When planning your trip home for the holidays, pay attention to the credit card you use to book.
Using a rewards credit card is one of the best things you can do to save money on your holiday trip home, according to frequent traveler Michael Foguth, founder of Foguth Financial Group.
Foguth uses an American Express Platinum Card. One of the card’s perks is the ability to use reward points to pay for part of your flight and hotel. Plus, you earn five points for every dollar spent booking flights. (Before booking, read all about fees, bringing pets, bumping and more in our airline-by-airline guide.)
“Additionally, you can book the tickets and then turn around and use the cash back to pay for the tickets,” said Foguth. So if you’ve booked tickets for a one-way trip, you can put your cash back points toward booking tickets home.
Although the American Express Platinum comes with a $550 annual fee, the card may be worth it if you plan to spend a decent amount on money on travel for the holidays. (Learn more about how to maximize your rewards points when booking travel.)
There are also certain times of the year that are best to sign up for a credit card to maximize your point earnings. Signing up long before your trip can help you rack up points you can later put toward your travels. If you apply now, by the time the next holiday season rolls around you may have enough points to cover some travel costs.
How to pick a card
Many credit cards have rewards that can be used for holiday travel. But Ari Charlestein, founder of Award Magic, a booking service that helps travelers maximize credit card points and airline miles, suggests paying close attention to credit cards that aren’t branded with airlines when booking flights.
He said non-airline-branded cards have some of the best travel-related perks and rewards, even though airline-branded cards typically offer special deals. Charlestein also suggests using the American Express Platinum card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers three points for every dollar spent on all travel. This includes, flights, hotels, ride-hailing services, rental cars and other travel-related costs. It’s especially helpful if your journey involves multiple forms of travel.
This card comes with a $450 annual fee, although it also comes with perks, like up to $300 as reimbursement for travel charges on your account each year.
Be careful with credit
Make sure you can pay off your credit card balance each month. Otherwise, interest charges may cancel out any rewards you earn. Check your credit score before applying, as well. Travel rewards cards usually require good scores.
For more, here are 50 things that can make your flight more affordable.