17 Best Travel Credit Cards of December 2021

17 Best Travel Credit Cards of December 2021

Our favorite card for travel is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, because it earns flexible, valuable points that are useful to most travelers and it offers a great suite of travel protections.

On Chase's Secure Website

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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Top travel credit cards 2021

Best for overall and international travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Best for beginners

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel

Best for $0 annual fee

Hilton Honors American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.

Pick a card category:

Most people want to travel more, but few take advantage of the fact that the right travel credit card can make that possible. The best travel credit cards make trips both local and abroad more comfortable, and they can also help you earn free flights, hotels and more. In the page below, we've surveyed the best travel credit cards, airline cards and hotel cards for different types of cardholders. Whatever your habits and preferences, you'll find the best travel credit card for your needs on this list.

Best credit card for international travel and best travel credit card overall

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

$95

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: One of the most highly regarded credit cards available, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is among the best Chase travel credit cards. The best way to maximize your rewards with this card is by redeeming them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.

The best credit card for international travel is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It's hard to beat the value and flexibility you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — our pick for the best overall travel rewards credit card. The points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 rate to any of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® transfer partners, which could potentially squeeze even more than $1,600 in value out of the bonus.

What really makes this the best credit card for traveling abroad are its travel insurance benefits, which are some of the most robust we've seen for a card with an annual fee in this range. These include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel accident insurance and delayed and lost baggage insurance. You'll also get primary rental car insurance, which means you don't have to make a claim with your personal policy in order to receive coverage from your credit card.

Coronavirus updates. Until March 31, 2022, cardholders can use the "Pay Yourself Back" feature to get 1.25 cents per point redeemed for statement credits on Airbnb and Away purchases. They can also get 1.25 cents per point toward eligible charities until Dec. 31, 2021.

  • Generous welcome bonus worth $1,000 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal and possibly more with a Chase transfer partner
  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases — making it the best credit card for travel points
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards® portal
  • Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to popular airline and hotel rewards programs
  • Partner benefits with DoorDash and Lyft
  • Extensive trip insurance benefits
  • $0 foreign transaction fee
  • Until Dec. 31, 2021, earn 5X points on Peloton purchases (up to $1,800 in purchases) and get back up to $60 on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership to get full access to workout classes using your phone, tablet or TV.
  • Up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards
  • $95 annual fee


Best credit card for travel miles

unavailable card art
Card not available

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Travel tip: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® gives members access to the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent-flyer program, which is one of the best airline rewards programs. Use your card for its added travel benefits, including free checked bags and preferred boarding.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is the best miles credit card — not only because of its hefty sign-up bonus, but also because it's one of very few airline cards to offer bonus rewards on such a broad range of everyday spending categories.

This card does come with an annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months. But if you tend to fly American Airlines, the money you save on American Airlines baggage fees might be enough to recoup the fee. This is particularly true if you're a fan of the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent-flyer program, as the airline miles you earn with this card should only be redeemed for flights on American Airlines and partner airlines. If you aren’t ready to pledge loyalty to this airline and you're not looking specifically for the best miles credit card, it might be wiser to opt for a more generic travel credit card.

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • First checked bag free on domestic flights and preferred boarding with American Airlines
  • Get a $125 American Airlines discount certificate each year you spend $20,000 and renew your card
  • 0% foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee
  • The free checked bag benefit is limited to domestic flights, making this card less valuable if you tend to fly internationally


Best credit card for travel points

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

$550

16.99%-23.99% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
  • Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

Travel tip: Be sure to take advantage of the annual $300 Chase travel credit that comes with this card to offset its high annual fee.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is often hyped as the best credit card for travel points, and for good reason. The slew of premium benefits that come with it more than make up for a hefty annual fee if you travel regularly, and Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are both valuable (worth at least 1.5 cents each for Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders) and highly versatile.

