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Four ways even infrequent travelers can cut costs

Some people travel every day, others once per year, but with these tips, you can make your current spending habits work toward saving you money when traveling!

credit cards

Like finding a $100 bill in your couch

Business professionals from all industries should always be looking at ways to save money, but an often overlooked savings is rewards systems offered through many credit cards. Whether you travel once per year, or every week, and whether it is for business, conferences, pleasure, or both, there are ways to make your current spending habits work for you and save you some cash.

NextAdvisor.com President and Founder Erik Larson shared with AGBeat his top four tips to make those credit cards work for you:

1. Choose the Best Overall Card

If you’re a conference goer who’d prefer to keep your options open on where to stay and which airline to fly, the Capital One® VentureSM Rewards Card is the best choice to be your preferred travel credit card.  In a recent travel rewards card analysis by NextAdvisor.com, this card was found to offer a very lucrative $2.00 flight and hotel redemption value for every $100 spent, combining high value with very flexible miles usage. You can book any type of travel however you want with your  miles – from any travel site, agent or airline.  
With this type of flexibility you can book the hotel and airline you prefer without worry and without being bound to a particular hotel chain or airline brand. You also get 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of being a cardholder. Another excellent choice for an all-around travel rewards credit card from NextAdvisor.com’s credit card reviews is the Escape by Discover® Card. It also features a very high $2.00 flight and hotel redemption value per $100 spent.  Just like the Capital One Venture Rewards card, you can use your rewards to book flights and hotel stays anywhere and anyhow you want. In addition users can earn 1,000 bonus points each month they make a purchase for the first 25 months—up to 25,000 extra points!

2. Match Your Credit Card with your Hotel of Choice

A branded hotel credit card is a good choice for road warriors who prefer to stay at the same hotel chain each time they travel to an event. Not only do these card typically offer perks at the hotel chain like free room upgrades, but combining the points you earn from the card with those you earn at your stays can help you get to new reward tiers much more quickly. 

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The Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express® provides the largest bang for your buck with every $100 spent on this card earning you $2.50 in hotel redemption rewards, according to the NextAdvisor.com study.  It also offers numerous perks including earning a free night a luxurious Category 4 hotel after the first purchase, and getting the third night free at Sheraton hotels.   

Other hotel credit card options include the Citi® Hilton HHonorsSM Visa Signature card and the Marriott Rewards® Credit Card from Chase.

3. Match Your Credit Card with your Airline of Choice

For travelers who remain faithful to a specific airline, a branded airline card might make the most sense.  As with branded hotel cards, many airline cards offer perks such as free checked bags and priority checkin, plus combining your miles earned from the credit card with those you earn flying can help you get to the next reward level much faster.  TheUnited MileagePlus® Explorer Card fared well in NextAdvisor.com’s study, offering $1.94 in flight redemption rewards per $100 spent. Additional perks include 25,000 bonus miles after your first purchase,  priority boarding privileges, the ability to check your first bag for free on United and Continental flights and 2 annual complimentary passes to the United Club.  

For those who frequently fly Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Card from Chase is another great choice, earning users $1.92 in flight redemption value on Southwest flights for every $100 spent.  You’ll also earn a free Southwest flight with your first purchase – a very nice perk indeed. Other choices include the Platinum Delta Skymiles® from American Express® ($1.26 flight redemption value) and the Citi® Platinum Select®/AAdvantage® World Mastercard® ($1.04 flight redemption value).

4. Watch Out For Extra Fees

Most of the travel credit cards that offer the best rewards come with an annual fee.  If you use your card a lot, the fee will be well worth it.  There can be other fees to watch out for as well, though.  If your conferences are often located in a foreign country, you’ll want a card that does not charge foreign transaction fees. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards Card and the Escape by Discover card don’t charge any foreign transaction fees, but the Starwood Preferred Guest Card charges 2.7% of each foreign transaction, which will add up in a hurry. 

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Also, if you’re planning on carrying a balance on your credit card, the travel rewards cards tend to offer higher APRs than cards designed specifically aslow APR credit cards – usually around 2 or 3 percentage points higher.  The difference in APRs can outweigh any rewards you might earn if you’re going to carry a high balance.

The takeaway

With these four tips, even the infrequently flyer can find amazing deals and make traveling a more feasible option for those who are holding back. Conference junkies that travel from town to town can save loads of cash, but even the annual or quarterly traveler can cash in on the rewards available to all.

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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