As dearest dream as it is, college can be insanely expensive. Statistically, an average student has to pay around $21,000 per year to afford tuition and living on-campus, where any other whim or necessity will only add extra cost to this amount. Completely in debt no wonder that many students consider traveling an unaffordable luxury.
In fact, there are many options and opportunities to see the world when you’re a student. Earning travel rewards is one of them. The benefits will vary depending on many factors but if you’re lucky enough, some of them may even be as good as a full-value trip.
Here is what you can do to start accumulating travel bonuses:
Get a Credit Card
Getting and paying with a credit card is the best way to start earning travel miles and points, which you can spend later to buy flight tickets or cover your accommodation costs abroad. Clearly, the premium options would require you to be a full-fledged income earner with a flawless credit history but you can start with a student card. In comparison, they have easier qualification terms but you will still need to have at least some kind of income to get one.
Have a clear understanding of how you’re going to spend the benefits before you choose a card. Some cards offer travel miles, others points and cashback which can be spent in restaurants and cafés; those that grant miles are usually more beneficial than cashback cards.
As an option, you can ask one of your parents to make you an authorized user of their card. Normally, bank statements are clear about who made the purchase, so you shouldn’t worry that the bonuses won’t be in your name.
Profit from Special Deals Available for Your Card
Just having a credit card won’t bring you many rewards, but paying with it may. Just don’t start throwing the cash around; instead, check the available credit card programs that will help you make the most of it.
Some credit cards may want you to spend money at restaurants and bars before you can get rewarded with travel miles. Others would let you benefit from paying for gas, rent, or utilities. While the third ones would offer boons for buying textbooks.
The amount you have to spend will differ for every card and program, so make sure you meet the requirements when you make a purchase.
Make Use of Loyalty Programs
If you didn’t get lucky to qualify for a travel rewards student card, there’s still a chance to accumulate those travel points by signing up for hotel and air carrier loyalty programs. For example, if you’re an avid traveler or you’re a frequent member of internships, volunteer and study abroad programs, or contests, you can earn travel miles every time you’re buying a flight ticket. Hotels also offer programs where you can earn points and use them to cover your stay in the future. Some of them may even partner with air companies and give you a choice of accumulating either points or miles whenever you’re using the services of the partner companies.
Therefore, whatever company you choose, stay loyal and consistent. It will increase your chances of getting really good bonuses, as well as you’ll accumulate your rewards sooner.
Earn Rewards with your Smartphone
A simple way to earn travel rewards and save some cash on souvenirs abroad is using online shopping portals and cashback websites. In general, you can earn points, miles, or receive cashback on your card every time paying with your card in a participating store. Such services like Ibotta and co won’t make you rich, but it’s a good way to raise some money for your future trip. Some programs are better than others so check what they offer first to get the best benefits.
Be Wise with Your Credit Utilization Score
Paying with your student card is an excellent way to maximize travel rewards and afford traveling abroad, insists our reader Martin:
“Hiring a professional to write my admission essay cost me more than traveling around Europe the entire summer – that little I was to pay for this trip,” said he.
And while his words have a grain of truth in them, there’s still something to worry about when using your credit card to accumulate bonuses. The thing is that student cards normally have lower limits than regular ones. Spending all credit money completely may help you win great travel rewards, but if you do it regularly, it may seriously damage your credit score, let alone that you’ll have a debt you won’t be able to cover.
When it comes to the assessment of your credit history, credit utilization means a lot. Ideally, it should be as high as zero percent, but if your travel rewards hunt keeps it at least around 9%, it would be just as good. To make that happen, get a habit to regularly track your balance and avoid spending off-limit, as well as try to pay off the credit money before the deadline date.
Earning travel rewards can hardly be called an easy job but it’s certainly worth it. By building a winning strategy, you can accumulate travel miles, points, and cashback money while staying on top of your spending and credit score.