Updated July 28, 2019

3 Mistakes People Make with Their Travel Credit Card

Read more about Travel Rewards

A travel credit card can be your next BFF (a loyal, rewarding one) or it can become an frenemy, by making you feel guilty that you're not using all of its benefits. There are many mistakes you can make along the way — starting with choosing one that isn't right for you — that can be an annoyance or even costly.

Take a look at these blunders and do your best to steer clear of them. Then you'll be better able to rack up a significant number of rewards and better manage your expenses and savings

Not Flexible Enough

If you're leaning toward signing up for a card that restricts you to one airline or hotel chain, consider what else is out there first.

The one-airline strategy can work for some people, say, if you live in an area where there's not many airlines to choose from, you're dead-set on a particular destination with a particular airline (that's why some people like Hawaiian Airlines), or you have a favorite airline that you always stick with no matter what. You can certainly rack up miles by focusing on one brand that way but you may be restricting yourself.

Why this is a mistake: You may be limiting the options you will have when you're ready to redeem your miles or points. And your needs may change over time, making the card not as useful (and possibly hurtful if it has an annual fee).

Consider doing this instead: Airline and hotel credit cards can be a great fit; we're just saying that you need to factor in other travel credit cards before you make your decision on your next card.

Afraid of an annual fee.

We totally get it: Some people will do anything to not have to pay an annual fee (we even have a page for them right here so they can completely avoid it). But with travel cards, it more often than not comes with the territory and you may find — when you dig into the details — that it will actually be worth it.

Why this is a mistake: You could be passing up a card that is the perfect fit for you and that you easily could afford (if the card turns into your go-to card and you use it pretty frequently). Cards with annual fees tend to offer much more lucrative rewards in return for the cost.

Consider this instead: Does a $95 annual fee scare you? If so, this card is not for you. Otherwise, keep reading…

Why most people are afraid of an annual fee:

What is the reason so many of us are afraid of annual fees, yet we are jealous when we see our neighbors taking vacation after vacation? The reason is clear. Most people do not take advantage of lucrative credit card deals simply because they never looked into it.

And the most lucrative credit card promotions have annual fees — that way you have skin in the game.

Foreign Transaction Fees

This is an easy mistake. Many cards will charge a percentage of every purchase you make when you go outside the United States. If you're a regular overseas traveler, you need to have at least one card in your wallet that won't charge you this fee.

Why this is a mistake: Why pay an extra fee if you don't have to?

Consider making a change: Fold into your credit card decision these cards with no foreign transaction fee.

After making sure you're financially prepared for a vacation, you'll need to decide where you want to go! This article from Family Travels on a Budget offers the ultimate packing list for vacationers taking a cruise.

What's the Catch?

Rewards credit card tend to have higher interest rates and are best for people who tend to pay off their balance each month. Otherwise, the interest charges will bury you in debt.

Do you pay only part of your credit card balance each month?

Look, we understand. Sometimes you cannot pay off your entire balance each month.

But that does not mean you should pay a fortune in interest charges.

Instead, look for a low interest credit card.

PS: Don't make the same mistakes that travel enthusiasts before you have made. Will you change your ways? Make your next credit card choice a good one, and before you know it, you'll have a stockpile of rewards you can use toward your next trip.

Bon voyage!

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Cruises offer a combination of comfort and adventure that few vacations can match. If a cruise is on your travel bucket list, check out these top tips designed to make your trip as smooth as possible.

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