THE LOW-DOWN ON TRAVEL REWARD CREDIT CARDS

If you love travel as much as we do here, you likely want to find ways to be able to do more of it while also making the most of every single trip. And so many of us have been gravitating towards travel rewards credit cards to help us do just that. From earning rewards to be used toward more travel to offering trip protection with travel cancellation, interruption and medical insurance, many of these cards propose they can do it all for us.

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Flickr: frankieleon

Through the years since these cards first appeared, travel rewards cards have become so common though that every bank and airline out there seems to be offering one…and it’s often difficult to know precisely which one to choose.

Our experience has taught us that the best travel credit card is the one that best covers all of your bases, giving you the best points for your use on your particular area of travel interest while protecting you wherever, and for however long, you need travel insurance protection. So, the best travel card for me may not be the same as what may be best for you. The key is to investigate the card’s precise coverage and compare it to your precise needs.

Here’s the low-down of the areas we consider important when evaluating the usefulness of a travel reward credit card.

TRAVEL POINTS REWARDS ON CREDIT CARDS

If you are picking a card based on points, there’s a plethora of options out there for every type of travel reward imaginable. So, it really depends on how you want to use your points…

We tend to spend our points on flight tickets or airline upgrades, which in our experience have been the best two ways to use travel points. So, with that in mind, here are a few of the most rewarding travel credit cards that seem to accrue airline points at a favourable rate. These cards generally allow travellers to collect points that can be used to book travel not only with the same airline but also with airlines within the same airline alliance. When you are picking a card for its flight ticket rewards, pick a card that most favourably rewards you for the airline flights within the precise region you travel most. So, ask yourself where you would want to be spending those points on tickets and calculate how quickly you’ll accrue the points needed to get that reward ticket.  

Another very important point to consider if you are a frequent international traveller is whether or not the card charges a foreign transaction fee. This fee is charged whenever you use your card abroad, and the amounts can really add up. So, the cards we’ve listed here to not have foreign transactions fees (based on our research).

(There are certainly many more travel card options than just those cards listed here. These are simply a few of the top cards we’ve noticed as having some really good options.)

For Americans:

United Airlines Mileage Plus Visa (Chase)
AAdvantage Executive Credit Card  (American Airlines)

Delta Reserve Credit Card

For Canadians:

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card


TRAVEL INSURANCE THROUGH CREDIT CARDS

If you are like most people, you’ve likely only given your credit card’s insurance policy a cursory glance… But, if you are relying on a card for its travel insurance coverage, remember to read the fine print and thoroughly investigate what it covers.

Here are some of the areas to investigate throughly when choosing a travel reward credit card for its travel insurance:

1) Most credit card policies include multiple exclusions for what the travel insurance will cover. In fact, a number of activities and sports may not be covered by the card issuer’s travel insurance policy, so before planning any travel vacation make sure ALL of your planned activities are covered before you rely on your credit card’s insurance policy.

2) If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, be sure to check your card’s policy for coverage details in this area. Many cards are strict about coverage for events related to any pre-existing or chronic conditions. So, this is an area to investigate thoroughly before relying on your card’s policy before any trip.

3) The insured trip duration varies from card to card. The average is usually 15 days, but this is another point you want to confirm before relying on the coverage. Also, for major international trips such as treks and safaris you want to make sure that the entire time you are away from home is covered. Many times, travellers going on trips to places such a Kilimanjaro, Nepal or Peru are out of the country longer than 15 days when you factor in the actual travel days. Fortunately, many cards allow you to upgrade the number of days covered, but again, this is something you want to diligently confirm with your card issuer.

4) If you are relying on your card’s travel insurance for cancellation protection or any coverage related to travel delays, you usually have to have actually booked the trip with that credit card, including any booking deposits that you may have placed on a trip. This is a point we’ve noticed some people forget. So, again, make sure you check your coverage before and while planning a trip so that you ensure you are covered for everything for which you want to be covered.

 

 

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