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A good travel rule of thumb is to have the credit cards from your favorite travel providers. For instance, if there’s an airline that you fly more frequently than others, it can be beneficial to have their credit card for additional perks and benefits.
The same applies to cruise lines. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to get a credit card from a cruise company that you never use, but if you’re looking to get into the cruising world once it's back up and running, you have a lot of options to consider.
Here's what to consider before adding a cruise line credit card to your wallet, including how to make it worth your while.
The Carnival® World Mastercard® is likely your best option when it comes to cruise credit cards. Unlike many cruise line cards, which have very generic benefits like points that can only be used on that cruise line and no other useful features, the Carnival® World Mastercard® stands out.
It wins the category not only because of its rewards program, but also because of the useful and versatile benefits that come with it. These can save you substantial amounts of money on your cruise.
» Learn more: Should you insure your cruise?
About the Carnival® World Mastercard®
No foreign transaction fees
The Carnival® World Mastercard® makes it easy to travel. It has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, which is useful when you are visiting a foreign port. It also has a unique benefit when purchasing a cruise: You will receive a 0% promotional APR for six months on Carnival cruise bookings.
The card also has a reward program that is similar to many of its competitors. You earn 1 Carnival FunPoint for every dollar that you spend on most purchases, but double points on dollars spent on Carnival cruises and their brands. This includes popular cruise companies like Princess and Holland America, known as the “World’s Leading Cruise Lines.” That gives you a lot more firepower when it comes to earning extra points.
Points used on eligible purchases on Carnival Cruises of $50 to $1,499.99 are valued at 1 cent each (so 5,000 FunPoints gets you a $50 credit), and purchases starting at $1,500 and up to $5,000 are worth 1.5 cent each (100,000 points gets you a $1,500 credit).
For World’s Leading Cruise Lines, you’ll get a straight 1 cent per point redemption value. This option gives you a wider range of redemption options than other cruise credit cards.
Points can be redeemed for Carnival purchases, including statement credits for any of their brands. You can also redeem points for gift cards, as well as hotels and airfare, but those redemptions value points at less than 1 cent each.
» Learn more: Tips for getting the best deal on your next cruise
More useful card features
The Carnival® World Mastercard® has additional benefits that save you money on your cruise, including:
A 20,000 Carnival FunPoints bonus when you make your first purchase with the card. If you use those points as a statement credit, that’s an easy $200 toward your cruise.
A 10% statement credit when you book a shore excursion on a Carnival cruise. Be sure to book your shore excursion at Carnival.com before your cruise starts to be eligible for the 10% credit.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
The bottom line
As a whole, cruise line credit cards are relatively weak. The Carnival® World Mastercard® stands out as an exception. Its $200 bonus will pay for a chunk of your cruise, while other benefits will save you money, including a discounted APR on your cruise purchase and 10% statement credit for shore excursions.
Plus, you’re not just limited to Carnival cruises. If you go on any cruises using the World’s Leading Cruise Lines, the card is worth consideration.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card