When you are travelling having easy access to your money is important! Credit cards are a very popular tool among travellers – for a couple of reasons. Firstly, these cards are accepted almost everywhere (you might struggle to buy street meat in Asia with them), also many cards offer purchase and fraud protection meaning if you do get pickpocketed you won’t be charged.
Although before you rush to your local bank there are a couple of factors that you should be considering when selecting the right card – remember the right card for you is not necessarily the right card for everyone else. There are a few key factors to consider that I have outlined below.
The most common type of credit cards are either low fees or rewards cards. The rewards cards obviously speak for themselves and allow you to accrue reward points as you are spending that can then be converted into frequent flyer points, travel benefits, even technology or gift cards. Where as the lower fee cards are no frills, designed to give better value, lower interest rates etc.
If you are looking at a rewards card then here are a few things to consider:
Sign Up Bonus
A credit card sign up bonus can really help boost your frequent flyer balance. Some credit cards will offer 40,000 to 100,000 (sometimes more for higher income earners). For a little perspective a one-way flight redemption Melbourne to LA sits at around 50,000 points with Virgin Australia plus taxes.
Selecting a credit card with a high points bonus is certainly going to make the cost of your flights cheaper, or help you get that ever-elusive upgrade to business class. If you are planning on using the bonuses always remember to watch the terms and conditions to ensure you read the terms and conditions to ensure you qualify for the points bonus.
Frequent Flyer Points
There are several cards on the market that will give you a strong earn rate for frequent flyer points if you spend, either at home, or while you are travelling. In my experience the American Express cards tend to be the best cards for frequent flyer point accrual – however different cards have different reward rates.
There are far too many to mention however pay attention to where you get the best value using different cards. Some cards will offer different reward points for buying at supermarkets, restaurants, travel products and utility bills so pick wisely and consider where you will be spending the most to get the most out of your points.
The world of frequent flyer point earning is a comprehensive one and Keith over at pointhacks.com.au has a great site full of information on picking the best credit cards to maximise your point earn. For my international readers – The Points Guy has a great collection of resources on the same topics. My article is purely a guide – these guys are undoubtedly the experts in this space.
International Transaction Fees
The high yield point spending cards are great for earning points, but not the best for spending overseas! Most banks charge a foreign currency transaction fee that is anywhere from 2% – 3.5% depending on your bank. This begins to add up very quickly however there are cards that will offer you free international transactions that are great for spending, and accessing your money overseas.
In Australia my two favourite travel cards are the 28 Degrees Mastercard, and the CitiBank Visa Debit card. Both of these cards offer no international transaction fees, and extremely competitive foreign currency rates from Australian dollars.
The benefits here are quite obvious – any money that you can save while you are on the road is money that you can spend travelling. Plus you shouldn’t have to pay to access your own money!
So remember my advice is a guide to get you started, do your own research before you sign up for any of these cards, but I hope I can help get you closer to where you want to be for your next holiday!
Apologies to international readers but my knowledge of cards in every country is a little sketchy as I know you can appreciate.
Disclaimer: My advice is my own opinion, you should obviously do your own research before selecting one. I have no affiliation, or incentive to promote any of these cards, they are the product of my own research to assist fellow travellers – particularly those in Australia.