The annual Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel credit of $300 — which can be applied to any purchase that codes as travel, including everything from airlines and hotels to trains, buses, taxis and parking garages — brings the annual fee down to $250. The Priority Pass™ Select membership alone, which gets you complimentary access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide, is worth over $400. When it comes to trip insurance benefits, the coverage offered by this card — which includes primary rental car insurance, trip interruption and cancellation insurance, lost or delayed baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, emergency evacuation and emergency medical insurance — simply can't be beat.

Coronavirus updates. Gas station and grocery store purchases count toward the $300 annual travel credit until Dec. 31, 2021.

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Points are worth 50% more when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards® portal
  • Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to popular airline and hotel rewards programs
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Up to $120 in DoorDash credits
  • Complimentary access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide
  • One of the best travel insurance credit cards, as it offers emergency evacuation and emergency medical insurance
  • $0 foreign transaction fee
  • Until Dec. 31, 2021, earn 10X points on Peloton purchases (up to $1,800 in purchases) and get back up to $120 in statement credits for an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership to take workout classes using a phone, tablet or TV.
  • $550 annual fee
  • Doesn't offer elite status with any airline or hotel rewards programs


Best credit card for hotel rewards

unavailable card art
Card not available

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: Curious about getting a Hilton rewards card, but want to make sure you can maximize value? Learn how to best earn and redeem Hilton rewards here.

It's hard to find another hotel credit card with a list of perks as long as what you'll get with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. In exchange for a relatively steep annual fee, you'll get $600 in annual statement credits and a complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership, which is worth over $400 (enrollment required). You'll also get Diamond status with the Hilton Honors rewards program, making this the only credit card to offer top-tier status automatically to any hotel loyalty program (enrollment required).

The card's earn rate is generous not just on Hilton spending, but also on everyday categories like U.S. restaurants — plus, you can even get a good rate on regular spending. That being said, this card is best for people who are Hilton-loyal and can use up the annual credits on offer, as they can only be applied to very specific purchases.

  • Six-figure welcome bonus
  • Earn 14X per $1 of eligible purchases on your card directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort, 7X for eligible purchases: on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com; on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; & at U.S. restaurants, and 3X for other purchases on your card
  • Annual weekend night reward
  • Up to $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
  • Up to $250 airline fee credit (enrollment required)
  • Up to $100 property credit at participating Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels & Resorts
  • Complimentary Diamond elite status (enrollment required)
  • Complimentary access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide (enrollment required)
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Terms apply
  • $450 annual fee
  • Limited redemption options; points are best redeemed for stays with Hilton
  • Fewer trip insurance benefits than other premium travel credit cards; card only comes with baggage insurance and secondary rental car insurance
  • Annual credits can be hard to use, especially if you don't stay at Hilton Resorts, Waldorf Astoria, or Conrad properties
  • Terms apply


Best travel rewards credit card with no annual fee

Hilton Honors American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.

$0

15.74%-24.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: Using a credit card with no annual fee is a great first step towards learning how to travel for free and save money. Be sure to use your points earned with the Hilton Honors American Express Card to book free Hilton hotel stays.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card packs an amazing amount of value for a $0-annual-fee card. For starters, it comes with a really generous welcome offer. Secondly, even considering the inflated value of Hilton points (only worth 0.5 cent per point, by our estimates), the card offers generous points on your regular purchases: Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

Finally, the card grants you automatic Hilton Honors Silver status, with the chance to earn Gold status after spending $20,000 on eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year (enrollment required). The guaranteed elite status with Hilton year after year makes this card a keeper.

For rates and fees of Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here

  • Welcome bonus worth around $600 ($500 in Hilton hotel purchases + $100 statement credit)
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio, 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations AND 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • $0 annual fee — the best travel credit card with $0 annual fee
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Terms apply
  • Benefits and rewards have limited value for those who don't stay frequently with Hilton
  • Terms apply


Best travel credit card for business travel

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

$95

15.99%-20.99% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Purchase Protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: Are you a small business or startup owner? Compare all small business cards here.

