Are travel rewards credit cards worth it?

by | Oct 18, 2022 | Financial Independence

Are travel rewards credit cards worth it?

by | Oct 18, 2022 | Financial Independence

are travel credit card rewards worth it

At KB Advisors, we get pretty deep into the weeds of tax planning and strategizing the best ways to use employee stock options.

It’s something I love about our firm.

But this month, I want to touch on something a little more high-level, and honestly, kind of fun.

Because who doesn’t love travel? Especially if the plane ticket is free?

But while the flashy promise of free plane tickets and hotel rooms sounds enticing… are travel rewards credit cards actually worth it?

Here are three guidelines to help you decide for yourself:

1. You’re going to travel at least once or twice per year.

While it’s possible to get travel cards without yearly membership fees, it’s not common. You may be able to waive the first year’s fee upon signup, but if you plan to have the card for a while, you could be looking at an $80 to $100 annual fee in exchange for the benefit of racking up travel points. (Some are as high as $500 or more.)

Travel points are great, but they do expire after a while, so it’s probably a good rule of thumb to only sign up for a travel card if you intend to use the points to “purchase” travel-related items, like plane tickets, hotel rooms, or rental cars. This way, the cost of the fee at least pays for itself in the free travel purchases you get in exchange.

If you’re more of a homebody, or only travel on your company’s dime, a credit card that offers cash back or another type of reward might be best for you.

2. You’ll actually use your credit card on a regular basis.

Travel credit cards only earn you points if you actually spend money on them.

I know this sounds overly basic, but a travel card won’t do you any good if it’s just going to sit in your wallet for occasional, infrequent use. Each travel booking you make will cost thousands of points, which equates to you needing to spend thousands of dollars on your credit card before you’re awarded those points.

3. You’re going to spend a lot of money on something soon.

If you’re a true travel hacker, you know that it can be a good idea to shop around before signing up for a new travel card, because many credit card companies offer really large sign-up bonuses in the form of travel rewards points.

The catch with most of these bonuses, though, is that you have to spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of having the card to earn them. For example, you might have to spend $3,000 in the first three months to earn enough “bonus” points for a round-trip flight.

If you’ll be making a large purchase or two soon, like buying furniture or home appliances, it could benefit you to put those purchases on your new credit card to help you earn those points and save a big chunk of cash on your next vacation.

Should you get a travel credit card?

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your spending and travel habits. I personally like Amex platinum if you can get the fees waived, but different cards work best for different people.

If you’d like some help with more in-depth financial planning, book a discovery call with our team here.

Jackie Kleinman, CFP™, is the principal of KB Financial Advisors. Jackie started her career in financial planning in 1996 at an insurance and brokerage firm. She enjoyed the client interaction, but was bothered by the conflict of interest inherent in commission planning. In 2002, as an advocate of fee-only planning, she opened her doors to assist clients in growing their wealth and enhancing their lifestyles by combining investment advice, taxes and setting each individual’s priorities and goals.


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