Travel rewards cards are aiming at younger shoppers

a girl sitting on a canyon edge

Younger Americans age 21 to 37 travel more than any other age group. It’s all about the experience—-they prioritize travel spending over mortgages

Millennials plan on financing their travel plans by saving money and avoiding debt. Sixty-seven percent of young Americans don’t have a credit card. Credit card companies see a big opportunity and have designed travel reward cards with plenty of perks to entice younger consumers to sign up.

Credit card companies are making their offers irresistible by offering free flights as credit card sign-up bonuses, access to travel benefits, structuring their travel rewards programs to make it easy to earn points quickly and getting rid of annual card fees.

Flexibility is most enticing

Younger travelers aren’t interested in loyalty—-they’re searching for the best deal. An AARP study found that millennials book the most trips in a year (5 on average) yet spend the least ($4,400) on travel overall.

Traditional credit cards that are tied to a single airline or hotel chain are a turn off for younger travelers looking for deals.

Rand Shoaf, founder of the welltraveledmile.com says, “Airline miles are great if you are willing to put in the extra leg work to get maximum value, but for someone looking for a quick and easy way to save money on travel, rewards credit cards are the answer.”

Travel reward cards like Chase Sapphire and Capital One Venture make it easy to book travel through their booking websites or by allowing points transfers to a variety of airline or hotel rewards programs.

Flexibility and simplicity are key as younger shoppers prefer to focus on the details of their travel experience over travel reward terms and conditions.

Is a travel rewards credit card worth it?

Travel rewards credit card offers are a win-win for consumers, regardless of age. Lower fees, an easier point redemption structure and premium travel benefits like travel insurance, rental car coverage, access to lounges or free additional baggage seem enticing, but it’s still important to weigh the pros and cons.

Young shoppers need to consider their spending habits. Do they spend enough to offset a credit card’s annual fee? Will they be able to earn enough points for travel?

On the other hand, overspending can be dangerous to their budget and credit score. Are they prone to overspending or forgetting to make payments on time? No matter how enticing the reward points, they don’t make up for the high-interest rates credit cards charge on large balances.

Best travel rewards credit cards for young consumers

Some cards have tapped into what young shoppers are looking for most. Travel blogger Lia Garcia of Practical Wanderlust loves the flexibility of her Capital One Venture Rewards card. She says, “We can pay ourselves back for everything from the Uber to the airport to our AirBnB, without having to worry about devaluing our points by transferring them or booking using a specific portal.”

Here’s how some of the top travel rewards credit card providers attract younger consumers:

Chase Sapphire Preferred

There’s a lot of value built into the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for the $95 annual fee. And the first year’s fee is waived. The sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months can be redeemed for a couple of domestic plane tickets or at least one international round trip flight.

Points can be transferred to 13 travel partners or by booking travel through their Ultimate Rewards booking portal. Young shoppers looking for experiences beyond travel will love Chase’s Ultimate Reward Experiences like VIP access to dining, concerts and sports events.

Capital One Venture Rewards

Similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the Capital One Venture Rewards card makes it simple to earn points. Besides airline and hotel redemption, points can also be used for rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year and the current sign-up bonus is 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

What makes this card stand out to young travelers is the chance to earn the highest amount of travel points of 10 miles per every dollar spent on hotel stays booked through Hotels.com or the Venture website.

Discover it Miles

The Discover it Miles travel credit card has no annual fee and will match all the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Young shoppers will love that there are no blackout dates when redeeming points for travel, making it possible to travel anywhere—-even during the busy holiday season.

The EveryDay Card from American Express

Amex offers 10 travel-related credit cards. Most are geared towards one company like Marriott or Delta. The EveryDay card is the most flexible for young travelers because spending earns Membership Rewards points, which can be used through their travel portal or transferred to almost 20 hotel and airline programs.

This Amex card has no annual fee and a sign-up bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.

The bottom line

Credit card companies are working hard at earning the loyalty of younger shoppers. And younger shoppers are price-conscious, valuing travel and experiences above all else.

The top travel rewards credit card companies are shaking things up by offering enticing travel rewards that don’t lock their customers down to only one travel partner. Financing travel by earning points on your everyday spending has never been easier.