Travel can be stressful, thanks to all of the security checkpoints to maneuver, flights to catch (or miss), transportation to arrange, and hotels to book. For a family of four or more, the thought of going on vacation may seem like a nightmare, not just because of the travel, but also the financial toll it takes.
The best way to mitigate this stress is to plan ahead and spend wisely, using a cash back or travel rewards card for all of your family’s purchases between now and your next vacation. If you don’t already have a rewards card, or you’re not sure the one you own is up to snuff, take a look at the following family focused card recommendations.
Cash Back Cards
If you’re a “one vacation” a year family, then a cash back card is a great choice. Signing up for a travel rewards card that offers point incentives on airline ticket and hotel purchases won’t maximize your savings. Sure, you can still earn points on regular purchases that you can use against the cost of a plane ticket or hotel stay, but you will be able to accrue more savings on travel with a cash back card.
Best For Domestic Travel – Citi Double Cash Back Card
The Citi Double Cash Back Card has the most flexibility in terms of earning cash back. This card gives 2% on all purchases with no limits, no restrictions, and no annual fee. The drawback with the Citi Double Cash Back card is its 3% fee on all foreign transactions (here’s a list of better cards for international travel). It also does not give cash back on balance transfers.
Most Flexible For Families – American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card will earn you 6% cashback at grocery stores up to $6,000 yearly. You’ll still earn 1% on any grocery spending after that $6,000 mark, 3% on gas stations and designated department stores, and 1% anywhere else. American Express also provides a $200 statement credit after spending $1,000 within the first three months.
The downside to this card is the $95 annual fee. And, you’ll need to do your homework to see if your favorite stores accept American Express.
Travel Rewards Cards
Travel rewards cards are the best option for families who travel frequently, more than just a couple times a year. The more you travel, even without your family, the more reward points you earn on future flights, transportation, and hotel stays. The best cards have no travel restrictions, and can be used for multiple airlines or hotels.
Best Travel Rewards – Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
If you’re a family in a travel frenzy, then the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will help you get you wherever you want to go. Spend $4,000 within the first three months, and you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points. A family of four should be able to get to this number pretty quickly. But if you’re worried you’ll fall short, wait to apply for this card until just before your next big purchase.
Other benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card include 2x points on travel and dining all over the world, and 1 point on all other purchases (no categories). This card carries no foreign fees, so it’s great for families traveling overseas.
You can travel any time you like, anywhere you like, using points earned. The Chase Sapphire does not impose blackout dates or travel restrictions. And, it features a 1:1 point transfer value to leading airlines and hotel loyalty programs. Book your travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and you’ll enjoy 25% more point value.
The drawback to this card is that its value is in travel. If your family doesn’t travel frequently, then a cash back card may be a better bet. Although there is a $95 annual fee, the benefits are worth it and the fee is waived for the first year.
No matter if your family flies the globe all year around, or waits for that one big vacation done right, using cash back or travel rewards cards is a simple and easy way to help mitigate the seemingly endless costs of travel. Shop around before picking the best card for you, then combine the savings you enjoy with other smart vacation strategies. Bon voyage!