"Saving" for a Family Trip

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"Saving" for a Family Trip

Postby smflorence » Thu Sep 10, 2015 9:27 am

I would like to apply for a Travel/Rewards card to maximize my rewards to use for a future family trip. This trip is unplanned.

I have good/excellent credit.

I pretty much put all purchases on a credit card and pay it off monthly. Although I do not charge a very large amount annually.

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Re: "Saving" for a Family Trip

Postby Whatamuji » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:40 am

Are you looking to use it for hotel stays or airfare? What hotels or airlines do you frequent? What cards do you already have? Would you be interested in a cashback card since you say you don't spend much?
Kohls: $300, Discover IT: $1.8k, Capital One Quicksilver: $2k, Amazon Store Card: $2.2k, Chase Freedom Unlimited: 3.2k, AMEX HHonors 5k

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Re: "Saving" for a Family Trip

Postby kdm31091 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:09 am

If your spend is fairly low, generally the "travel" cards -- Amex MR cards, Chase UR, etc -- aren't going to benefit you much.

You can select a solid cash back card, save up the cash, and there you go -- use it for the trip. While the point junkies argue that you cannot possibly get the same value out of cash, and that is true to a degree, it's a reliable option. Point values can and do change. And getting the "best value" out of points requires flexible dates and times, which not everyone is able to have. Really, points shine the most for first class international travel. If we are talking about a domestic vacation or two a year, it is very unlikely any of these systems will be worthwhile for you. (And to me, they're just a headache, but that's just my opinion).

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Re: "Saving" for a Family Trip

Postby takeshi » Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:47 am

+1 Wanting to travel doesn't necessarily mean that a travel card is a best fit. It really all depends on spend volume and how one can redeem. For lower amounts of spend a cash back card is generally a better fit.

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Re: "Saving" for a Family Trip

Postby Vattené » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:09 am

If you're still looking for a card, consider the Amex EveryDay. I was/am in a very similar situation as you and that is what I ended up applying for, but the previous posters raise very good points.

If you know you can be loyal to an airline or hotel company, a cobranded card could be a good option. I wanted a general purpose "travel" card and had no brand loyalty. Chase's UR or Amex's MR points programs may be better options, but you need to look at their partners and be reasonably confident you can make use of them. I knew I wouldn't be taking a trip every year but wanted to "save up" points over the longer term. The EveryDay let me accumulate MR points with no annual fee to worry about offsetting. Just about any travel card will have an annual fee, and when you're going over a year without redeeming points making the overall value of the card positive (not to mention higher than cash back alternatives) will be harder. I'm aware the program is always at risk of changing. Points can be devalued and travel partners can even be eliminated. I went in knowing the worst-case scenario is I wouldn't be able to transfer to a partner when I was ready, but I could take a hit on redemption value and just cash out if need be.

It's true that for lower levels of spending, it may be best to just use a cash back card and apply the rewards to your travel expenses. A Citi Double Cash card will earn a reliable 2% back; while you CAN earn a higher return on rewards by redeeming travel points, there are a lot of restrictions. The certainty and simplicity of a cash back card might make it preferable. Personally, if I were you and decided a cash back card was my best option, I would go for either the Discover It or Discover Miles (which is branded as a travel card but is really more like the Capital One Quicksilver). The introductory bonus is simply unbeatable, even for lower spenders. Instead of getting $X back for spending $Y within Z months, all the cash back you earn in the first year is doubled at your 1-year anniversary. Since you're planning on "saving up" rewards anyway, the delay shouldn't be an issue. Citi's Double Cash (which has no introductory bonus) may give 2% regularly, but with a Discover it you'd get 2% on everything and 10% on category spending for an entire year.

Ultimately, you'll have to evaluate whether a true travel card is worth the hassle and risk of changing redemption options. A cash back card may be better, but it depends on your personal preferences.
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