Signing bonuses, cash back, discounts and free insurance coverage………..No, we’re not talking about enticements to get you to sign your first NFL contract! We’re talking about the wild and wonderful world of travel reward cards. Over the years we’ve found those little rectangular pieces of plastic have not only helped us run up some amazing travel expenses, but in some cases have actually helped us to pay part of those nasty bills off!
Now before you decide we’re just affiliate marketing for credit card companies, let us assure you we are not. There are no links to “sign up here”. In fact, we’re not even going to you tell which cards we use. What we are going to do is give you a little information about a few travel reward cards so that you can decide if they can help you travel, after all that’s what New Jetsetters is all about: encouraging you to explore and travel.
In our experience, while rewards cards for hotels and airlines are often a good deal, sometimes flexibility is a valuable option. Flexible reward cards are getting more and more popular, but your ultimate decision on which way to go really depends on how frequently you travel and how much you spend. Each travel card offers a unique mix of benefits and drawbacks, and rarely is one card ideally suited for everyone’s travel aspirations. We look at three factors. Value, Flexibility and Fees.
Spend $3000 in the first 3 months and you earn 40,000 bonus points, which is about $500 in travel rewards. You get 2 points per dollar spent on travel and at restaurants, & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You also get 20% off airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises when you book through Ultimate Rewards SM. No foreign transaction fees. We really like this – you receive a 7% Annual Dividend on all new points earned – even on points already redeemed. Also, a 1:1 point transfer to participating frequent travel programs. You get direct access to expert service advisors any time. Annual fee is $95 and the first year is free.
We call this a “Hotel Credit Card”, but you can transfer points to frequent flyer programs. Starpoints® Bonus: 10K with your first purchase and another 15K when you spend $5k within 6 months, which works out to about 5 free nights at a category 1 or 2 hotel. Free nights, free flights: Redeem Starpoints with over 350 airlines through SPG Flights and more than 1,000 hotels and resorts worldwide and there are no black out dates. It won the “2011 SmarterTravel® Award” for “Best Travel Rewards Card”. Annual fee is $65 but they cover the first year.
You get 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, and your miles don’t expire. Money® Magazine deemed it the “Most Rewarding Card” if you crave free airline flights. You earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, equal to $100 in travel and you can redeem your miles for any travel expense, fly on any airline, any time, with no blackout dates. This is the kind of flexibility we prefer. As with the BA card, there are no foreign transaction fees. Visa Signature(R) also provides benefits like complimentary concierge and travel upgrades, and complimentary upgrades and special savings at hotels, resorts and spas with your Visa Signature card. The annual fee is $59, but the first year is on them.
You will get 50,000 bonus “Avios” (their name for points) after your first purchase, and 25,000 bonus Avios after you make $10,000 in purchases within the first year of account opening. This can be enough to get one return Business Class ticket in some markets. You pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad. Earn 2.5 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases, and 1.25 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Every year you spend $30,000 on your British Airways Visa card, you’ll earn a “Travel Together” Ticket good for two years. Their annual fee is $95.
3 TD Points for every $1 you spend, along with a 20,000 points “Welcome Bonus”. Automatically receive Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance when you purchase travel, and receive travel medical Insurance whether or not you purchase travel using your Card. You’ll be covered for 8-day trips if you’re under 65 and 2-day trips if you’re 65 or older. You also get access to exclusive hotel and dining privileges, including hotel upgrades, concierge services and restaurant reviews. Earn triple rewards when booking your travel through Expedia for TD using your TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card. Discount on car rentals and Priority Pass membership. This one is steep at $120 annually.
Let us know which Travel rewards card you use and why it works!
Steve Thompson is Co-Founder of New Jetsetters with over 20 years experience writing about luxury travel. You might say Steve was “born” with the travel bug. Born in the western foothills of the legendary Black Forest in Germany, he spent the first 12 years of his life tagging along behind his parents as they explored Europe. His first memories are of exploring German castles, and his early childhood education consisted of navigating the Austrian Alps, and mastering equestrian skills at the small sea-side town of Maspalomas, along the Spanish coast. Find out more about Steve below: