You can avoid price travel nightmares by taking the right steps.
- Using credit card points and miles to book flights is a great way to make your next trip more affordable.
- But if you’re not careful, you can make costly mistakes.
- Be sure to check your flight options, review fees and taxes, and don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight.
As a frequent traveler, I’m a big fan of travel rewards cards. Using credit cards to earn rewards and redeem them for free or nearly free travel makes me and my bank account happy. But it’s all too easy to make redemption mistakes when redeeming rewards for flights.
The good news is if you know what to watch out for, you can avoid costly mistakes. Planning to book an award flight for an upcoming vacation? Find out what you need to know so you don’t make a big mistake that negatively affects your personal finances.
1. Not checking flight availability
Transferring your points or miles to a travel partner is a great way to maximize the value you get. But you don’t want to rush the process. If you rush to transfer your points or miles before checking flight availability, you may find that there are no flight options for your preferred travel dates. Always check availability first so you don’t get stuck.
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2. Forgetting the review of taxes and fees
You are responsible for paying taxes and fees when you use credit card rewards for flights. For some carriers and trips, the rates are affordable. But it is not always so.
Some airlines are notorious for high fares, which can cost you. Best practice is to review fares before booking an award flight. That way, you don’t accidentally go over your vacation budget.
3. Traveling during the busy season
While you may be able to find an affordable flight during busy travel months or during the holidays, this is not always the case. Why? Because more travelers are flying at that time.
If there is flight availability, you may need to use more points or miles for your flight. If you’re flexible with your dates, travel during the off-season can be worth more.
4. Waiting until the last minute to book
Similar to regular travel bookings, it can be beneficial to book award flights well in advance of your travel dates. That way, you can score a better deal. If you wait just a few weeks or a few months before you plan to travel, you may end up paying more than you intended.
5. Using the card issuer’s rewards portal to book a flight
Many travel rewards cards have branded travel booking portals available for use. While this may be a convenient way to plan and book your next trip, it may not be the best move to make.
Why? You can get stuck if you need to make changes or problems arise later. It’s best to book directly with your airline of choice to get the best possible customer service experience. You can do this by transferring your points or miles and booking directly with travel transfer partners.
Travel credit cards are valuable, and they can unlock travel opportunities to save money.
Be sure to think ahead before using credit card rewards for your next flight. With proper planning, you can score a great deal and maximize the value of your award flight.
Interested in earning travel rewards with a credit card? Review our list of the best travel credit cards to learn more about your options.
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