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Is it time for a cruise? After several years of scaling back their vacations due to self-imposed austerity, Americans are, once again, taking to the high seas aboard a resurging cruise industry. Cruise bookings are up 10 percent and the cruise lines are trying to boost that number even higher by offering great deals and lower prices.
And now, vacation travelers can bring the costs down even further with cruise travel rewards that can buy you onboard goodies, an upgrade to a plush stateroom, or a big discount on a booking. When beefed up cruise rewards meet lower cruise prices, it’s definitely time to cruise.
Credit Card Travel Rewards
If you are even thinking about going on a cruise, you really should explore your options for a travel rewards credit card. Many credit card travel rewards programs have enhanced their rewards for cruise vacations. For instance, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn a 20% discount when you book through its Ultimate Rewards. You can also redeem Ultimate Rewards for gift cards on Carnival and Royal Caribbean, at a rate of $100 off per 10,000 points.
And, of course, when you book your cruise with a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you will earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel. Chase will also start you off with 40,000 points just for spending $3,000 within the first three months. All of that adds up to a dream cruise vacation at a budget price.
Cruise Rewards Cards
If you are unsure of your future cruise plans, using a general travel rewards credit card like Chase Sapphire may be your best bet as it allows for the greatest amount of flexibility in choosing cruise lines. However, if you are dead-set on a particular cruise line, you may want to consider obtaining a credit card directly from the cruise line.
For instance, Royal Caribbean offers Visa and Norwegian Cruise Line offers MasterCard, and all come with a rewards program that enables you to rapidly accrue points for onboard credits, cruise upgrades or discounts and even free cruises. Of course, you are locked in to using a particular cruise line, but if you know what you want, it can be your quickest route to a cruise vacation.
It Always Pays to Use Your Credit Card when Cruising
Your travel rewards credit card is not just essential for saving money on your next cruise; it is also an essential mode of payment when your cruise ship leaves the port. Once you are in international waters, transactions are usually completed in foreign currency.
Your credit card will automatically process the currency exchange so you don’t have to worry about calculating dollars and Euros. Most cards charge an exchange fee of 1 to 2 percent. You can find credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card that waives the exchange fees, which can be another big savings.
As wonderful as cruises are as a getaway, a lot can go wrong, such as the possibility of having to cancel your trip, losing your luggage in transport, losing your credit card or a medical emergency. Using a credit card protects you against these contingencies. You need to read the fine print of your credit card’s benefits to see which protections are available and how they might apply on a cruise vacation.
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