Credit cards, along with them, bring in a great deal of ease and convenience when it comes to making payments. Additionally, when these financial tools are used carefully, they can be a great resource for helping a cardholder in managing certain cash crunch periods also. Credit cards are tailored to cater to different needs of the individuals such as a card designed especially for online shopping needs or lifestyle credit cards that reward the cardholder for a particular category’s expenditures, and much more.
On the same lines are travel credit cards that are designed with perks and benefits on the expenditures that are travel-related such as purchasing airline tickets, paying for a trip, booking hotel stays, booking car rentals, among much more.
It is common for humans to make mistakes, but when we talk about travel credit cards, these errors can turn out to be expensive. If you are not careful with the travel credit cards in your wallet, you can end up missing out on the great welcome bonuses and additional perks, and the worst of all – hampering your credit score.
Whether you are a seasoned spender when it comes to spending via the plastic money, or you are new to the game of points and miles, brushing up and going through these common mistakes that people end up making with their travel credit cards along with the ways to avoid them can help you in the long run.
The Common Mistakes People Make with Travel Credit Cards
No one likes to make any sort of mistakes, especially when we talk about rewards and money being involved. In order to be careful and conscious while using your travel credit cards, look out for these common mistakes that people make!
Not Paying Outstanding Balances in Full
The first and foremost rule to keep in mind is not to make the mistake of not paying your outstanding dues in full every month. Any rewards you might be earning are likely to be reversed if you carry a balance. In fact, you can build up or improve your credit score by actually paying off the outstanding dues on your credit cards early.
If you think you are not someone who will be able to pay off your travel credit cards in full, on time, every month, DON’T get in this habit! You can never actually move forward in life if you keep paying off high rates of interest on the debt on your credit card. The key is to see your credit card as a debit card, and then spend only what you can actually afford to pay off at the end of the month.
Not Meeting the Minimum Spend for the Welcome Bonus
All of the travel credit cards come with some sort of welcome bonus (which is large in most cases) that you can earn once you spend the minimum requirement on the card within a specific time frame. If you fail to meet the set requirement, you are likely to miss out on a large amount of free travel.
It is vital for you to have some sort of plan in hand when you apply for any of the travel credit cards. This can be, say, in winter as you will be buying Christmas gifts, or during large sales such as Black Friday sales, or if you have lined up birthdays and anniversaries. Make sure to check the expenditures that are not counted in the minimum spending requirement.
Another common mistake with welcome bonuses that people tend to make is the miscalculation of the time they have for hitting the set requirement. With this bonus, the spending clock starts the day you are approved for your card, not when you receive your card in hand. If you are unsure about the date, you can get it in touch with your card provider to be sure.
Missing the Right Time to Apply
Another mistake that people commonly make is not applying for any of the travel credit cards when there are good bonuses on them. Just like anything else in life, good welcome bonuses also fade away with time. It is important for you to do your homework properly and look at the different bonuses offered by your shortlisted card in the past before you go ahead and apply so that you know you are getting the best deal possible.
Applying for Multiple Cards at Once
One fact that cannot be said enough is that applying for multiple cards in a short span of time can harm you in many ways. One, it can reduce your chances of being approved for any card as it is to reflect on your credit score. And two, it might cause you to miss the minimum spending required to earn the welcome bonuses on the travel credit cards.
Canceling the Card Right after Earning the Welcome Bonus or Never Using It
There are numerous travel credit cards that come with amazing bonuses and some even give you reasons to continue spending on them because of the great perks, bonus points, and flexible redemption. However, there are also some cards that might not give you amazing incentives and you might not want to use them or might want to cancel them. However, if you keep your cards open for a longer tenure they are likely to improve your credit score as they might increase the average age of your credit accounts.
Letting Rewards Expire
Basically, there is no reason that you should let your miles or points expire. Many of the airline and hotel programs on the various travel credit cards still have expiration policies. Other ways that you might lose your hard-earned rewards are obviously if you choose to close or downgrade your credit card account.
Not Maximizing the Bonuses on Categories
One of the best bonuses that can be offered on any of the travel credit cards is the ability to earn points or rewards across various spending categories. These can be across hotel stays or airline bookings. But many of the travel credit cards also offer to earn on other categories like dining, grocery spending, entertainment, fuel, etc.
If you own numerous cards, it can get difficult at times to know which card will reward you with the best amount of points at the different merchants.
With the wide variety of cards out there and the bonus opportunities offered on them, you should be earning numerous points across different purchases. If you are not doing so, you are simply leaving points and that is, a lot of potential value.
Closing a Card Account before Opening a New One
In most cases, it is important for you to remember not to close down your old credit card account before you go ahead and open a new one. This will decrease the amount of the credit that is available to you and hamper your credit utilization ratio which could in turn potentially hamper your credit score.
Keeping your accounts open for longer times will increase the average age of your credit accounts and can potentially improve your credit score. It is better to try to downgrade the credit card you have if you wish to avoid paying a high annual fee on your travel credit cards.
However, some banks put a cap on the total number of cards that one can hold, so if you have reached the maximum number, you have no choice but to cancel an old card in order to get a new one.
Paying a High Annual Fee for Rewards Not Actually Used
The annual membership fee charged on the various travel credit cards ranges from absolutely nothing i.e. free to hold, to a large three-digit amount. Many of the top travel credit cards charge an affordable annual fee in return for the various perks and privileges that they offer, making it totally worth it – that is if you manage to use them wisely.
Likewise, there are also many travel credit cards in the market that charge a high annual fee but also offer travel rewards and benefits making it worth it if one knows how to maximize them in a way that the rewards tend to outweigh the cost.
If you are unable to use the rewards that the card offers, it is not worth paying the annual fee for holding it.
Not Meeting the Benchmark Spending Bonuses
Many of the travel credit cards offers not only provide the cardholder with perks on the anniversary, such as free nights at some hotels or some companion travel air tickets but also give them an opportunity to earn some bonus perks by meeting a benchmark spending on an annual basis.
It does not make sense to buy things that you otherwise wouldn’t solely to meet these thresholds, but if they fit in within your daily normal expenditure, then you should aim at maximizing the bonuses offered on your travel credit cards.
Paying the Foreign Transaction Charges
Many of the credit card issuers have noticed that people who want the rewards on travel credit cards, actually, travel! This includes travels that are international. The issuers used to charge a certain percentage on these expenditures made overseas, but now many of them charge no foreign transaction fee for the international spenders.
Before you go ahead and make purchases internationally, make sure to read the terms and benefits of your travel credit cards to see if you will be applicable to pay some foreign transaction fees.
The Bottom Line
It is pretty easy to make some mistakes when it comes to the world of miles and points, especially if you are new to all of this. Here are some common mistakes that people make with their travel credit cards and the ways that you can avoid them.