Going on a summer road trip can create lifelong memories, but the debt you rack up can linger as well unless you put your credit card to work. You may already have (or be interested in signing up for) a credit card that is approved or otherwise endorsed by a well-known hotel chain or travel company. While they’ll go a long way when it comes to saving money, don’t ignore the substantial benefits that other types of credit cards offer. In fact, with a little foresight and the tips below, you’ll learn how to maximize summer road trip savings with your credit card before the first time your kids ask “Are we there yet?” from the backseat.
Before You Go-Go
It’s far easier to walk a cat on a leash than it is to coordinate vacation plans with most people in advance, but the discounts that you can get from making reservations using your credit card may be all the motivation they need. Groups opting to rent a vehicle instead of putting the miles on their own ride can save on fees and receive optional upgrades for free through some partnerships between select credit cards and international vehicle rental corporations. Expedited car pick-ups and drop-offs are often included among these perks too, helping ensure a customer hits the road happy. Regarding the hotel stays that you’ll be making on your summer road trip, spending time in advance to select the credit card that optimizes your lodging experience will make a big difference. There are a few well-known hotel chains that partner up with credit card issuers to release branded cards. These cards reward loyal customers for their patronage with perks ranging from huge introductory loyalty point bonuses and extended checkout hours to free room upgrades and entire free extra night stays.
On the Road Again
When it comes to gas station expenses, select credit cards offer increased cash back points for fuel purchases that can make costs more reasonable. Similar in concept to hotel cards, you can also sign up for branded credit cards that feature discounts on gas purchases for members, as well as the snacks and drinks sold in the adjacent convenience store. Speaking of snacks, some credit card companies also offer cash back cards that reward you for shopping at grocery stores. Anyone on a tight budget who wants to save money for a few souvenirs can do so by making their own sandwiches or picking up prepared grocery store meals, which are still not marked up as high as restaurant meals. If gas station sushi isn’t your thing and the local diner you come across in the middle of nowhere is the only place to get a hot meal for hours, cash back rewards for dining out are also frequently among the perks that top travel cards offer. Depending on who’s coming along for the ride, you may also want to find yourself a credit card that rewards you for making entertainment purchases, such as monthly music streaming service subscription fees and individual films to distract toddlers for an hour or two. Ask almost any parent, and they’ll tell you that the cost of renting an animated film that will grant them peace and quiet in the car is worth every penny.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
If your upcoming road trip is part of an international vacation you’re planning this summer, you can certainly save on your flights with the right credit card in hand. As with hotel cards, there are brand-specific airline cards that grant extra rewards to loyal customers. Top travel rewards cards that focus on airfare tend to waive foreign transaction fees while permitting free checked bags on flights, issuing companion airfare certificates for free trips, and even allowing priority boarding and disembarking on flights. Don’t leave your travel discounts up to chance this summer. Take the time to carefully plan your venture in order to make the most of the incredible rewards that your credit card has to offer. It will be worth it for the extra tchotchkes alone.