Nobody knows right now when the world will be ready for travel again. I don’t know about you, but I am hesitant to invest much time or energy right now into rescheduling any of my cancelled trips or making any new travel plans.
So what CAN we do right now?
One thing we can do now is to take stock of our credit cards. There are several different areas that you should look at right now to make sure you are getting the best return value for the cost of maintaining your current credit card accounts.
Cost Vs Value Review
Most Travel Rewards credit cards have an annual fee ranging from $95 to $550 per year. Those can add up fast. Since we aren’t doing much traveling right now it is hard to gain enough value from your credit card benefits to offset those big annual fees. I would suggest for any of your cards with annual fees more than $99 that you do a hard review to determine cost vs value. Then decide whether you should hang on to them, downgrade them or cancel them.
Check for Temporary Benefits
You should check to see if your cards have added any useful temporary benefits to your account to help add value during this travel shutdown. They want you to keep their card, so most of them are rolling out some kind of new perk or benefit. Make sure you read all those pesky notices they are sending you or you can simply go to their website to see what is available. Some of these offers are only for a limited time, so pay close attention to the date range.
I have been able to take advantage of several really good American Express Offers over the last 45 days and saved $85. They have had some pretty good ones and although I haven’t been able to use the $10 per month Dining Credit for restaurants, I am still able to earn it for placing Boxed orders.
Capital One recently added the ability to use their Travel Rewards to cover Streaming Services and Food Delivery Charges through 6/30/20. Since I already have a Streaming Service billed to that card, I was able to wipe out the charges for my March and April bills.
This week Marriott Bonvoy also announced they will add a temporary new category to all of their Chase and American Express cards. You will be able to earn 6 points per dollar for groceries from May 1, through July 31, 2020. If you have one of their cards, it might be your best option during those months for buying groceries.
Today we got a notice from the Hilton Surpass card stating they are adding some new categories with higher points earning tiers. In addition to the 6 points per dollar that they already offered for restaurants, gas and dining (which is newly defined as dining out, carry out or delivery) , they have added 3 points per dollar spent on bills and TV Streaming Services.
Take Note of Expiration Extensions
Since many of us have significantly reduced our travel and spending, programs are trying to help us by offering some extensions. Some credit cards are extending how long you have to earn your new card sign up bonuses. Most of the co-branded cards that offer Status, Points or Free Night certificates are extending the expiration on those as well. Take stock of any rewards you have earned and review the new expiration dates.
We have free night certificates earned from credit cards for 2 different hotel chains. Both certificates have now been given long extensions to their expirations and Hilton will now allow us to use our Weekend Night Certificate for any day of the week.
Be Sure to Use the Best Spending Categories
Think about what you are spending on right now. For most of us it is bills, groceries, gas, take out/delivery food and online purchases. Make sure you are using the card that will give you the best return on your spend every time so that you can at least be earning points while you aren’t traveling.
If you have a few cards with the same return on spend, consider using whichever card earns points that will be of the most value to you when you do start planning your next trip. This will help put you in a good position when the time is right to start booking travel again.
The Winds of Change
We may not know when travel will start up again, because this situation is fluid. Things are changing rapidly. The best approach is to pay attention to the changes that are effecting your credit cards, loyalty accounts, points and miles. Be flexible and ready to adapt as we move through the different levels of business responses to these issues.
Stay Home, Stay Safe, We Will Travel Again. Be Patient and Stay Prepared!