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What To Look For In Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Updated on February 27, 2014

Anyone who hates credit cards, don’t read this hub, because I love them. And because I’ve been considering traveling and moving abroad, I’ve also been considering getting a new travel rewards credit card.

As I’ve been researching new cards, I’ve come across a few things that will make a big difference on what card I decide to get, and those things have become my list of what to look for in travel rewards credit cards. The items on this list apply to my situation in particular, but they’re great things for anyone who wants a cheap, easy to use credit card that gives great rewards, especially if you’re traveling internationally.

Here’s my list of what to look for in travel rewards credit cards.

  • Low annual fee. In my case, I’d prefer no annual fee, but some of the cards with the best rewards have fees between $50 and $100. For anyone with limited income and a strict budget, a low or nonexistent annual fee is a must.

  • Double miles or points. I don’t spend a whole lot, mostly because I don’t have a whole lot to spend, so I don’t rack up points as quickly as other people. That means I’m all for cards that offer you double or triple points on purchases like groceries. These extra points will help me, and you, get more rewards faster.

  • No foreign transaction fees. This speaks for itself. If you want travel rewards and you’re considering traveling internationally, not having your credit card tack on an extra 3% transaction fee or currency conversion fee will be a lifesaver.

  • Flexibility in point redemption. This involves two things. First, when can you redeem points? Certain American Express cards will only let you redeem points in certain denominations, which doesn’t work for anyone who likes to be able to redeem any amount of points at any time. Second, flexibility involves what points can be redeemed for. I know I’m talking about travel rewards cards, but what if you need a little extra help with bills and you’re not booking a plane flight or hotel? Is that all you can use your rewards points for? I prefer cards with the flexibility to also award cash back in addition to being able to redeem points for travel.

  • A card that can be used anywhere. When I say this, I’m looking at VISA and MasterCard. I love Discover and American Express, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not accepted at a fair amount of retailers and companies worldwide. Whether you’re traveling or just making everyday purchases it will be easier to use a card that’s accepted at more places, which will also make it easier to rack up points.

These are the issues that I’ve come across most frequently when researching travel rewards credit cards. Some cards are great in one area but lack in another. I’m still hunting for the perfect card, and when I find it I’ll let you know.

Obviously, however, this isn’t an all-including list of what to look for in travel rewards credit cards. I didn’t include how easy it was to get the credit card because my credit is excellent, and I’m not worried about that. I also didn’t include things like APR or fees for cash advances because I never use my credit cards for cash advances and I always pay my full balance every month. Those are things that you may need to take into consideration, though.

If you take your own personal needs into consideration, and check into the items on this list you’ll end up with a pretty good card that will give you everything you need.


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