4/3/2013 9:30 PM ET|
Vacation time? 4 credit card tricks
Summer vacation is right around the corner, but your credit cards likely won’t get much R&R. Here are some tips to save money with your cards on your next trip.
Instead of complaining about the overcast skies and bitter temperatures, I have spent the last week redeeming frequent flier miles and hotel points to plan our family's summer vacation to Hawaii.
While it's satisfying to harvest the perks for our past credit card spending, the best part may be knowing that this year's reward points may help finance our next trip. With a little research and legwork, credit cards can help you get more for your vacation dollar -- especially if you know a few tricks.
Here are four ways to use your credit cards to save money on your getaways.
1. Look for partnership perks
When we were looking for a rental car, my husband checked online and found that one of our credit cards was offering a discount on car rentals from a certain company. A few phone calls later, we had a car reserved in Kauai at a great rate. Many cards also offer deals on airfare and lodging through their partners in exchange for using their plastic, so check what options exist before you book reservations elsewhere.
2. Re-examine your little-used cards
While planning our trip, we decided to stay over in Oahu one night on our way home. On a whim, my husband looked up how many points we had earned through our back-up credit card. We were surprised to learn that we had earned enough rewards over the years to pay for a three-night stay on Waikiki Beach, breakfast included. According to a 2011 survey by Colloquy, more than $16 billion worth of the rewards points earned each year go unused. Make sure your points don't become a statistic.
3. Keep your next trip in mind
When my husband has to pay for a vacation expense, I remind him to use the credit card that has the highest reward potential. By being selective with your card choices, you can maximize the rewards earned on your trip, which may make it possible to afford an even better trip next year. Vacations are pricey, and making the most of that spending can pay off big when the next travel season arrives.
4. Research your insurance options
No one wants their dream vacation postponed because of an emergency hospital visit or to spend valuable vacation time filling out paperwork from an auto accident. But life happens, often before or during a vacation. Many credit cards offer trip insurance as a free or low-cost benefit, which can help you recoup some of the losses from a thwarted trip. In addition, many credit cards offer rental car insurance. Before purchasing supplemental insurance, research the coverage you can get by using your card to make the booking.
When evaluating the travel perks your cards offer, evaluate any inconvenience that using rewards will cause. Sometimes the benefits will be worth it -- and sometimes they won't. But it's best to know all of the possibilities your card offers when it's time to plan your vacation.
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for those who pay in full each month, you can pay AHEAD before the trip so you do not get sticker shock when the next bill comes in after the trip.
also, i took a business trip to london last month. i notified the credit card people ahead of time. since such a trip is very non-standard for me, i wanted to make sure the use of the CC would not be flagged as a fraud event and ruin my time there.
5. Don't forget to pay off the car before the due date, so you don't get charged interest to negate what you just saved.
6. Include yearly fees in your calculations! Saving $150 for a vacation, but paying $85 in fees is still something, but you can do better.
After you feel you've gotten your best deal, check with Costco and Sams. I know Costco has deals they have negotiated with the vendors that can get you cash cards, cabin credits on cruises, etc. Last year I got an over $300 cash card from Costco and this year a cabin credit of $250.00 even though the cruise cost was the same as a discount cruise website.
My travel planning has become more obsessive with the invention of the internet. I am a fan of using “point earning” credit cards and trying to match them up with hotel or airline partners, but with the internet and multiple options for discounts, it has become a bigger game for me.
I start out with where I might be staying. If that hotel is one of the hotel rewards I use, I sometimes can match it with my credit card, so not only do I get points for my stay, I get more points because I paid with their credit card thus earning me future free stays. I also try to book through ebates.com if I can. I can then get a small percentage of cash back if they are partnered with them. I also use email.com. I fill out questionnaires from time to time or buy through Groupon. Those points go towards my Priority Club points (Holiday Inn/Crown Plaza hotels). Between the credit card, emiles, and previous stays, I was able to stay at the Holiday Inn chain over four times this past year on points alone.
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