If you’re in the market for a travel credit card but feeling completely overwhelmed by all the different rewards programs available, you’re not alone. While earning travel rewards is fun for some, many people find that the sheer number of rewards programs — and their various rules — make the process of finding a card stressful.
Not only are there myriad frequent flyer programs to learn about, but there are hotel loyalty programs, too. On top of that, you’ll find all kinds of flexible travel programs that let you transfer points to hotels or airlines or book travel direct.
5 Reasons to Rack Up Flexible Travel Credit Instead
If you’re short on time or don’t have any desire to learn about the various travel loyalty programs and how they work, you can always go with a different type of travel altogether — a rewards card that lets you earn flexible travel credit. Cards that fall into this category include the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. With this card you can enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel. Plus, 2x miles for every purchase, every day.
While flexible travel credit isn’t always as lucrative as other types of rewards, understanding how it works is a piece of cake. Here are five reasons you should rack up flexible travel credit this year:
Redeem for Any Type of Travel
One of the biggest benefits of flexible travel credit is that you can use it for nearly any type of travel you want. This is a big departure from points that belong in specific hotel or airline programs. If you have hotel points with a specific hotel brand, for example, you have limited options in how you can use those points outside of hotels within that brand. And even then, you are limited by award availability.
Flexible travel credit is a great deal for people who want to book any flight, hotel, or rental condo they want without worrying about sticking with a single hotel brand or airline.
No Blackout Dates or Capacity Controls
Another benefit of flexible travel credit is the fact that you don’t have to worry about blackout dates or capacity controls. Sure, airline miles can offer a higher rate of exchange than flexible travel credit, but you are beholden to their award availability and that can pose a problem.
If you’ve ever tried to redeem airline miles for a family of four, you know exactly what we mean. It can be difficult to find award availability on some airlines for two, let alone your entire crew.
The same can be said for hotel points, too. It can be tricky to redeem hotel points for the dates you want, and that’s especially true if you need to travel during peak travel times like spring break or the holidays.
Flexible travel credit, on the other hand, can be redeemed for any flight or hotel stay regardless of how much it costs or whether it’s a busy time to travel. When travel costs more, however, you have to be prepared to fork over more points.
You Know Exactly What Your Rewards are Worth
That brings us to our next point. With flexible travel credit, you always know what your points are worth. In almost every case, you can redeem flexible travel credit at a rate of one cent per point. That’s why the 50,000-point signup bonus on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is worth $600 in travel.
With hotel and airline programs, your points can be worth varying amounts based on the travel you book and what it normally costs that day. As a result, it can be stressful to book travel with points or miles if you’re not earning at a reasonable rate.
With flexible travel credit, on the other hand, you already know what you’re getting for every point you redeem. This makes it easier to book the travel you actually want versus spending extra time finding travel that’s a good value with hotel points or airline miles.
Shop Around for the Best Price
Another benefit of flexible travel credit is saving points by shopping around for the best price. Since flexible travel credit is worth one cent per point, you can compare prices across several mediums to find the best deal then book your travel however you want.
If you find a flight that’s $100 less when you book directly with the airline, that’s great. But, if the flight is cheaper on Expedia or Priceline, you can book there and save points instead. Using flexible travel credit grants you that freedom.
No Worry Over Program Changes or Devaluations
Last but not least, using flexible travel credit saves you from having to learn and keep up with all the hotel and airline programs available today. Considering there are dozens of them — and they all work differently — not having to deal with the intricacies of these programs can save you all kinds of time and headache.
Plus, you’ll never have to worry about your points becoming worth less than they are worth today. One especially annoying aspect of airline and hotel programs is that they devalue themselves over time. For example, a specific flight might cost you 30,000 miles today but 45,000 miles after a sudden program change. Believe it or not, these types of changes happen frequently and they’re rarely in your favor.
With flexible travel credit, your points are always worth one cent each. The only way you’ll pay more is if the cost of your travel goes up. In that case, you could shop around for a better deal or wait it out to see if the price goes down before you book.
The Bottom Line
Many rewards enthusiasts believe flexible travel credit is a waste of time since you can usually get a better exchange rate for airline miles or hotel points. While they have a point, flexible travel credit offers something hotel and airline programs cannot — the freedom to use your points whenever and however you want.
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