Travel Rewards was a topic that seemed so elusive and complicated to me for so many years. Now I can’t imagine what our trips would look like without it. I was anti-credit card before I learned the rules to travel rewards. Today I have 6 different credit cards in my wallet at any given time, and because my husband and I are in 2-player mode, he also has 3-4 in his wallet. We do this all with a lens toward tax optimization, maintaining our budget (actually decreasing our travel budget) and strong financial position and credit score.
There are literally hundreds of resources that can guide you through travel rewards, however when you many of the tips and strategies are suited for solo/couples travel. Things get a little more complicated when you add a family to the mix, which is why I invited Melissa Lagerquist to Ordinary Sherpa today.
Melissa is a freelance writer, travel hacker, cruise expert, military spouse, and mom of two boys. She has been playing the travel hacking game for over a decade and has substantial knowledge in the nuances to travel rewards, significant experience and insights for families wherever you are in your travel rewards journey.
To Connect with Melissa Lagerquist:
- Travel rewards through credits cards actually make your credit score go up. A large factor in your credit score is credit utilization. If you open credit cards but pay the cards in full each month you will have a low credit utilization rate and improve your credit score. Travel Rewards should only be considered if you are able to pay the balance in full every month.
- Have a plan to meet the minimum spend requirements before you apply for the card. Also, make sure to know the date that the minimum spend needs to be met by.
- Credit Card companies have their own lingo and unwritten rules, such as Chase, which is known as the 5/24 rule which implies you can only open 5 credit cards in a 24 month period. Any credit card or authorized user counts towards the 5.
- If you have a specific trip in mind, you will want to create a strategy to account for all the aspects of your trip including airfare, accommodations and ground transportation.
- The best redemption rate is the one that works best for your family!
- Start with a little research to frame your questions, then join FB groups or take free online courses (like Choose FI travel rewards course). There are a lot of resources available and generally speaking, people want to help.
- A strategy for family travel rewards is to keep a combination of flexible travel rewards points (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Points, or Citi Thankyou points) and a co-branded airline or hotel rewards. This will allow you to mix, match, and transfer points if needed.
- Cards with annual fees can offer high value and be worth maintaining. For example many of these cards offer a $200-$300 travel credit, free airport lounge access, travel insurance, and TSA PreCheck and Global Entry to name a few. These are all important perks to consider when traveling as a family.
- Travel eraser cards allow you to erase charges codes as travel. These are common for non-branded travel experiences such as UnderCover tourist tickets to Disney, RV rentals, or AirBNB stays.
- Cruises allow for local adventures at the ports of call while reducing the overall planning while allowing accommodations for every member of your family. This allows kids a sense of independence allowing kids to choose what they want to do, but not spending all the time together as a family.
- Choose FI Free Travel Rewards course: Your shortcut to traveling better using less money with travel rewards. https://travel.choosefi.com
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