|by Jason Steele|
A lot of people scoff at reward cards because the rewards don’t seem all that great. I have to admin, one or two percent really doesn’t blow your mind, especially if you do not do a lot of spending on your credit card. Last week, I told you about the great card from AARP that offers an introductory cash back rate of 5%. I later told you how you could get in on the deal even if you are not old enough to be a regular member of AARP.
If five percent did not get your attention, how about 10%? Sure there are some cards that will give you 10% back on specific merchants. These are often flower shops or other specific retailers who have a really high margin.
Travelocity Amex Card Gives You 10% On Travel
Basically, this card will give you 5 Travelocity points for every purchase you make on….Travelocity. Each point is worth 2 cents as a credit towards more travel purchases. Since you can book hotels, rental cars, and airline travel there, you can essentially earn 10% cash back on any travel purchase. You need to redeem 20,000 points for a $400 statement credit against a Travelocity purchase. So you spend $4,000 on travel and get a $400 credit.
Who Can Use This
Here is who I see that would get the most advantage. If you are traveling frequently, and you are able to make your desired bookings on Travelocity, you can really make out like a bandit. 10% is light years ahead of a 2% card, and it is even better than using your airline card to book directly with the airline for 2 points per dollar.
What Are The Downsides
If you are the kind of person who likes to book all of your travel direct, this outstanding reward percentage might get you to change your mind. Unfortunately, there are many downsides to using an intermediary like Travelocity. First, they will charge you booking fees on hotels, unlike some sites. Secondly, when you book a hotel through a third party, there can be little or no disclosure of other, mandatory fees. You are always looking at a price that may or may not reflect what you will actually be paying when you arrive. At least when you book through a hotel’s own site, they have to disclose all of the fees. How they can legally sell you something and not disclose the total price until you arrive will surely be the subject of litigation at some point in the future.
Next, there is the problem of room preferences. Book though a hotel site, and they will guarantee you a smoking or non-smoking room. Book through Travelocity and you might not even be given the preference, and your choice may only be granted after all other guests who booked directly have received their choice. If you have to have a non-smoking room, the only way around this with Travelocity is to do your research on other sites to make sure the entire hotel is non-smoking. Finally, most hotel programs will not grant you credit towards status in their program when you book through an intermediary. Without 10% cash back, it boggles my mind why people would pay an extra fee to book travel on a site like this that doesn’t notify them of required fees and doesn’t guarantee or even accept room preferences, and doesn’t earn them credit.
Beyond hotels, I also have a problem with booking airline tickets through an intermediary. When something goes wrong, the airline will just tell you to contact your travel agent. For example, US Airways will charge you a fee to assist you with a booking made through a third party site. That they actually help you, but charge you a fee, may be the best case scenario. Here is an instance where travelers on US Airways (what is it with these clowns) were totally screwed when their booking on Expedia disappeared.
Call me crazy, but I would prefer to stick with direct bookings on air and hotel. In fact, I tend to find so many discounts that aren’t bookable with Travelocity, that even 10% back wouldn’t really do it for me. On the other hand, if I were traveling on business and I was, shall we say, a little less price sensitive, I would be more than happy to PUT 10% of all of my travel expenditures in my pocket.