The largest errors folks make with journey rewards bank cards

All of us make errors, however with regards to your journey bank cards, errors will be expensive.

Journey rewards playing cards allow you to earn factors and miles towards awards on airways and at resorts. They will additionally open entry to swanky airport lounges and confer advantages like reimbursement for World Entry or TSA PreCheck utility charges.

Monitoring which playing cards supply sure perks throughout which instances will be tough. Particularly for those who additionally plan to concurrently modify your spending habits to earn the most important bonuses and reap the benefits of a card’s varied different advantages and protections.

That is the place TPG’s workforce of consultants is available in — we may also help you keep away from a number of the most typical and dear journey bank card errors. First, let’s speak about welcome bonuses.

Not incomes the welcome bonus

It appears fundamental, however one of many greatest errors you can also make with a journey rewards card will not be making the most of the welcome bonus. Many people are wowed by bonuses price tens and even a whole bunch of hundreds of factors, however you sometimes have to satisfy sure standards to earn them. Listed below are a few explanation why you may not hit the mark.


The primary is that welcome bonuses sometimes require you to spend a sure sum of money in your card inside a selected timeframe, like $1,000 inside three months or $5,000 inside six months — it varies from card to card. If you happen to apply for a card (or a number of playing cards without delay) and the minimum-spending threshold is simply too excessive so that you can hit (responsibly), you threat not incomes the bonus.

We might additionally wish to level out that spending unnecessarily to bag a welcome bonus is not financially savvy if meaning ending up with a whole lot of bank card debt, so ensure you possibly can comfortably obtain the spending requirement earlier than making use of.

Miscalculating the time window during which you could hit that spending requirement might additionally trigger you to overlook out on a welcome bonus. The spending clock begins if you end up permitted, not whenever you obtain your card. So you can end up with fewer days, and even weeks, to get all these purchases in. If unsure, name your card issuer and ask for the deadline.

Associated: 10 best bank card sign-up bonuses to earn

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Not making use of on the proper time

Lacking a good welcome bonus supply since you did not apply on the proper time is one other mistake that might value you priceless perks, factors and miles.


For instance, by way of the CardMatch Device, some clients have seen elevated, focused affords as excessive as 125,000 factors on The Platinum Card® from American Categorical. (Focused supply; topic to alter at any time.) Evaluate that to the present public supply for the cardboard, which is simply 80,000 Membership Rewards® Factors after you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership.

Associated: The 12 best-elevated bank card affords to enroll in in October

Making use of for too many playing cards

As talked about above, making use of for too many playing cards in a brief time period can imply that you simply miss hitting the minimal spending necessities for welcome bonuses. This will likely current a problem with Chase as it will possibly additionally exclude you from being eligible for a number of the issuer’s greatest bank cards.

Associated: Finest journey rewards playing cards of 2020

That is due to Chase’s so-called 5/24 rule. Chase will mechanically deny most purposes for sure bank cards in case you have opened greater than 5 new bank card accounts with any issuer, within the previous 24-month interval. Not each Chase card is topic to this rule, however premium merchandise just like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ink Enterprise Most popular Credit score Card, Southwest Fast Rewards Premier Credit score Card and United Explorer Card are.

To test what number of accounts you’ve got opened lately, you possibly can create a free account with Experian or Credit score Karma and monitor your accounts’ age.

Redeeming for low-value rewards

We publish factors valuations on TPG each month to offer you a tough concept of how a lot worth it is best to get from particular sorts of factors and miles at any given time primarily based on varied components, together with award availability, switch choices and extra.

Sadly, far too many shoppers redeem their hard-earned factors at below-average values for issues like merchandise or cash-back propositions. Bank cards, airways and resorts are likely to make it straightforward to money in your factors for low-value gadgets or redemptions for a motive: It is cheaper for them.


Keep in mind, even for those who’re interested by incomes cash-back factors at a hard and fast charge, not all factors are created equal, and the identical goes for redemptions. As an example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve helps you to redeem your Final Rewards at a charge of 1.5 cents apiece for journey purchases however just one cent every for merchandise redemptions.

Carrying a stability

Talking of factors valuations, even essentially the most priceless factors — ones which you can switch to resorts or airways for in any other case high-priced rewards — should not more likely to be price anyplace close to the rate of interest you will be paying on balances that you simply carry. So earlier than you employ a points-earning card with a excessive rate of interest to make huge purchases that you simply may not be capable of repay shortly, think about using a card with a low (or no) APR as a substitute.

Associated: Listed below are 3 dependable methods to repay bank card debt

Lacking out on switch bonuses

Although they’re arduous to foretell and provided just for restricted instances, do not miss out on the possibility to maximise your factors with switch bonuses. Present switch bonuses embody 25% bonus factors when transferring Chase Final Rewards to Air France-KLM Flying Blue and 25% bonus factors when transferring Citi ThankYou factors to Avianca LifeMiles.

