Most travelers I know, own a credit card. Yes, I’m talking about those skinny plastic cards that can buy you anything. Great for shopping and booking flights right? That’s all that is to it. Wrong! Credit Cards have a lot more advantages than you might realize and are not just a way of payment but something to enrich your life with, literally. In this article I’m going to tell you exactly why it’s so handy to own one as a traveler.
Why you should get a credit card in the first place
Choosing a credit card can be quite overwhelming with so many out there. But when you pick the right credit card, you can get tons of discounts and rewards on flights and hotels. With every purchase, you earn points and these can run up quite fast! Awesome right? But how does it work? Well, you start off by picking the right card for you. For this, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself; how often do I travel? Do I want to spend all my saved points and miles in one go, or do I want to save for gift cards or hotel privileges? Whatever your goal is, there is a card out there to suit your needs.
Credit cards will give you many travel advantages such as free breakfast, hotelroom upgrades and late checkouts
- Bonuses & Rewards
Standard debit cards are mainly used for grocery shopping and other small purchases. Handy, but they offer zero or very small rewards. Many credit cards, however, offer significant rewards when used responsibly. It also depends on which credit card you are eligible for of course. Are you a gold or even platinum member? Then you can bet on great bonuses and many rewards such as free breakfast, free hotelroom upgrades and late checkouts. But even the basic cards have advantages such as airport lounges. TIP: Always check if you get a nice (and high!) sign up reward bonus when you first sign up. Most credit card companies will offer this but it comes in different rates. A good one will start at 20.000 points. This way, you get a nice start ahead that will get you close to your first free flight for example!
If you sign up for the right credit card, you might get cash back on purchases or receive huge discounts. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you up to €350 discount. After the first year the card does get a bit more expensive, but it makes up for that with several discounts: free bottles of wine (yes please!) or aperitifs at 600 restaurants worldwide. Platinum is a bit too much for you? Other cards are completely free for the first year, for instance the Flying Blue Silver Card and the Green Card.
Saving airmiles, a way to use your credit card for travel advantages
- Frequent Flyer Miles
This is one of the main reasons why I love credit cards. Check which airlines your credit card company is connected to before you make your decision. If you live in The States, your airline preference will be a lot different then if you live in Europe. One rule always applies; the higher your ticket price, the more miles you save. The Flying Blue - American Express Platinum Card gives you a minimum of 1,5 Award Mile per euro spent and is a great card if you look at mileage and therefore a favorite travel partner!
- Safety & Insurance
Credit cards can save you from fraud. Simple as that. When a debit card is stolen or skimmed, the money immediately disappears from your account as suppose to a credit card, where you simply contact your credit card company and have them resolve the issue. You as the card holder do not have to pay these transactions. When it comes to insurance, I know that many people don’t realize that there are often insurances included within a credit card such as car and travel insurance. Super handy and another way to save money!
- Global Credit Card Acceptance
I got my first credit card when I was 24 years old. I left for my backpacking adventure in Australia and getting a credit card was a very good choice because I could use my card everywhere. Booking tours, flights and car rental companies and hotels usually ask for credit card details. When I was in the Philippines 2 years ago, most ATM machines didn’t accepted my debit card so I was lucky to have my credit card on me.
So now you know. Time to start earning while you spend! Maybe you already own a credit card, but now you know what you should look at before choosing the right one. Have fun traveling!