Booking Summer Travel? Avoid These Credit Card Mistakes

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on June 2, 2021

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These blunders could cause you to lose money or get less of it back in the course of your trip.

Summer is typically a popular time to travel, but many people skipped their vacations last year due to the pandemic. If you're planning to compensate this year by taking a nice summer trip, you're in good company. And you'll probably end up using your credit cards to reserve some of your plans. But in that regard, here are three mistakes you don't want to make in the course of booking your travel.

1. Booking flights or hotels with the wrong credit card

Using credit cards to reserve a flight or hotel room could put serious cash back in your pocket. But one thing you don't want to do is pay for those plans with the wrong card. If you do, you could miss out on extra reward points or other perks.

Say you're booking a flight and you neglect to use your travel rewards card. By going with a different card, you may lose out on benefits like free checked bags, which could result in nice savings, especially if you're traveling as a family. Before you make your plans, review all of your credit cards so you can decide which ones to use.

2. Not capitalizing on a sign-up bonus

The tricky thing about sign-up bonuses is that you have to spend a certain amount of money in a short period of time to snag them. And in some cases, that could mean spending extra just to score a little cash back, thereby not really reaping any financial benefit.

If you're planning to travel this summer, however, then you have a prime opportunity to snag a sign-up bonus -- so don't pass it up. Spend a little time researching the best sign-up bonus credit cards out there and see which one best aligns with your spending plans. Say you expect to put $3,000 on a credit card in the next few months to cover flights and a hotel for your summer trip. That means you may have an easy time qualifying for a sign-up bonus that requires you to spend that much within three months of opening your card.

3. Not cashing out reward points if money is tight

Some people who accrue credit card reward points like to save those points for a dream vacation. But if money is tight right now and you're eager to travel this summer, then you may be better off using your points now rather than keeping them stashed away.

You never know when a rewards program might change, and when your points might lose value, so redeeming them in the near term could be a good bet. Plus, there's always the option to save up for a future vacation, whereas if you're hoping to get away this summer, you really don't have a lot of time left to sock away extra funds.

A lot of people are excited to get away this summer. If you're one of them, be mindful of how you book your plans. Being strategic with your credit cards could result in serious savings and put more money back in your pocket in the course of your trip.

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