- Many credit cards offer credits and perks that reduce the costs of airline, baggage, resort, and other fees, keeping more of your travel budget on sightseeing.
- When planning your vacation, look for cards that can save you from 3 percent to 5 percent by charging no transaction fees on your international purchases.
- You can also save on unexpected fees like out-of-network ATM fees with the right debit card.
In recent years, the hospitality industry has moved increasingly toward à la carte pricing to increase revenue. Fees for everything from checked bags to amenities have become the norm, making it costly for travelers who don’t want a bare-bones experience.
Even banks have gotten in on this trend, charging travelers fees for using their credit and debit cards abroad. Simple things like swiping your credit card for a purchase can incur an extra 3 percent charge, while pulling cash out of your account is costly, too.
Luckily, you have ways to circumvent many of these added fees. By leveraging the right credit cards, you can save money on travel and have more to spend at your destination. Here are five common travel fees you can avoid with the right travel credit card lineup.
Whether you travel frequently or get away for one trip a year, those $30 checked bag fees can add up fast. Plenty of credit cards offset this fee entirely. Most airline credit cards offer a free checked bag for the primary cardholder and at least one other traveler on the same itinerary.
On a round-trip flight, that can add up to more than $120 in savings for a couple traveling together. Considering most airline credit cards charge annual fees as low as $95, this benefit can well offset that fee.
If you’re not consistently loyal to a single airline, you can still get waived baggage fees. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card allows you to redeem miles toward any and all travel purchases — including baggage fees. Simply charge the expense to your Venture Rewards card, and redeem your miles at a rate of 1 cent each. That’d require 3,000 miles for the average $30 baggage fee.
Several credit cards offer annual travel credits ranging from $100 to $300, and a number of them also include a specific airline fee credit. But watch for caveats: American Express, for example, requires that you pre-select one of nine carriers every year — a downside for those who aren’t loyal to one airline and might not use the credit in full. Still, most people get these cards for the multitude of travel perks, and the airline fee credit saves them from having to get a co-branded card to cover baggage fees.
Hotels have been looking to drum up revenue much in the same way as airlines have — with fees. These costs can take the form of resort fees, though, in the absence of a pool and spa, hotels are rebranding them as “urban” or “destination” fees. In any case, paying an extra $35 each night on top of your room rate can eat into your travel budget.
But resort fees don’t have to be a drag on your vacation. The best hotel credit cards offer either statement credits to offset resort fees or elite status that gets them waived. Most notably, the World of Hyatt program waives resort fees for top-tier Globalist members.
With The World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can fast-track your way to Globalist status with five qualifying night credits every year. Plus, you earn two additional qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent on the card. Additionally, Hyatt waives resort fees when you redeem World of Hyatt points for your stay.
Award taxes and fees
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a “free trip,” and that extends to award travel. All airlines impose taxes and fees on award flights, which start at $5.60 and can soar to well over $1,000, depending on the route. And while earned points can add up to heavy travel discounts, these taxes can add up substantially if you’re traveling with another person — even more so with a family.
The best way to offset award taxes and fees is by taking advantage of airline fee credits. But if you prefer to avoid high-annual fee cards like those designed for travel, the Capital One Venture Rewards card could be a solid alternative. While the card doesn’t offer a statement credit, it does allow you to redeem miles toward all travel purchases — including award taxes and fees.
Foreign transaction fees
Sticking to a travel budget is hard enough for some folks without this added expense. If you have a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you may not even be aware that using your card abroad — or for any purchases in foreign currency, even if you make them from your own home — incurs a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.
You can circumvent these pesky fees by using a top credit card with no foreign transaction fees when traveling. There are plenty to choose from, including the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which charges a $95 annual fee that you can easily offset with its perks.
Several of the best no-annual-fee cards also don’t charge foreign transaction fees. These include the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, Discover it® Cash Back and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. All of these cards offer a lucrative rewards structure, easy point redemptions — and no foreign transaction fees when you use your card abroad for purchases.
When you’re touring a new city or country and need cash quickly, it might not be easy to find an ATM machine affiliated with your bank. The fees for using an out-of-network ATM can be hefty, going as high as $5.60 per transaction. Two debit cards waive all ATM fees: The Charles Schwab debit card and SoFi Money debit card.
SoFi waives all ATM fees at more than 55,000 Allpoint ATM machines worldwide. Meanwhile, a better option is Charles Schwab, which waives all ATM fees domestically and abroad. Simply open a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Savings® Account and you’ll get a debit card in the mail that you can use for fee-free ATM withdrawals.
The bottom line
Fees can add up when you’re traveling, but you have many ways to get around them with the right credit card. A bit of preparation and the right card lineup at hand can help you save hundreds of dollars and make your travels — and your wallet — a little more comfortable.
Information about The World of Hyatt Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.