Ask just about anybody about their dream trip and you’ll likely get a big smile and serious details on what that vacation would look like. When you ask why the trip hasn’t become a reality yet, you’re likely to hear that they can’t afford it.
If you think that breaking the bank is holding you back from a safari adventure in Kenya, or a cruise to the tranquil islands in French Polynesia (er-hem, like Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea)—you just might want to think again.
Working hard to save money for a dream vacation isn’t always easy.
But with some helpful tips about travel rewards credit cards from Lee Abbamonte, you can learn how to travel the world for less and save money. Abbamonte is the youngest person to travel to every country including treks to the North and South Poles.
The Bank of America also recommend these tips.
Travel by Interests
Travel based on your interests is an easy way to plan a vacation—perhaps you like adventure travel or cycling and bike tours. Being inspired to plan a trip around your passions can help you prioritize your experience versus the cost.
When I worked in finance, I noticed a lot of my colleagues made excuses about why they couldn’t travel. I’ve found that booking travel based on your personal interests can help you stay motivated to follow through actually taking the trip. For example, I love watching and playing sports, so I often use that as a reason to travel to various countries.
An area of interest that you might be passionate about is food and wine travel. A recent Bank of America survey revealed that twenty-three percent of Americans have planned a trip based on culinary experiences. If culinary travel is your thing, many cultures offer a taste of their local cuisine with a bit of culture and history thrown in.
I love attending local food festivals and cultural celebrations,” Abbamonte said. “Just one day at a food or wine festival can give you a great understanding of an area’s culture and people, which is quite literally great ‘food for thought.
Have a Strategy for Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Earning reward points through travel is a big deal these days. Roughly sixty-five percent of Americans have a rewards credit card, according to the same Bank of America survey. But when it comes to redeeming points, five percent of respondents admit to having no strategy to maximize their points.
Abbamonte recommends that people should use a credit card that:
- Rewards all their purchases
- Offers extra points where you spend most
- Has no blackout dates (ie., use the card whenever you want regardless of dates)
Since traveling and eating out are easily my top two expenses, the Premium Rewards credit card from Bank of America works perfectly for my lifestyle,” Abbamonte said. “I earn two points for every dollar I spend on travel and dining – which works out great to maximize my rewards earnings, plus I earn 1 1/2 points on all of my other purchases.
Think of it this way—every time you use your travel rewards credit card, you are earning points for your next trip. Likewise, using a rewards credit card to buy coffee in the morning can help you earn points toward an airline ticket.
Have a Plan But Be Flexible
When you plan out your itinerary in detail, you can get the most out of your travel experience. And, consider setting aside extra time for exploring off-the-beaten-path attractions too. But, no matter how much pre-planning is involved, there are always situations where you’ll stumble across unexpected surprises.
I often visit multiple countries in one trip,” Abbamonte said. “While I usually know where I want to travel, I don’t always buy my flights between countries beforehand. You may want to adjust how you planned to allocate your time once you’re on a trip. Maybe you fall in love with a bed and breakfast, and just can’t part ways to catch your flight out of town. Travel shouldn’t be a mad dash from destination to destination. It’s a time to truly live your best life in a new place.
Maximize Your Rewards
In 2017, the Bank of America issued over fifty million debit and credit cards. Use a travel rewards credit card that rewards you when you shop, and then redeem the points to pay for airline tickets and hotels.
On average, here’s a breakdown on how consumers used their credit cards in 2017:
- $1,771 at restaurants
- $1,385 on gas
- $1,347 on airlines
- $1,050 on hotels
Photo: Getty Image
Many financial institutions offer banking rewards programs as a way to earn bonus points on your credit card rewards. Visit your preferred bank for more information or search online for what benefits and incentives you can take advantage of as a loyal customer.
If you qualify for a banking rewards program, you can really max out on your credit card rewards, Abbamonte said. For example, Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients receive up to a 75 percent bonus on their credit card rewards – which means you could earn up to 3 1/2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases with the Premium Rewards credit card.
A good option for maximizing rewards involves layering your rewards programs together—airline, hotel, banking, and credit card.
As an example, Abbamonte includes his frequent flier and hotel loyalty program membership information when booking hotels and airline tickets. Therefore, this allows him to earn benefits from other loyalty programs on top of the points he earns with his card.
Visit bankofamerica.com/getmorerewards for more ways to save on travel.
Do you have a travel rewards credit card that you use for travel and hotels?