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10 ways to Pay and Save by Using Your Credit Card when Travelling. calculatedtraveller.com

10 Ways to Pay & Save by using a Credit Card for Travel

by Mary Chong
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We’ve written about saving money to realize your travel goals before and know that travelling can be expensive. There are plane tickets, hotel bookings, excursions, and car rentals – it all adds up and sometimes it seems like it takes forever to save up your loose change for that dream vacation!

Stressing yourself out to scrimp and save is not the way to go. You need to work smarter not harder to meet that goal. You want it to be painless, or you won’t stick to your budget, and you’ll give up.

Once you save up enough for that trip and are on the road, it can be stressful if you are always worried about that large stack of bills in your money belt or unusual looking foreign currency. It’s time-consuming searching for a good rate on money exchanges, searching for an ATM that won’t charge you crazy admin fees or places that will even accept a traveller’s cheque.

The solution?

Use your credit card for travel and carry minimal cash for peace of mind and a worry free / stress-free time both at home before you go and during your trip.

10 ways to pay and save by using a credit card for travel

1. Use your credit card statement to track spending and to create a budget

It may seem counterproductive because you would use a credit card to buy a trip not save for a trip but using a credit card is a great tool for budgeting and saving.

Instead of using cash, use your credit card to buy every single thing you would regularly buy for the entire month. When your bill arrives, you can quickly and easily view the itemised statement and use that information to track spending and identify what you didn’t need and could cut out next month.

I know people who use complex spreadsheets to track their spending, but why go to all that extra work? By using this method, the credit card company will do all that work for you.

You can also check your statement online at weekly intervals to see if you are on track or if you are going over budget.

Tip: using different coloured highlighters colour code each item on the statement, (i.e, pink = unnecessary splurge, green = necessary spend, etc)

Read: Manage Your Wealth on Vacation with these 5 Essential Apps

2. Charge everything on your credit card – and I do mean everything.

Not only do you need to do this to track your spending for your budget as I already mentioned but the sheer act of taking out your credit card makes you think about the purchase. Are you going to use that credit card to buy that pack of gum? Do you need that pack of gum? Can you do without that pack of gum if it means you could put that money towards your plane ticket? You get the picture – oh, and if you do need to buy that pack of gum – use your credit card (and next time cut out the garlic)!

3. Capitalise on reward points because we all love the word “free”.

Using a credit card that gives you award points with each purchase means that the more you charge, the more points you earn, the faster you’ll be able to earn enough for a free trip, and we all love free right? So charge your groceries, gas, clothes, movie tickets, coffee. You name it – charge it.

Read: Canadian Points University #PointsUYYZ Travel Hacking Conference

4. Don’t split your credit cards. Combine them.

Have a spouse? Get a spousal card so that both of you can accumulate your award points into one single account. Plus, it’s better to track your expenses in one combined budget, and it will be easier if all your purchases are in one single statement.

5. Save by not having to pay extra for that extended warranty.

Shopping for electronics? Think twice when the sales person offers you the extended warranty for an extra $35. Credit cards often offer extended warranties as part of their benefits. A MasterCard, for example, doubles the original manufacturers or store brand warranty for up to one year when you pay with your eligible MasterCard card. So, there is no need to pay extra for the extended warranty on that new tv, and you can save that money for lunch in Paris instead.

6. Hate it when you buy something and then discover a week later that it’s on sale?

If you paid for your purchase with your credit card, you often get price protection. If the price drops within a certain period, you can ask for a reimbursement for the price difference.

Along with price protection, some cards such as MasterCard offer purchase assurance that will cover damaged or stolen goods as well as satisfaction guarantee, if you decide you don’t like something, and a store won’t let you return it.

7. Have you ever wanted to return something back to a store but you can’t find the receipt?

Don’t get stuck with an item you don’t want or need just because you threw out the receipt. Take your credit card statement to the store and show them the date, amount and transaction number and see if they can use that information to verify your purchase or find your transaction in their records and refund you the money.

