blackout datesUpdated: May 2, 2019

If you’ve seen any commercials or advertisements for a travel rewards credit card, you’ve likely heard the term “blackout dates” before, but do you know what they are and why it’s best to avoid them? We’re explaining exactly what you need to know about blackout dates and how you can get the most of your travel card’s miles or points. We’ve also listed some of our favorite credit cards that have no blackout dates for travel, making it easier for you to find the right card for your needs.

Defining blackout dates

Blackout dates are time periods when travel deals, reward redemption and promotions aren’t available. These dates usually fall on holidays or other peak travel periods. For example, an airline might not let you use rewards points to purchase flights around Thanksgiving or Christmas. As you can see, blackout dates can limit how you use your rewards, which is why we recommend that you opt for a travel credit card with no blackout dates. That way, you’ll be able to redeem your miles or points for free or discounted flights and hotel stays whenever you like.

How to get the most of your travel rewards

Even if you pick a card with no blackout dates, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind so you can get the most of your travel rewards.

Know when to book

Besides blackout dates, there are factors to keep in mind. For one, flight and hotel values fluctuate throughout the year. Even without blackout dates, you are likely to find that hotel and flight prices are higher during peak periods. That’s why you may want to use your miles or points during less popular periods or for less common flight routes.

Be aware of seat availability

Another factor to consider when using rewards is seat availability. Even if there are no blackout dates, airlines may limit how many seats on a given flight are available for purchase through rewards. They may also spread these seats across different classes — first class, business and economy. This means even though you can book a ticket on whatever date you please, limited seat availability could make it harder for you to use your rewards during peak times — there might not be enough seats to go around. It can also make using your rewards more expensive. For example, you may be looking for economy seats. However, if first class is all that’s available, you’ll end up spending more than you intended.

Next stop …

Knowing about blackout dates is a great step toward determining which travel credit card is right for you. For great travel credit card options, check out our travel rewards credit cards reviews.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.