How to pick the best travel rewards credit card!

Many times I’ve been on the road I’ve been so glad of my credit card. For those emergency situations, or booking things like flights and hostels online, they make life so much easier. However, one of the most important things to bear in mind when picking your credit card, aside from not blowing all your credit away, is picking a card that actually gives you something in return.

So many credit cards these days offer rewards for travellers. In particular, they offer air miles in exchange for what you spend. For most RTW travellers and backpackers, there are some huge benefits to be made, with many travellers making enough air miles to get a free long distance flight, something which may be of particular interest to any budget travellers out there.

One of the main problems however when picking a good travel rewards credit card, is that there are so many to choose from! It can often be an overwhelming or exhausting task just going through them all, trying to decipher which one offers the best deal, is applicable to you, and suits your style of travel best. For instance, I came across a list on the Credit Card Forum which claims to list some of the best travel reward credit cards out there at the moment. At first glance, some of them seem great! For instance, the top listed Discover Escape offers a 25,000 mile sign up bonus. Once you read the small print however, you soon see that you only receive your 25,000 mile signup bonus if you make a purchase every month for the first 25 months! If you plan on keeping the card for 25 months anyway, or are planning travelling for longer than this period of time, this card could actually be great for you. However, for most travellers, a trip only lasts between 6 – 18 months. That means most of you will have long returned home before this card could be of benefit to you.

It’s also important to remember that not every card may be applicable to you. For example, scrolling down the same list I see many of these cards are only available in the United States. This is something I have a particular gripe with, as I recently wanted to take out the Capitol One card, after hearing that it had no fees for using it abroad. When I went to take out the card here in the UK however, I found out that the deal was only available on the US version of Capitol One. As yet there is nothing like this in the UK, something I feel there is a huge gap in the market for. Going back to air miles however, there are many cards in the UK that offer air miles with every pound spent, such as the British Airways card by American Express, the Virgin Atlantic credit card, the Lloyds Air miles card, and many more. Almost all of them however only give approximately one air mile for every pound spent, which isn’t too exiting. The two exceptions that I have come across are the BMI American Express, and the British Airways “Premium Plus” American Express, which both give about 1.5 miles for every 1 pound spent. Might not sound like much, but if you’re spending a lot, or making some particularly large purchases it could make a big difference.

When picking a credit card it’s always important to remember a few things. The first is to ALWAYS read the small print! As I mentioned above, just because it says there is a sign up bonus, does not mean you will get it right away, also it may have some clauses involved before you get it. The second is to pay attention to what other benefits come with the card. For example, the British Airways American Express card also gives you a free companion ticket each year your spending reaches a certain level. For anyone travelling with a partner, this card may suit you. The best travel cards in my opinion at least give you more than one mile per pound spent. Any trip around the world is going to cost some money. At least this way, you might get a free flight out of it!

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