The coronavirus pandemic has canceled travel plans across the globe, and it’s likely to disrupt normal travel for some time. For the time being, there’s a good chance your vacation plans are canceled, and you’ll be stuck at home instead.
If you have a travel rewards credit card, you may be wondering how to get value out of the rewards program during the pandemic. Here’s what to do with your credit card travel rewards until restrictions are lifted or you feel comfortable traveling again.
1. Know the Expiration Date of Your Rewards
Many general travel rewards cards don’t have expiration dates for their rewards, and you won’t need to worry about them losing value. But if your card is co-branded with specific travel providers like airlines or hotel chains, there’s a chance your rewards do expire.
Check the fine print of your credit card’s rewards program to see when your rewards expire. It’s possible you may be able to negotiate an extended expiration date due to the pandemic, but you should start checking now.
2. Book a Future Trip
If you want a vacation to look forward to, you may want to consider booking a trip far in the future. This allows you to redeem your rewards and put something on the calendar. Many travel companies are currently offering good deals to help lure customers.
Unfortunately, this is a risky gamble because it’s impossible to predict what may happen in the future with regards to the pandemic and travel restrictions. Any trip you do plan should be completely refundable and have a flexible cancellation policy, just in case.
3. Save Up Your Points
Being unable to travel does have an upside, as you have the opportunity to save up a large bank of rewards to use on an epic trip later. To build up your cache of rewards, consider these strategies:
- Focus on special purchase categories: Many travel rewards programs offer bonus rewards for certain purchase categories. For example, if your card offers bonus rewards for restaurant purchases, make sure you’re using your credit card when eating out or ordering takeout.
- Shop at preferred vendors: Some credit cards have online marketplaces that let you earn extra points with preferred vendors. If you’re about to make a purchase (like a new gadget or some summer clothes), check to see if your credit card provider has a marketplace you can use to earn bonus points.
- Use your card for common purchases: If you typically use cash to pay for certain things, consider using your plastic instead. Just make sure to pay off your purchase before the interest hits.