I’m brand new at the whole game of points/rewards and planning a trip for next month. I’m trying to find out my best option for how to pay for the trip and maximize the points that I earn. Do I open a new card to purchase my plane ticket? The flight that I’m looking at is United. I’m considering Bank of America rewards card or Capital One Venture One. I’ve also looked at the Expedia Credit Card. Any advice? I’ll also be needing to rent a car and book places to stay…
Welcome! Planning a trip using credit card rewards is an awesome way to save money on your travel but there’s a few things you have to keep in mind.
First, it only makes sense to chase those rewards if you’re paying your credit card bills in full and on time every month. That’s because credit card APRs are almost always in the double digits, typically anywhere from 17-24% of the amount you owe. Credit card rewards, on the other hand, are always in the single digits–you’ll typically earn between 1% and 5% on a rewards-earning card, depending on the specific card you use and its rewards structure.
A sign-up bonus can be a smart way to get a pile of points quickly, but it can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks for those points to post to your account. So, if you’re planning a trip for next month, there’s no guarantee you’ll get those points in time to use them for the trip.
In general, if you don’t have loyalty to a particular airline or hotel brand, a general purpose rewards card like the Capital One Venture One and the Bank of America Travel Rewards card can be a good place to get your start earning and using rewards. Read our reviews to see which one might be a better fit for you:
Capital One Venture One review
Bank of America Travel Rewards review
Both of those cards allow you to “erase” your purchase by booking travel any way you’d like and then redeeming your rewards as a statement credit against the purchase.
The Expedia+ credit cards are best for those who plan to book their trips exclusively through Expedia, since the rewards they earn are Expedia points and can only be used on the site.
Beyond the cards you had mentioned, there are a lot of other travel rewards cards on the market that offer high rewards, along with perks and features that you might find appealing. In general, the higher the annual fee on a travel card, the more perks it comes with.
You might find this article helpful: How to Choose a Travel Credit Card
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions and enjoy your trip!
Hi @stacibrew! Thanks for writing in. I have some good news and bad news.
Bad news first: If your trip is next month, you’re likely about to book your flights, hotels, and rental car right about now. That means that you won’t have time to earn enough points on a brand-new travel rewards credit card to redeem in time for this trip.
But there’s good news! If you get approved for a travel card now and use it to pay for your vacation expenses, that will probably get you close to hitting the spending minimum to get a sign-up bonus.
In your case, it can pay to think ahead, because you can essentially use this trip to earn the points to pay for all or part of a future trip. For friends who are new to travel points and rewards, I usually suggest starting with a card like the Capital One Venture or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard because they allow you to redeem for travel in a simple way – you use the card and earn points, and then later cash them to cover travel expenses on your statement. It’s sort of like refunding yourself whenever you want.
But those are only two travel cards. There are more! Here are some of our favorites.
I’ll throw in my disclaimer: Generally, travel cards are ideal for those with good to excellent credit and no credit card debt (the interest you’d pay on debt would wipe out the value of any points you’d earn). Many travel cards have annual fees, which is something to think about, too.
Let us know more about the trip you plan to take! We Nerds love to travel and are always looking for ideas.