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If you’re starting to plan your first real trip in a while, credit cards probably aren’t in the front of your mind. However, getting a good travel credit card now could save you hundreds on your next vacation, even if you’re not planning to leave for a while.
Here’s why you should consider opening a travel credit card now instead of waiting until your trip draws near.
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Start saving rewards for your next trip
By signing up for a good rewards card now, you can start saving up points and miles to use for your next trip. With one of the best airline credit cards, you might even be able to cover entire flights. Hotel credit cards can help you cover accommodations for you and your family, and some of them even come with extra perks like complimentary breakfast or elite status.
Saving big on your next vacation is even easier if you’re able to earn one of the best sign-up bonuses. These bonuses are often big enough for a free roundtrip flight — sometimes even two. However, you’ll need to plan in advance. Most of these sign-up bonuses take three months to earn, and there can also be some delay between when you earn the sign-up bonus and when the points or miles actually show up in your account.
Book prepaid expenses on your travel credit card for the insurance
You might not need to buy travel insurance if you have a travel card, but you’ll have to put all your trip reservations on said credit card for your trip to be covered. This is another reason to get a good travel credit card early on, well before you start pre-paying for things like flights and accommodations.
Some of the best travel credit cards offer pretty high levels of coverage in a number of areas, including:
- Trip cancellation and trip delays
- Lost or delayed luggage
- Emergency medical services while traveling
If you’re renting a car, these credit cards often offer rental car insurance as well, which can save you hundreds per week.
Earn bonus points on prepaid travel expenses
There’s another reason to get that travel credit card before you book any prepaid travel expenses: bonus points. The best travel credit cards offer bonus rewards on travel spending categories like flights and hotels. Paying for those expenses with a travel credit card rather than a regular rewards card could mean earning 3x as many points.
This might not seem like a lot, but if you’re dropping thousands on a vacation, it adds up. For every 10,000 points you earn with a travel credit card, that’s typically at least $100 that can go toward paying additional travel expenses.
Use up travel statement credits
If you’re ready for a premium travel credit card, doing so early will help make sure you take full advantage of the long list of benefits they offer. For example, many of these cards offer annual statement credits that can be applied to airline fees, hotel expenses, or travel in general. If you don’t use these up by the end of your cardmember year, you lose them. This is yet another reason to put all your travel expenses, including anything you’re pre-paying, on your travel credit card.
When you compare credit cards, make sure to take a card’s annual fee into consideration. If you know you’re going to spend a good amount on travel within the next year, it’s probably worth it to get a travel credit card with an annual fee that offers better rewards and more extensive benefits. However, if you’re not sure when you’ll travel again, or you’re unsure about paying an annual fee, there are also travel credit cards with no annual fee that will still help you start saving rewards for your next trip.
Whatever you choose, make sure you only put travel expenses on your credit card that you know you can pay off each month. If you carry a balance, interest fees will quickly outweigh any rewards you earn.