We’re all sick of hearing and thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic. But, unfortunately, the health crisis has put a big crimp not only in our daily lives, but also our travel plans. That’s the worst part for most of us, right? 

Yet, take a break from looking longingly at Insta travel inspo. Stop your itchy booking fingers from dancing across the keys. Instead, be proactive and prepare for the day when borders open up again. Start building as many points as possible on your travel credit card. 

Here’s what to do to make cards work harder for you this year. After that, it'll soon be hello to Mai Tai’s on a beach in Thailand or baguettes in Paris.

 

Fly your points higher

To maximise rewards, choose the right card. Whether you’re about to choose your first travel credit card, or want to swap to something better, consider how you want to use the points you accumulate. 

Get a head start by applying for one of the best travel credit cards or when bonus points are available as a sign-up incentive. Adding, say, 100,000 points right away will help you upgrade your next flight or book a few nights at your favourite Airbnb. 

Be aware of any earnings caps financial institutions put on how many points you can earn, though. Don’t choose a card that, for instance, doesn’t let you earn points over a $2,000 monthly spend, when you normally charge much more to your card.

 

Cash it back can be an option

If it’s for jetting off, select an airline travel card; you’ll get more bang for your buck, points wise. Or, maybe you want your card to give you money back to spend on tickets to the Coachella music festival. If so, dig a little deeper into the card's rewards program info and pick one that has a redeem for cash back option or a bonus cashback offer.

 

Pick up bonus points at your big spending spots

Earn points faster by getting a card that gives you bonus points for spending at places you already frequent. (For instance, certain supermarkets and petrol stations, department stores, and your fave booze shop.) Also, choose a card with a high points-to-dollar ratio, so you get the ultimate value for your money. 

 

Load up on useful travel perks

And, if you usually travel overseas multiple times a year, get a card that gives you fee-free international transactions. You can also enjoy perks like airline lounge passes, annual travel insurance, and discounted exchange rates. 

 

Being loyal can work in your favour

To get the most out of your travel card, be loyal to brands. Do this when you shop and when you convert points to bookings or other rewards. For example, if you have an airline-affiliated option such as Qantas Points card, fly with them continually so you maximise point earnings. 

Then, convert points to upgrades or free or discounted flights with that same airline. While there’s often an option to use points on seats with other, affiliated airlines, these typically cost more points per booking. 

Look out for notifications that businesses are opening up reward discounts for a limited time. These specials are great value for money. For instance, swap a luxury fare for only 50% more points, say, than it takes to get an economy seat, and you’re winning. And you’ll get some decent food and sleep on your flight, too!

 

Keep an eye on your hard earned points

You’re busy enjoying life and working hard to pay for it, but do take the time to keep an eye on your account, too. Make sure all the points you earn end up on your card balance, as errors do occur. 

Also, watch out for soon-to-expire points and status levels. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve saved up for a cool reward, only to find it’s too late to use what you earned. 

 

Check-in to a credit card comparison site to compare the market.

It can be a drag reading over fine print, sure. But you should read the emails or letters your credit card providers send out, detailing program changes. 

Many financial institutions update their offerings. Sadly, these regularly lead to less favourable terms for customers. You might discover you’re not getting the value you once were, and that it’s time to go elsewhere. 

Before you cancel your card, though, ask the provider if they will give you a retention bonus. They might be willing to give you a sizable chunk of points to keep your business. If so, this may make holding onto the card for one more year worthwhile. Either way, check out sites like Kredmo to compare credit cards in Australia and see if you’re getting the best deal possible.

 

It sucks that we can’t travel overseas right now, and for some of us, not around the country, either. But, follow the steps above to get your travel credit card working harder. You’ll soon be ready for trips galore once the situation changes. 

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