4 ways to save money on your summer vacation with travel credit cards

4 ways to save money on your summer vacation with travel credit cards

By Lyle Daly

Summer is always a popular time to travel. Since there’s more demand, that also means it’s usually more expensive to travel during the summer than in the offseason.

If you’re hoping to take a summer vacation this year, the cost is probably an important factor. For 78% of Americans, traveling affordably is the top priority, according to a survey by RetailMeNot.

Travel credit cards are often recommended to people who want to travel for less. Some credit cards can save you thousands of dollars every year. Here are a few ways you could save money on your summer vacation with a travel card.

1. Earn a welcome offer and use it to cover your biggest travel expenses.

Travel cards often have welcome offers that you can earn as a new cardholder. For example, a card may offer 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

These can be extremely valuable, so they’re a great way to pay for major travel costs. If you get an airline credit card with a welcome offer of 70,000 bonus miles, that could be enough to cover a round-trip flight to Europe. Or you could get a hotel credit card and use the welcome offer to pay for a stay at that hotel.

There are also credit cards with transferable points. These let you send your points to any airlines and hotels the card issuer is partnered with. They’re worth checking out if you want flexibility about how you use your travel rewards. For example, you could transfer your points to one airline for a trip to Europe, and another for a trip to Asia.

2. Get an airline credit card so you can check a bag free of charge.

Checking a bag was already expensive, and several of the biggest airlines raised their bag fees earlier this year. On most airlines, your first checked bag will cost $35 to $40, and that’s per flight. On a round-trip flight, you’re looking at $70 to $80. If everyone in your party needs to check a bag, it could end up costing $200 to $300 or more.

There are a few ways to avoid baggage fees. You could stick to a carry-on and a personal item. You could fly with Southwest, which lets you check two bags free of charge. Or you could open a credit card with your favorite airline. Many airline credit cards include a free checked bag for you, and often for others on your reservation, as well.

3. Open a hotel card that offers a free night certificate.

If you have any hotel chains you like, hotel credit cards can be useful for a few reasons. They’ll earn points you can redeem for hotel stays. And as mentioned earlier, they usually have welcome offers, enabling you to earn lots of bonus points as a new cardholder.

They also include other hotel-specific benefits, often including a yearly free night certificate. Depending on the card, you may receive one starting the first year or after your first cardmember anniversary.

Try to save your free night certificate for an expensive stay. If you’re staying at a $100-per-night hotel on a business trip next month and a $300-per-night hotel on your summer vacation, it’d make more sense to use your certificate on the latter. Just make sure to check the rules on where you can use it — many certificates can only be used at hotels within specific price ranges.

4. Get free food and drinks at the airport with lounge access.

Every airport is unique, but there’s one thing they all have in common: the prices are terrible. Whatever something costs outside the airport, expect to pay about double that inside the airport. That makes grabbing a bite to eat an expensive proposition, especially for families.

Some travel cards solve that by including membership to one or more airport lounge programs. This allows cardholders, and often their guests, to access lounges free of charge. You’ll have a more comfortable place to relax, with free food and drinks.

Airport lounge access is primarily available through travel cards with high annual fees. Still, these cards tend to have plenty of travel benefits that can make their fees worth it. And if you’re a frequent flyer, being able to get into airport lounges makes the experience much more enjoyable.

If you like to travel, a travel credit card is worth getting. Check out the best options and you should be able to find one that helps you save this summer.


This article was written by Lyle Daly from The Motley Fool and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.


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