If you’re like me, back to school is a big spending time for your family. No matter how smart we try to be with purchasing, the kids keep growing and new clothes are needed. Plus all those school supplies and sports fees. If you’re also like me you might be a little stressed or sad at having to spend all that money.
However if you’re smart with your money and use credit cards wisely, that back to school spending can mean earning travel points towards a winter or spring break vacation. As my girls get older and start to get bigger ideas on where they want to go next for vacation, I’m all about saving money on travel!
One of the ways I’ve started to save on travel is by earning and redeeming points with travel credit cards. This can be with earning airline miles that I can then redeem for tickets. Or it can be with earning hotel points that can help us get free nights. There are a few tips I’ve learned as I venture into the travel rewards game that I thought I’d share with you.
Choosing the Right Card
There are so many cards out there, so you should definitely research your options. Using a site like CreditCards.com helps you see all the current offers and benefits for many cards at once. Gone are the days of when I’d just take the credit card that my bank had on offer. Instead now I research annual fees, earning percentages, and card perks online.
There are many options when it comes to what kind of rewards you can earn. Some people don’t have the time or interest in managing points and redeeming them. If that sounds like you, don’t think that credit cards are just for earning travel points. There are some great cash back rewards cards that make earning rewards simple. My husband loves using our Capital One card for the ease of redemption, even though we realize it’s not the best “value” for points earnings. That’s why it’s important to think of what kind of rewards you’d like to earn and find the best card for you.
Big Purchases = Big Bonuses
As someone with excellent credit opening a new credit card is kind of like deciding to have another kid. However, as I’ve read and learned, opening a new card occasionally isn’t a problem as long as you’re being responsible and not overextending yourself. The trick for earning points fast is to open a new card when you’re ready to make a big purchase so you can take advantage of getting bonus points that are accrued only after spending a certain amount.
Recently I had to purchase a new camera for my business. So instead of using my current business credit card I researched and found a great small business credit card that had a big sign up bonus. After spending $3,000 I would earn 80,000 points. That’s enough for me to possibly get 3 roundtrip tickets. If you have a big purchase, like a new computer for back to school, getting a new card with a bonus can mean you’ll have points for a winter break trip.
Stacking Up on Rewards
As I mentioned before, finding the right credit card for you is the first step. Definitely consider where you want to go, or what your favorite airline or hotel brand is when looking at cards. Also consider annual fees and whether it makes sense for you to have the card with its fee. And of course, look at sign up bonuses to see if you can meet the minimum spend to earn it and what the points will mean for you.
After you have your credit card don’t miss the chance to stack up on your rewards. Many reward credit cards have shopping portals that will let you earn additional points on online purchases when you link to the store you’re buying from via the rewards website. These are called shopping portals in rewards speak. It means that if you’re planning for some back to school supply shopping, you can link to your favorite office supply store via the rewards website before shopping so you can earn extra points for every dollar spent.
Using credit cards to earn travel rewards is all about being smart. Be smart and don’t open new cards if you’re in debt or struggle with spending when you shouldn’t. If you know that you can be smart with your spending, earning some rewards while you spend is the smart way towards making your money work for you. Then next time back to school season comes around instead of stressing about all the spending you’re doing, you can look forward to the vacations to come! Imagine Hawaii in the winter…
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.