The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is an excellent choice for business owners who want to earn lucrative travel rewards. The card's sign-up bonus on its own is enough to save you $1,250 on travel — or even more if you transfer those points to one of Chase's airline and hotel partners.

The travel perks and trip insurance benefits are limited on this card when compared with some of the best travel credit cards, but you'll earn big on some business-related spending categories and can get employee cards at no additional cost. Just make sure you spend enough on an annual basis to make up for the $95 annual fee.

  • Huge welcome bonus worth $1,250 toward travel if you transfer those points to one of Chase's airline and hotel partners
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.
  • Points are worth 25% more when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal
  • You can transfer your points to a long list of Chase's airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 rate
  • You'll get trip cancellation/interruption insurance and primary rental car insurance
  • Free employee cards
  • $95 annual fee
  • Sign-up bonus has a high minimum spending requirement
  • Travel insurance benefits are limited compared with top-tier travel credit cards


Best credit card for travel and dining

American Express® Gold Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

$250

See Pay Over Time APR

660 - 850

  • Rose Gold is here to stay. Card Members can choose between a Gold or Rose Gold Card.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: The American Express® Gold Card offers one of the best travel deals right now for travel and dining. With high earning rates on restaurants, flights and U.S. Supermarkets — as well as the ability to maximize your Membership Rewards points when you redeem for travel — you’ll definitely want to take advantage of this card.

The American Express® Gold Card is one of the best options if you want to earn big on dining and U.S. supermarkets but prefer to spend your rewards on travel. The American Express Membership Rewards® program offers a few ways to use your points, worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel through the Amex portal. You could potentially double that value by transferring your points to one of Amex's travel partners, which include popular airline and hotel loyalty programs.

This card is stacked with annual credits that can help you recoup the $250 annual fee, but they can be tricky to use. The dining credit of up to $120 is doled out in $10 per month increments and can be used for purchases with Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). The $100 hotel credit can only be used on reservations of at least 2 nights made though The Hotel Collection, and it can only cover charges like dining and spa services, not the cost of the room. The new annual Uber Cash benefit can be used for Uber rides or Uber Eats in the U.S. Your American Express® Gold Card needs to be added to your Uber app in order to receive this monthly Uber Cash benefit.

Note, unlike typical credit cards, the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Terms apply.
  • Transfer your points to Membership Rewards® airline and hotel partners
  • Save up to $120 on dining in the form of $10 monthly statement credits for Grubhub, Seamless, and select partner restaurants (enrollment required)
  • Save up to $120 on U.S. Uber rides or U.S. Uber Eats purchases in the form of up to $10 in monthly Uber Cash (add your Gold Card to your Uber account)
  • Up to $100 hotel credit with The Hotel Collection
  • Terms apply
  • $250 annual fee
  • Annual credits can be hard to use fully
  • Travel insurance protections are limited
  • Terms apply


Best travel credit card with lounge access

The Platinum Card® from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

$695

See Pay Over Time APR

660 - 850

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: Choosing a credit card with airport lounge access is one of our best frequent traveler tips. The Platinum Card® from American Express gives you access to a multitude of luxurious airport lounges all over the world.

The Platinum Card® from American Express earns big on certain airline and hotel purchases, and its Membership Rewards® points can be extra valuable when transferred to one of Amex's hotel or airline partners. While the card offers a long list of annual credits to recoup the annual fee, they can be hard to use. You'll get up to $200 in Uber Cash ($15 per month and $20 in December) once you add your card to the Uber app, but only for Uber rides or Uber Eats within the United States. You must enroll to receive the airline fee credit, and it can only be used on one preselected airline and only covers incidentals.

However, if you're looking for credit cards with airport lounge access benefits, The Platinum Card® from American Express is hard to beat. In addition to giving you access to Priority Pass™ Select lounges (enrollment required), you'll also get access to Delta Sky Club lounges (when flying Delta), and American Express lounges, including American Express Centurion Lounges: How to Get Access.

