Travel Credit Card Hacks (Spring 2019)

Our Story:

So we have decided that our old credit cards must go. If we are going to do this (travel with kids for a year) then we are going to have to ammount some serious travel points. Our end goal is to be able to fly oversees business class completely on points. We also hope some of the shorter trips can also be on points. Now this is a big if, and a lofty goal but we do have eight years to do it and goals are never set in stone. Also at the time of writing this you could fly from Regina Saskatchewan (my home town) to London Heathrow, economy for 30,000 aeroplan point, and business class for 55000 points. With my current points card I would have to spend roughly $60,000 in order to travel economy one way to London and $110000 for business. That is an insane amount for a free trip. There are way better cards to do that.

Synopsis:

This post will discuss my pick for the best cards of 2019. We will also attempt categorize the cards best for travel in the distant future, the year before a trip, and the best cards to use while traveling.

Your Credit Score

So you want a long haul flight in business class?

I would like to believe that business class is much more achievable with points than with cash. As discussed earlier at the time of writing this Aeroplan is offering economy/business class flights for 30K/55K points, where Air Canada (who owns Aeroplan) provides the same flight for $1993 for economy and a whopping $8452 for business class. The points differential is way less than the cost differential. LETS FLY ON POINTS IN STYLE.

Your Credit Score:

The first thing that worries me about travel card hacking is the potential to hurt my credit score. For those of you who are planning on getting a mortgage, line of credit, or financing a car should be very careful when trying to play the system. the list below are the 5 major things that can affect your credit score.

  • Payment history
  • Amount owed vs available (debt to credit ratio)
  • Types of Credit
  • New loans
  • Length of credit history

First off, never get rid of your oldest or highest limit credit card. If you don’t want to use it, your best strategy is keeping it in a drawer until the end of time. (make sure it is paid off). Canceling your oldest or highest limit credit cards will lower your overall borrowing potential and raise your debt to credit ratio which lowers your score. If you want to sock drawer a card with a yearly fee you can simply talk to the credit issuing company or bank to transfer that card (and credit limit) to a no fee card.

My obvious suggestion is to always pay off your credit cards every month, but interesting enough, you can almost keep the same credit score if you simply pay at least the minimum balance and are maintaining a debt to credit ratio below 30%. (divide your balance by your available credit. If it is below .30 you should be safe)

The Strategy: ( I am not affiliated or profiting from any credit card company)

First I would recommend checking out www.greedyrates.ca for a comprehensive list/comparison of all your credit card choices. This site gives a great rundown of all the benefits of each card make sure to click on the top picks list to see all the editors picks for each different rewards program.

My first Pick: The long game

So our long game is going to consist of getting both of us getting different travel rewards cards and likely canceling them before or at the end of the first year to avoid any fees. My first choice is the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard. It comes with 35000 welcome points and waves the first years fee of $150. The card claims to be able to get you to Vegas for 4 nights flight and hotel for 65000 points, so you are half way there with your welcome bonus. Check back next year to see who we will go with next!

Best Card to use while traveling

Now ratehub.ca lists two of the best travelling cards, but I would suggest that you only need one. I absolutely hate paying currency exchange fees and I believe the everyone should have a credit card that does not charge foreign exchange fees. The Visa Home Trust is the best while traveling card becuase not only is it a no fee card (including foreign conversion fees), it comes with 1% cash back on all purchases.

Best card for quick points.

Under Review: There have been a few new players in the game. Check back for updates

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