If you’re a frequent traveler, live on-the-go or are booking a vacation, you have everything to gain from taking full advantage of the benefits and rewards of your credit card. Understanding your credit card’s reward system and policies can help you not only rack up points faster along the way, but can also ultimately save you money on vacation costs and even everyday expenses. Here are some tips for maximizing your credit card while you’re on the move this summer:
1. Tally up your rewards points.
It’s easy to forget about the points you’ve built up on your rewards cards. Monitor your rewards balance and redeem them before they expire. Points can often be used for airline miles, hotels, merchandise or cash back. And, most airlines and hotels have loyalty programs that give you points for every flight or hotel stay. Some credit cards may even allow you to transfer your travel rewards to airline and hotel partners.
It’s also important to stay on top of any changes to your credit card terms, so you always know what you’re getting back. You should always be notified by your credit card company whenever a change occurs in your card terms.
“Too often, consumers forget about the credit card points they’ve racked up and they go unused,” noted Justin Zeidman, Navy Federal Credit Union’s head of credit card products. “Keeping track of the points you’ve earned and making a plan to redeem them is key to getting the most value out of your card. Whether you redeem your points in small increments as you spend or save up your points for big travel purchases like airfare and hotel stays, rewards can be a great way to help offset the cost of summer expenses.”
2. Make the most of your purchases.
Once you understand its rewards structure, your credit card can often be the best payment method to use when you’re planning or actually on a trip. Navy Federal’s Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Card, for example, offers a slew of travel perks, such as 3X the points for every $1 you spend on travel, travel and emergency assistance, a statement credit (up to $100) for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®and more. Likewise, Navy Federal’s More Rewards American Express® Card gives you 2X the points at restaurants and up to 25% off car rentals, plus car rental loss and damage insurance.
As with any credit card, be disciplined with how you use it. Don’t overspend just for extra rewards. Be sure you’re able to pay off your card’s balance every month to avoid interest charges and penalties.
3. Avoid foreign transaction fees.
Trips overseas can be an exciting adventure, but you shouldn’t have to worry about paying fees every time you pay with your credit card. Good news is, there are plenty of cards that don’t charge fees when you swipe internationally. So whether you’re being deployed or getting away, it could be worth having a card that will save you from simple charges you make outside the United States. If you have a card in your wallet, check the terms and conditions to see what fees may be applied.
4. Monitor your account activity.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your account transactions in general and especially while you’re traveling. Many banks and credit unions give you the ability to freeze and unfreeze your card if you’ve misplaced it, giving you time to locate the card before completing cancelling it. You can easily unfreeze your card with the touch of a button once it’s found!
With several credit cards on the market, it’s important to choose the right one for your lifestyle. Do your research and talk to your financial institution about which credit card is best for you. Using the right card could be just what you need to plan that next little getaway.