First of all, happy new year! Many of us are glad that 2020 is behind us. In recent history, we’ll remember it as the year that totally turned the world of travel upside down. As the new year begins, it’s time to take stock of your travel credit card portfolio once again, based on some of the following considerations. Where and when am I traveling next? Which miles or points will help me attain that travel goal? How do I tune my travel credit card strategy accordingly?

Travel Goals & Credit Card Strategy

As the new year begins, here are a few factors that you need to be cognizant of, in addition to a few to-do tasks.

Re-enroll in Benefits

Many credit cards need you to actually sign up or enroll before you use the benefit. In the new year, you’ll need to make sure that you re-enroll before you make a purchase. The last thing you’d want to see is that you’ve made a purchase, only to know that the bank denied you a credit or a benefit because you forgot to enroll.

travel credit card

With the $100 Dell credit with the Business Platinum card, you’ll need to enroll before you make a purchase


All credits aren’t created equal. For instance, you don’t need to $250 resort credit with the Hilton Aspire card. Take a close look at your card benefits and activate them as required.

travel credit card

Unlike the airline fee credit benefit, the resort credit is automatic

Airline Fee Credits

If you don’t enroll, then Amex will simply continue with the airline choice for the previous year. As per Amex’s terms and conditions, these credits do not apply to actual tickets. However, folks in our hobby have found out creative ways to use these for tickets. If you’re in the boat, then I’d suggest that you use those credits at the start of the year, because Amex may shut down the loophole at any time. Head over to the benefits section on your card and then click on the Airline Fee Credit section to select or change your airline choice.

Temporary Covid-19 Credits

Many card issuers offered temporary credits and benefits in response to how the economy changed post Covid-19. A lot of those benefits were only valid for 2020. For instance, if you were using the $20 cell phone credit on the Business Platinum card, then now would be a good time to switch your billing details a card like the Chase Ink Cash or the Chase Ink Business Preferred, as the $20 credit will not apply starting 2021.

Bonus Categories

Credit card issuers offered grocery credits in lieu of travel credits on many prominent travel credit cards. If you got into the habit of using your travel credit card for grocery, then now is a good time to check if that bonus category is still valid. If not, then it’s a good time to use a different card like the Amex Gold Card, which would give you 4x points per dollar spent on groceries.

Free Night Certificates

Many hotel chains were pretty generous in extending free night certificates that were expiring in 2020. However, as travel rebounds in 2021, hotel chains wont be as magnanimous, so now is a good time to check which certificates may be expiring soon in 2021.

Quarterly Promotions

Card issuers are extending existing promotions and credits on many of their products. Now is a good time to check your email to see if your particular card has a similar promotion for the first quarter of 2021.

Referral Bonuses

If you refer friends or family to credit cards, then those referral limits also reset each calendar year.

Anniversary Year v/s Calendar Year Benefits

Check your individual credit cards to see which benefits reset as per calendar year. Certain benefits reset every cardmember year, whereas others reset every calendar year, which allow you to double or even triple dip.

The Pundit’s Mantra

I hope this list will help you in kickstarting your credit card strategy and planning for travel in this year.

As the new year begins, I truly hope this is a year for many of us to travel more and explore this beautiful world of ours. Here’s wishing all readers a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2021. Safe travels!


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(Chase’s 5/24 rule may apply to these cards)


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Disclosure: The Points Pundit receives NO compensation from credit card affiliate partnerships. Support the blog by applying for a card through my personal referral links. This article is meant for information purposes only and doesn’t constitute personal finance, health or investment advice. Please consult a licensed professional for advice pertaining to your situation.