Saving with 6abc: Travel credit card deals

February 27, 2013 5:39:47 AM PST
If you're dreaming about an exotic getaway, the right travel card can help you get there.

Today's travel cards can be a great way to stretch your dollars - that is, if you pay your balance off every month. But it's downright confusing trying to figure out which offers the best deal.

Consumer Reports money adviser Amanda Walker did some digging.

"You can choose either an airline card or a bank card," Walker told Action News. "Which type is best for you depends on what kind of traveler you are."

It's recommended you choose an airline card if you travel a lot on one particular airline.

"Airline cards are also good if you want a free trip fast. While they're not usually as generous with rewards as bank cards, you can sometimes score a bonus as high as 50,000 points when you sign up," according to Walker.

Some good airline cards are Delta SkyMiles American Express Gold, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa and US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World MasterCard. For every dollar spent with the airline, you get two miles or two points.

"If you don't fly a particular airline, a bank card is the way to go," Walker says. "They let you earn rewards on the purchases you make, then use them to buy tickets on any airline."

Consumer Reports says another plus is that bank cards are not subject to blackout dates and points generally don't expire.

Some good bank cards: the American Express Premier Rewards Gold, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa or Mastercard and the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express. A real benefit with all three is there's no annual fee for the first year.

Choose a travel card wisely, and a great vacation could well be within reach. If you're a member of several frequent-flyer programs, Consumer Reports says you're probably better off with one of the high-end American Express bank cards like the Amex Premier Rewards Gold because those cards let you transfer earned points to a number of airlines.