If you find yourself looking for deals and offers before every vacation, getting a travel-centric credit card could be the right step for you. With the right travel card, you can save a substantial amount on flight tickets and hotel stays, among several other benefits.
These credit cards specifically cater to a variety of travel-related expenses, like hotel and flight bookings. You can earn reward points or air miles and redeem them for free flight tickets or hotel stays. Some of the travel credit cards also offer direct discounts on travel portals or give complimentary memberships to hotel and airline loyalty programmes.
If you are wondering whether a travel credit card would be helpful for you, here are a few ways you can save using a travel card.
Maximise savings with co-branded travel credit cards
A number of travel credit cards are offered in collaboration with popular airlines or travel portals, which could be beneficial for loyal customers of the associated brand. With such cards, you can earn accelerated rewards and redeem them for better value.
Most of these cards would also come with a complimentary membership to the loyalty programme of the associated brand, which could give you benefits like priority check-in, an increased check-in baggage allowance, higher reward earnings, etc.
Popular airlines like Vistara, Air India, SpiceJet, Etihad, Indigo, and Emirates offer co-branded credit cards with leading issuers. Such airline co-branded cards hold great value for frequent travellers who are loyal to an airline. For example, if you prefer Vistara over other airlines, you can opt for Axis Bank Vistara Platinum, Vistara Signature, or Vistara Infinite as per your airline class preference -- Economy, Premium Economy, or Business.
Through these cards, you can get up to four free flight tickets in a year by reaching yearly spending milestones. You can also find cards that offer complimentary membership to hotel loyalty programmes such as Marriott Bonvoy, Taj Epicure, or Trident Privilege. As a member, you can get complimentary stays or direct discounts at these hotel chains.
However, if you are not loyal to an airline or a hotel chain, you could choose cards co-branded with popular travel portals like MakeMyTrip, EaseMyTrip, or Yatra.
Redeem rewards for travel-centric benefits
While many users find reward points a hassle, travel credit cards could help you save a significant amount through rewards or air miles. The number of points that you earn on each transaction may seem low, but with a high redemption ratio across travel categories, their value proposition can be greater.
For example, if you have 1,000 reward points and the redemption ratio for travel is 1:1 compared to the general redemption ratio of 2:1, you will be able to save Rs 1,000 on your travel spends, but if you redeem it across other categories, you would be able to get only Rs 500.
Travel credit cards also allow you to transfer reward points to air miles or hotel loyalty points, which could again give better value than regular credit cards.
Save more with additional perks
Individuals who travel often can appreciate the additional privileges that travel credit cards offer. These include complimentary airport lounge access, VIP meet-and-greet service at airports, membership in loyalty programmes, travel insurance, etc.
With free lounge access, for instance, long layovers can be less of a hassle. Similarly, membership in a hotel loyalty programme could give you free room upgrades, early check-in, free breakfast, and more. Travel insurance is also quite helpful in case of unforeseen mishaps such as loss of check-in baggage, loss of important travel documents, etc.
Start strong with welcome benefits; spend more to reach milestones
Travel credit cards mostly come with valuable welcome bonuses, such as complimentary flight tickets, bonus reward points, or discount vouchers from a travel brand. Cardholders can also get substantial value from reaching spend milestones.
For example, Axis Vistara Signature Credit Card offers one premium economy ticket as a welcome bonus and one premium economy ticket each on reaching annual spending milestones of Rs 1.5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh, Rs 4.5 lakh, and Rs 9 lakh.
Hence, a user who spends Rs 9 lakh in a year will be able to get five free tickets in the first year of card membership, which could save him a sizable amount on flight tickets.
While being extremely beneficial for frequent travellers, travel credit cards would yield the highest value if you chose the one that matches your travel needs. Moreover, as benefits on credit cards come in various forms, getting maximum value out of your travel card would require careful planning.
The key to maximising value is understanding the features and benefits of your travel card and using them smartly. Take note of important terms and conditions, such as reward point expiry and blackout dates, to make the most of your travel card.