Smart Money: ‘Is a Travel Credit Card Right for Me?’

Sean Pyles
By Sean Pyles 
Edited by Kathy Hinson

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This episode, Dayana and Sean dive into the world of travel rewards credit cards — whether or not you should get one, how to use them and the caveats along the way. NerdWallet credit card reporter Greg Karp goes along on the journey.

Takeaway tips

Figure out if you're a good candidate. You may be if you pay off your balance every month, travel multiple times a year and have good to excellent credit.

Even if you are a good candidate, you might be able to get a better value from a cash-back card. In a NerdWallet survey analysis, we found that to be the case for many consumers.

Don't get fooled by a big sign-up bonus. Use it, but know that once you blow through that, it'll take a while to earn enough points for another flight.

And, speaking of points — be aware that the value of points can vary widely from one rewards program to the next. When redeeming points, try to get 1 cent or more for them. (And check out this article for a breakdown of point values of various cards.)

Work that "earn and burn." Use your card at places that give you the most value for your dollar — like getting double points at restaurants. Then burn those points where you get the most value — such as flights and hotels. Some cards require you to use points so they don't expire, so check your terms and conditions.

More about travel credit cards

Send us your questions! Email us at [email protected]. You can also text or leave us a voice message at 901-730-6373 (that's 901-730-NERD).