Are you planning a vacation? As the weather warms up, many of us are plotting getaways—and if you are, there’s one thing you need to make sure to bring. It’s not your passport, your swimsuit, or your toothbrush (though you should probably remember to pack those things too). It’s a travel rewards credit card. Here’s why you’ll want to be sure you’ve got a great one in your wallet on your next trip.
• You can skip the line. Depending what card you have, and what airline you’re flying, you might be able to check your bag and get on board before everyone else. Here’s the trick: get the co-branded credit card for whatever airline you’re flying. American Airlines, United, Southwest, Delta, and other airlines all have their own co-branded credit cards that offer cardmembers priority boarding, VIP check-in, and other timesaving perks. Apply for one of these cards now, check the fine print to make sure you’re eligible for the perks (some reserve these benefits for elite travel club members), and enjoy a more relaxed airport experience when departure day arrives.
• You won’t pay extra overseas. If you’re traveling out of the country, a good travel credit card won’t charge extra for foreign transaction fees. These fees can be up to 3% if you don’t have a travel credit card that waives them, which adds up if you spend very much on your trip abroad. It’s easy to find a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees; many of the co-branded cards mentioned above don’t charge them. And some card issuers don’t have foreign transaction fees on any of their cards, travel rewards cards or not. Look for one of those before you board your international flight.
• You can save some money on incidentals. Remember those co-branded cards that let you board first? Most of them also give you a percentage off of your on-board purchases. So go ahead and get comfy in your seat, then order a glass of wine and a premium movie, along with on-board Wi-Fi service. It’ll all cost less for you when you charge it to your co-branded travel rewards card.
• You can rack up rewards. Hotel credit cards, airline credit cards, and cash-back travel cards all offer great values for frequent travelers. You can get free nights at a hotel, free flights, points that transfer to other loyalty programs, and points you can use for other things, like gift cards and cash back. The more you travel, and the more you spend on your travel credit card, the more opportunity you’ll have to save on your next trip. Earn rewards, use rewards, and earn more rewards while you’re using your rewards: it’s a happy cycle of travel and savings and fantastic traveler perks.
So in addition to your favorite comfortable travel outfit, your identification, your pajamas, and your phone, don’t forget to pack a great travel rewards credit card next time you get away, even if it’s just for a day. Apply for one now so you’ve got it in hand by the time you’re packing to go.