Credit cards and planning your trip.

If there is one piece of advise that I could share with people wanting to travel it is this, get a credit card. I know that is not the first thing that comes to people’s mind when they think of travelling to a far away place sitting by the pool sipping fruity drinks but trust me, get a credit card. If I said hey would you like a free trip for doing nothing more than what you already are doing what would you say. Sure the initial reaction is to place a hand on your wallet and apprehensively take a step back and look for the nearest exit but relax. I am not here to sell you anything, just listen to what I have to say and judge for yourself.
The credit card industry is competitive, I know that is not what you think when you are looking at your statements each month but trust, maybe it is time to pay it off and get a new one. There are all kinds of bonuses for signing up, if travelling is something you want to do then narrow your search on that. Depending on your income and credit rating this will dictate the cards available to you. I am going to briefly run through the costs of booking a flight and hotel with and without points. This is by no means comprehensive and as companies are constantly coming up with new promotions only your research will provide you with the best for you and remember do this every couple of years to maximize the benefits for you. Do not feel guilty about doing this. You may be with a card that has rewards right now, cool. If you have had it for awhile and have used the points, instead of starting from scratch get a new card. The upfront bonuses are huge for signing up to a new card. Take any card and look at how much you would have to spend to accumulate that many points with your current card for the same benefit. Keep your cards paid off for all kinds of reasons and maybe getting out of debt should be a priority again for so many reasons, however I am starting to stray. Travel points / miles / kilometres what ever the case may be. Keep focuses here, maybe it is a trip coming up or laying the ground work for the trip after that.
Here is a quick run down and this scenario can play out with better results when you apply yourself. I am going to pick a city to leave from, lets say Vancouver. A big international airport with plenty of destinations and making things easy for me by not having to price out a connecting flight. Picking a popular destination quick and easy to get to so lets choose, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. Lets say the dates are 6 months out from the time of this writing so about Sep. 15 returning on Sep. 29. The first fictional person booking his flight and hotel with no points we will call him Jake. The second person booking his flight and hotel we will call him Bill. Bill has just applied for a new credit card and Bill likes his local carrier lets choose Westjet. Now at the time of this writing Westjet has a couple of cards based on your income and credit rating, for our purpose we will look at their base card offering and I will touch base at the end regarding their other offer and you can see how it will pay to look around on a random rainy afternoon. This is in no way an endorsement for Westjet, just the first company I looked up and decided to go with. Like I said before there are many offers and all kinds of different companies and I will go over some of the things to look for when deciding what card to apply for.
First up Jake. Using one of the many travel search engines out there Jake has his flight booked, round trip 2 adults $365 US. A quick check shows that the carry on luggage is free but the first checked bag is $27 US payable at check in. A quick reminder when you are pricing tickets for flights, double check to make sure the currency is selected to avoid a nasty shock later on. So Jake and his travelling companion each have 1 carry on and 1 checked bag. $365 (includes taxes and fees but not baggage) for tickets, carry-on is free but the checked bag is another $27 US at the counter. Total 2 x $365+$27= $784 US.
Bill like I said has a credit card with Westjet using the same search engines as Jake did the flights came up $499.97 US. Booking through Westjet’s website however produced a price of $352.82 US (not following the link for the search engine but a new window and going directly to their website, some sites have points programs for booking through their searches so for points and what you can use them for is a different subject. This is more about the credit card Bill just got). With Bills RBC Westjet Master Card carry on is free and the first checked bag for each ticket purchased with the card is free. So Bill’s purchase so far is (2 x $352.82) add $ $29.98 US ($39 Can annual fee for the card) = $735.62 US.
Next up is the hotel. A random hotel quickly chosen is the Bel Air Collection Resort and Spa in Cancun. The price special $99 US a night. So booking for both is the same $99 US a night 13 nights (depart on the 15 but arrive on the 16) for a total of $1535 US ($1287 plus taxes and fees). Bill would earn an additional $12.87 in Westjet dollars for future travel.
So here is the summary for Jake and a friend travelling to Cancun and Bill with a friend also travelling to Cancun.

Jake: $784.00 airfare + $1535 hotel = $2319.00 US
Bill: $735.62 airfare + $1535 hotel = $2270.62 US a savings of $48.38 US up front. On top of that Bill recieved $37.54 US ($50 CAN) for signing up to the new credit card. 1% for his flight $7.35 and 1% for his hotel $12.87 (the 1 % does not include taxes and fees) for a total of $57.76 US ($76.94 CAN). So in reality Bill’s total savings for getting a new credit card (base) is $48.38 + $57.76 = $106.14 US ($141.39 CAN)

This is just a rough idea of what you can get just by getting a new credit card. You are probably going tobe using a credit card to pay for the trip to begin with as booking online makes it hard to pay cash. On top of just booking the flights and hotel most credit cards have various built in addition insurance and travel insurance built into the card. If you purchase additional travel insurance you would also get a bonus for using credit card. A car rental and everyday purchases will quickly add up to big savings on your next trip. This isn’t the only card out there but this is just an example of what is possible. The Westjet elite mastercard goes even further with things like a companion voucher ($99-$399 for your companion to fly you pay the normal price), VIP lounge benefits (great for long stop overs). Like I said in the begining the credit card companies want you business and they each have different programs. In addition most companies on the web have their own points programs that will get you perks like free spa, you would have collected 13 nights, so one night free to use in the future just for booking through them. A little attention to detail will go a long way so keep an eye out for those points and credit card offers.

This is Dean from WayWardSolez reminding you to Follow your Solez.

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