First Travel Credit Card How to Choose the Best Travel Card

Tips for Choosing Your Perfect First Travel Credit Card

For people that find themselves traveling a lot, there are credit cards designed for you. They can offer huge benefits if you find the right one for your lifestyle. However, people should have established credit before they get a travel credit card. People with fair to very good credit who travel are the target audience. If you have decent credit and you want your first travel credit card, this article is for you. We’ll go over things you should look for in this type of card. We’ll also discuss mistakes you should avoid when you’re getting your first travel credit card.

Types of Travel Cards

There are two categories for the different types of travel credit cards. The first thing you should do is decide which category of card you’ll use the most. Find the best credit card for travel. This is the main way you’ll get the most out of your first travel credit card.

  • Airline, Company, or Hotel Cards. If you fly a lot, or if you find yourself staying at specific hotels, look for a travel card. If you can find one that is specific to the hotels you frequent, you can accrue points quickly. Airline travel cards can give you access to priority booking, reduced fees, and free checked bags.
  • General Travel Cards. If you don’t stay at any one place, opt for a general travel card for your first travel credit card. Also, you’ll be able to take the points you earn and transfer them to any partner companies. This usually includes competing airline carriers as well, and this can save you money. Chase Sapphire offers two popular general travel credit cards.

Choosing a First Travel Credit Card

Things to Consider for Your First Travel Credit Card

When you’ve decided which type of travel credit card you want, you can start the next stage. There are several factors to consider and look for in your card. Travel cards typically have higher interest rates because they act as a rewards card. You have to keep this in mind when you begin looking for your first travel credit card.

Sign-Up Bonus

Many travel cards offer large sign-up bonuses. If you plan to travel a lot, it could be beneficial to find a card that offers one. This will jump start earning your airline miles. It could almost get you a free flight. These sign-up bonuses typically fall between 25,000 to 50,000 bonus points. However, it can go up to 100,000, and all you have to do is meet the minimum spending requirement. Avoid constant credit card churning.

Foreign Transaction Fee

Since the point of a travel card is to travel outside of the United States, watch the foreign transaction fee. You want your first travel credit card to have no or a very low one. They typically range from 1% to 3% each time you use your card overseas. Many travel cards will waive this fee, but it’s something important to look into.

Annual Fees

Most rewards-type cards come with high annual fees. You can balance this out by using your first travel credit card to get high rewards. Sometimes it pays to pay an annual fee with a travel credit card. You may find a travel card that will waive this fee if you spend a certain amount. Also, it pays to research and compare the card to your spending habits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is a no annual fee travel card.

Spending Minimum

You want to research and find out which travel cards have lower minimum spending amount. You’ll have to spend this amount before you get access to the rewards your card offers. A good range is $1,000 to $3,000 in six months. It’s a good idea to start small, so you don’t get in over your head.

Reward Program Revisions

Unfortunately, many cards will revise their rewards programs. This could cause you to lose the value of your points. If you have a general travel card, you can redeem them at another company. This can help you save the value of your points that you’ve earned so far.


Your first travel credit card should have as many perks as possible. This will help you get the most out of your card. Several travel cards offer things like elite loyalty rewards or bonus points. Ideally, you want a card with a low or no foreign transaction fee. Furthermore, other perks could be free bag checks, free nights, and priority boarding. The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers a popular perk. Cardholders receive a free IHG hotel stay on their yearly anniversary. The annual fee is $49 a year. You can offset that by using your anniversary hotel reward on a hotel room valued at hundreds of dollars.

Mistakes to Avoid with Your First Travel Credit Card

There are some simple mistakes you want to avoid with your new card. Technically, you should look for these things before you apply for a card. Once you get the card, you’re usually stuck with it. This will help you to avoid getting the wrong credit card.

Not Checking Your Minimum Limit for Rewards

Your first travel credit card should align with your normal spending. If you have to spend $6,000 in 3 months to get your rewards, do you usually spend that amount? So, if the answer is no, the card isn’t a good fit. Also, you don’t want to spend beyond your means and get into debt.

Not Checking if the Rewards and the Annual Fees Balance Out

If your annual fee is $100, your rewards better be over $100 to balance it out. So if your card’s annual fee is $400, you better get rewards over $400. If you don’t check the fee amounts, you could be paying way too much. This will negate any benefits you could get with your rewards and free travel. If you question whether you can get full value with your first travel credit card there is good news. There are no annual fee travel credit cards where you can earn travel rewards without the annual fee.

Not Checking That the Rewards Match Your Lifestyle

The rewards on your card should line up with your lifestyle. So if your card offers triple miles, but you don’t fly, it won’t benefit you. Additionally, if your card gives you double points each time you eat out, you want to eat out a lot. If you don’t do this, you’ll be wasting points. Travel credit cards like the Chase United℠ TravelBank Card Issued by Visa work well for some people. Researching how your rewards work will save you from wasting them.

Additional Considerations When Looking for Your First Travel Credit Card

The travel credit card is a rewards-style card. This isn’t for someone who is just starting to rebuild their credit history. Also, they require you to have good to excellent credit. Ideally, this type of card is for people who have other credit cards and know how to use them responsibly. You can find yourself paying out way too much in fees if you’re not careful. All of these reasons are why it isn’t a good idea to get this is your first credit card.

Finally, a travel credit card is an excellent tool if you use it correctly. You should research your first travel credit card carefully. If you do, you have a greater chance of getting a card that suits your lifestyle. Lastly, this will help you get the most out of your rewards points.

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Monica Kowollik


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