As travel rebounds, credit cards can unlock benefits of a bygone golden age

As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, travel appears poised to rebound. According to a NerdWallet Study 2021, more than half of Americans (56%) plan to take their next plane and / or hotel / resort vacation in 2021.

This request is reminiscent of the so-called golden age of travel in the mid-twentieth century, when a wave of Americans took off. The introduction of the jets heralded higher levels of speed, comfort and efficiency than ever before, and travelers eagerly boarded.

The reality of travel today, however, conjures up a few images of roomy seats, elaborate meal service, and fashionable new-dressed passengers. Instead, Americans can rush to long lines, cramped quarters, and precious amenities – unless they have a travel credit card which can unlock some “Golden Age” perks and create a more luxurious experience.

Here’s what the right credit card lets you do while you travel.

Cross the security line

Even infrequent travelers have likely faced daunting and winding airport security checks or customs lines. Federal programs like TSA Precheck or Global Entry can speed you through these lines faster – if you’re willing to apply and pay them.

  • Precheck TSA membership costs $ 85 and lasts five years. It is speeding up security checks across the country.

  • Global entry costs $ 100 for a five-year subscription. It helps speed up the customs line when you come home tired of an international flight. Bonus: Global Entry includes TSA Precheck and its benefits.

Clear offers a similar “velvet rope” experience at some domestic airports, and even some sports and concert venues. It uses biometrics to verify your identity. Unlike the programs above, however, it’s run by a private company, and it’s a bit more expensive at $ 179 per year.

Enjoy the comfort of creatures

A “Golden Age” travel experience doesn’t have to end once you are through security. Good credit cards can offer additional benefits on the other side of that line, even for those who don’t travel frequently.

  • Free checked baggage (s): A lot airline credit cards offer this benefit, and its value alone may more than justify the annual fees seen on these cards – even if you only travel once a year. If a checked bag costs you $ 30 one way, you will save $ 60 round trip. If you are traveling with a companion, this could add up to a total of $ 120 in savings. And from the point of view of comfort? You can avoid lugging heavy bags around the airport or fighting over cramped storage space.

  • Access to the lounge: Don’t want to wait in a hard plastic seat at a loud, crowded door? If you hold certain credit cards, you can have free access to an airport lounge – where you can enjoy a plush seat and enjoy snacks that are not just the small variety of pretzels.

  • Priority boarding: Even if you don’t have airline status, some airline credit cards allow you to head to the front – or nearby – for early boarding. So if you like to get into your seat before the rest of the plane is packed, or if you want to get a head start on finding space in the overhead compartments, this perk can help.

Sit in style

Even if you’re not a seasoned jet set, getting better seats on the plane might be more accessible than you think, especially if – in the wake of a pandemic – you’re sitting on a large pile of unused travel reward points. The 2021 NerdWallet Travel Study shows that Americans with travel rewards cards have on average nearly 65,000 rewards points or miles saved.

If you’re one of those with such a stockpile of rewards, consider using them to purchase that business class seat during the impending and crowded travel boom.

If you don’t have enough points to reserve premium seats, some credit card point programs, such as American Express, offer the option to use your points towards upgrade your economy ticket.

Get the hotel treatment on the red carpet

Elite hotel status – and the perks that come with it – may have already been reserved for true road warriors. But many co-branded hotel credit cards now offer automatic elite status to cardholders, granting perks like special check-in lines, early check-in, late check-out, free breakfast, and even upgrades. occasional room.

Do the math for the trip you have in mind: Even if you don’t travel regularly, having a credit card that gives you these benefits might be good. worth paying an annual membership fee.

If your family only stays at Hilton a few times a year, the money you save on the breakfast perk alone could outweigh the fees.

All information on the American Express® Green Card was independently collected by NerdWallet. the American Express® Green Card is no longer available through NerdWallet. To consult the rates and costs of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page.

About Joan Ferguson

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