How to Save Money on Travel in Retirement

Karim Rahemtulla By Karim Rahemtulla
Options Strategist

Retirement Planning

Traveling is at the top of most retirees’ bucket lists. See the world, visit family… All of this is on my list as well.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to travel around the world for work and for play.

And along the way, I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share with you.

But before I get started, there’s one important caveat: Remember that just because something costs more initially doesn’t mean it won’t pay you back in spades down the line.

That said, the biggest hack to saving money when you travel has to do with your credit card.

I’ve had all of them, ranging from American Express to Diners Club and Carte Blanche. But I recommend you spend $450 per year to get the best card on the market today: the Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa card.

No, I’m not getting any kickback from Chase for this. I just love the card. It gives me up to $300 in credit as reimbursement for any type of travel expense (Uber, hotels, airlines, etc.).

The sign-up bonus of 50,000 airline miles doesn’t hurt either. You can use them anywhere, anytime, through the Chase site. There are no restrictions; if it’s on Chase’s site, it’s available.

I recently booked a flight from Dublin to Paris via Copenhagen for two for 15,000 rewards points. That’s about a $600 value based on average fares, and I got an itinerary that allowed me a full day and night in Copenhagen.

So your 50,000-mile sign-up bonus could easily pay for two round-trip tickets. That’s another $500 to $700 right there, on top of the $300 travel credit.

When I travel – especially internationally – I like to use airline lounges. (High on my list after I land from an overnight flight is taking a shower and grabbing a cup of joe.)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card gives you and a guest complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges in the U.S. and all over the world. Plus, you receive a $28 per-person credit at a bunch of airport restaurants.

For someone like me who uses the lounges at least a dozen times a year, I’ll peg that value at around $400.

My card also pays the $100 fee for my Global Entry card, which allows me to breeze through customs and immigration when I return to the U.S.

Just based on the travel benefits alone, that $450 upfront returns around $800 per year when I prorate the sign-up bonus and Global Entry over a five-year period.

And that’s not all…

Each time I use the card at a restaurant, car rental, ride share, airline, train, travel agent or even airport parking, I receive triple points. These add up fast and can be used for everything from traveling to paying off your card balance. That’s worth another $1,000 per year for me at least.

So in the end, the $450 card actually provides me with more than $1,800 in tangible value annually. (Of course, I pay off my balance each month and recommend you do as well.) That’s money well-saved for any retiree!

If that were a stock, it’d make you four times your money in a year.

Next week I’ll share two more travel hacks that will save you thousands… and let you see the world while you’re at it.

Good investing,

Karim