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5 Ways Your Credit Card Is the Ticket to a Getaway This Winter

Credit Cards
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5 Ways Your Credit Card Is the Ticket to a Getaway This Winter

Let’s face it: Once the excitement from the holidays dies down, the winter months can really drag. Many folks dream of planning a vacation to beat the boredom, but aren’t sure how they’ll afford it.

However, there’s a valuable tool in your wallet that might help you get there. Here are five ways your credit card is the ticket to a winter getaway, no matter what kind of trip you have in mind.

1. Its signup bonus goes far

One of the great things about traveling to certain destinations (such as Europe) in the winter months, is that it’s considered off-season for tourists. Consequently, plane tickets and hotel bookings are usually cheaper than at other times of the year. If you get a credit card that carries a big signup bonus, you might be able to use it to pay for most of your trip.

For example, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® comes with a good signup bonus: Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase. With this card, you’ll also earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend and pay no foreign transaction fees. It charges an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $89.

2. The frequent flyer miles you’ve been racking up are easy to use

If you use a credit card that earns frequent flyer miles, you’re probably feeling a little frustrated after the holiday season. November and December are notoriously difficult months to find available award seats on most major airlines. But the good news is that this typically changes between January and April.

Here’s why: Airlines usually release more award seats during the winter months because fewer people travel to certain destinations this time of year. This means that now is a great time to cash in those frequent flyer miles you’ve been building up every time you swipe — you could easily end up getting a round-trip ticket for free.

3. It makes paying for purchases overseas safe and inexpensive

Traveling abroad is costly for many reasons, not the least of which is that some credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee every time you use your plastic. This essentially amounts to tacking an additional 3% to the price of every item you buy. But relying only on cash is inconvenient and insecure, so many globetrotters just resign themselves to swallowing the extra costs associated with overseas credit card transactions.

But you don’t have to, if you choose your plastic carefully. These days, the market is full of cards that charge no foreign transaction fee, so you should be able to find one that fits your needs. Our top choice is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — with it, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on dining out and travel, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. It also comes with a huge signup bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. It charges an $0 for the first year, then $95. If you travel overseas often, you really can’t go wrong with this card.

4. It helps you save on checked bag fees

Checked bag fees make it really tough to plan a frugal vacation. Since most airlines charge $25 per bag each way, a family of four could end up shelling out $200 in fees on every round trip they take — ouch.

However, many co-branded airline credit cards make it easy to dodge this cost. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® will waive checked bag fees for you and up to 4 travel companions when you book a trip with it on American Airlines. This benefit could save you hundreds of dollars on your winter getaway, and potentially thousands if you continue to take advantage of it throughout the year.

In terms of other card features, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® earns 2 AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend with American Airlines and 1 mile for every dollar you spend on other purchases. It also offers a signup bonus: For a limited time, earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*. Its annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95. If you’re a loyal American Airlines flyer, this is definitely a card to consider.

5. It makes renting a car safer at no additional cost

There’s no law that says road trips are only for the summertime. If you feel like hitting the open road this winter, be sure to book your rental car with your credit card and decline the supplemental insurance the agency offers. Visa, MasterCard and American Express each offer some type of secondary rental car insurance, so there’s no need to buy an expensive additional policy.

Just be sure to check the details with your issuer before you drive away — exclusions and limitations apply, and coverage varies by card, so it’s important to be clear on exactly what you’re getting. But otherwise, bon voyage!

Image via iStock.