Every year, families travel across the country to come together and celebrate Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it also means a lot of people traveling at the same time, which makes it an expensive occasion.
One way to get through Thanksgiving without ruining your budget is by using the right credit cards. There are a number of great credit card benefits for travel that can help you save money on this year’s trip.
Flight and hotel rewards
Flights and hotels are usually the most expensive part of a trip and it’s even worse during Thanksgiving because high demand causes prices to shoot up. If you have a travel rewards credit card, you might be able to get your flight and/or hotels at a significant discount, if not for free. These cards build up points or air miles as you use your card throughout the year. Once you have enough, you can covert your balance into free flights and hotel stays.
Many cards also give you flights and hotels nights as a sign-up bonus. If you don’t have a card already, it might be a good time to sign up so you can get your bonus just in time for the holidays. Each card has a slightly different program and matches up with different airlines and hotel chains. We’ve reviewed the best travel credit card deals here so you can find the perfect fit for your situation.
If you have a rewards credit card that isn’t a travel card, like a cash back card, check to see if it has a rewards store. Many cards have partnerships with all kinds of other companies including hotels and airlines. The credit card companies negotiate deals such as extra miles or points to encourage cardholders to spend within the rewards store. Check to see what’s offered with your credit card because you might find a better deal than you’d find booking on your own.
Cash back on gas
Driving has gotten a lot more expensive, as gas prices have nearly tripled over the past fifteen years. If you’re driving long distances to see your family, you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time and money at the pump. A gas rewards card can help you out. Some of these cards earn about two to five percent cash back when you buy gas, which means you’re getting a discount on your purchases.
Free checked bags
Competition has forced airlines to lower the price of tickets as much as possible. Now, they try to make that money back in other ways. One way they make this money is by charging a fee for checked luggage, even your first bag. Depending on the airline, a traveler pays about $25 for their first checked bag and an even higher amount for additional bags. If you’re traveling with a family of four and you each check one bag that adds up to an extra $100 each way.
Many airline reward credit cards let you check your first bag for free when you fly with the card’s airline. Some programs also allow a free checked bag for your companion travelers so if you book all the flights together, your family/group will avoid the checked bag fee.
When you’re traveling, all kinds of things can go wrong. The airline could lose your bags, bad weather could leave you stranded, or you could get sick at the last minute and have to cancel the whole trip. Some credit cards offer travel insurance to cover some if not all these problems provided you booked your travel arrangements on the card.
Depending on your coverage, the card could pay to replace the lost luggage, give you money for food and lodging while you’re stranded, or pay back your nonrefundable deposits on hotels and flights for a trip you can’t make. If you have a card that offers this insurance, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, you can feel a little more secure as your travel.
Zero percent introductory financing
Paying for your entire Thanksgiving trip can get expensive and you might not be able to pay off everything upfront. When you pay for your trip by credit though, you’re going to be adding to your account balance. With a regular credit card, that means interest is going to get tacked on to your balance each month and that can get expensive.
If you want to buy yourself some breathing room, you could take out a credit card with a zero percent introductory APR. These cards give you between a few months to over a year where you don’t have to pay any interest on your purchases. This gives you an opportunity to go on your Thanksgiving trip now while paying it off later without the extra burden of interest.
Don’t let travel costs stress you out this Thanksgiving. By taking advantage of these credit card deals, you should be in much better shape to pay for your trip so you can relax and focus on the holidays instead.