Get great deals on travel with your credit card
"How can I earn credit card rewards on travel?"
Saving money on vacation and travel isn't just about finding the best deals and discounts. You also want to get the best value possible on a vacation you're going to enjoy, advises the American Automobile Association (AAA).
As Americans cut back on discretionary spending, there are great travel bargains to be found. There are also plenty of ways you can use your cash rewards credit card to get an even better value for your money.
Not only can you earn cash rewards, airline miles or points with a rewards credit card—you can also score some great affiliate partner deals. If you use your credit card for booking travel you may be able to take advantage of special partner offers or incentives. Many rewards credit cards have generous partner deals or discounts from hotels, car rental agencies, theme parks, and travel and vacation sites.
5 ways to get a great airline deal
Many online resources are available to anybody with a credit card, notes Family.com1. Where, when and how you shop will have a major impact on your financial savings. This family vacation site suggests you comparison shop online travel comparison sites, travel agencies, last minute travel sites, online auction and airline Web sites.
Before you pay for your plane ticket check to see if your credit card offers free flight insurance when you use the card to book travel. Using your credit card to book travel also gives you some added consumer protection if the airline goes out of business without reimbursing you or if you have merchant disputes.
Consider using a rewards credit card that allows you flexibility in travel. If redeeming airline miles using a frequent-flier credit card, National Geographic Traveler2 advises you take into account blackout dates, seat restrictions, alternative airports or partner airlines. Be aware that paying extra for flying during popular times, and added processing fees can add to your costs.
- Be flexible about your travel. You may get the best airline deals by booking midweek or during non-peak hours—or by flying into alternate airports.
- Sign up for travel newsletters, fare watches and deal alerts from airlines and travel comparison sites. Also check your Sunday newspaper travel section.
- Some airlines make special offers and best fares available through the Internet only. Find out if you will be charged an extra fee if you buy the ticket in person or by phone.
- When flights are overbooked, consider volunteering to be bumped. The airline is obligated to put you on the next available flight—and will give you a voucher for a free or discounted airline ticket, and/or a meal voucher.
- Find out if your credit card includes built-in free travel assistance for things like help with lost luggage or rebooking a flight. Taking advantage of built-in travel assistance benefits from your credit card can save you time, money and hassles.
5 ways to get the best hotel deals and discounts
The recession has been tough for the travel industry, but for vacationers it's created some of the best travel deals seen in ages, reports ABC News3. The real bargains these days are coming from hotels eager to fill otherwise empty rooms, restaurants and spas, says ABCnews.com. Hotels are slashing rates and throwing in free nights and lavish packages to lure travelers to their resorts.
- If you're using a rewards credit card to reserve your hotel room, check to see if your credit card has special partner offers from hotels or travel Web sites like Travelocity, Hotwire or Hotels.com. You may also be able to redeem your credit card rewards, points or miles for hotel stays.
- If you're looking for great deals during holidays or weekends—check out hotels that cater to business travelers rather than tourists.
- Ask about corporate or association discounts on hotel rooms. Many hotels offer discounts to seniors, students, firefighters, police, teachers and military personnel. Be sure to take your corporate ID and membership cards such as AARP and AAA with you.
- Contact the hotel directly to ask about specials, ask for a free or courtesy upgrade, or see if the hotel can beat their room rates advertised on third-party Web sites.
- Add-ons like free meals, spa credit, 2-for-1 deals, upgrades or extras like show tickets and golf outings make a good hotel deal an even better value.
5 ways to save with vacation package deals.
Vacation packages that include all the elements of a trip—air travel, lodging, airport transfers and sometimes ground transportation. These package deals are often less expensive than booking a flight and hotel separately.
If you need a well-deserved break and don't want the hassle of planning and researching airfares, hotels, destinations and travel itinerary, consider all-inclusive packages such as resort and cruise packages. There are many Web sites that offer reviews from previous travelers—check out past guest reviews before you book.
- Many rewards credit cards have special partner offers from cruise lines and resorts. You'll earn greater rewards by using your credit card to booking with the affiliate sites.
- Spend less cash—by allowing your credit card points, miles or rewards to accrue—and redeeming for credit towards an all-inclusive resort or cruise vacation.
- If you can be flexible about where and when you go, you can find some hot deals on last minute travel vacations.
- Consider a repositioning cruises. Many cruise lines move their cruises to different climates as the seasons change—from Alaska to the Caribbean in the fall, for instance. Rather than sail empty, the cruise lines offer one-way cruises at greatly discounted prices.
- At all-inclusive resorts, meals, drinks, and activities such as water sports are included in the rate. Make sure you know what is and isn't included in the price.
5 tips to get the best deals when renting a car.
- Compare credit cards to see if primary or secondary car rental insurance is included automatically when you rent a car using your credit card. When you use your credit card to rent a car, you may be able to decline costly collision damage coverage offered by the rental agency.
- If you plan to fly to your destination, renting a car off airport property could save you as much as $20 to $30 per day in surcharges and fees. By taking a cab, shuttle or bus to your destination and then renting a car, could save you as much as 15% on your rental costs.
- Shop around. Investigate the price differences among national as well as local chains.
- Read the fine print. Know if you will pay for mileage over a certain limit, if there are additional dropoff fees, or if you will be charged extra for not refueling.
- Before you book with a rental agency, see what discounts or offers are available from your credit card affiliate partners, through organizations such as AAA, and if you may be eligible for a corporate rate.
Your credit card benefits can make a good deal even better.
Find out if your credit card comes with built-in travel benefits including travel assistance, help with lost luggage or rebooking a flight, flight insurance and secondary car rental insurance. If you use your credit card for booking travel you may be also able to take advantage of special partner offers or incentives. Plus, if you have a rewards credit card, you may be able to earn even greater cash rewards, airline miles or points on all your purchases during your vacation.
Discover believes that consumers should be armed with the information they need to help them make informed financial decisions.
Interested in earning cash back rewards when you take a vacation? Find out how you can earn Cashback Bonus rewards on your everyday purchases as well as vacation travel, hotels and gas.
TIP*:Make a budget, advises the Readers Digest site, RD.com. Allow for transportation, lodging, food, activities, tips, baggage fees—and the unexpected. Be sure to use any senior, corporate, military, wholesale club or organizational discount cards.
TIP*:When looking for the bargains on lodging, consider not just hotels and motels—but hostels, campground cabins, dorms, vacation rentals, small inns and B&Bs