From long weekends, to family getaways and exotic vacations, travelling abounds this time of year.
While not high on anyone’s travel priority list, here are 7 strategies to get the most from your credit cards while on the road.
Whether you’re looking for savings, convenience, luxury or safety, these tips are packed with advice on how to exploit your credit cards so you can travel in style without breaking a sweat or the bank.
Check For Perks
Not all Canadian credit cards offer the same perks. Before you hit the road, check which perks your credit card offers. Some offer money saving benefits like annual travel credits, free airport parking, free checked bags, discounted car rental, annual companion flight tickets, annual free hotel rooms, and additional savings when booking through your credit card’s travel agency. Other Canadian travel credit cards offer convenience benefits like free lounge access, priority check-in, concierge services, and late check-out.
Look For Protection
Credit cards can act like an all in one travel insurance agency, with all the travel insurance you’ll ever need for free. Before you buy any supplemental travel insurance, check your current credit cards to make sure you’re not already covered. Some cards will come with free travel medical, trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, lost baggage, and car rental insurance.
Familiarize yourself with your protections, terms and exclusions. Buy additional insurance only where you need it.
Max Credit Card Rewards
Vacations are often one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make in any given year. Make sure to exploit the opportunity to earn as many rewards points, miles or cashback as you can by using the right credit card.
For example, if you’re going to stay at a Marriott hotel, you may want to use the Marriott Premier Visa card to book your reservation so you can earn 5 points per dollar spent. Likewise, if you’re flying Air Canada, you might want to use your Aeroplan loyalty card, plus one of the many Aeroplan credit cards to earn 2 miles per dollar spent.
If you’re driving, don’t forget about Canadian credit cards that offer bonus points at the pump to help defray the costs of gas. You can get a new no-fee cash back credit card that offers a 4% rebate at the pump for the first 90 days!
Avoid Foreign Exchange Fees
When travelling out of country, it’s always a good idea to bring some foreign cash with you for those locations that don’t take credit cards. However, getting a Canadian credit card without any foreign transaction fees may be the cheapest option for you to convert your Canadian dollars to a foreign currency. You’ll get the foreign exchange rate charged by Visa or MasterCard, which is close to the market spot rate, with no additional fees charged by your credit card.
You can check out several Canadian credit cards with no foreign transaction fees available on the market right now.
Consolidate Due Dates
Depending on how long you’re away, juggling multiple credit card statement due dates can be a hassle. Although with mobile banking and automatic payments it’s easier now than ever, did you know that credit card statement due dates are not fixed in stone?
You can call your credit card company and ask them to move your credit card statement due dates by changing billing cycles. No all credit card companies will have the same billing cycle dates, but you will have a 21 day grace period following your billing cycle. If you line up all of your cards to have their billing cycle close at the beginning of the month, instead of the middle, you can then pay them all at the same time towards the end of the same month.
Bring More Than One Credit Card
Bring more than one credit card with you on vacation, and don’t keep them in the same place. If you keep your primary card with you in your wallet, keep another card in your safe back in the hotel or in your spouses wallet. Whether your primary card gets lost, stolen or declined by your credit card company, it’s always smart to have a back-up on hand.
Avoid Foreign ATM’s
While ATM’s can certainly be convenient when travelling, you may end-up getting charged an arm and a leg if you withdraw cash from an ATM with your debit card.
Many Canadian credit and debit cards charge between $5 to $7.50 for withdrawals from foreign ATM’s. In addition, you may get charged ANOTHER $2 to $3 by the ATM operator itself. That means you cold get charged as much as $10, just to withdraw your own money! Do it as a cash advance on your credit card and you’ll start paying interest right away as well!