There may come a point — perhaps when you scroll through a friend’s vacation-themed Instagram posts during a sad desk lunch — when you begin to crave travel adventures of your own. If you’re unsure how to fund your globetrotting goals, one way is to sign up for your first credit card that earns travel rewards.
Travel credit cards earns points or miles on everyday expenses, which you can redeem to offset travel costs like airfare, hotel stays and rental cars. Here’s what to look for if you’re shopping for your first credit card for travel.
If you have credit card debt or anticipate taking on debt for a major purchase, travel credit cards may not be the best fit. They typically carry higher-than-average APRs, meaning the interest you’d pay on revolving debt would eat away at your rewards. Instead, consider credit cards that offer a 0% introductory APR period for balance transfers or purchases.
What to look for in your first credit card for travel
Easy earnings and redemptions
Odds are you won’t magically transform into a travel hacker overnight — and you may not ever want to. Look for a beginner-friendly travel card that doesn’t require you to be so strategic about where you use it. And redeeming points without dealing with confusing fine print? That’s a must, too.(73)Learn MoreThe Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card earns an easy-to-remember 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase, with one exception: You’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible travel booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center. You can also earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. Bank of America® Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points per purchase, too.
To redeem your rewards, just apply them toward travel purchases from the past 12 months and get reimbursement in the form of a statement credit (points redeemed for travel are worth 1 cent apiece). “Travel” includes airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, campgrounds, cruises, travel agencies, trains, buses, taxis, limos, ferries, parking, tolls, tourist attractions and more. The annual fee is $0, which is perfect if you’re just getting your feet wet.(157)Learn MoreIf you’re open to paying an annual fee, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another option for anyone seeking their first credit card for travel. You’ll pay $0 for the first year, then $95 — but a statement credit for the application cost of Global Entry or TSA Precheckhelps soften the blow. Earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, plus a sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. Through January 2020, you’ll also earn 10 miles per dollar spent on bookings through hotels.com/venture. Redeem your rewards with the Purchase Eraser: Apply points, as a statement credit, toward travel charges you made within the past 90 days. “Travel” purchases include airfare, hotel stays, train tickets, rental cars, limos, buses, cruises, taxis, travel agents and timeshares.
Both of these cards charge no foreign transaction fee, making them excellent travel buddies once you take that trip you booked with points.