Note, unlike typical credit cards, the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply.
  • Transfer your points to Membership Rewards airline and hotel partners
  • Enjoy up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the U.S. annually once you add the card to the Uber app. Uber Cash is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Complimentary airport lounge access through The Global Lounge Collection®
  • Up to $200 hotel credit, redeemed as an annual statement credit that's valid for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express travel
  • Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors (enrollment required)
  • Trip delay/cancellation insurance, as well as emergency medical transportation coverage for travel booked through the Premium Global Assist® Hotline
  • Terms apply
  • $695 annual fee
  • Annual credits can be hard to use fully
  • Bonus spending categories are narrow
  • Terms apply


Best travel credit card for beginners

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel

$95

15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: One of the best travel rewards credit cards for beginners, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card provides a simple and valuable earning structure and offers a variety of flexible redemption options.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is an easy, flexible travel credit card with valuable rewards, making it one of the best travel credit cards for beginners. You'll earn a flat rate of 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, so you don't have to worry about juggling multiple rewards cards or activating bonus spending categories. Your miles can be used to "erase" travel purchases from your credit card statement within 90 days, or you can transfer them to one of Capital One's new transfer partners, making for miles that are easy to spend and potentially high-value.

However, while your miles transfer at a 1:1 ratio for many of Capital One's partners, your miles will transfer at a rate of 2:1.5 for some transfer partners, making the transfer rate a little less lucrative than what's on offer by competing programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards® and American Express Membership Rewards. Also, don't expect a lot of bells and whistles to accompany this card, as its moderate annual fee means you're not getting access to perks like extensive travel insurance, travel credits or airport lounge access.

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Transfer your miles to 15+ different travel loyalty programs
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • $95 annual fee
  • Light on travel perks


Best travel rewards card for fair credit

unavailable card art
Card not available

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

No bonus

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: While the Capital One Platinum Credit Card requires fair credit for acceptance, there are plenty of other available travel credit cards for bad credit.

If you need to build credit, your options are limited. The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is one of the best when it comes to cards that only require fair credit and still offer some benefits. While you won't be earning travel rewards with this credit card, it's one of very few cards with no annual fee — especially in the fair credit category — that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.

It also comes with some travel accident insurance and an auto rental collision damage waiver. The best way to use this card is to build credit by paying off your balance in full each month, especially given how high the interest rate is. You'll get access to a free credit score, which will help you monitor your progress. Once you make your way to good credit, you can apply for a more rewarding travel credit card.

  • Rental car insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • $0 annual fee
  • Free credit score
  • No rewards
  • High ongoing APR, so make sure not to carry a balance


Best airline credit card for travel rewards

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

40,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

15.74%-24.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 40,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • $100 Delta Flight Credit: After you spend $10,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, receive a Credit to use toward future travel.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms Apply.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: Using Delta miles is a great way to travel for free and one of the best flight rewards credit cards. Be sure to use your Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card when you buy groceries, dine out or pick up from restaurants and for all Delta purchases to maximize your rewards earning potential.

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is one of the best airline rewards credit cards available. On top of the generous welcome bonus, you’ll Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1X mile on all other purchases. New cardmembers will also pay $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

This card offers incredible flight rewards for frequent Delta fliers and comes with a few extra perks to sweeten the deal. Cardholders will get a free checked bag on every flight, a $100 Delta flight credit after you spend $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year and priority boarding in Main Cabin 1. Card members also won’t have to pay foreign transaction fees.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here

  • Solid earning rate across a wide range of categories
  • Free checked bag
  • Priority boarding
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Nice travel perks
  • Terms apply
  • Other travel cards offer higher welcome offers.


Best travel rewards card for welcome bonus

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Card not available

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: Hilton Honors is one of the best hotel rewards programs, so investing in a Hilton credit card can be incredibly valuable for frequent Hilton travelers. This card automatically grants you Hilton Honors Gold Elite status (enrollment required), which includes things like room upgrades when available, free continental breakfast, late checkout and more.