10 ways to Pay and Save by Using a Credit Card for Travel. calculatedtraveller.com

8. Double dip on rewards by using loyalty programs plus your credit card.

Choose to shop at grocery stores, drug stores, coffee shops, gas stations and clothing stores that have loyalty programs. Every time you make a purchase, you can get points towards free store product, and if you pay with your credit card, you’ll earn rewards there too. It’s a win-win situation.

9. After you’ve saved enough money, use your credit card to pay for your trip, and save yet again.

You are already paying for everything in your day-to-day life on your credit card, keep that momentum going and book everything that you can for your trip on your credit card too. Big-ticket items like transportation and hotels come instantly to mind but why not book your excursions, attractions, and admissions on your credit card and get it all done and out-of-the-way before you leave. I did this on a trip to Washington DC, and I was able to skip the ticket-buying line and just walk right in using the vouchers I had already printed online.

Not only will these purchases give you award points towards your NEXT trip, but by using your credit card, you’ll be provided with benefits too. Perks such as baggage delay insurance, car rental damage waiver insurance, hotel/motel burglary insurance, lost or damaged luggage insurance, travel medical insurance, travel accident insurance, trip cancellation insurance and even legal referral service all at no extra cost.

Another bonus is that typically you would book a trip months before your actual travel date. By paying for the trip upfront say for example in June, by the time December comes around, and you start packing your bathing suit, you would have already spent five months saving up another chunk of money to spend on souvenirs and drinks on the beach!

10. Once you are on that dream trip, stay stress-free.

Don’t get stressed out worrying about carrying lots of cash or debit cards with you while you are travelling. By using a credit card for travel instead, you’ll have less to worry about knowing that it’s safe, it’s secure and a credit card such as MasterCard is accepted in more places than any other credit card worldwide. You won’t have to worry if you lose your card because you can quickly get a replacement card, get an emergency cash advance and you won’t have to worry about any fraudulent purchases that might occur. If you followed step number 9, you’ve already paid for everything, and all you need now is to enjoy yourself and have a great time!

Want some more tips using your credit card for travel?

Check out this video that I had the honour of participating in with Nadia of childmode.com and Maria of amotherworld.com with more tips on how and why you should use your credit card when travelling.

Visit the Newsroom on the MasterCard Canada website for more information about how you can travel the world with peace of mind.

Note: These methods only work if you pay off the balance in full each month! Also, I highly recommend that you read all the fine print and do your research to find which credit card has the most benefits to suit your lifestyle and needs.

This article was created in partnership with MasterCard Canada. The opinions expressed, positive and/or negative, are entirely that of the author and are not a reflection of the compensation received.

How do you travel with your credit card for peace of mind?

How to Pay and Save by Using your Credit Card for Travel | #travel #creditcard #save #planning #tip #advice

Have you got any other tips on how you pay and save with your credit card? Let us know in the comments below.

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Lakshmi Priya Pampati October 3, 2019 - 6:16 am

Using credit card has its own perks! I’m glad that I have access to so many lounges across the world while travelling thanks to my credit card. I found so many new tips in your blog! Thanks for the great post.

Marina from MadeinMoments.com November 12, 2014 - 8:22 am

Makes me want to go get that credit card already. Do you have one you recommend more than others?

Hitch-Hikers Handbook August 12, 2014 - 11:13 am

Great tips, Mary! I have never owned a credit card simply because I’m a “saver” rather than a “borrower” and the prospect of being in debt simply puts me off, but after reading your article I might consider getting one, it makes sense after all.
Thanks a lot for following us on Google+, Mary! We appreciate it. Travel safe and keep up your great work!!

Elena July 30, 2014 - 9:17 am

Excellent tips! I also use my credit card also exclusively while traveling. It also helps as far as tracking work expenses afterwards – that way I don’t have to save all of my receipts and can use the monthly statement.

