8 Ways to Travel (for Free!) on Credit Card Rewards
Are you maxing out the travel perks of your credit card? These eight credit card rewards can help you travel, fly and stay in style-for free.
1. Free Flight Welcome Bonuses
Canadian credit card issuers are fighting hard for your business. Many of the best travel credit cards offer juicy sign-up bonuses that can get you free return airfare anywhere in North America. Take advantage of the opportunity. Why spend $25,000 to earn enough points for a free flight when you can do so simply by getting a new credit card?
2. Credit Card Companion Vouchers
Did you know some Canadian credit card rewards programs offer an anniversary companion voucher every year, just for keeping your card activated? For as low as $99 plus taxes and fees you can get a round-trip companion voucher to any destination in continental North America. In fact, the Alaska Airlines credit card voucher gets you airfare to Hawaii for as little as $121 USD. That’s a huge savings!
3. Free Hotel Night Credit Card Welcome Bonuses
If you like staying in hotels while on holiday, you should really consider getting a hotel credit card offering a free night’s stay sign-up bonus. In fact, some hotel credit cards offer up to four free hotel nights just for getting approved and activating your credit card. Ideally, you’ll get a credit card that also waives the first year annual fee, making the offer truly free.
4. Free Hotel Night Anniversary Bonuses
One of the best retention incentives some credit card issuers offer is the free night anniversary coupon. The Canadian Chase Marriott Visa card offers cardholders an annual one-night voucher to any of its participating category 1-5 hotels, just for having the card-there are no minimum spend or stay requirements!
5. Free Checked Bags
There’s a lot more to the cost of flying than airfare alone. Airlines have introduced a la carte pricing, making everything from early check-in seat selection to snacks an additional expense. One of the most expensive add-on costs are checked bags, with fees as high as $35 each way. Some credit cards offer free checked bags as part of their suite of benefits. Just make sure you know whether it’s only offered on flights booked with points, or on all flights booked with your credit card.
6. Travel Insurance
Vacations can be expensive, and it’s absolutely essential that you protect your investment. Many credit cards offer a comprehensive suite of travel insurance products, including trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay and travel medical insurance, that can save you hundreds of dollars if you were to buy them elsewhere. Just make sure to read the policies so you know exactly what you’re covered for and where you might need to get some additional coverage tailored to your needs.
7. Foreign Transaction Fees
Whether you’re using an ATM, debit or credit card while travelling abroad, chances are you’re getting dinged 2.5% or more—and that’s on top of the foreign exchange rate. However, some Canadian credit cards subsidize foreign transaction fees either by waiving the 2.5% foreign transaction fee completely, or by offering 4% cash back on foreign purchases.
8. Free Lounge Access
You may think airport lounges are reserved for frequent fliers, but you’d be wrong. You too can access a world of luxury, relaxation, free drinks and snacks. Many of the best credit card offers provide unlimited access to airport lounges or a limited number of passes for you and your guests. Make sure you know whether your lounge passes are good on all flights or only those booked through points.
Marc Felgar is a credit card expert and insider. He is the CEO and founder of GreedyRates, which helps Canadians find the best credit card through online comparison tools, filters, credit card reviews and the latest deals and offers in the marketplace.