In addition to the stellar welcome offer that comes with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, this card has a lot to offer. Cardmembers can Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card. Terms and limitations apply.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card holders will also enjoy a number of exclusive benefits, including automatic Hilton Honors Gold elite status and Hilton Honors Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year (enrollment required).

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Elite status (enrollment required)
  • Strong welcome bonus
  • Great earning rate
  • Terms apply
  • Annual fee of $95
  • Can only redeem points for Hilton purchases
  • Terms apply


Best travel rewards card for luxury travel perks

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Card not available

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the best American Express travel credit cards. Those who can take advantage of the numerous travel perks that come with this card will be impressed by the significant value it offers.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is an excellent choice for small business owners in search of luxury travel perks. Cardmembers can earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. 1X points on all other purchases.

This card comes with a host of credits and travel perks that work to outweigh the costs of the high $595 (10/14-1/12/22) annual fee. Cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit (enrollment required), a $179 CLEAR credit, and access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection. You’ll also get complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status (enrollment required), Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status (enrollment required), and access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts program.

Note, unlike typical credit cards, the card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

  • Various travel credits offered
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Gold Status (enrollment required)
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status (enrollment required)
  • Numerous luxury travel perks
  • Business Platinum Card Concierge
  • Terms apply
  • $595 (10/14-1/12/22) annual fee
  • Low rewards rate for everyday purchases
  • Terms apply


Best no-annual-fee travel credit card for Chase travel

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

$0

14.99% - 24.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 24.74%.
  • No annual fee.

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: One of the top Chase travel credit cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card offers significant percentages of cash back across a variety of both travel and non-travel spending categories, all for a $0 annual fee.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is one of the best Chase travel rewards credit cards that doesn’t charge an annual fee. You’ll also get a special 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months from account opening on purchases. Then, there’s an APR of 14.99% - 24.74% Variable.

Cardmembers can Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. The card also comes with a number of protection benefits like zero liability protection and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months from account opening on purchases. After the intro period, an APR of 14.99% - 24.74% Variable applies.
  • High earning rate across a variety of spending categories
  • Comes with several protections
  • Earns cash back rather than traditional rewards


Best travel rewards card for RV travel

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Card not available

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card

$100 Bonus after you make $1,000 or more in purchases during the first 3 billing cycles following account opening

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card is great for anyone who does a lot of driving and frequently fills up their tank. Whether you’re driving across the country in an RV or taking a road trip with friends, a highly rewarding cashback card is always a good idea.

RV travel undoubtedly calls for significant gas purchases — luckily, the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card can help mitigate those expenses. Cardmembers can Earn 2% on grocery store purchases, 3% on dining purchases at restaurants and 4% on gas station purchases for the first $8,000 in combined purchases in these categories annually. 1% cash back on purchases everywhere, every time.

With an incredibly high earning rate on all gas station purchases, you’ll be earning a percentage back every time you spend at the pump. With a $0 annual fee and cash back rewards that never expire, there’s really no downside to the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card for RV travelers.

  • $0 annual fee
  • Cash back never expires for the life of the account
  • Intro APR of 0% for the first 12 billing cycles following account opening when the balance is transferred within the first 90 days following account opening. Then a 13.99%-24.99% APR applies.
  • Zero liability fraud protection
  • Earns cash back rather than traditional travel rewards
  • Must have at least at least $25 in your PNC Cash Rewards account to redeem cash back


Best travel rewards card for Disney World

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Card not available

Disney Premier Visa® Credit Card

$300 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: Already a Chase cardholder? See other Chase card recommendations for building your Chase card portfolio here.

If you’re looking for a card with valuable Disney perks, consider the Disney Premier Visa® Credit Card. Cardmembers can Earn 2% in Disney Rewards Dollars on card purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations. Earn 1% on all your other card purchases.

Cardholders will receive special Disney vacation financing with an intro APR of 0% for the first 6 months on select Disney vacation packages from the date of purchase, followed by an APR of 15.99%. You’ll also save 10% on select Disney and Star Wars purchases at Disney store and shopDisney.com and receive 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at the Disneyland® and Walt Disney World® Resorts. For Disney fanatics, this card can be a great choice.

