If you don’t travel frequently and are new to the world of credit cards, you’re probably wondering if a travel credit card makes sense for your wallet. Because they make up so much of the card landscape, it can be hard to know which type of travel card to apply for, let alone if they’re worth it.
For most consumers, though, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Here are a few reasons why a travel credit card might make sense for you.
Who benefits from travel cards?
Unsurprisingly, if you’re a globe-crossing jet-setter, chances are you’ll be able to get substantial value out of pretty much any travel card out there. If this is you, you’ll want to consider cards with perks like lounge access, free checked bags and statement credits for services like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
While these cards sometimes come with high annual fees and lots of bells and whistles, if you’re a frequent traveler, you’re right in the target market for something like The Platinum Card® from American Express, meaning you’re tailor-made to get value out of it.
If you travel even a little bit or are an aspirational traveler — someone who wants to get more involved in the travel space but maybe without the financial backing or credit card portfolio to justify it — there are plenty of card offerings that will help you get where you want to be, literally and figuratively.
People in this camp will likely want to start with a no-annual-fee card or a mid-tier card like the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred. These cards offer lots of benefits at a low or no cost and can jump-start your credit card journey while giving you points to spend and perks to enjoy in the meantime.
Not a jet-setter or interested in being a jet-setter? Travel cards might still make sense for you if your monthly budget is high. Putting your day-to-day purchases on a credit card — any credit card — will benefit you more than using a (gulp) debit card.
If you’re a big spender, you’ll be able to easily cash in on most cards’ welcome offers, easily hitting the spending threshold and getting lots of bonus points to boot. Additionally, if you regularly rack up points on a card, you’ll earn regular benefits like airline and hotel elite status, plus free hotel nights.
If you have a small business and are looking to cut down on your expenses, plenty of travel cards can help you do so. That’s because, like the big spenders, you’ll likely be putting out a lot in monthly expenditures, and those expenditures can lead to travel rewards if you put those expenses on a card.
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Consider something like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, which earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth 2.05 cents apiece, per TPG’s valuations. You’ll also enjoy flexible redemption options and a welcome offer of 100,000 points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.
Should you get a travel credit card?
If you’re not a traveler at heart and don’t spend a lot every month, either on a personal level or with a small business, then a travel card might not make the most sense. You might be better off with a cash-back card that earns simple rewards on everyday spending categories and doesn’t require a lot of jumping through hoops.
But as you get deeper into the credit cards world, be sure to consider travel cards — not just because they make up most of all credit cards, but because you can get substantial value out of them whether or not you consider yourself a jet-setter.
Even if you don’t fly or sleep in hotels frequently, travel credit cards can still offer significant value if you follow a few straightforward steps and leverage their earning rates and sign-up bonuses.
Not everyone can fully maximize the benefits of a premium travel credit card. However, there are plenty of options available for everyone. With a bit of research, you can find the right card to help you reduce the cost of your next trip and potentially enhance your travel experience.
Related: TPG’s guide to getting started with points, miles and credit cards