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Travel rewards card worth it?

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Anonymous
Not applicable

Travel rewards card worth it?

Would it be worth it for me to get a travel rewards card if I only travel once or twice a year at most? I've been applying for cash back cards mainly because of this lack of travelling. I'm thinking the money I'm saving with the cash back would offset the relatively small amount a spend on travel every year. Just looking for a reassurance on my math, or a solid argument as to why I'd benefit from travel rewards possibly in the long-term.

Message 1 of 30
29 REPLIES 29
takeshi74
Senior Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

Frequency of travel alone isn't really useful to determine this on its own.  Like any other rewards (whether cash back, points, miles, etc) you really have to run the numbers for your spend.  With points/miles cards you also have to consider redemption and how you would specifically redeem and how that would impact reward value.  Maximizing value on travel rewards typically involves transferring points/miles ot travel partners and redeeming for premium international cabin travel.  However, many still find such rewards worthwhile even if they're not travelling internationally in premium cabins.

 

Further "travel" is a very vague term.  There are several "travel" cards that are really just restricted cash back cards.

 

If you've run the numbers on your cash back rewards then you have half of what you need to make the comparison.  You now just need to look at the spend, earn rates on the travel cards you're considering and figure out what value you'd get from redeeming with each program.  You'll need to dig into the specifics of each program you're considering and you will probably also need to look into how redemption work with their travel partners.  Generally speaking, travel cards will require higher amounts of spend for one to benefit.

Message 2 of 30
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?


@takeshi74 wrote:

Frequency of travel alone isn't really useful to determine this on its own.  Like any other rewards (whether cash back, points, miles, etc) you really have to run the numbers for your spend.  With points/miles cards you also have to consider redemption and how you would specifically redeem and how that would impact reward value.  Maximizing value on travel rewards typically involves transferring points/miles ot travel partners and redeeming for premium international cabin travel.  However, many still find such rewards worthwhile even if they're not travelling internationally in premium cabins.

 

Further "travel" is a very vague term.  There are several "travel" cards that are really just restricted cash back cards.

 

If you've run the numbers on your cash back rewards then you have half of what you need to make the comparison.  You now just need to look at the spend, earn rates on the travel cards you're considering and figure out what value you'd get from redeeming with each program.  You'll need to dig into the specifics of each program you're considering and you will probably also need to look into how redemption work with their travel partners.  Generally speaking, travel cards will require higher amounts of spend for one to benefit.


I see. I really don't spend much. I also should have mentioned that by travel i meant domestic as opposed to international. I live in NJ and spend a long weekend in NYC every June, but I would like to travel to Cali sometime in the next year to visit a friend that lives out there. The trip to cali will probably be more expensive considering I'd also need to purchase a plane ticket on top of the hotel stay.

Message 3 of 30
NRB525
Super Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

It is doubtful you could benefit from a "travel" card. The cash back cards get you a similar type of benefit, it is simply in a different currency, that is much easier to redeem and then route to the "travel cost" that you want to use it to pay for. Just keep track of those cash back awards, maybe put them in a savings account, then you can spend it on whatever you want.

 

The frequent flyer programs and hotel loyalty programs allow you to earn points without the credit card, based on the actual usage of the airline or hotel. Delta points don't expire, United points do, so you have to determine if it's worth the maintenance to try to gather points in the program, but signing up for the program itself is free. It's a good way to start learning more about the travel options and locations of hotels, before you decide on any credit card.

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Message 4 of 30
Kellan
Regular Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?


@Anonymous wrote:

@takeshi74 wrote:

Frequency of travel alone isn't really useful to determine this on its own.  Like any other rewards (whether cash back, points, miles, etc) you really have to run the numbers for your spend.  With points/miles cards you also have to consider redemption and how you would specifically redeem and how that would impact reward value.  Maximizing value on travel rewards typically involves transferring points/miles ot travel partners and redeeming for premium international cabin travel.  However, many still find such rewards worthwhile even if they're not travelling internationally in premium cabins.

 

Further "travel" is a very vague term.  There are several "travel" cards that are really just restricted cash back cards.

 

If you've run the numbers on your cash back rewards then you have half of what you need to make the comparison.  You now just need to look at the spend, earn rates on the travel cards you're considering and figure out what value you'd get from redeeming with each program.  You'll need to dig into the specifics of each program you're considering and you will probably also need to look into how redemption work with their travel partners.  Generally speaking, travel cards will require higher amounts of spend for one to benefit.


