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Amid general travel worries and forever-changing travel restrictions, travel destinations, brands, and credit card issuers alike are trying to woo back their loyal consumers. These travel incentives are available in August 2020 (and beyond, for some). However, keep in mind that not every incentive out there will apply to U.S. travelers, at least not as long as COVID-19 international border-crossing restrictions remain. Are any of these travel incentives a good fit for your upcoming late-summer and fall plans? 

The Post Hotel
Travel incentives may be limited, like a stay at the Post Hotel at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, because many countries have banned U.S. citizens. Photo by Johnny Jet

Visa Waivers As Travel Incentives

The governments in some popular travel destinations are hoping that waiving the need for a visa to enter the destination will be enough of a travel incentive to inspire people to flock to their borders. Egypt is one such country and has recently made it unnecessary to obtain a visa before visiting the Red Sea region, South Sinai, and Marsa Matrouh. The government also lowered the fees for visiting some specific tourist sites, like Luxor. Additionally, they are giving airlines some subsidies in hopes of bringing down the costs of airfare for incoming tourists.

Extended Credits 

If you have a hotel credit card, you’re likely already familiar with having credits to spend at select hotels as a cardholder. Usually, you get a few hundred bucks to spend at the resort or hotel where you’re staying.

However, since many travelers aren’t choosing to use those credits at actual hotels, some card issuers are allowing you to use those credits elsewhere, so long as you’re doing some spending on that travel credit card.

This is the case for Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card cardholders, as well as Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card cardholders. Through the end of August, if you have either of these cards, you can use your standard $250 and $300 hotel credits, respectively, at U.S. restaurants. This is part of the added American Express bonus categories.

Similarly, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® — one of the most popular premium travel credit cards — is allowing cardholders to use their typical $300 annual travel credit on gas stations and grocery store purchases through the end of the year. Citi Prestige® Credit Card cardholders can likewise spend their $250 annual travel credit on grocery store and restaurant purchases through the end of the year.

Cruise Lines

Beyond credit cards, cruise lines are also offering credit in different ways than they have in the past. With cruising possibly starting in August, at least on a small scale, cruise lines are trying to offer all the incentives they can for travelers to book and then actually go on their cruise.

Carnival, for example, is offering travelers who ended up canceling a cruise earlier in the year a 100% future cruise credit as well as $600 of credit to use while on that cruise. The only caveat is that you have to book that cruise with your credit by the end of the year.

Related: Best Credit Card for Grocery Purchases

Bonus Points For Future Travel Incentives (Expired)

We’ve seen a lot of travel credit cards offering new ways to earn bonus points this year. These new categories are great. You’re not relying on travel spending only to rack in the significant bonus point amounts. Quite a few were offering major points on grocery store spending over the summer. But that promotion has primarily died down with July ending soon. However, Chase’s Instacart bonus is still available through the end of September.

From July 15 through Sept. 15, 2020, you’ll find that a large selection of Marriott Bonvoy credit cards are allowing you to earn 10x points per $1 spent at restaurants (including delivery services) and gas stations, up to $3,500 of spending combined. Eligible cards for the Chase Marriott bonus include:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier Plus Business Credit Card
  • The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy™ Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier Credit Card
  • The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ Credit Card

Cardholders must activate the bonus before September 15, 2020, in order to be eligible. While banks have tightened the screws on credit card approvals, they are still offering travel incentives, even if those incentives are for everyday spending.

Related: Best Gas Credit Cards

Free Hotel Stays and Airfare 

Some destinations are offering free stuff if you book a trip to visit. 

According to The Yucatan Times, Cancun, for example, launched a Come to Cancun 2×1 campaign earlier in the summer. The campaign rewards travelers to the region with two free nights in a hotel for every two paid nights booked. Plus, it offers a refund of one plane ticket when you purchase airfare for two or more people.

Related: Best Miles Credit Cards

Virus Payment?

Some brands are taking a different approach. Instead of offering you an incentive to come to their destination, use your travel credit card or book with a particular travel brand, they’re providing payment if something goes wrong. 

Uzbekistan is one such destination, as part of a Safe Travel Guaranteed program. Through the program, if you travel to Uzbekistan and book travel with select tour providers, you’ll receive approximately $3,000 if you end up getting the coronavirus during your trip. 

The Bottom Line Regarding The Latest Travel Incentives For August

Taking advantage of some of these incentives in August will be up to your judgment and personal comfort level. Do you feel comfortable traveling at the moment? If so, you may find some of these offers attractive.

However, if you don’t feel comfortable hopping on a plane, you can still take advantage of the spending travel incentives offered by credit cards. 

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