These are simply recommendations, before getting a credit card ensure you are ready for the responsibility of one, we are in no way responsible for your spending habits only you are so spend smart and pay off your cards!
We did a lot of research before applying for a travel rewards credit card and there are lots of travel credit card loyalty programs. There are so many options you really don’t want to pick the wrong one and end up paying some ridiculous annual fee for a card that doesn’t do everything you need or want. You also don’t want to go around applying for a bunch of credit and damaging your credit score. Travel rewards cards can be a blessing and a curse. They can be a curse because some of them aren’t really convenient when travelling the world. A lot of travelling is all about convenience, there would be nothing worse than trying to book a seat on a plane just to realize your card doesn’t let you pick that seat, or worse that airline. These cards can also be a pain because they force you to phone in to make travel arrangements, but if you have a 18 hour time difference between you and back home it could be difficult to coordinate calling during their business hours.
Travel cards can be great especially if you plan on travelling quite a bit. They can help you along the way by providing you with some free stuff however we would be lying if we told you you’ll see benefits right away, you won’t it’s going to take some time. Try and use the card as much as possible but make sure you pay it off right away! The last thing you need is an excess amount of debt that has 20% interest. Treat it as a debit card, the card doesn’t work if you don’t have money in the account, when you buy something on your credit card turn around and pay it off right away. You should use it as much as possible because that’s the only way you are going to gain more points on the card. A lot of cards will give you bonuses for certain purchases like grocery, gas and travel expenses. If you aren’t comfortable using the card for every purchase just try and use it mainly for the purchases that will gain you the most points.
The points you gain can eventually be used for hotels, trains, car rentals, flights and so much more. Flights are the most expensive travel expense so we would say save up those points and use them towards a flight at some point. When you eventually pick a card check what the sign up benefits are because most cards will give you a whole bunch of points right away which can equate to a lot of dollars. Even ask your banker what benefits they show for the card because sometimes they offer more than what you may see on a bank’s website.
If you’re Canadian check out this site for a great comparison of different cards and what they offer, http://www.rewardscanada.ca/topcc2015/
We looked at two cards specifically, the CIBC Gold Aventura card and the Scotiabank American Express Gold Rewards card, here is what we found:
CIBC Gold Aventura:
Scotiabank American Express Rewards Card:
Eventually we ended up getting this card, everything about it was amazing except for that many retailers don’t accept American Express which meant we would need a supplementary card for some purchases. This card allowed us to make a travel purchase (for example booking a flight, train, hotel or anything in between) and use the points to pay it off later. Which means if we need something last minute we just pay for it upfront and once it loads on to our bill we can take the points and use them as a payment towards the purchase. These points are so flexible that you have up to a year to use whatever points you have to pay off whatever it is you purchased. Don’t have enough points right now to cover the entire cost of a flight? No problem save up and pay it off within 12 months. This card allows us to use the points for anything travel related, cruises, trains, cars, planes, vacation packages, you have much more freedom as to what you can use the points towards. It is also not necessary to book everything through the cards website or their personal travel agents (although you can if you so choose), you can search online for the lowest price and purchase it there but still use your points to pay it off and still gain the bonus points offered by the creditor for a travel related purchase. The annual fee was also less than the Aventura card coming in at $99. We got an initial bonus of 30,000 points (which equates to $300) and didn’t have to pay for the first years annual fee. You will receive one point per dollar that you spend on all eligible purchases (so basically everyday spending) and up to four points per dollar spent on gas, grocery, dining and entertainment and every 10 points is one dollar. This card won us over because of how easy it is to book all of our travel and pay it off with the points.
Most definitely look around for a card that suites you best and once you find one look into it further. We actually had the CIBC visa for a little over a year before we realized it wasn’t the best option for us and our needs.
Get something back from your creditor if you chose to get a card, let them help you instead of hurt you. But also make sure you help yourself and keep your cards paid off.
After you decide what to do just remember the destination and experiences ahead are what matters.