Why we don’t use Travel Cards (and what we do use!)

There is no question that credit cards are an excellent way to responsibly spend. Using credit cards not only give you a number of benefits such as travel/car rental insurance, trip cancellation etc., but they also allow you to accumulate bonuses for all your hard earned spending!

With so many cards to choose from, you can pick how you would like to earn. As a fellow wanderlust-er (if that is a word!), I immediately signed myself up for the best travel rewards credit card I could find.

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 In Canada, that was the Visa Avion from RBC. I had a welcome bonus of 15,000 points and could earn 1 RBC point per 1 dollar spent.

 I thought this was excellent, and made sure to use my card for all my spending – within reason of course!

 After about a year or so I was discouraged by how few points I had actually accumulated. During this time I had renovated my home (mostly using my credit card) and had taken several trips using my card. I was by no means going easy on my spending.

 When I finally did have enough points to fly one of us somewhere, I was hit with a huge amount of taxes and fees! It had already taken me years to accrue enough points, and now they want me to pay an additional $374 to book the ticket? — Come on!

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So here we are looking at a one way ticket to Lisbon from Toronto for 30,000 points ($30,000 worth of purchases if you are lucky to have a 1:1 ratio) PLUS an additional $374.30. So basically that means my one way ticket costs me $30,374.30!

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Alternatively, Google Flights offers own way ticket for $373 (all taxes and fees included) and pay for it with my cash back credit card ($7,560 worth of purchases with my 5% cash back on ALL purchases). Now keep in mind we almost never book flights at full price, we try to pay less than $250 per ticket (we are a family of 5 after all!). Thanks to so many flying deals out there, this is often well in our reach!

(Our family scored an error fare from Toronto to Paris roundtrip for $129 (USD) per person! Obviously we jumped on it and paid it with our Cash Back money. DONE! No additional fees – nothing. Just 5 tickets to the City of Love all on “points”. )

Since I had sworn of travel credit cards at this point, I decided to look for an alternative. Enter – the cash back credit card!

As a family we are flexible on our destinations and our dates – which I know not everyone is. As you know, I am a huge supporter of Secretflying (where they find incredible deals and error fares) and Skyscanner or Kayak (where you can search random months or countries and narrow down your flights by price).

So what DO we use?

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Since I had fallen in love with several of the travel credit card features (insurance etc.) I found a credit card that suited my needs perfectly. The American Express Simply Cash Credit Card (for my Canadian friends!). I still get all my travel insurance, trip cancellation, etc.,  and have found the American Express has one of the best customer service out there. I receive 5% cash back on ALL my purchases for the first 6 months – not just gas or grocery (we spend a good amount of our $$ at home improvement stores) and 2% after the introductory period.

With cash back on all purchases, we are buying more than one ticket and certainly not paying any additional fees. Plus charging your trip to your card activates all those travel features that come with your card.

The ONLY flaw with Amex is that it is not supported everywhere. Apple Pay (which is now compatible) is one way around this, but only up to $100. In these cases, of course, I have a zero fee backup card or simply use my interac debit.

Cash Back credit cards may not work for everyone, especially if you are unable to be flexible – but it may work for you!!

So what do you use as your credit card of choice, and why? I would love to hear how you have made travel possible by laying down some plastic!

 ** And no, this post has not been endorsed or sponsored in ANY way. This post is 100% my personal opinion and based entirely on my experiences. 

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2 thoughts on “Why we don’t use Travel Cards (and what we do use!)

  1. If you put in the effort, you can really leverage travel credit card sign up and referral bonuses. Also, you can find ways to avoid fuel surcharges/taxes. In the last 3 years I have traveled with my family in over 50,000 miles business class!

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    1. Wow that’s amazing! Those sign up bonuses are key aren’t they? How have you avoided those fuel surcharges? Would love to know that tip! Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Like

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