Scoring the best credit card for travel perks could help make or break your summer getaway.
A new report from WalletHub found which credit cards offer the best benefits for travelers. Among their top picks: the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. This card has an annual fee of $89, which is waived in the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
To get the best deal on a travel card, look at the signing bonuses offered, annual fees, and foreign transaction fees. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card features a 50,000 point rewards bonus — if you spend at least $4,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account.
“The biggest motivator is the signing bonus.”
That 50,000 point bonus translates to about $625 towards your hotel if you book through Chase or a statement credit of $500, according to WalletHub. The Chase Sapphire card also has no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee for the first year. Each year after that is $95.
“The biggest motivator is the signing bonus. You can earn the same amount of points in a bonus that could take you months to accumulate otherwise just for signing up,” said Zach Honig, editor-in-chief of travel website The Points Guy.
Using your credit cards for travel remains popular as travelers continue to be concerned about theft.
“The issue that pushes me towards plastic is safety. If you are traveling and your credit card is stolen, then it can usually be replaced,” said Pauline Frommer, editorial director of Frommer’s.
“I cannot tell you how many letters we get from readers who have lost everything to pickpockets, so it really is a mistake to carry around a lot of cash,” she said.
Of course, using a credit card makes it easier to overspend with the resulting debt hangover, since travelers spend an average of $1,900 on their family’s summer vacation. According to the ADI Travel Trends Report for 2017, total travel spending for the summer is expected to hit $98.02 billion. To avoid taking on debt, choose a credit card with a low APR and make sure to look at your options periodically in case better deals pop up.
Honig also said travel rewards cards work best for those who already travel a fair amount, largely due to the annual fee the cards can carry.
“You need to make sure the value of the points far outmatches the annual fee,” Honig said.
In its survey, WalletHub also singled out the Lufthansa credit card as the best for airline rewards, due to its signing bonus of 35,000 miles if you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months — a value of about $780 in airfare, according to WalletHub’s calculations — as well as the lack of foreign transaction fees. The annual fee for the card is $89.
The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card was also cited for its hotel rewards. This card, which carries an $95 annual fee after the first year, also doesn’t assess foreign transaction fees and offers 25,000 points if you spend at least $3,000 within three months of opening the account.
When traveling, always be sure to notify your bank ahead of time of your destination and travel dates to avoid having your charges blocked.