Letting factors expire

At this level, there’s merely no motive your factors or miles ought to expire. Most airline and lodge loyalty applications nonetheless implement expiration insurance policies, however many are lax sufficient that it’s good to earn only a single level or mile each 18-36 months, together with miles you earn with bank card spending.

The much less apparent manner that you simply would possibly lose an entire haul of factors or miles, or their capacity to switch to journey companions, is for those who downgrade or shut a specific account and don’t switch the factors first.

First, as an instance you downgrade from a Chase Sapphire Most popular Card to a Chase Freedom Limitless. With the Sapphire Most popular, your factors would switch to the Final Rewards program’s journey companions, together with British Airways, United, Hyatt, and Marriott. With simply the Freedom Limitless, these factors are solely good for fixed-value redemptions of 1 cent apiece.

Associated: Tips on how to maintain your factors and miles from expiring

Not maximizing class bonuses

The most effective advantages any journey rewards bank card can supply is incomes a number of factors or miles per greenback in varied spending classes. These can embody airfares or lodge purchases with a cobranded card just like the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Categorical Card or the World of Hyatt Credit score Card. However many bank cards additionally supply incomes bonuses on broader classes resembling journey, eating, leisure, groceries and gasoline.


With the number of bank cards on the market and the bonus-earning alternatives they afford, try to be incomes a number of factors per greenback on practically each buy. Not doing so is principally leaving factors, and thus enormous potential worth, on the desk.

Associated: A whole information to the perfect journey bank cards damaged down by bonus class

Paying a excessive annual payment for perks you are not really utilizing

The annual charges on journey rewards bank cards vary from no annual charges by any means, just like the Chase Freedom Limitless, to charging a number of hundred {dollars} — even a number of thousand {dollars}, just like the Amex Centurion (Black) Card. The knowledge for the Amex Centurion card has been collected independently by The Factors Man. The cardboard particulars on this web page haven’t been reviewed or supplied by the cardboard issuer.

Many prime playing cards have annual charges of round $95, such because the Chase Sapphire Most popular Card, Capital One Enterprise Rewards Credit score Card (see charges and costs), and United Explorer Card. Leveraging perks like free checked baggage, automated lodge elite credit score, or a free anniversary night time makes it straightforward to compensate for a $95 annual payment; for those who really use them, that’s.


Likewise, some improbable premium journey rewards playing cards cost increased annual charges that may be properly price it — however provided that you maximize their advantages. As an example, playing cards that cost $550 a 12 months, just like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or $695 a 12 months for the Amex Platinum (see charges and costs), supply a variety of value-added advantages that may assist offset their annual charges. These two, specifically, embody World Entry or TSA PreCheck utility payment reimbursements price as much as $100. Additionally they supply annual journey credit for varied purchases price between $200-$300 per 12 months and get cardholders into varied Precedence Go lounges. However for those who’re not utilizing these advantages, it is not price paying that prime annual payment.

Associated: Information to bank card annual charges

Not hitting spending threshold bonuses

Many journey rewards bank cards supply cardmember anniversary perks, like free nights at resorts or companion journey tickets, and the chance to earn further advantages by hitting sure spending thresholds annually.

As an example, the World of Hyatt Credit score Card confers a free night time every anniversary at a Class 1-4 property and an extra Class 1-4 free night time for hitting $15,000 in spend within the cardmember 12 months.


Some airline playing cards, such because the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Categorical Card, supply the possibility to earn elite-qualifying miles by hitting (moderately excessive) spending thresholds that might enhance you to the following degree of elite standing.

It does not make sense to spend cash on belongings you would not in any other case buy to hit these thresholds, however it is best to maximize the bonuses your bank card affords if they’re inside your regular expenditures.

Associated: Finest journey bank cards

Paying overseas transaction charges

Many issuers have realized that individuals who need journey rewards bank cards really, , journey. That features journeys overseas. Issuers as soon as levied 2-3% additional on purchases made overseas, however many bank cards now cost no overseas transaction charges for worldwide buyers. Not all playing cards waive these fees, nonetheless. Notable exceptions embody the Chase Freedom Limitless (3%). Earlier than you journey internationally and even make a purchase order from a overseas firm with out leaving the U.S., learn your card’s pricing phrases to see whether or not you may be dinged with additional charges.

Associated: Finest playing cards with no overseas transaction charges in 2021

Backside Line

Rewards bank cards will be highly effective instruments that can assist you maximize your journey technique, however provided that you possibly can leverage advantages like class, switch and spending bonuses, together with payment waivers, lounge entry and extra. Be certain you might be getting sufficient worth out of your journey bank cards to justify their annual charges and that the phrases and circumstances of every so you aren’t hit with charges and different penalties, which could erase the worth of any factors you earn. That manner, you will attain your journey targets quicker and get that rather more worth out of your bank cards.

Extra reporting by Liz Hund.

For charges and costs of the Amex Platinum Card, please click on right here.

For charges and costs of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex, please click on right here.

For charges and costs of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex, please click on right here.

For charges and costs of the Capital One Enterprise Rewards, please click on right here.

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