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5 Reasons to Use a Travel Credit Card on Your Next Family Vacation

Looking forward to a family vacation? Learn how the best travel credit cards offer special perks to help enhance your experience and reduce the cost.

By Megan Doyle | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor

6 Min Read | November 30, 2020 in Cards



Family vacations can create many cherished memories – and the right travel credit card can help raise the fun and lower the cost.

How? Many travel rewards cards offer perks like travel credits, free checked bags, personalized concierge services, late checkout, and more.

Vacation (n). An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.1


Everyone needs a vacation from time to time, but family vacations often can be more than a source of much-needed rejuvenation: They can offer unforgettable experiences that create lifelong memories. Sure, they can be expensive. But with the right travel rewards credit card, family vacations don’t have to break the bank. Here are five ways credit cards can help you make the most of your next family vacation.


1. Travel Rewards Can Help You Get Deals on Booking Hotels and Flights

Travel rewards credit cards offer plenty of ways to save money when booking your next trip. Depending on the type of card you have, there are three ways you could save:

  • Use your card issuer’s dedicated booking website. Many travel credit cards offer exclusive deals or let you earn extra points if you book your flight or hotel directly through the card issuer’s travel booking website, or directly with a participating hotel or airline. Depending on the card, you might be able to get anywhere from 2x to 12x bonus points for each dollar’s worth of eligible purchases. Though you won’t be able to use those extra points toward the trip you’re currently booking, you can let them accrue and save up for next year’s vacation.
  • Earn rewards from everyday purchases. Some travel credit cards offer bonus rewards points for everyday purchases like groceries and gas. This means that every trip to the grocery store – or ride to school, soccer practice, or music lessons – can add bonus points that can be redeemed when booking your next vacation, providing you’re using your travel rewards credit card, of course.
  • Keep an eye out for travel credits. It’s not uncommon for travel rewards credit cards to offer as much as $200 (or more) in yearly statement credits for eligible travel expenses.2 This means you can reimburse costs for eligible incidentals like checked bags – or maybe an in-flight meal to tide over growing kids with big appetites.


2. ‘Fly’ Through the Airport and Save on Checked Bags

No matter what time your flight departs, it’s hard to predict whether it’s going to take 5 or 50 minutes to get through airport security. And 50 minutes can feel like a lifetime when everyone’s anticipating fun to come. Fortunately, some travel rewards credit cards can make going through the airport a breeze – and save you big bucks. When choosing a travel credit card, look for:

  • TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry reimbursement. Some travel credit cards offer to reimburse your application for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry.3 This means that, if approved, you and your family can get expedited airport screening at participating airports. With these cards, you’ll receive a statement credit that covers the application fee.
  • Free checked bags. Another benefit of some travel credit cards is free bag check for your first bag – and for everyone on your reservation.4 For example, if it costs $25 to check your first bag and each person in your family of five will check a bag, your travel credit card could save you $250, round trip.


3. Many Travel Credit Cards Offer Personalized Services

If your next vacation is to somewhere you’ve never been, you could spend hours figuring out which sights to see, which restaurants to eat at, and where to stay. Once again, your travel credit card could come in handy. Look out for benefits like:

  • Customized travel services. Some credit cards provide access to travel counselors that specialize in custom itineraries and recommendations to help you and your family make the most of your trip. These personalized travel services might even be able to book flights, make hotel arrangements, and schedule ground transportation. Some premium travel credit cards also have concierge staff to help you select a restaurant or make last-minute reservations, so you can spend less time on the phone and more time making memories – but these cards typically have a higher annual fee.
  • Travel insurance and global assistance. Sometimes, your idyllic vacation is interrupted by a setback, whether it’s lost luggage, a damaged rental car, or a cold or an injury. Many travel credit cards offer services like luggage insurance, rental car insurance, and global assistant hotlines that can provide legal or medical referrals.


4. Earn Extra Nights and Get Special Treatment

If a five-day family vacation sounds nice, just think how much nicer six or seven days could be. With an extra day or two, you’ll have more time to see the sights, more time to relax, and more opportunities for you and your family to get the most out of your trip. But the best part is that with the right travel credit card, you can get an extra night and other benefits. Look out for cards that get you:

  • Extra nights. Some hotel rewards credit cards offer a free night award every year after your account anniversary, or after you spend a certain amount on that card in a year. This means you can get a free night at any participating hotel – though you may still have to pay resort fees, taxes, or incidental charges.
  • Elite status perks. Some cards also offer elite status perks that let you upgrade your room at check-in (when available). They also might offer early check-in so you don’t have to spend a few hours waiting around with the kids, and late checkout so everyone can afford an extra hour of sleep.5


5. Travel Rewards Credit Cards Are Convenient and Easy to Use

One of the biggest benefits of all is when it comes to traveling, credit cards are convenient. Here’s why:

  • Cover incidentals. To stay at a hotel or rent a car, you’ll probably need a credit card for incidentals. Using the travel card you used to book your vacation can keep all expenses in one place.
  • Less need to carry cash. If you plan to spend a lot of time at a resort or hotel, you can bill food, drinks, and other services to your room and pay at checkout. Depending on your destination, though, cash may be in more demand.
  • No-fee international purchases. Many travel cards are also no foreign transaction fee credit cards, so if you’re traveling overseas you won’t have to worry about coming home to extra charges on all your purchases. Travel cards can also help avoid the need to exchange currency at the bank, airport, or kiosk. 


The Takeaway

Family vacations can be a treasure trove of memories that last a lifetime. Using the right travel rewards credit card can help you save time and money so you and your family can make the most of every getaway.

Megan Doyle

Megan Doyle is a business technology writer and researcher whose work focuses on financial services and cross-cultural diversity and inclusion.


All Credit Intel content is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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