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What’s the best credit card for travel perks?

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MINNEAPOLIS — The summer travel season is now in full swing. And while the average cost of a flight is down compared to last year, there are still ways to save.

So, what’s the best credit card for travel perks? Good Question.

More swipes equal more flights when your credit card rewards you for spending. 

“I have the United Adventure Card,” said Katie Converse as she walked through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“The card I use is a Chase Sapphire Card,” added traveler Luke Bonney.

“The first one I got was called Capitol One Rewards,” said Rebecca Hermos, who was traveling with her daughter, Rosalie.

All three agree that cashing in your miles and points feels great, especially if it lands them a free plane ticket.

The options for picking plastic that pays off feel endless, so what’s best? Is it a card that offers travel miles? What about points? Getting cashback is also tempting.

“My weakness is this (card) also has that thing where you can delete purchases,” said Hermos about her cashback option that eliminates purchases from her bill.

First tip: Know the difference between an airline credit card and a travel credit card.

An airline credit card lets you accrue miles to earn a free flight. They also include perks for faster boarding, free checked bags and the chance to earn “elite” status for how often you use the airline. The catch is you are tied to that specific airline.

“Sometimes they have a spending limit that if you achieve you get extra miles,” said Converse of her United Airlines card.

Travel credit cards are more flexible with your rewards.

You get points, which can converted to get tickets to multiple airlines, as well as hotels and even cashback.

“You’re not boxed in,” said Hermos. “What if Delta doesn’t fly where you want when you want?”

So, which is the better choice? It depends on your travel and spending habits. 

According to The Points Guy, airline credit cards are great if you fly often and if your local airport is a hub for that airline. Converse has a United Airlines card, in part, because Denver International Airport is a United hub.

If you fly less frequently and like to keep your options open for multiple airlines, as well as hotel stays, travel credit cards might be best.

“I know people who have a Southwest card and a United card and a Delta card,” Converse said.

Why is it a good idea to only have one or just a few credit cards with rewards?

“I rack up more rewards and that way I’m not spread too thin,” said Converse. 

She makes a good point. By limiting the number of perks credit cards, owners have a chance to maximize the rewards. It also puts them on a path to achieving a higher status with certain airlines.

Another tip to remember is to use the points quickly as they can lose value over time. That’s why some financial experts say cashback is the most valuable option, especially when used immediately.

Lastly, pay your credit card balance each month in full. If not, the interest rate on your bill could lead to charges that outweigh the card’s perks.

Some cards carry a high annual fee pushing $500 or more. Keep that in mind when choosing a card and whether your usage of the benefits offsets those initial costs. 

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