How To Select The Right Travel Credit Card For You

Credit cards can be your ultimate travel hack if you use them correctly. What I mean when I say using them correctly is that you pay for your travel using credit cards, and when payment is due, you pay them in full.

In this article, I will explain how to select the right travel credit card for you, depending on your spending and travel habits.

If you do not like credit cards, that’s okay. Another article explains how to earn travel points without them. You can read it here.

How To Select The Right Travel Credit Card For You

Before you select the right travel credit card, you need to assess your financial situation, spending habits, and travel preferences to ensure they align with your needs and lifestyle.

Assess your travel habits.

Travel frequency 

How often do you travel? Frequent travelers may benefit more from a card with higher reward rates.

These cards are premium and usually have higher annual fees, so if you do not travel frequently, they are probably not worth it.

Preferred Airlines and Hotels

If you prefer to travel on certain Airlines and or you are loyal to a specific hotel chain, it is better to have a card with partners with those brands; this way, you will get more benefits. 

For example, I have a friend who loves Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Getting a Marriott Bonvoy credit card was a better idea for this friend.

I live in Mexico, and I have an American Express Aeromexico Card.

A partnership between American Express and AeroMexico ( a Mexican Airline) gives me a free cabin upgrade, priority boarding in AeroMexico and its partners, free access to Aeromexico lounges, and more.

Determine your goal

What do you want to get from the travel credit card? Are you looking for airline miles, hotel points, or travel perks?

Earning rewards 

Do you want to earn airline miles, hotel points, or flexible points? This can be used to pay for full or part of your travel expenses.

Travel perks 

Some credit cards offer interesting travel perks, such as access to Airport lounges, free checked bags, priority boarding, and no foreign transaction fee.

Understand the fees

Credit card use can be associated with two types of fees: annual and foreign transaction fees.

Annual fee

Most premium travel cards charge an annual maintenance fee, which may vary depending on the card and the country.

For example, the annual fee for the American Express platinum card is $695 in the USA and $1300 in Mexico.

You need to analyze the annual fee vs. benefits. If you get more from the card than the annual fee, then you have a deal, but if you lose money, it is probably time to look for another card.

Foreign transaction fee

If you are going to travel abroad, the currency in that country might be different from your local currency, and your credit card might charge you a foreign transaction fee. Find a card that does not have that fee if you travel abroad a lot.

Compare reward rates and redemption flexibility.

Reward rate

How many travel miles do you get per dollar spent? Most credit cards will offer you one point per every dollar you spend using a credit card.

Look for credit cards that offer you extra miles in certain categories. For example, my credit card offers 3 points per dollar for any purchase I make in a foreign currency (whether online or in a physical store), 2 points per dollar for restaurants, pharmacies, and entertainment, and 1 point per dollar in the rest of the categories. 

Since I buy a lot online, I get a lot of travel miles.

Redemption options

Some credit cards strictly limit how and where you can redeem your points, while others offer more options, such as transfers to partners, gift cards, home merchandise, and more.

Point value

It would be best if you researched the worth of points. The rule of thumb I use is that they should be worth at least 1 cent per point.

That means each point you get from your credit card should be worth at least one cent.

If it is less than that, I will not get that card; if I find a way to get more, that is a bonus.

Evaluate sign up bonus

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