August is here, and that means that peak travel season is just about over. As such, it’s a little late to start racking up rewards points to use for your late-summer vacation.
Still, there’s no reason you can’t start building up rewards points and miles for your next big trip, and it should be noted that some cards offer instant rewards and other perks on sign-up. Here are a few of the best travel perks you can get from rewards cards.
Double Miles: Capital One Venture Rewards Card
Whether or not you like the Capital One vikings, it’s hard to deny the appeal of getting double miles for every dollar you spend on Capital One’s rewards cards, and the rewards points aren’t subject to blackout dates or expiration. It is worth noting that there’s a $59 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year of use.
Free Hotel Stays: Marriott Rewards Card
Just as the best airline rewards are to be found with cards affiliated with a single airline, the best hotel rewards cards are those that are issued in partnership with a hotel chain like Mariott or Hilton. And while that’s only a good option if you think you’re going to visit the same chain on a regular basis, a free stay at a hotel just for signing up is pretty tempting. That’s what you’ll get with this card, which gives you two free nights on sign-up, plus another 30,000 points on first use, which can be redeemed for further free stays. After that, you earn a point for every dollar spent, plus an “elite night credit” every $3,000. The APR is north of 14% and the annual fee is $45 after a free first year.
Of course, the downside of that Marriott Card is that you’re only getting free lodging at Marriott Hotels, so you’re out of luck if your destination only has, say, Hiltons in the area. But the card carries other benefits, even you’re staying at another hotel. The Marriott Rewards Card is one of several cards in the Visa Signature line, all of which provide a number of ancillary benefits to travelers. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, for instance, there’s a 24/7 concierge service that helps cardholders with restaurant recommendations and reservations, or to find tickets to events. And if you book your flight with the card, you can rest easy knowing that any lost luggage will be reimbursed.
Priority Boarding and Free Baggage Check: Citi AAdvantage Cards
Some of our favorite credit card perks are the ones that treat you like a VIP, and that’s often the case with airline credit cards. Take the AAdvantage cards offered through Citi: In addition to getting 30,000 bonus miles for American Airlines when you spend $1,000 in the first three months and double miles for every dollar spent, you also get your first checked bag free when you use your card to book. Getting on the plane is also a breeze, as cardholders get free priority boarding. And once you’re on board, your card entitles you to 25% off purchases. Just note that the discount is limited to food, drink and amenities like headphones; the frivolous purchases you make in SkyMall aren’t subject to any discount.
Of course, this card only makes sense if you fly American on a regular basis; if you have another preferred airline, check out what kind of rewards their cards offer.
Image: bluebirdsandteapots, via Flickr
At publishing time, the Marriott Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Card, Citi Platinum Select/ AAdvantage Visa Signature Card are offered on Credit.com product pages and Credit.com may be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.