  • Special Disney vacation financing: promotional APR of 0% for the first 6 months on select Disney vacation packages from the date of purchase, followed by an APR of 15.99%.
  • Save 10% on select Disney and Star Wars purchases at Disney store and shopDisney.com
  • Receive 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at the Disneyland® and Walt Disney World® Resorts.
  • Redeem Rewards Dollars for a statement credit toward airline travel
  • Limited redemption options
  • Low earning rate compared to other rewards cards
  • $49 annual fee


Best travel rewards card for cruises

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Card not available

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

ValuePenguin's verdict

Travel tip: Because of its high cash back rewards rate in a category of your choosing, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card can be one of the best credit cards for cruises.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card is a great choice for travelers who want to earn cash back on their cruise purchases. This card lets members earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Cardholders can select travel as their 3% cash back category and earn rewards when they purchase a cruise. This allows you to earn while you spend, essentially lowering the price of your overall cruise and giving you some additional cash to use on cruising incidentals.

  • $0 annual fee
  • High earning rate
  • Cash rewards don’t expire
  • Low Intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 billing cycles
  • Earns in cash back rather than traditional rewards

Compare the best travel credit card offers


Welcome Offer
Credit Score Needed
Annual Fee
International travel and best overall: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.750-850$95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Travel miles: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
unavailable credit card
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening660-850$99, waived for first 12 monthsRead Review
Travel points: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.750-850$550
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Show All Rows

How to choose a travel credit card

1. Decide what type of rewards to earn

You'll need to decide whether you want to earn hotel points, airline miles or flexible points that can be redeemed for a variety of travel purchases. A few thoughts:

  • Flexible points have the obvious benefit of versatility, so they might seem like a no-brainer.
  • However, if you stay with a specific hotel chain or fly with a preferred airline frequently enough, you might be able to earn at a faster rate by earning hotel points with one brand.
  • While a hotel credit card will typically earn bonus points on more narrow categories, like spending at one specific hotel chain, some cards can get you 14x points per $1 at that hotel chain.
  • On the other hand, cards that earn flexible points might only get you 3x points per $1 on travel, but you'll earn that on all travel spending regardless of brand.

2. Pick earning categories that align with spending

One of the most important factors to consider is each card's earning categories. You’ll want to go for a card that earns big on your main spending categories.

Estimate your annual spending in major categories like travel, dining, groceries and gas, and then do the math to figure out how much you'd earn in a year with each one.

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3. Consider airline and hotel preferences

If you opt for earning hotel points or airline miles, the next step is to pick a preferred brand and stick with it. Even if you decide you want flexible points, you're going to want to identify your preferred airlines and hotels, as you might be able to transfer your points. The list of available transfer partners can help you choose which generic travel credit card to get.

Credit card transfer partners

American Express

Chase

Citi

  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada
  • Alitalia
  • Aer Lingus
  • ANA
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta Airlines
  • El Al
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways

American Express

  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada
  • Alitalia
  • Aer Lingus
  • ANA
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta Airlines
  • El Al
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways

Chase

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Emirates
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards Club

Citi

  • Avianca
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad Airways
  • EVA Air
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways

When choosing the best travel credit card, make sure to look at its long-term value. Do the card's earning categories match your spending habits, or do you value flexibility with your rewards? These factors are much more important than the sign-up bonus.

4. Find a large welcome bonus

While the welcome bonus shouldn't be as important as the card's lasting value, it's definitely something to take into consideration. Some of these cards offer sign-up bonuses worth close to $1,000, and if you're stockpiling points for a particular travel goal, these bonuses can get you there quickly. You should also consider the minimum spending requirement for these sign-up bonuses, as some are more attainable than others.

