bonus when I upgraded to the Platinum card a year and a half later.
Pro- 1 mile per dollar spent and 5 miles per dollar on Delta purchases.
Pro- Every approved referral from me earns me 10,000 bonus points.
Pro- First checked bag is free with every flight- that saves me a minimum of $35 each way.
Pro- Bonus miles for hitting spending goals
Pro- Extra miles for shopping with small businesses (as a small business owner, I love that this is a thing), and benefits for making every day purchases which vary from month to month.
Pro- SUPER safe, I have had no fraudulent issues (knock on wood). I don’t have to notify my card when traveling, it knows my spending habits and doesn’t reject purchases made by me. I get alerted when my card is charged and not present, and notified of large purchases immediately.
Pro- Extra coverage and warranty with large purchases- I bought a laptop with this card and its warranty is extended and extra year just by using my American Express.
Con- Many places do not take American Express
Con- Limited to flying Delta when redeeming reward flights
As you can see, for ME, the pros out weigh the cons… there are many cards out there, you just have to do your research and decide which one is best for you.
I use my card for EVERYTHING I possibly can, all of the purchases I would have to make just go on my card, including groceries, online purchases, product orders for my shop, fuel, automatic payments, etc… At the end of each week, I just pay my card off and watch my miles rack up!
Obviously I am not suggesting you go out and make a bunch of huge unnecessary purchases, just to earn some points… that would be incredibly counter productive, so watch your spending and use these tools wisely!! BUTTT if its a payment or purchase you already have to make, why not reap the benefits.