credit-cardsDoes the idea of free flights or hotels appeal to you? As the cost of traveling with a family (especially air travel) rapidly increases, travelers are looking to new ways to save money on vacations. One common way to save money on trips is through airline rewards cards, but there are lots of caveats to using these cards. You can absolutely save money and earn some fabulous rewards, but you can also pay some extra fees if you aren’t careful.

According to the Quarterly Capital One RewardsBarometer survey, “nearly half of rewards card holders indicated they weren’t sure whether or not they were charged foreign transaction fees, which can be up to 3 percent”. Understanding all of the fees you are charged is absolutely essential, because these can really add up over time and completely cancel out any of the reward benefits that you receive. Other fees to look out for are annual fees (common with any type of rewards cards) as well as higher interest rates. If you don’t charge enough money on your cards to earn a big reward, or you don’t pay your balance off every month, you may be better off using a different type of credit card and paying for all of your travel on your own.

The Capital One Rewards Barometer survey also showed that “consumers’ overall satisfaction with credit card rewards declined in the past three months”, however, reward cards are definitely a very valid way to earn free or discounted travel. Here are some ways to make the most out of a rewards card:

  • Pay your card off on time every month so you can avoid interest and late payment fees.
  • Charge as much as possible to your card on a monthly basis, including utilities, insurance, and household purchases.
  • Keep your eyes on any unusual fees.
  • Select a card that offers as much flexibility (e.g., no blackout dates) and selection (i.e., not just one airline) of rewards as possible.

With these tips, and some diligence, you can definitely earn some great free or discounted travel for your family!

This post was sponsored by TravelingMom. The  tips are my own.