4 Features to Look for in a Travel Card

by Christy Bieber | Published on Oct. 25, 2021

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A woman sitting in a sunny plaza next to her suitcase while she looks something up on her tablet and holds her credit card.

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Make sure your card has these key features.

Travel credit cards are great for frequent jet-setters. But with so many card options available from a wide variety of card issuers, it's crucial to find the one that best meets your needs -- and provides the best perks and benefits.

When you're deciding which travel credit card is right for you, look out for these important features.

1. A generous sign-up bonus

When you sign up for a new card, you may as well get rewarded for it -- especially since there is a lot of competition among creditors.

Many travel credit cards provide you with enough rewards for free airline tickets or hotel stays when you become a new cardmember and fulfill spending requirements within the first months. Since there are so many good sign-up bonus options out there, don't settle for a card that doesn't offer this.

2. No foreign transaction fees

If you're a traveler who'll be heading outside of the continental United States at some point in your journeys, look for a credit card that doesn't charge you extra for purchases made abroad.

There's no reason to pay extra foreign transaction fees -- especially the common 3% to 4% extra -- for your spending when there are cards that don't impose this added cost.

3. Bonus rewards options

Frequent jet-setters will want a card with bonus rewards for booking airlines or hotels or for incurring other travel costs. So look for a travel card that rewards the kind of travel-related spending you do the most. If you're a road-tripper who rarely flies, you're likely to want a different card than someone who is at the airport every month.

Find a rewards program you're excited about -- it does you little good to earn rewards if there's nothing you want to redeem them for.

4. Special airline or hotel perks

Finally, consider a travel card that offers benefits such as airline lounge access, free companion tickets, free checked bags, early hotel check-in, or free nights or room upgrades at hotels.

These perks can make your trips more enjoyable and ensure you get more value from your travel card. If you travel often, it may be worth paying an annual fee to get these cardholder benefits. Why pay to check bags or buy food at the airport when you could get those perks for free while relaxing in a comfortable lounge?

If you consider these four key features and your travel habits when comparing credit cards, you can find the right travel credit card for your needs. There are a wealth of options to choose from, so don't settle for a card that falls short.

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