RATESDOTCA travel rewards guide will help Canadians take flight faster despite low loonie

Is a weaker Canadian dollar clipping travelers’ wings? Would-be vacationers could find themselves paying 30 per cent more for their warm-weather getaways this year; as the loonie hovers around $0.75 USD, three-quarters admit the weak currency has impacted their trip plans.

But cash-strapped travelers needn’t settle for a staycation, as a number of travel rewards credit cards can effectively offset travel costs according to RATESDOTCA, Canada’s comprehensive rate comparison resource.

However, using plastic to fund a vacation can be a point of confusion. “While there are a number of fantastic travel offers available in today’s market, many Canadians aren’t aware of travel rewards best practices,” says Penelope Graham, Editor at RATESDOTCA. “There continue to be misconceptions around the true value of rewards, and how to effectively earn and redeem them.”

To help Canadians take flight faster, RATESDOTCA has revealed the Guide to Flying for Free – How to Cash in Travel Rewards Credit Card Points. The guide provides clarity on choosing the right card, and insight to the value offered by popular rewards programs as per RATESDOTCA’s annual Best of Finance Awards.

Check out the infographic below!

RATESDOTCA’s Tips for Using a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Seek out the perfect plastic: There is a wide variety of travel rewards programs to choose from and each offers a different earning and redemption structure. It’s important to determine whether a card’s earning potential can be maximized based on your specific spending habits – for example, gas and grocery purchases, or earning on all spending.

Heed the fee: Travel rewards cards are often packed with additional insurance, concierge and lounge benefits – and that means the majority charge an annual fee. Look for cards that waive this charge for a limited promotional period, and determine whether your annual earnings offset the fee amount. For those who are fee adverse, a non-fee card with a lower earning threshold can be a better fit.

Ask about redemption: Those points won’t do much good if they’re grounded during your desired departure season. Seat capacity, seasonal, and minimum redemption restrictions are common pitfalls vacationers should be aware of. For the greatest flexibility, look for cards that allow points to be redeemed directly on travel purchases charged on the card.

Cover yourself: Many travel cards come with built-in insurance benefits – but you shouldn’t assume you’re covered. At a bare minimum, ensure you have sufficient travel medical and accident insurance for yourself, spouse and any dependents travelling with you. Add-ons like trip interruption, delay and cancellation coverage can provide greater peace of mind on your journey.

*Preparing for Takeoff: Air travel outlook for 2016 – Expedia.ca

Penelope Graham

A first-time homeowner and newbie investor, Penelope Graham is the quintessential millennial, navigating the world of personal finance and wealth management. A self-professed monetary policy nerd, she follows the often-controversial housing market closely and specializes in mortgage, credit card and personal finance news.

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