Using Credit Cards for Hotel Reservations, Car Rentals and Air Travel
It is close to impossible, in the modern age, to obtain hotel reservations or car rental without a credit card. This is a change of affairs from the situation only a decade or two ago. Credit cards allow hotels and rental companies to guarantee payment for their services by customers as well as to obtain additional compensation in case of damage to rooms or vehicles. Although airplane tickets can be bought with cash, airlines tend to look at such customers with suspicion. What is more, many credit card companies have arrangements with major airlines which provide useful incentives for using particular credit cards that there is almost no reason not to use them.
It is important to understand how hotels charge for rooms and services through your credit card. The important issue here is the extra amount the hotel charges as insurance over possible damage to your room. This is over and above the amount estimated for your room and services charges. This total amount can put you close to your credit limit because the amount is frozen on your account and the difference between this and your credit limit will be the amount of credit you have available until you check out and the actual payment of your bill occurs. It is therefore important to find out from the hotel what these charges are right from the start. It is often more convenient to use Travel and Entertainment(T&E) Cards for these purposes because they do not come with a credit limit. This is one advantage of the American Express CardŽ or the Diners Club CardŽ, for example.
A number of credit card companies have special arrangements with specific hotels which provide special discounts to their cardmembers. Often these perks also extend to restaurants and other entertainment items such as tickets. This synergy of merchants has been accelerating recently, and the dilligent consumer who takes the time to properly research various credit card offers will find a number of benefits resulting in significant savings.
The potential problem here is similar to the case above with hotel reservations. Car rental companies will place a hold on your account for an amount over and above the actual cost of the rental to insure them against possible damage to the vehicle you rent. But the advantages of using a credit card for car rentals can be many. The perks include free road service, discounts at particular rental agencies, cash rebates and car-rental insurance.
If one travels by air with any regularity at all, it is advisable to get a free air miles credit card. These are easy to obtain and provide you with discounts on airline tickets based on the amount of money you charge to your credit card. Additionally, most major credit card companies give you the option of joining travel clubs as well as helping you find some of the most convenient and cheapest flights and travel packages available. This is particularly so in the internet age, where a number of aggressive online credit card issuers have designed their websites to be virtual travel agencies.
Most airlines seldom fill out their seating capacities on most flights, so it is worth their while to use the extra capacity to induce potential new customers to use their services. Since airline tickets are relatively expensive, you would need to make significant charges to your credit card in order to get the equivalent of a free airline ticket. Most people do not charge the tens of thousands of dollars this requires to their credit cards. Indeed, most people do not have credit limits which allow them to do so, but it is still possible to achieve this simply by shifting the payment of large expenses such as school tuition or bill payments to a credit card rather than using a check. Of course, in such cases, it makes sense to pay your bill immediately it is due so as not to have to pay interest charges which would more than negate the benefits form free air miles.