Jet away with your credit card rewards scheme
Want to see the world on a backpacker’s budget? The right credit card rewards program could see you accumulating points towards free flights and upgrades, accommodation and other great lifestyle benefits so you can travel in style.
But instead of the same old tourist meccas, why not let your rewards card take you somewhere new?
Here are 10 beautiful holiday destinations off the beaten track.
1. Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
This beautiful island nation boasts a rich and diverse natural landscape, from beautiful tropical beaches and thick jungles to open savanna.
Book lovers might want to visit Galle in January for the Literary Festival, but the ancient ruins, excellent national parks and delicious food are there all year round.
When heading overseas, remember that some rewards credit cards may offer complimentary travel insurance for you and your family when you meet certain criteria – for example, using your credit card to pay for your travel costs before you leave the country.
2. Jodhpur, India
With the majestic Mehrangarh Fort perched serenely above a jumble of bright blue Brahmin dwellings, Jodhpur is well worth including on your travel wish list.
Inside the 10-kilometre-long, 16th-century walls, the city is a medieval maze of winding lanes, bustling bazaars and ancient markets.
3. Atacama Desert, Chile
Thanks to its elevation and absence of light pollution, the Atacama Desert is a stargazer’s dream.
The small town of San Pedro de Atacama is a great base for exploring the wonders of this magical place, including the salt-filled Cejar Lagoon and El Tatio geyser field, but be sure to book early.
Gold or platinum credit card holders may be able to take advantage of complimentary concierge services which can help you arrange accommodation ahead of time.
4. Yerevan, Armenia
Armenia’s ancient capital, Yerevan, boasts superb restaurants, old-fashioned tea houses and trendy wine bars, with spectacular monasteries and Lake Sevan only a day trip away.
Don’t miss the medieval Geghard monastery, the 2000-year-old Temple of Garni, or the World Heritage-listed Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries.
5. Taipei, Taiwan
With its breathtaking natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage and cheap, delicious food, Taiwan packs a lot into a small space.
Visit the treasures at Taipei’s National Palace Museum, sample mouth-watering local delicacies at the famous night markets, or go for a hike or cycle around picture-perfect Sun Moon Lake.
6. Lord Howe Island, Australia
If you want a natural paradise but don’t want to spend days getting there, look no further than Australia’s own Lord Howe Island.
This World Heritage-listed island is only a two-hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane and boasts some truly spectacular scenery, from lush mountainous terrain to coral reefs and sapphire sea.
7. Stellenbosch, South Africa
Stellenbosch is a beautiful and historic town in the heart of South Africa’s wine region, with row upon row of grape vines set against a stunning backdrop of rugged mountain ranges.
There's also plenty to do between tastings, with the town’s thriving music and arts scene, excellent museums and buzzing bars, clubs and restaurants.
8. San José del Cabo, Mexico
The quieter and more sophisticated neighbour of Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo is a beautiful and historic town full of fine dining, fine art and colonial Spanish architecture.
There’s something for everyone, from sampling a superb array of craft beers at the Baja Brewing Company to exhilarating zipline tours over picturesque desert canyons.
Or, take a stroll down the Plaza Artesanos. Here you’ll find vendors selling traditional Mexican arts and crafts, including handmade bags, blankets and ceramics. If something does catch your eye, it's good to know that some rewards cards may offer a 0% foreign transaction or currency conversion fee. This can eliminate the usual 2% or 3% surcharge per purchase, potentially adding up to serious savings by the end of your trip.
9. Bagan, Myanmar
With thousands of temples, stupas and pagodas popping out through the desert canopies, the plains around Bagan are an awe-inspiring sight.
Book an early morning hot air balloon ride and watch the sunrise illuminate the silhouettes of these ancient relics.
10. Napier, New Zealand
Napier’s streets are lined with so many beautiful art deco buildings and 1930s architecture that a trip here is like going back in time.
Try to visit on the third weekend in February when the town celebrates its local history by rolling out vintage cars, fashion and music.
Accessing travel perks through your rewards card
When you get a rewards credit card, you can typically choose to link it to your preferred frequent flyer program, or take advantage of the card’s own rewards program.
Some rewards cards allow you to redeem points for similar travel perks to frequent flyer programs – including free flights, upgrades, accommodation and car hire – but generally aren’t linked to a specific airline loyalty scheme.
Simply use your rewards credit card for everyday expenses such as utility, phone and internet bills, groceries and fuel, and you’ll be racking up points towards your next holiday in no time.