I needed to travel to Nepal recently with my wife and 19 month old boy. Flights were not cheap, when inflation is through the roof, I needed to find a way to reduce my financial burden.
I knew I could take advantage of travel credit cards, but didn’t know where to start. After a week long research, I nailed down my strategy to reduce our vacation costs. Here is how I was able to save over $1,000 on our family vacation to Nepal plus some advice to maximize your savings potential.
Our International Trip
The global COVID-19 pandemic has shifted all travelers’ plans by a year.With the World reopening and easing in entry restrictions, it is the best time to visit an international family. We are not frequent flyers but we take a trip back home once every 2 to 3 year.
The joyous feeling of vacationing back home after so long, brings back many cherishable memories that keeps you awake late at night. While my wife was busy thinking about what gifts to buy and clothes to carry for our toddler and ourselves, I was thinking about how to offset our travel costs.
Flight to Nepal
The two way flight ranged from $3,000 to $3,500 on an ecomony class through Qatar Airlines. It was the cheapest we could find for our travel dates. And that’s with my son traveling on lap. If we want to get him a seat, the cost could easily go over $4,000.
Do Kids Fly Free?
No, kids don’t fly free on international trips; at least not in Qatar Airways. Even if your lap infant is less than two years old, you’ll pay a reduced rate. This is usually a 10% of base fare plus any taxes and fees.
International flights to Nepal usually have one minimum layover. We ended up booking a ticket for $3,336 that consisted of a 9 .5 hours and 13 hours layovers in Qatar for an inbound and outbound flight respectively.
My wife and I would have roamed around the airport during layovers but with kids, it’s different. We needed rest after a stressful flight. Which means, we need to book a Hotel to spend the night. An airside hotel stay at ORYX airport hotel would cost you more than $300.
That’s when we got creative with the travel credit cards. You’ll read below how we saved over $1,000 travel credit cards, and their miles and points.
What Are Travel Credit Cards?
The credit back in the form of cash, gift cards, points or miles is the primary benefit of any credit card. Travel credit cards will have travel benefits with or without cash back or gift card options.
Travel credit cards will earn you credit back in the form of travel points or miles for each dollar spent. The travel credit cards may provide additional benefits like lounge access, travel insurance and many other travel related rewards.These perks depend on your credit card features.
How I saved over $1,000 on my international Travel?
Travel Credit Card
I applied for a Captalone Venture Card three months prior to our scheduled travel date. It is a travel credit card that earns 2X miles for each dollar you spend. The credit card has a whopping 75,000 signup bonus miles for the new member that equates to $750, if redeemed for travel. With Global Entry application credit, miles transferable to travel partners, and access to the Capitalone Lounges, it had almost everything I was looking for.
The credit card has a $95 annual fee which is accessed at the beginning of the month. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for purchases and transfers ranges from 17.49% to 25.49% depending on your creditworthiness but if you do not intend to carry balance, it should not keep you from applying. Also, you will earn the 75,000 signup bonus once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. I was going to book a flight for three therefore, it was easy to spend.
The credit card has a 20,000 referral bonus. I could invite my wife and have her sign up to get 75,000 points for her and additional 20,000 for referral. I ended up inviting my friend and received a total of 95,000 points (equals to $950 towards travel).
How to refer someone for a credit card?
Once you sign up for the credit card, you can download the app. When you open up the app, it automatically asks if you’d like refer to a friend. In CapitalOne, If the app does not show you how to share the referral, you can follow the steps below:
- click on help tab and chat with ENO (from CapitalOne) to get to the card referrals.
- Once you are on the referral page, click on “Refer a Friend” which opens up the share page
You can either text the link to the friend or share it through an email or chat. Any time someone signs up using the link, you’ll received the referral money or points.
Hotel Credit Card
We wanted to get some rest at Hamad International airport, therefore I looked for alternatives to getting a hotel. A $350 a night stay at the hotel was over our budget. Then I came across Hilton honor American Express Surpass Credit Card.
A 130,000 signup bonus points if you spend $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months was all I needed to score a free night at the Hilton hotel.
The co-branded Amex Card also gives you a complimentary Gold Status which is the second to the top level elite status. Gold Status comes with a free room upgrades upto executive suite and a food-and-beverage-credit. To top it off, the Hilton Surpass Card offers a free Priority Pass Select membership that gives you 10 complimentary access to lounges all over the World. I’ve not come across any credit card with a low annual fee that offers 10 free access to airport lounges through Priority Pass Select membership.
The Bottom Line
There are many other credit cards that have similar, if not better, travel benefits that you can use to maximize your savings. The credit cards come with annual fees ranging from $90 to around $700 but the travel benefits cover for the fees.
Travel credit cards when used wisely, offset travel expenses through signup bonus and score you a bonus treat accessible only to elite travelers. Depending on your traveling frequency, it’s worth looking into the premium credit card and saving money on your next trip.