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What should you look for in a travel reward card?

Tips for picking the best travel rewards credit card for you!My Facebook feed is blowing up with photos from friends on their fabulous summer adventures. Cruises, beaches, frozen drinks-it’s all there. Next month I’ll be leaving for a fun trip to New York, although it’s totally work related. Actually, come to think of it, all of my trips this year have been work related. Don’t get too sad for me, though-blogger trips are the best! It’s a total perk of the job that whenever I’m on a business trip I’m usually having the time of my life!

Speaking of perks, I totally dig the perks from my credit cards that get me where I want to go as inexpensively as possible. I’m fairly certain there’s not a reward card I haven’t tried at one time or another. After a lot of trial and error, I’ve definitely picked out my favorites. What benefits and perks will have the most value to you is as individual as you are, but there are always certain things you should keep in mind…

Any Annual Fees?

Does the card have an annual fee? If it does, do the benefits outweigh that fee? And will you actually take advantage of those benefits? Free cocktails are great, but of absolutely no use if you’re not into free cocktails. And yes, I can totally think of at least one card that sends you free cocktails. And for the record, I do enjoy free cocktails.

If you can’t make up for the annual fees in perks you will actually use-and would have potentially paid for-then stick to cards that are available without a fee.

One Airline or All The Airlines?

Every airline has linked themselves to at least one reward card. Sometimes more than one. Airline specific credit cards typically come with annual fees, but also offer perks like free checked bags.

If you are particularly loyal to one airline, an airline specific program may make sense. If you tend to fly multiple carriers, a reward card not linked to a specific airline might be the better option. You can usually make up for those missed perks like free bags with a lower or no fee card.

PassportForeign Transaction Fees?

If you like to get stamps in your passport, this one is huge. When I’ve traveled internationally, I’ve usually gotten a small amount of cash from an ATM and then used my credit card for anything I could. Purchases are typically processed at the current currency exchange rate, with any additional transaction fees attached to your statement. Obviously a card with low or no foreign transaction fees is the one you want to use when you’re outside of the US.

Always check with your card issuer before you leave on a trip to confirm what (if any) fees you can expect.  You can also let them know what dates you’ll be gone to avoid any potential security alerts locking down your card.

Are There Limits?

Nothing sucks more than earning rewards that aren’t ready for you when you’re ready for them. Make sure you know all of the details on when you can use your points, if they’ll expire after a certain period of inactivity or if there’s basically any reason you won’t get what you want when you want it. Hey, travel is expensive. It’s totally OK to go a little Veruca Salt at this point.

All cards will give you this information in their paperwork. Read it. Get out the magnifying glass if you have to. Know exactly what you can expect from your credit card before you start to earn rewards.

What are the perks?

I keep coming back to the perks. Free wi-fi? Airport lounges? Free checked bags? Preferred seating? Cocktails? The potential list of travel reward card perks is endless. And some can be mighty tempting. But make sure you choose a card that has perks for you. If you would never use an airport lounge, then it’s really not a benefit. If you spend 50% of your income at the grocery store and your card offers you bonus points on groceries, that’s probably a better fit. Don’t get blinded by the VIP treatment. Think about how you travel and what would help you the most.

So what card is right for you?

Trick question-only you can figure out that answer based on your lifestyle and travel habits. But may I humbly suggest you peep the Discover it Miles® card before you make up your mind?

Discover it Miles® card features include:

  • No annual fee
  • Fly any airline any time
  • 1.5x miles for every dollar spent on purchases
  • Annual credit up to $30 for in-flight Wi-Fi charges
  • Miles never expire (they credit your rewards if you close your account or go 18 months without activity)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Overnight shipping of a replacement card to any U.S. street address upon request

Underground MapSo go forth and travel! And maybe consider inviting me along? I promise I’m fun. I’m also extraordinarily competent at map reading and figuring out transportation. So, you know, I have that going for me.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

As The Bunny Hops®