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4 Signs You’re Using the Wrong Travel Credit Card

Sept. 10, 2019
Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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With so many different travel credit cards out there, it’s hard to know whether or not you’ve selected a good one, much less the best card option for your life. Although determining the best card can be a big challenge, there are a few signs that you’re using absolutely the wrong travel credit card. Here are a few signs that it might be time to shop for another card.

1. You’re paying foreign transaction fees

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 an annual fee of $95, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, can pay for itself after you make $3,166 in charges in other countries.

Even if you’re not a big traveler, there are cards without annual fees that also don’t charge foreign transaction fees. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great option with no annual or foreign transaction fees.

» Learn more: Chase Sapphire Preferred review: A must-have for any traveler

2. You don’t have built-in travel protections

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 for your travel with your credit card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best low-annual-fee cards offering insurance. If you pay for your travel with your credit card, you’ll get trip delay and cancellation coverage, delayed baggage insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and travel and emergency assistance services.

3. You’re not earning at least 1.5% back

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

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

That means you’re essentially getting 2.5% back on all travel and dining purchases with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you’re redeeming rewards through the portal. You could pair that with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card for 1.5% back on categories other than travel and dining.

4. You spend a lot on food or drinks at the airport

If you travel a lot and often find yourself grabbing a bite to eat or drink at the airport, you might want to consider a major card upgrade. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® will give you access to over 1,200 Priority Pass lounges worldwide. It also has no foreign transaction fees and great earning potential through 3x bonus points on dining and travel.

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a hefty $450 annual fee, it also offers a $300 travel credit that is automatically applied to travel purchases. That effectively brings the annual fee down to $150. So, if we completely ignore the earning potential and all of the other benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you should still consider this card if you spend more than $150 on airport dining in a year, since the card’s Priority Pass lounge benefit gives you access to free dining.

» Learn more: Chase Sapphire Reserve review: A first-class premium travel card

The bottom line

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

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 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
Find the best credit cards for you
Chase Sapphire showdown: Reserve beats Preferred

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