Travel Smart Using Your Rewards Credit Card

By Dan Skaggs

Dan Skaggs is a product manager for SchoolsFirst FCU and is based in our Tustin office.

Whenever we get the opportunity, my wife and I love to travel, and we always use our SchoolsFirst FCU Rewards Mastercard® to make our vacations easier and more enjoyable. Over the years, we’ve been to Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Morocco and South Africa. Most recently, we enjoyed using our Rewards Card when we visited Singapore, Thailand and China.

You Won’t Get Stung by Fees

With our Rewards Card, you don’t have to worry about getting saddled with unnecessary fees when you travel. For instance, many credit card issuers add foreign transaction fees when you use a card at a non-U.S. retailer. The amount is usually around 3%, which doesn’t sound like much, but it can really add up. For instance, if you spend $3,000, you’ll be charged an extra $90 for the privilege. The SchoolsFirst FCU Rewards card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees1 so you don’t have to regret using your card when the trip is over.

Improved Rewards

We’ve also made improvements to the rewards points program. It has always been generous; for instance, you get 10,000 rewards points without spending a cent, just by opening a Rewards card, which can be redeemed for $100 cash back, or get $100 off an airline ticket for just 7,500 points. But now you get more points every time you use your card. Previously, Rewards cardholders earned 1 point for every $1 spent, but now you get 1.5 points for every $1 spent; and if you link your Debit MasterCard to an Investment Checking Account, you’ll earn 2 points for each transaction, regardless of the dollar amount you spend. With your everyday spending, those points stack up fast, which means more travel dollars in your pocket.

Best of all, unlike some other rewards cards, there’s no cap on the points you accrue, your points never expire2, and there are no blackout dates, so you can book travel whenever you want.

High-Touch Travel Assistance

Mastercard’s Concierge Service works just like a concierge at a nice hotel—you get personalized assistance whenever you need it, 24/7, and have somebody else do the work for you. It’s a nice perk to have in your back pocket when you need to plan and book travel, make hard-to-get restaurant reservations, snag tickets to sold-out shows and sporting events, and even get some shopping done. And there are no strings for their personalized help—it’s totally free.

I also like Mastercard’s Priceless Cities program, because it offers deals on hotels, restaurants, shopping and one-of-a-kind travel experiences including cruises, special tours and dining events, which can make your vacation even more unique.

Help When You Need It Most

Hopefully, your travel is a breeze, but sometimes setbacks do happen: a lost or stolen credit or debit card, delayed luggage, even legal or medical issues. These occurrences could leave you stranded in a strange place, but the Rewards Card is tailored to handle traveling emergencies no matter where you roam, with services such as lost baggage coverage, a replacement credit card and cash, and medical and legal referrals.

Enhanced Security Features

Nothing can ruin a vacation quicker than having your wallet stolen or worrying about your personal financial information being compromised. The Rewards Card is designed to makes traveling more secure, offering ID theft alerts, resolution services and EMV-chip enabled protection. And we’ve added even more security enhancements, including address change monitoring, Social Security Number monitoring and ID Theft Expense Reimbursement Insurance. All of these security features are complimentary, unlike other financial institutions that charge anywhere from $5.95 to $15.95 a month for comparable services Having that peace of mind can help you enjoy a worry-free vacation.

Other Great Perks

There are other nice features that come with the Rewards card too, a car rental collision damage waiver, price and extended warranty protection on purchases, and Apple Pay® for more secure shopping. From firsthand experience, I can tell you it’s a card I’ve come to depend on. And your SchoolsFirst FCU team will continue to make improvements to ensure that your travels are always rewarding experiences.


1.SchoolsFirst FCU’s credit card program features a range of rates based on a variety of factors, including the applicant’s credit rating. APR = Annual Percentage Rate. As of 8/1/17, Rewards credit card rates range from 12.50%-17.90% APR. Rates are subject to change, are variable and subject to increase after account opening. 2. Account must be open, current and in good standing.

Federally insured by NCUA.


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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.

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