There is a reason why we at Wallet Weekly use credit cards for everything. Simply put, this strategy allows us to get something back on every dollar spent with the card, and then convert those earnings (points) into free travel services. It’s that simple once you get used to the idea.
But first, you should get a credit card that will work to your advantage and allow you to after some time benefit from free travel. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of travel credit cards:
Hotel or airline-branded credit cards
This category includes cards branded by hotel chains and airlines, and could thus be best suited for folks who prefer some hotel or have a favorite airline.
For instance, if you most often sleep at Hyatt and travel almost exclusively with United Airlines, you may opt for Hyatt- and United-branded cards (two of them) and get something back for every stay / trip booked with those two companies. There is no reason to leave any money on the table.
Pretty much every major hotel chain and airline is offering its own credit card, so read through the fine print and — if it suits you needs — consider signing-up for one.
Travel-focused credit cards issued by credit card companies
On the other hand, for folks who don’t have their favorite hotels and airlines, they may be better off getting what is commonly referred to as a general purpose travel-focused credit card from one of big credit card issuers (includes big banks). Also, folks in this group may also decide to get some hotel- or airline-branded card, if after some time, they realize they can benefit from that additional arrangement, as well. Nothing stops you from having multiple credit cards, after all.
Perhaps more important is that these sort of universal travel cards tend to reward more than just hotel stays and flights, with some even offering points for dining, taxi and Uber rides, and more. Plus, if the credit card company has a partnership deal with other hotel chains and airlines, they may also allow you to transfer their “universal” points into hotel-specific points and/or airline-specific miles. Needless to say, we love these cards more than those branded by some hotel chain or airline.
At the end of the day, whichever card(s) you choose is going to depend on your preferences and habits. Which leads us to the next section…
What’s the best card for me?
As we have briefly noted above, it all depends on your preferences and existing needs. But, even if you are super-loyal to one hotel brand and a single airline, you may still want to get an additional card that would reward your other expenses with extra points. That being said, pretty much every hotel- and airline-branded card will reward all your purchases with one point or one mile per dollar spent, but some general purpose travel cards could offer you double or even triple points on select purchases, like dining and other travel-related services like metro and taxi rides. So I guess we all need multiple travel cards in order to maximize our point-earning potential.
Adding to this are sign-up bonuses which can be generous for some fancy cards. We have even seen some products offering more than a thousand dollars in points as a sign-up bonus — this isn’t a small feat.
Plus, let’s not forget additional bells and whistles like purchase protections, travel-related insurance(s), as well as things like travel credits and access to lounges at airports across the world that come with truly premium cards.
At the end of the day, it will be up to you to come up with a mix of credit cards that work best to your advantage. That’s how we roll.