Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards


Summer has come and gone, and while the travel season may have ended. The Best Travel Cards of 2017 still offer plenty of unique options for rewards lovers to redeem and earn points. Travel credit cards are your best bet if you want to greatly cut the cost of your next vacation. One big reason to like travel rewards cards is because they reward you in miles, points or cash for every dollar you spend on everyday purchases, which means you rack up rewards very rapidly. Feel free to give us your opinion on this topic.

Travel credit cards are rewards cards that help users earn free travel, achieve elite member status with hotels and airlines and enjoy many other travel-related perks. Although travel credit cards can often be used for cash back too, consumers receive better value when using them to collect and redeem points for travel.

The most popular redemption options included free domestic flights, followed by cash back, followed by free nights at a hotel. Free international flights were the least commonly redeemed.

Travel rewards cards help users save money on travel expenses, like on airfare, hotel and transportation spending. Travel credit cards benefit repeat customers, because the more you spend, the more savings (or benefits) you receive.

These travel rewards cards offer higher earning rates for travel spending in particular, and may can be cashed in for highly discounted or free flights and hotel stays, free or reduced baggage fees, priority boarding and other perks. Some cards may not even require any points at all to take advantage of those perks. They may carry an annual fee to offset those costs to the issuer.

Travel credit cards often come with lucrative sign-up bonuses with the best cards offering as many as 100,000 points to new members who hit a minimum spending amount within the first few months.

Like other premium rewards cards, travel cards are generally known to carry more restrictions and fees than the average credit card. For this reason, travel cards are not as beneficial for the occasional traveler.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of the most flexible travel cards available. You earn 2 miles per $1 spent on everything, and you redeem rewards for a credit against most travel expenses. And you’re not restricted to one airline or hotel, as is the case with co-branded cards. You just book your own travel, then pay for it with your rewards.

The annual fee is fairly low relative to other travel cards, and there are no foreign transaction fees, making it ideal to take abroad. This card also comes with a sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $400 in travel.

Cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are able to transfer their points to Chase travel partners at full value — 1,000 Chase points equal 1,000 partner miles/points. For most cards, some value gets lost during the transfer. Or get 20% off travel booked through Chase’s site.

Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. There are no foreign transaction fees. The intro annual fee is $0 the first year, then $95.

Unlimited 1.5 Miles per $1 Spent on All Purchases; Double Miles in Your First Year as a Cardmember

It’s hard to get simpler than Discover it Miles. For every dollar you spend, you earn 1.5 miles, with no limits, purchase categories, or other restrictions.

Miles are eligible for redemption in any amount as statement credits for travel purchases charged to your Discover it Miles card. Travel purchases include airfare bought directly from the airline (or from an online platform, such as Kayak), hotel stays (again, direct or through an online platform), travel agent commissions, rental car purchases, train fare, and commuter transportation, including short-haul rail and bus tickets.

Discover it Miles comes with a nifty first-year bonus: All miles earned in the first 12 months are automatically doubled, with no limits or restrictions. Notably, this card has no foreign transaction fees.

The best of the best credit cards for travel rewards have big sign-up bonuses and annual fees. But if you’re fee-averse or you don’t spend a lot, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card is a perfect fit.

High rewards rate: Many travel cards offer bonus rewards on certain purchases and a low rewards rate for everything else. But this one offers 1.5 points per dollar spent on everything. You’ll also get a 20,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days – that’s worth $200 in free travel.

What’s more, you can get up to 75 percent more points if you’re an existing Bank of America customer. That’s 10 percent if you have a Bank of America checking or savings account, and 25 percent to 75 percent as a Preferred Rewards client.

Flexible redemption: Like the Venture card, the BankAmericard Travel card lets you use your rewards on any travel purchase. Use the card to book travel, and you’ll have up to 12 months to use your points to get a statement credit. You’ll also pay no foreign transaction fees, so feel free to use it abroad.

Decent 0% APR promotion: If you need time to pay off a vacation or other large purchase, you’re in luck. The card offers a 0% APR promotion on purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles.

While that isn’t necessarily long compared with other 0% APR cards. It’s a rare perk for credit cards with travel rewards.

The Platinum card will be the only one of the three cards to offer elite status on a legacy airline after Prestige loses American Airlines lounge access this July. The Platinum card offers Delta SkyClub membership, which would cost $495 if you purchased it directly from the airline.

Platinum cardholders also get access to Centurion lounges in Las Vegas, Dallas, LaGuardia, Miami, San Francisco, Houston, and Seattle, with Philadelphia and Hong Kong opening later this year. Centurion lounges are not your typical airline lounge— they offer great food and allow two free guests unlike most airline lounges, which have subpar food and drink offerings and upcharge for everything.

Additionally, AmEx Platinum cardholders also get a Priority Pass Select membership, which gives access to over 1,000 lounges globally. (Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige cards also offer this perk).

Prestige comes in second with lounge access because it offers American Airlines Admirals Club access, but only until July 23, 2017. After that the only perk will be Priority Pass Select.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus card charges cardholders $89 a year after the card’s first 12 months. It showers cardholders with an array of high-dollar benefits, including a 50,000-point sign-up bonus, a 5 percent redemption bonus and a generous rewards value for every purchase.

“Other cards might offer splashier bonuses and grab more headlines, but the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard should take a backseat to no card,” says senior industry analyst Matt Schulz.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus card avoids complicated rewards programs and spending categories by awarding a flat rate of two miles for every dollar spent. Cardholders also can maximize their savings by booking their own travel and getting reimbursed for it.

Other pluses: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus card offers a number of premium benefits that make travel easier abroad, including no foreign transaction fees and the ability to use chip-and-PIN rather than just chip-and-signature like most U.S. credit cards.

“What helps it stand out is the fact that it is chip-and-PIN compatible,” says Schulz. “For foreign travelers, that’s a big deal that even higher-end cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve can’t offer.”

With chip-and-PIN capability, cardholders don’t have to worry whether their card will be accepted. “This can really make a difference traveling internationally if you need to buy a train ticket or gas at an unmanned kiosk,” says travel expert Johnny Jet.

You’ll earn 25,000 bonus points for charging at least $3,000 to this card within three months of account opening. That gets you roughly $640 in SPG reservations, according to WalletHub’s calculations.

The SPG Amex does not charge a foreign-transaction fee. And its $95 annual fee is waived the first year your account is open.

Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

The huge introductory bonus might have made way for a smaller incentive. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is still a great card to keep in your wallet. Earning three times Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and any travel. One point per dollar on everything else. The Sapphire Reserve earns points quickly through your everyday spending, and it comes with a slew of perks.

Points are worth 1.5¢ each towards travel booked through Chase. It can also be transferred to a number of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. Benefits include access to airport lounges through the Priority Pass network, trip delay coverage, purchase protection. A Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, and car rental primary coverage.

However, while the airport lounge access can be great. Most Priority Pass lounges are in international terminals, which isn’t helpful when you’re flying domestically.

The annual fee is a hefty $450, but that’s offset by a $300 travel credit each year, good for things like taxis, subway fare, parking, tolls, and flights.

Disclosure: This page includes links to sites we affiliate with. Purchasing through them will earn us a commission. Keep in mind that we only recommend the products and services that we believe in.