Marie-Carmen July 30, 2014 - 5:40 am

Thanks for the tips!
I had no idea about the price protection part! That’s very good to know!

Andrea July 30, 2014 - 4:43 am

Great tips Mary and enjoyed the video. I’ve redeemed rewards for several trips because of my credit card.

Lauren July 29, 2014 - 11:50 pm

Thank you for all of the great tips! I definitely use my Mastercard for all of my purchases – it helps to get the travel rewards so I can use them for upcoming trips! I’ll have to take these other tips into consideration, too!

Cheryl July 29, 2014 - 11:46 pm

Some very useful tips. It was only a few years ago that my husband and I learned to put EVERYTHING on our credit cards. Morning coffee, emergency run to the store to get a bag of milk etc. The cash back and travel points accumulated really quickly after that and we’ve redeemed several times already for free travel (or cash ;))

John Roberts July 29, 2014 - 9:58 pm

Great tips. Points is the big deal for us. It’s a great way to add bonus vacations, too.

Sarah Ebner July 29, 2014 - 4:32 pm

We always try to use our credit cards – for ease and also points! And we always make sure we pay them off…

Alyson July 29, 2014 - 3:49 pm

I didn’t know you could do all that with credit cards. Wow!

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 4:02 pm

Thanks Alyson…Happy to help!

Virginia July 29, 2014 - 3:38 pm

Great tips, thanks for sharing Mary!

Charli July 29, 2014 - 2:53 pm

Great tips here Mary! We’re super careful about how we utilise our credit cards when we travel. Like Lauren we tend to stick to the accounts that don’t load on additional foreign transaction fees and conversions fees.

Kerrie @ Family Food and Travel July 29, 2014 - 1:50 pm

I just flew internationally with points from my credit card – it’s the best! Love being able to get rewards from purchases I already make.
Great tips for travel and saving for travel.

coffee in a cup July 29, 2014 - 1:37 pm

cc is the jazz!

Katherine Belarmino | Travel the World July 29, 2014 - 12:42 pm

I’m a huge believer in using credit cards to pay for everything. My husband and I share two cards that get mileage. We mostly use one because we like that airline better, but we have the other because it provides no foreign transaction fees when we travel. But I make sure we don’t carry a balance so we don’t have to pay those interest charges.

Lois Alter Mark July 29, 2014 - 12:38 pm

I always use my credit card, even for tiny amounts. It’s paid off in so many ways. Thanks for all these great tips!

Cacinda Maloney July 29, 2014 - 12:20 pm

These are some great tips Mary, especially tip #8. Double dip on rewards by using loyalty programs plus your credit card. i use this tip quite often.

Adelina // Pack Me To July 29, 2014 - 12:18 pm

When I was living abroad, I got into the habit of using cash for everything. Credit card was just not common. Now that I’m back at home, I’m trying to use my card more. If anything it’s just to accumulate points and to get money back which is always nice.

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 3:42 pm

Getting money back is better than no money right! Thanks Adelina!

Jenna July 29, 2014 - 12:08 pm

Great tips! I love using credit cards that give reward points–it’s so nice to earn travel from everyday spending. I never thought about trying #7–good idea!

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 3:44 pm

Hi Jenna! It really does depend on the store and what kind of a computer system they have. I’ve actually used a loyalty card and used my Costco membership card to return something. It’s worth a try….

Sofie July 29, 2014 - 12:08 pm

In Belgium the things that we can do with our credit card are kind of restricted, but I do try to pay as much as I can with my card to save up miles!

Lily Chong July 29, 2014 - 12:03 pm

Great advice, Mary! I learned something!

Mandie @ RamblingMandie July 29, 2014 - 12:01 pm

I’m already a convert – I use my CC for everything that I can. The first thing I did when I decided to travel was to sign up for a card with no international transaction fees. Great advice, Mary! :)

Vanessa July 29, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Great tips – especially about the receipts. It seems that I manage to keep the tips for every single thing I DONT need and never the one thing I need to return.

