Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,053

    Default Media Query: Looking for Road Trip Experts on Credit Cards

    I almost never do this, but I was sort of intrigued with this person's media query and it's entirely possible that you have something to share.

    A writer (Kim Palmer) is preparing a short feature to be published on USA TODAY and she is interested in knowing if there are road trippers who use credit cards (the kind with rewards) when going on a trip. She thought there might be some cards that offer gas rewards or discounts on insurance. I personally have never heard of any company offering such a product.

    In fact, I don't use credit cards with any benefits, but I know that they are popular. Do you have any information that you'd like to share?

    Ideas posted here would be ideal.

    As a follow-up, if you would like to be featured in the article, please indicate in your post and I will provide you with her contact information offline. Her deadline is Friday.

    Mark

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,328

    Default One 'All-Purpose' Card

    As with you, Mark, I know of no RoadTrip specific credit card that pays off in gas, lodging, or other such perks. But I do use a rewards credit card for travel as well as everything else. That's the Capitol One Venture Card that awards two points for every dollar you charge to it. Those points can then be redeemed for travel at the rate of 1 point = 1¢ on any airline for any ticket at any time. You just call (or go on-line with) Capitol One and they buy the ticket and charge you points. The good part about this is that everything you charge to the card earns you a rebate of basically 2% which you can use towards purchasing flights as well as, I believe, anything from Amazon. The downside is that it only earns 2%. There are cards that earn more, but these are typically 'branded' cards that only earn their higher reward rate, up to 5%, on purchases from a specific company - the 'brand'. So there's no one-size-fits-all card out there.

    It's also worth noting that what you pay for having and using the card will depend on your credit history, score and usage. Many of the better cards require a fairly high credit score and stable history, and the only way to avoid interest charges is to fully pay off the card each month. If you're earning 5% but paying 17% in interest, that's not a good deal. Also you can sometimes find deals where the first year's annual fee is waved. Arm yourself with knowledge, shop around, and read all the fine print.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,053

    Default Branded Card: Home Depot and Fuel Rewards

    AZ Buck,

    Yeah, I probably should get a card like you use. Megan has been leaning on my to do this for more than a year.

    Actually, the best deal I've ever found is having a commercial account at Home Depot. Home Depot has a shared affinity deal with Shell Oil and whenever I do major house renovations I essentially get free fuel fill-ups for a month or so. That's a great benefit.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,053

    Default Keeping it real

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    Actually, the best deal I've ever found is having a commercial account at Home Depot. Home Depot has a shared affinity deal with Shell Oil and whenever I do major house renovations I essentially get free fuel fill-ups for a month or so. That's a great benefit.

    Mark
    Hmmm. It is true that I spend a lot of $$$ at Home Depot to get those "rewards" but I'd have to spend the money anyway, so I prefer to think that this is a "good" deal.

  5. Default

    My wife and I use the Spirit MasterCard.

    Of course, there are A LOT of drawbacks to flying Spirit including being crammed in like sardines, being charged for checked and carry on baggage, and having to pay $10 or $20 for picking your own seat!

    So why pick Spirit? During off season travel we can fly round trip from Detroit to Tampa for 5000 miles each (plus a booking fee). And for $50 each way ($100 rt) each, you can get their Big Front Seat which is huge (they are the ONLY seats that recline), but you have to book early because there are very few of these available.

    Sometimes they have sign up promotions. Right now you get 15000 miles, enough for three off season RT flights of 1200 miles or less. Also, the last several times I flew Spirit, during the flight they passed out 5000 mile vouchers as an incentive to sign up.

    http://www.doublizer.com/awards/fs_chart.pdf?_ga=2.226785048.447543278.1498738664-2132268916.1488739741
    Last edited by travelingman; 06-29-2017 at 05:34 AM.

  6. #6

    Default

    If you are a member of Costco and have a Costco credit card it provides rebates on gas purchases (at any station) and Costco's gas stations are usually the least expensive. However, Costco are usually located in urban areas and only carry regular and premium, but are Top Tier certified.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12,994

    Default

    I know there are several variations of rewards credit cards that offer rewards in the form of fuel or lodging, but they are usually cards tied to a specific brand. For example, I think there are BP and Shell cards where you earn cents off per gallon, and there are hotel brands that offer points for their loyalty program, that can be cashed in for free nights.

    Having said that, I personally stick to general "cash" rewards, rather than any kind of points or miles or anything else that has to be redeemed. By doing cash rewards, I just get everything I earned credited back as a statement credit. I also don't like having single brand fuel cards, because far too often fuel brands tend to be somewhat regional, and even the big names like BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Shell have big pockets with few stations.

    Here are the 3 cards that I use on the road:

    BankofAmerica Cash Rewards. I get 3% cash back on all gas station purchases, 2% grocery store purchases, and 1% on everything else. Being that Gas and Groceries make up a big percentage of my spending on the road, it gets used quite a bit.

    Discover "Open Road" card: 2% cash back on Gas and Restaurants. I actually got this card before the Bank of America card, so now I pretty much only use it at restaurants.

    Capital One Venture Cash Rewards: This is the same basic card that Buck mentioned, but instead of earning points/miles, I get a flat 1.5% cash back on everything I buy. It's simple and straightforward, so a good "all-purpose" card for all of my general purchases. The other really big advantage of Capital One cards is that they don't charge a foreign transaction fee, so when I'm in Canada, or anywhere else outside the US, it is the only card I use. Most other cards charge at least 2% or 3% on all foreign purchase.

    You can feel free to pass any of that information onto her. She could try to contact me, but my connectivity will be pretty low between now and her deadline.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,328

    Default Good Points

    Michael brings up a couple of points to keep in mind if you do even a modest amount of your RoadTrpping outside of the US. Although not as bad as paying exorbitant interest rates on your 'revolving' credit, foreign transaction fees can easily chew up whatever 'bonus' your credit card is paying you for its use.

    The other thing you're going to need on foreign trips, even if you charge almost everything, is a bit of local cash. You will be warned here, and almost everywhere else travel advice is given, not to exchange currencies at the airport, it can be nearly as costly to just walk into a local bank and try to exchange cash. And if your credit card allows for 'cash advances', you need to be aware that the interest rate on such transactions is steep and starts immediately, even if you normally pay off your outstanding balance each month. If you're lucky - like me, I certainly didn't plan it - your local bank ID also doubles as a credit or debit card. If you're really lucky and have an account with a major national bank, they may have a reciprocal agreement with foreign banks. In my case, I use Bank of America and I can walk into certain foreign banks (e.g. Scotiabank in Canada and Mexico, Barclay's in the UK, BNP in France, Deutsche Bank in Germany) and use their ATM machines to get local currency, drawn on my home account, at a very favorable exchange rate and no transaction fee. It pays to know what's already in your wallet.

    AZBuck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,053

    Default Valuable intel for all roadtrippers

    Clearly more than I knew! Thanks for sharing all of these tips!

    Mark

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