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Easy Ways to Rack Up Travel Rewards

Lifestyle

Travel is one of the activities that pre-retirees most look forward to enjoying in retirement. If you've already created your wish list of must-see spots, now is the perfect time to set yourself up for big savings by choosing the right travel rewards programs. To help demystify the process, we turned to Robert Firpo-Cappiello, editor-in-chief of Budget Travel. From credit cards and loyalty points to online deals, this travel pro knows what to sign up for—and how to get the most out of each one. He also shares some advice for retirees and empty nesters, no matter what their reward status: "Save big and enjoy the elbow room by traveling when school is in session. The months of May, June, September, and October are beautiful, as well as cheaper," he says. Play your cards right and you could even be traveling for free. 

Top Credit Cards for Travelers
With so many credit cards on the market, it can be tough deciding which one is going to serve you best. Here's a checklist of what to look for in a card:

  • An airline rewards or loyalty component. If you prefer to fly a specific airline, a loyalty card is a good choice. However, if you like to keep your flight options open, choose a card that offers flexible redemption.
  • No foreign transaction fees. "This can save you around 3 percent, which adds up if you plan to travel outside the United States," says Firpo-Cappiello.
  • Bonus miles for signing up. This perk sometimes requires a minimum initial booking within the first few months of card membership, so read that fine print.
  • Free baggage check. You'll definitely want this for yourself, and you might be able to get it for additional people in your traveling party.
  • No annual fee. Look for a fee-free first year (or even longer).

Pro-tip. Be diligent in managing your points and be aware of when they expire. Hold on to them by making a minimal purchase, whether it's airfare or an item from the program's online store.

How-to's for Hotel Loyalty Programs
The travel industry is always competitive, and if you have a favorite chain with locations in your top destinations, a hotel loyalty program can be a great idea. "Major chains—like Hilton, Holiday Inn, and Choice—are all making an effort to entice customers to become regulars," says Firpo-Cappiello. When you're narrowing down your choice of chain, check out the fees and how the points work, as well as how prices compare on average with booking sites, like Expedia and Kayak.

Sign Up and Seriously Save
Whether it's through email or social media, digital deals are where it's at. To maximize your chances of scoring savings, register for e-newsletters from all of the major airlines and hotels to stay abreast of sales. But don't stop there—follow all of the big carriers and hotel chains on Facebook and Twitter too.

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The institutional channel includes reinsurance and group annuity contracts related to pension risk transfers.
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Annuities contain features, exclusions, and limitations that vary by state. For a full explanation of an annuity, please refer to the Certificate of Disclosure and contact your Financial Professional or the company for costs and complete details.

This material is a general description intended for general public use. Athene Annuity and Life Company (61689), headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, and issuing annuities in 49 states (including MA and D.C.), and Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York (68039), headquartered in Pearl River, NY, and issuing annuities in New York, are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any individual or in any individual situation, and therefore nothing in this should be read as investment advice. Please reach out to your financial professional if you have any questions about Athene products or their features.

The term “financial professional” is not intended to imply engagement in an advisory business with compensation unrelated to sales. Financial professionals will be paid a commission on the sale of an Athene annuity.

ATHENE ANNUITIES ARE PRODUCTS OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY AND NOT GUARANTEED BY ANY BANK NOR INSURED BY FDIC OR NCUA/NCUSIF. MAY LOSE VALUE. NO BANK/CREDIT UNION GUARANTEE. NOT A DEPOSIT. NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY. MAY ONLY BE OFFERED BY A LICENSED INSURANCE AGENT.