Credit card holders don’t take advantage of their travel rewards, according to U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice. In its most recent survey of travel credit card users, U.S. News found that nearly half of respondents did not take advantage of common cardholder benefits such as airport lounge access, trip cancellation and delay insurance, free checked bags, auto rental insurance and priority boarding. Further, almost half of respondents carried a balance on their travel card in the last year, potentially negating the rewards they earned.
U.S. News Money, publisher of Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards of 2018, conducted the survey to understand the benefits and drawbacks of owning a travel rewards card. According to its 2018 Travel Credit Card Survey:
- Fifty-three percent of respondents earned more than $300 in rewards in the last year.
- The most popular rewards options are free domestic flights (30.8 percent), followed by cash back (26.3 percent) and free nights at a hotel (18.7 percent).
- Free hotel upgrades (10.4 percent) and free international flights (9.4 percent) are the least commonly redeemed rewards.
- While the majority of credit card owners (70 percent) didn’t intend to carry a monthly balance when signing up for a travel credit card, only half never carried a balance.
“If you travel frequently, have a good credit score and pay off your balance each month, you have the potential to earn a lot of perks with a travel rewards card,” said Kimberly Castro, executive editor at U.S. News. “But before signing up, consumers should be aware of high annual fees or sign-up bonus spending requirements. You might have to travel a lot to offset these costs with rewards.”