Paige Totaro July 29, 2014 - 11:21 am

These are great, practical and easy tips. I would add that you should be sure to find a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees while you are out of your home country, to save even more while you’re enjoying your hard-earned travel.

laura filipowicz July 29, 2014 - 10:49 am

Thanks so much for the information. It was very helpful info! :))

Helen July 29, 2014 - 10:47 am

It’s all about the points for me! Great post, Mary. And I love your appearance in the video :)

Kristina Keltner July 29, 2014 - 10:43 am

This is such a fantastic article because it’s all true! The best way to save on travel is taking advantage of credit card spending, rewards, and points/miles sign-up bonuses. The best MasterCard in my wallet is definitely the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard. Way too many perks to list and NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES!

Travelling Penster July 29, 2014 - 10:40 am

Great tips Mary!! I’ve always struggled to use my credit cards in a way that maximizes their benefit like this. You’ve just told me how! :)

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 3:52 pm

Glad I was able to help out !

Laura Filipowicz July 29, 2014 - 10:39 am

Excellent article! Thanks for sharing !

noel July 29, 2014 - 10:37 am

I use my MasterCard for everything, restaurants, gasoline, grocery – setting this as your frequent flyer program is the best way to build up mileage.

Dawn July 29, 2014 - 10:33 am

These are great tips. I don’t like carrying cash while traveling either. So easy to lose track of how you’re spending.

Lisa Chavis July 29, 2014 - 10:30 am

Really great info! I didn’t know about the price protection part – there have been a few times I’d have liked that! We’ve used our Chase CC to build up miles for flights from the US to Fiji, NZ, Australia, and Singapore – all by using it for EVERY purchase. Thanks for the awesome tips!

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 3:53 pm

Good for you that you were able to take advantage of all the perks Lisa! Glad that you saw the results first hand!

Manouk - Bunch of Backpackers July 29, 2014 - 10:30 am

These are some great tips Mary! I recently discovered some of the credit card benefits as well and i”m happy I did :)! Number 7 may come in handy and I already got a bunch of free stuff with number 8!

Sue Herdman July 29, 2014 - 10:11 am

Fantastic advice Mary and well done on the video!

SJ July 29, 2014 - 10:07 am

I always use my CC when I am travelling, I hate cash. And with my card I know that that I’ll always be able to book a hotel room with the security. Some tips I had not thought of, thanks Mary.

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 4:01 pm

Glad the article was helpful SJ!

Megan Kennedy July 29, 2014 - 10:05 am

I tend to use my card for most things except for some small businesses and farmers market, I swipe for most purchases. I use to work in a business where I handled a lot of cash and ever since then, I hate carrying it.

Great tips!

Christa Thompson July 29, 2014 - 10:01 am

These are killer tips. I always use my mastercard when I travel since I get reward points. Awesome sauce!

Sharon Mendelaoui July 29, 2014 - 9:17 am

This is such a great post! Lots of great reasons to use a credit card while traveling! I use my card for everything and it really is peace of mind when I travel … plus the travel point rewards mean more trips!

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 9:20 am

And more trips is what it’s all about! Thanks Sharon!

Luana July 29, 2014 - 9:13 am

I find using my credit card a handy way to keep track of my expenses and double dipping with the points is the way to go!
Awesome job on the video! You a STAR girl!!! :-)

Martin July 29, 2014 - 8:44 am

Great advice Mary. You did an awesome job on the video too. What a star!

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 9:19 am

Thanks Martin! (blushing now)

Lauren Bassart July 29, 2014 - 7:11 am

I use my credit card for everything. It’s the best way to track spending and earns points for travel. We also have a card that gives us no currency conversion fees so I am not charged for using my card in other countries.

Mary Chong July 29, 2014 - 9:19 am

That’s a great tip with the no currency conversion fee card. Thanks for sharing Lauren!


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