What are travel credit cards, and how do they work?
Travel credit cards are financial products that offer various rewards and benefits geared towards frequent travelers. They typically earn you points or miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. These rewards can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related expenses. Travel credit cards may also include perks like travel insurance, airport lounge access, and no foreign transaction fees.
How do I choose the best travel credit card for my needs?
Choosing the best travel credit card depends on your travel habits, spending patterns, and preferences. Consider factors like the type of rewards offered (points, miles, or cash back), the card’s annual fee, sign-up bonuses, earning rates, redemption options, and additional travel perks. Analyzing these features will help you find a card that aligns with your lifestyle and offers the most value.
What are the benefits of using a travel credit card over other types of credit cards?
Travel credit cards provide unique advantages for travelers, such as earning rewards specifically tailored to travel expenses. Additionally, many travel credit cards offer travel-related perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and travel insurance. Some cards also waive foreign transaction fees, making them ideal for international travelers.
What is a sign-up bonus, and how can I qualify for it?
A sign-up bonus is a promotional offer provided by the credit card issuer to entice new cardholders. To qualify for a sign-up bonus, you usually need to meet specific spending requirements within a certain timeframe after opening the account. The bonus can be in the form of points, miles, or cash back, and it’s a great way to jump-start your rewards earning.
Do travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees?
Not all travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees. Many of the top-tier travel cards waive these fees, making them ideal for international travel. However, it’s essential to read the card’s terms and conditions to confirm this before using it abroad.
How can I maximize the rewards earned with my travel credit card?
To maximize rewards, use your travel credit card for everyday expenses and large purchases. Take advantage of bonus categories and special promotions to earn more points or miles. Consider combining your travel credit card with loyalty programs to stack rewards and get even more value out of your purchases.
In the points and miles game, cards come and go with the seasons. One product’s big bonus might captivate you, but once the honeymoon’s over, it’s just gathering dust in your wallet…or worse: the sock drawer.
With a valuable welcome bonus worth over $1,200 in travel, and some unbeatable points-earning rates on major spending categories, it offers large upfront value while still allowing you to rack up a ton of rewards from every spend.
And don’t worry about the $250 annual fee. The card’s perks, combined with everything mentioned above, help it more than pay for itself year after year.
In other words, she’s a keeper.
Let’s take a deep dive into everything the American Express® Gold Card has to offer.
American Express® Gold Card
The American Express® Gold Card gives your munch more punch with an outstanding 4 points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x). For some context, if you spent $8,400 a year on eating out and groceries, which is roughly what the average American spends, you’d have enough points for a roundtrip flight to Hawaii. That’s not even factoring in the huge 60,000-point bonus worth over $1,000.
Annual Fee: $250 | Terms Apply | Rates & Fees
The welcome bonus
Let’s start with the headline act: the American Express® Gold Card comes loaded with a sensational 60,000-point bonus after spending $6,000 within six months of opening the card.
Put to use on the Amex travel portal, which allows you to book any hotel or flight with no blackout dates, 60,000 American Express Rewards Points are worth $600 in flights. That’s enough to balance out the $250 annual fee for two and a bit years if you do nothing else. But if you’re even somewhat savvy with your hard-earned points, transferring them to an airline or hotel partner could see them soar to over $1,200 in value.
If you need some help visualizing, here are just a few redemption options:
- Transfer 60,000 points to British Airways for four roundtrips from Miami to Nassau with American Airlines (worth $1,048)
- Transfer 40,000 points to KLM/Air France Flying Blue for a roundtrip from NYC to Paris ($680+)
- Transfer 50,000 points to Etihad for a one-way Business class flight to Hong Kong with American Airlines (stopovers allowed, worth $6,000+)
- Transfer 88,000 points to ANA for a roundtrip business class flight with United from the US to Europe
How the card pays for Iitself
We already mentioned that the intro bonus would offset the cost of the annual fee for over two years. But the American Express® Gold Card
isn’t going to slow down when the bonus is gone.
High-earning in big-spend categories
Simply put, this card is a points-earning powerhouse.
While other cards opt for obscure spending categories, the American Express® Gold Card
offers a way to earn a ton of points on what you likely spend the most on. With the card, you’ll earn:
- 4X points per dollar on dining at restaurants, as well as delivery and takeout in the U.S.
- 4X points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 a year, then 1x point)
There are few, if any, cards with this much potential in these categories.
Look at it this way: if you spend $300 a month on eating out and $500 a month on groceries, you’ll have a stellar 38,400 American Express Rewards points ready within 12 months. Your dinner could fly you to the Caribbean and back.
On the high end, the average family of four spend’s around $1,000 per month on groceries, so you’d be looking at 48,000 points in your account, just from that category alone!
But do the math for yourself. The grocery earnings do drop to 1X point per dollar after spending $25,000 in a single year, so if you’re a mega shopper, you will see those points capped at 100,000.
You’ll also earn 3X points per dollar on any flights booked directly with the airline or through Amextravel.com, and 1X point per dollar on everything else.
$240 a year of dining and Uber credits
The only way you’re not spending enough to validate the annual fee is if you’re living in a self-sustaining commune. But even the most devout off-gridder might be tempted to eat out or order in a few times. Luckily, the American Express® Gold Card
comes with up to $240 of Uber and dining credits.
The $120 Uber credit arrives in monthly increments of $10 UberCash deliveries. You can use the credit on Uber Eats or Uber rides in the US. The other $120 is a monthly $10 statement credit that drops into your account after eating at one of American Express’ partnered companies, like GrubHub, The Cheesecake Factory, and some Shake Shacks.
If you’ll likely use both credits, the card’s effective annual fee becomes just $10.
Other notable benefits
Of course, you can expect all the usual bells and whistles offered by a premium American Express card. With the American Express® Gold Card there are no foreign transaction fees (see rates & fees), so you’re free to take advantage of that fifth portion of pasta on your next trip to Italy, while the baggage insurance plan lets you travel safe in the knowledge you’re covered if your overpacked suitcase doesn’t arrive with you.
Other benefits include secondary car rental insurance, trip delay insurance, and 90-day purchase protection up to $10,000 a claim and $50,000 a year. (Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions, and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/
There’s also a $100 experiential credit included for hotel bookings made using American Express’ The Hotel Collection. For stays of two nights or longer at participating properties, you can use that credit to enjoy things like spa treatments and other resort experiences. The exact experience will vary depending on the hotel you choose.
The American Express® Gold Card is a tremendous credit card to add to your wallet, both for its spectacular 60,000-point intro bonus and long-term staying power. Almost anyone can earn a significant volume of points thanks to its 4X points per dollar earning rate in the popular categories of dining and grocery stores.
A few added perks like dining credits, Uber credits, and insurance help offset the $250 annual fee, even if the points earned don’t.