We all know that signing up for a credit card is a great way to get travel perks, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all experience. This week on the Payoff, we share tips to keep in mind before you apply.
As with many things, timing is everything. According to a report from Nerdwallet, 83% of consumers miss out on more than 15,000 travel points by simply applying at the wrong time.
This is because — in addition to the regular sign-up bonus — companies also run limited-time offers at certain times of the year when you can really cash in.
For airline cards, the best month to sign up is November. November is also the best time to sign up for issuer-branded cards from banks like Chase or Citibank. For co-branded cards, which carry the name of an airline or hotel AND a bank, August is the best time.
Next, you always have to look out for fees. When it comes to travel, select a card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee — which could come add 3% each purchase you make abroad.
Also, many travel cards come with annual fees, up to $100 a year. Several will waive the fee for the first year, but start charging you after that, so again, make sure you know the terms before you sign up.
3. Lead time
And finally, don’t rush it. It’s best to apply for a credit card approximately five months before you plan to take a trip. This gives you plenty of time to get approved, and meet the spending requirement, which is typically $3,000 to $4,000 over a three- or four-month time frame.
It also gives you time to book your trip in the ideal window, which is about 25 days before departure.
The key is to search around and compare credit cards until you find the right one of you.
What it is your favorite credit card? Tweet me @bjonescooper, or leave it in the comments below.
Brittany Jones-Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Finance.