With everything going on in the world right now and travel at a virtual standstill, a lot of people probably feel like travel credit cards are nothing more than a waste of unrecycled space in their wallet.
But that is not necessarily the case.
In this article, I’ll give you five reasons why travel credit cards are not a waste even in the midst of a global pandemic that has utterly decimated travel.
- Banks are temporarily adding relevant benefits
Many of the large credit card issuers have made temporary changes to their travel cards in order to make them better suited for these strange times.
Some popular cards are now offering special bonuses on grocery store spend. For example, Amex Marriott Bonvoy credit cards will now earn 6X points on U.S. supermarkets through the end of July on up to $7,500 in eligible purchases. That’s an additional 4X on top of what you already would earn.
American Express has also provided $20 monthly cell phone rebates along with $20 monthly streaming rebates to Platinum Card members through the end of this year. That’s over $200 of easy savings just by paying for services you probably already use.
And a lot of premium cards that have travel credits have expanded the eligible purchases for those credits so that they can be used on more relevant expenses. For example, the Citibank Prestige $250 travel credit can now be used on dining establishments.
So not only are some of the prior benefits easier to use but there are even new benefits that make these travel cards more lucrative.
- Annual fees are being lowered
Since so many good travel cards have high annual fees a lot of people will be tempted to cancel their cards right now but that may not be the best move.
Some annual fees are being temporarily lowered and credits are being issued to offset the annual fees for other cards. If you are renewing your Chase Sapphire Reserve from July 1 through the end of the year, your annual fee will be lowered by $100, from $550 to $450.
And if you hold an American Express travel card like a co-branded Delta credit card, you should hit up Amex about receiving a statement credit for renewing your card since those are getting handed out like candy.
So as tempting as it might be to close out or downgrade your travel card, be sure to check about ways to get around the annual fee.
- Extensions galore
A lot of the best credit cards for hotel stays come with free nights that usually expire within one year of being issued. But right now, many of the free nights have been extended and users can use them for an additional year.
Hilton even decided to allow its free weekend night certificates to be usable on weekdays which dramatically increases their value.
For hotel programs like Marriott, that still have point expiration, they are extending all expiring points until February 2021 at which time points will begin to expire 24 months after your last activity.
So if you were worried about losing out on some of the most valuable benefits of your co-branded hotel cards, you should still have plenty of time to take advantage of your perks next year when things are hopefully settling down.
- Flexible change and cancellation policies
Right now many airlines and hotels have very flexible cancellation policies.
For example, Hilton states:
“Any individual reservations booked on and between March 12 and August 31, 2020, for any future arrival date can be changed or cancelled at no charge, up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival day.”
And some hotels like IHG have even temporarily done away with their non-refundable rates.
Airlines each have their own unique terms and conditions but you will be able to change many of your flights without a change fee right now with several airlines. (Just pay attention to the deadlines for booking because some are coming up soon.)
So even if you were on the fence about a potential trip, you could still book it knowing that you could always change or cancel it, possibly without even paying any type of fee.
- Purchase protections are still useful
Many of the best travel rewards credit cards come with solid purchase protections. For example, the Sapphire Reserve will reimburse you for purchases that are lost or stolen up to $10,000.
Many other cards will add an additional year to the manufacturer’s warranty for various products.
And finally, you can get return protection which will reimburse you for certain purchases that are not returnable.
So as you can see, travel credit cards can still play a valuable role in your daily spending.
Wrapping it all up, when it comes to traveling right now you obviously need to still take a lot of precautions and weigh the risks involved before venturing out.
But even if you don’t have immediate plans to travel, it can still make sense to hold onto your travel cards for now because you can take advantage of some benefits while riding this storm out.