Airport lounge access: A credit card feature that allows the cardholder to visit certain airport lounges free of charge or at a discounted rate.
Annual fee: A fee charged once per year for a credit card. Annual fees for travel credit cards range from $0 to over $500.
Bonus category: A spending category in which a credit card earns bonus rewards. For example, a travel credit card may earn 5 points per $1 on air travel, compared to 1 point per $1 on regular purchases.
Credit card rewards program: A loyalty program offered by a credit card company. The most popular credit card rewards programs are:
Elite status: Any status above the basic, introductory tier in a travel provider’s loyalty program. Airlines and hotels usually have multiple tiers in their loyalty programs, and elite status tiers offer more benefits. Each tier has its own entry requirements, such as spending a minimum amount or making a minimum number of bookings. Some travel cards include elite status in a loyalty program as a complimentary perk.
Foreign transaction fee: A credit card fee charged on transactions made in foreign currencies or transactions that go through international banks. Most travel credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Loyalty program: A program offered by a business to encourage customer loyalty. Loyalty programs offer special rewards for members. These programs are common with travel providers such as airlines and hotels, and allow travelers to earn rewards to use for free bookings. They’re also referred to as rewards programs, and airline loyalty programs are also referred to as frequent flyer programs.
Redemption options: The ways that travel rewards can be used. These options depend on the type of travel rewards and the loyalty program.
Rewards rate: The amount of rewards a credit card earns per $1 spent. Some credit cards offer the same amount on every purchase, such as 2 points per $1 on all eligible purchases. Other cards offer more in bonus categories.
Sign-up bonus: A credit card bonus offer available to new cardholders. Most sign-up bonuses include a requirement to earn the bonus amount, such as spending a certain amount within a set time period. Another common term for a sign-up bonus is a welcome bonus.
Spending credit: A statement credit towards one or more purchases on your credit card bill. Some travel credit cards offer spending credits, and they generally apply to specific types of purchases over a certain time. For example, a travel card could offer a $300 annual credit towards travel purchases.
Transferable rewards/points/miles: Rewards that can be transferred to the loyalty programs of multiple travel providers. Transferable rewards are widely considered the most valuable, because they can be used for travel bookings with different airlines and/or hotels.
Travel portal: An online platform for booking travel. Many major credit card issuers have travel portals cardholders can use to book trips.
Travel rewards: A loyalty program currency that can be redeemed for travel. Travel rewards are usually referred to as points or miles, depending on the loyalty program.