Frequent travel can be stressful. Dealing with airline schedules and flight delays, last-minute itinerary changes, and unsatisfactory hotels can be challenging — but travel can be rewarding in many respects. With the proper credit card, frequent travel can literally be rewarding in the form of airline miles, free hotel stays, other travel perks, and even cold cash.
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If you are a road warrior, consider the benefits of one of the following travel and airline-oriented credit cards:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – The bonus program is impressive — 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 on card purchases during the first three months of opening your account. Regular purchases gain equivalent (1X) points while travel and dining purchases earn 2X points. Through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you can earn an extra 20% off with your travel redemption. Points transfer 1:1 to partner rewards programs.
There are no foreign transaction fees and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. The Sapphire card comes with an impressive series of travel-related insurance coverage and purchase protections. Price protection allows you to be reimbursed for card purchases up to $500 per item when you find the item advertised for a lower price within ninety days of purchase ($2,500 annual limit).
BarclayCard Arrival™ World MasterCard – With this no-annual-fee card, you can earn 2X miles on travel and dining purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases. Spend $1,000 in the first ninety days and earn 20,000 bonus miles, redeemable starting at 10,000 points per $100 travel statement credit. There are no foreign transaction fees. Redemption bonuses add 5% of the redeemed total back into your account within one business day after redemption.
Security is improved through chip card technology. Other perks include travel accident, trip cancellation, and baggage delay insurance, collision damage waiver for auto rentals, and $0 fraud liability for unauthorized charges.
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BarclayCard Arrival™ Plus World Elite MasterCard – This steps up the Arrival rewards in exchange for an $89 annual fee (which is waived for the first year). Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 on the card within the first ninety days after the account is opened (available as of this writing). All purchases earn 2X miles.
The same chip-card security, fraud liability, and insurance perks from the Arrival™ World MasterCard are included, along with a collision damage waiver for auto rentals.
Citi Prestige – The Prestige Card is well suited to frequent travelers who can cash in on the significant benefits. The annual fee is a steep $450, but in exchange, you receive 3X points on airline and hotel costs, 2X on dining and entertainment, and 1X on other purchases. The signing bonus is 50,000 points with $3,000 in card spending in the first three months. By booking through the Citi ThankYou® Travel Center, your redeemed points are worth an extra 60% on American Airlines and an extra 33% on other airlines.
Unique bonuses associated with the Prestige Card include a complimentary extra night at any hotel after a minimum four-consecutive-night booking, an automatic $250 air travel credit automatically applied to your flight-related expenses each year, exclusive discounts on vacation packages and luxury tours, and extensive concierge services. If you travel enough to make the annual fee worthwhile, the Prestige Card is an excellent choice.
There may be other options that are best for you if you tend to use a particular airline, hotel chain, and car rental company exclusively. For example, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card is an excellent choice if you travel mostly to destinations that Southwest services and you use their partner hotel and car rental chains.
Review your typical travel habits and see if they match up with a particular card offering. Be sure to check the terms and conditions for spending minimums and other restrictions that may negate the benefits in your case.
A few hours of research can pay off handsomely with extra travel rewards — perhaps enough to take that dream vacation. All you have to do is find the time to fit it around your typically hectic travel schedule.