When it comes to use outside the U.S., not all credit cards are created equal. Many credit cards carry a surcharge that is levied when cardholders make purchases while traveling abroad. Known as foreign transaction fees, these charges can quickly accumulate for cardholders who travel often, even to the point of canceling out any rewards earned through spending.
Ask yourself where you want to go and what is holding you back from traveling there. Honeymoon? Bucket list? Mileage Run? Make a list of the top 10 places you want to visit and why. Which sites you want to see? Which airlines/flights/class of service you want to try out? (if any) Which hotels you want to stay at? For e.g. I knew I wanted a hotel with a private pool. So, I mapped out the different hotels that had a private pool and picked my favorite.
It’s not as hard as you think. For e.g. Once you decide on a destination, visit AwardHacker.com to see how many miles in which program you need to get the flight and route of your choice. Just be advised that some mileage programs charge fuel surcharges for award flights. So a little googling might be necessary. Or checking a hotel’s website to see how many points you need an award stay.
- Check Your Credit
- Choose the Right Credit Card
It’s important to point out that most bloggers make their money by recommending credit cards. So it’s REALLY important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Also, now that you’ve planned and researched your travel desires, you’re in much better shape to make the right decision as well as not be too tempted to jump on every offer you read about. To avoid pointing you in the wrong direction, I won’t be linking any commissionable credit cards to this article.
To help you decide, here are my top miles/points currencies I keep in my travel portfolio 🙂
- Chase Ultimate Rewards Points with a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. Why? In addition to its many airline transfer partners, you get a 35% bonus when buying airline tickets with the Pay with Points option. In other words, airline tickets that you buy through the Chase Travel portal (even when paying with points) you will still earn miles and status as if it’s a paid ticket!
- American Express Membership Rewards Points with a Business Platinum Card. Plenty of airline transfer partners with occasional bonuses as well! Plus, with a Business Platinum Card you get the same 35% bonus when you pay with points on paid travel through the American Express Travel Portal.
- Citi Thank You Points. Only advantage here is that you get some additional airline transfer partners that are not available with Chase or American Express.
- British Airways Avios. The Last-Minute Short Haul Award Tickets on American Airlines Can’t Be Beat!
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Easy miles to accumulate, no last-minute booking fees, and phenomenal first-class award options with airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Emirates!
- Avianca LifeMiles. my favorite Star Alliance Currency. No last-minute booking fees and amazing first-class award opportunities on airlines such as Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Asiana, and Air China.
- Marriott Bonvoy Points. Formerly SPG Points, you still have decent airline transfer options and the number of hotels bookable with points in the Marriott family is just unbeatable.
- Hilton Honors. Not my favorite program by a long shot. But there is still incredible value to be had at world class hotels. Two examples: Conrad Maldives and Conrad Koh Samui.
So there you have it! Happy travels 🙂