8 Signs You’re Using the Wrong Travel Credit Card

Ramsey QubeinAug 19, 2021

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With so many different travel credit cards out there, it’s hard to know if you’ve selected a good one, much less the best option for your goals. Although determining the best card can be a big challenge, there are a few signs that you’re using the absolute wrong travel credit card. Here's when it might be time to shop for another card.

If you ever travel abroad, even to just to Canada or Mexico, you absolutely need a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you’re paying foreign transaction fees, you’re adding around 3% to the cost of your trip. That means that a card with a annual fee, like the , can pay for itself after you make $3,167 in charges abroad.

Even if you’re not a big traveler, there are cards without annual fees that also don’t charge foreign transaction fees. The is a great option with a  annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

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Have you been shelling out extra for travel insurance when booking your ticket? While you might want more protection than a credit card can offer, you can get basic travel insurance included at no additional cost just by paying with the right credit card.

The is one of the best low-annual-fee cards offering trip delay and cancellation coverage, baggage coverage, auto rental collision damage waiver and travel accident insurance.

Pay special attention to because some travel cards provide better protection than others. Several cards offer primary insurance, which means coverage kicks in immediately and not just when your primary insurance carrier declines it. These include the , and .

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Credit cards have all different kinds of bonus categories nowadays, but if you’re not earning at least 1.5% back, you'll want to consider getting a better travel card. The  has a  annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and offers 1.5% back on all purchases. That’s about as simple as it gets.

You can earn even more back if you’re willing to juggle two or more cards. For example, the earns 2 Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 spent on travel and 3 Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 spent on dining purchases. Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed through the Chase travel portal, and can be worth more if you transfer them for premium travel redemptions.

That means you’re essentially getting 7.75% back on all travel and dining purchases with your if you’re redeeming rewards through the portal.

And if you're into premium cards, you can really maximize your point earning. The offers 5 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on air travel and restaurants, while offers 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel. Terms apply.

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If you travel a lot and find yourself regularly grabbing a bite to eat or drink at the airport, you might want to consider a card upgrade. The or will give you access to over 1,200 Priority Pass lounges worldwide, which can save you major cash compared with the cost of airport food.

While the has a hefty annual fee, it also offers a $300 annual travel credit that is automatically applied to travel purchases. That effectively brings the annual fee down to $250.

Lounge access for additional cardholders is another way to maximize the value from an annual fee. Priority Pass through both and allows you to bring two additional guests without extra charge.

And the allows travelers to add authorized users for no extra charge. This means they will get a copy of your credit card and receive Admirals Club access when they travel independently of you.

Several cards also deliver bonuses on inflight dining. For example, the provides a 25% discount on all inflight purchases.

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Pay attention to which card you use to pay for rideshare apps, because some cards come with built-in bonuses. offers $200 in annual Uber credits. Terms apply.

Chase recently added a bonus of . This makes qualifying cards like the an easy choice for frequent rideshare users because it offers the highest earning potential out there. As well, Lyft has separate partnerships with Hilton Honors and Delta SkyMiles that allow you to earn additional points and miles.

Expedited travel programs come with a fee, but many credit cards offer credits that can cover all or part of your application fee. If you plan to sign up for one of these programs, take note that many .

In addition to bonus categories, some credit cards come with free nights as part of their anniversary bonus. The offers a free night every card anniversary, good at any IHG hotel worldwide.

Annual free nights like this can help you save hundreds of dollars, even if you’re just using them once a year.

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Some travel cards provide companion certificates allowing you to bring someone with you for free or at least at a reduced rate. These include the  and the .

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It can be hard to pick the right credit card, with so many out there competing for your attention. But it’s not too difficult to make sure you have a good one. Any of the cards above can easily help you earn more rewards and save on expenses like travel insurance, foreign transaction fees and travel expenses.

The information related to  has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the , including those best for:

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