As spring arrives and Americans start to look forward to the summer vacation season, now is the time to consider which credit cards will be best ones to carry on your trip.
The right credit card will offer summer vacation travelers valuable benefits, low fees, and bonus rewards for their spending.
Finding the best travel benefits
In recent years, credit cards have become more than just a method of payment or a way to earn rewards; they are now a means for companies to bestow discounts and privileges on their best customers.
Airline credit cards from Delta, United, and American offer free checked bags that can save a family a tremendous amount on a summer vacation. Other cards co-branded with hotel chains can offer room upgrades, late checkouts, free Internet service, and free breakfasts.
Most credit cards will offer a rental car collision damage waiver policy, which allows travelers to decline the expensive policies offered by rental car companies.
Credit card fees to look out for
Another aspect of the best travel cards are low fees. For summer vacation travel outside of the United States, look for cards without foreign transaction fees. These fees, typically 3% of the purchase price, are levied by most cards on all transactions processed outside of the United States.
Summer vacation travelers can even be charged these fees when they make reservations with a foreign company, or when they make payments overseas in U.S. dollars. Thankfully, there’s a growing number of credit cards marketed to travelers that do not have any foreign transaction fees.
Most credit cards will have cash advance fees, and ATM withdrawals will immediately incur interest charges with no grace period. The best way to avoid these fees is to use a debit card rather than a credit card at an ATM.
Earning the most rewards during summer vacation
Travelers also have the opportunity to earn valuable rewards for their credit card transactions while traveling on summer vacation.
Many cards marketed to travelers feature double or triple rewards for airfare, hotel, and rental card purchases. The Sapphire Preferred card from Chase offers two points in its Ultimate Rewards program for every dollar spent on any travel expense including airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and even train tickets. Ultimate Rewards points can then be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, merchandise, or travel rewards.
Smart chip compatibility
In many countries around the world, retailers are deploying credit card terminals that require cards to be equipped with an EMV smart chip. Fortunately, many American card issuers are now offering compatible cards.
Cardholders with plans to travel outside the United States for a summer vacation, who don’t see the small chip on the face of their card, should contact their card issuer and ask for a compatible replacement card.
Summer travel is an American tradition, and those who carry the right credit card can enjoy the most possible rewards and benefits available.