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Making the most of your travel rewards cards

January 04, 2011

Far too many people collect travel rewards points only to let them languish as statistics on a monthly statement. Instead, with some careful card selection and proper planning, you can put your hard-earned points towards an exciting weekend get-away or family holiday. Here’s how. 

Pick a winner

No two travel rewards cards are created equal. Some programs deliver impressive discounts on hotel suites and car rentals while others greater discounts on air travel. Similarly, in some cases, a travel rewards card will allow you to cash in quickly on low-ticket items; others demand months of dedicated points collecting. It’s up to you to determine how long you wish to wait to redeem your points and whether your ultimate goal is an annual holiday or a bevy of bargains.

 

Act fast

Take too long to book your dream vacation and you may wind up using a sizable chunk of your travel rewards points. That’s because the closer to your travel date you book, the more points you’ll have to use. Plan your vacation ahead of time to get more from your points.

 

Make it work for you

The race to collect airline miles can cloud anyone’s good judgment. Just remember, a travel rewards card shouldn’t come with a hefty annual fee. Nor should you be expected to pay exorbitant fees and other costs in order to be a cardholder. Rather, the right travel rewards card lets you collect points for as long as you use the card. More importantly, avoid the temptation to use your credit card to make purchases – large or small – simply to rack up rewards points.

 

Check out the competition

So you’ve owned a travel rewards card for some time now and still aren’t seeing the benefits? Do some research, similar reward card programs may better suit your travel preferences. Just remember: you may not be permitted to transfer your existing points/miles to a new card so be prepared to forfeit them.