There is definitely a learning curve involved when it comes to travel rewards, but delaying your education can be costly if you love to travel. For example, many people misunderstand how much points are worth. Don't let any of these myths prevent you from making the most of available travel rewards:
Myth: Travel rewards credit cards have high annual fees
Some travel rewards cards have no annual fee. Many charge somewhere in the neighborhood of $95 a year. Usually that fee can be offset by using the cards' perks: free checked bags for airline-branded cards, for example, or a free night's stay every year for hotel-branded cards. Even the high-end cards offer airport lounge access, credits to offset travel fees, and higher rewards rates that can more than pay for the card.
Myth: Travel rewards are hard to redeem
Finding free or upgraded airline flights can be a challenge. The best time to book a rewards flight is typically nine to 12 months in advance, when the airlines first make such seats available. Hotel rewards are easier to book since occupancy rates are generally lower. If you want even more flexibility, consider a general travel rewards card that works with a variety of frequent traveler programs.
Myth: It's best to focus on one traveler program
If you love to travel, it's unlikely you do so with only one airline or hotel chain. Plus, spreading your loyalty around means you can take advantage of specials and promotions that help you earn more points or make points more valuable to redeem. Travel programs also often have dynamic pricing, which means the value of rewards can vary.
Myth: Travel rewards cards require excellent credit
Travel rewards cards typically require good credit, which is generally defined as a credit score of 690 and above on a 300-to-850 scale. Some require scores of 720 and above. If your scores aren't quite there yet, look for a card that offers cash-back rewards and use those for travel.
Myth: Travel rewards aren't worth the effort
Travel rewards programs aren't always intuitive, but you don't have to be an extreme rewards hacker to benefit. It doesn't take much effort to sign up for hotel or airline frequent traveler programs or to use a general travel rewards credit card for the spending you were going to do anyway. Sign up for the programs' e-mail newsletters, which can alert you to special deals.