I see. I really don't spend much. I also should have mentioned that by travel i meant domestic as opposed to international. I live in NJ and spend a long weekend in NYC every June, but I would like to travel to Cali sometime in the next year to visit a friend that lives out there. The trip to cali will probably be more expensive considering I'd also need to purchase a plane ticket on top of the hotel stay.


A hotel credit card maybe. But honestly no I don't think it is worth it if this is the type of travel you do. Where travel cards really pay off is first class international flights. If you are looking say for a yearly trip from the east coast to the west coast you could get a new card for a different airline each year. 25,000 points for a domestic round trip. And cards like the AAdvantage card or United Explorer card ofter run 50k miles for signup. 

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Message 5 of 30
red259
Super Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?


@Kellan wrote:

@Anonymous wrote:

@takeshi74 wrote:

Frequency of travel alone isn't really useful to determine this on its own.  Like any other rewards (whether cash back, points, miles, etc) you really have to run the numbers for your spend.  With points/miles cards you also have to consider redemption and how you would specifically redeem and how that would impact reward value.  Maximizing value on travel rewards typically involves transferring points/miles ot travel partners and redeeming for premium international cabin travel.  However, many still find such rewards worthwhile even if they're not travelling internationally in premium cabins.

 

Further "travel" is a very vague term.  There are several "travel" cards that are really just restricted cash back cards.

 

If you've run the numbers on your cash back rewards then you have half of what you need to make the comparison.  You now just need to look at the spend, earn rates on the travel cards you're considering and figure out what value you'd get from redeeming with each program.  You'll need to dig into the specifics of each program you're considering and you will probably also need to look into how redemption work with their travel partners.  Generally speaking, travel cards will require higher amounts of spend for one to benefit.


I see. I really don't spend much. I also should have mentioned that by travel i meant domestic as opposed to international. I live in NJ and spend a long weekend in NYC every June, but I would like to travel to Cali sometime in the next year to visit a friend that lives out there. The trip to cali will probably be more expensive considering I'd also need to purchase a plane ticket on top of the hotel stay.


A hotel credit card maybe. But honestly no I don't think it is worth it if this is the type of travel you do. Where travel cards really pay off is first class international flights. If you are looking say for a yearly trip from the east coast to the west coast you could get a new card for a different airline each year. 25,000 points for a domestic round trip. And cards like the AAdvantage card or United Explorer card ofter run 50k miles for signup. 


Travel cards are also good for business class redemptions. Being that you can shop around to different airlines to get lower domestic airfare a cash back card might be the best way to go. If you want to stay at hotels in NYC then maybe a hotel card signup with free nights makes sense, because hotels can be very expensive here. Normally I don't recommend hotel cards as the first travel cards to get but in your situation it could make sense depending on the card you go for. 

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Message 6 of 30
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

Thanks for the feedback everyone! Smiley Happy

Message 7 of 30
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

I would agree that a normal "travel" card wouldn't be the best benefit for you. If you stay at a certain hotel chain every year then I would def look into that hotel card. I stay alot at hotels with my job and I always try to stay with that chain to earn my points. For instance with IHG, right now, I think their signup bonus is 60,000. They run specials for 5,000 points per night which is great! So you could get your week paid for in points if you do something like that. However, I would be honest with myself though and only get a card with a hotel chain that you are actually going to use because if you don't then some of the annual rates will ruin the point values in the end. 

Message 8 of 30
kdm31091
Super Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

For your spend and a couple domestic trips a year a travel card isnt worth it. Youre better with solid cash backs cards.

Travel cards really shine for international flights and trips. And also are usually premium flights which you may not care about. I dont mind sitting in coach. Otherwise, you wont get huge benefit, especially with only a couple trips a year.

 

Stick with cash. Even the non transfer based travel cards with fixed miles are just restricted cash back cards anyway. Stick to your gut here which seems to be cash back and dont just rely on whats popular. 

Message 9 of 30
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

I think the csp/freedom is the best combo.

recently booked my first flight in years for like 9400 UR points that i transfered to Southwest Rapid rewards.

 

to buy the cheapest flight i could find anywhere was like $180 with taxes and stuff. So i got a free flight. free is free to me. IDK. 

Message 10 of 30
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