CREDIT & MONEY MANAGEMENT


Fly for Less With Low-Cost Cards

If airfare increases are keeping your vacation plans from getting off the ground, apply for a travel rewards credit card. Your best bet is one that lets you use points on multiple carriers. And if you're going abroad, a card that also waives the foreign-currency conversion fee is a plus.

Two cards that waive the conversion charge are the no-fee PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express card and the new Capital One Venture card. With the PenFed card, you earn five points per dollar spent on airfare, and one point for all other spending. The Venture card comes in two versions: a no-annual-fee card that awards 1.25 miles per dollar spent, and a card with a $59 annual fee (waived the first year) that rewards two miles per dollar spent. With the Venture card, the number of miles required varies with the ticket price you pay.

For domestic travel, we recommend the no-fee Simmons First Visa Platinum Travel Rewards card and the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card ($49 annual fee, waived the first year). With the Simmons card, you earn one point per dollar spent. Once you have 22,000 points, you qualify for a round-trip ticket worth up to $325 on any U.S. carrier to anywhere in the 48 contiguous states. With the U.S. Bank card, you can select from among more than 150 airlines. You earn one point for every dollar spent and double points on purchases in the category in which you spend the most (such as gas, groceries or airline travel).

It takes 20,000 points to earn a $400 ticket, and you receive a $25 credit for baggage fees or in-flight food.

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