5. Consider travel protections

It might not be the first thing you consider, but the top travel credit cards offer extensive credit card travel insurance that can save your tail in the event of trip delays or a travel emergency. Here are some travel protections you should look out for:

  • Primary rental car insurance — meaning you don't have to file a claim on your personal insurance — allows you to decline a rental agency's collision coverage, which can save you hundreds if you often rent cars.
  • Luggage protection is crucial if you check a bag, as airlines typically don't offer much for delayed or lost bags.
  • Trip interruption and cancellation insurance can save you thousands by reimbursing you for prepaid, qualifying travel expenses if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip for any covered reason.
Car rental insurance
Luggage protection
Trip interruption/ cancellation insurance
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Primary
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardSecondary
Citi Prestige® Credit Card

6. Consider other benefits

In addition, see if the card offers any of these benefits:

  • No foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards charge 3% on every purchase in a foreign country, meaning you're shelling out $30 for every $1,000. The best travel rewards credit cards don't have foreign transaction fees, and you should have at least one on hand.
  • Acceptance. If you're traveling internationally, you'll need a credit card that's widely accepted. Visa and Mastercard are accepted almost everywhere. American Express is catching up and, while there are still a lot of popular travel destinations that don't accept it, Discover is expanding its reach.
  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck. The best travel credit cards offer up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees, so you can expedite your way through security checks.
  • Airport lounge access. If you fly often, airport lounge access is priceless. Not only does it make long connections and early flights more bearable, but the complimentary food and beverages — and, sometimes, even showers and beds — offered by these lounges can actually save you money while you travel.
  • Free checked baggage. If you tend to check bags, waived baggage fees can more than recoup the cost of a card's annual fee.
  • Elite status benefits. Many cards grant you accelerated or automatic elite status with major airlines or hotel chains, bringing additional benefits, such as free hotel breakfasts or priority boarding on flights.

What is a travel credit card?

A travel credit card offers travel-related benefits and rewards. These rewards typically include bonus points on travel spending and a rewards system with travel redemption options.

The best travel credit cards even come with travel protections and perks, such as trip insurance, airport lounge access and elite status.

3 types of travel credit cards: airline cards vs. hotel cards vs. flexible points cards

Pros
Cons
Airline milesEarn airline-specific perks, such as free checked bags or priority boardingLocks you into one airline
Hotel pointsEarn hotel-specific perks, such as room upgrades or elite statusLocks you into one hotel chain
Flexible pointsMost flexible rewards currency with the ability to transfer to airline partners or book any type of travelNo brand-specific perks

Airline

Hotel

Points

We love the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® — unlike most airline cards, it lets you earn valuable AAdvantage miles on a variety of everyday purchases, not to mention it also has a very generous sign-up bonus.

Airline credit cards are co-branded with an airline and earn miles that can be redeemed for flights with that airline. The best airline credit cards:

  • Help you earn bonus miles fast
  • Come with benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, in-flight discounts and companion passes

If the card is co-branded with an airline, any perks and rewards it offers only apply to that airline and, sometimes, any partner airline.

Airline

We love the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® — unlike most airline cards, it lets you earn valuable AAdvantage miles on a variety of everyday purchases, not to mention it also has a very generous sign-up bonus.

Airline credit cards are co-branded with an airline and earn miles that can be redeemed for flights with that airline. The best airline credit cards:

  • Help you earn bonus miles fast
  • Come with benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, in-flight discounts and companion passes

If the card is co-branded with an airline, any perks and rewards it offers only apply to that airline and, sometimes, any partner airline.

Hotel

Our top hotel card pick is the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, due to the generous points that it offers on a variety of purchases and plush hotel benefits, like automatic Diamond elite status with Hilton (enrollment required) and up to a $250 Hilton hotel credit.

Hotel credit cards are co-branded with a hotel chain and earn points that can be redeemed for stays at that hotel chain. The best hotel credit cards:

  • Help you accumulate hotel points quickly
  • Provide perks like hotel status, annual free nights or hotel statement credits

The benefits and rewards offered by co-branded cards are typically only useful at the card's respective hotel chain.

Points

Hands down, our favorite flexible points card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, due to the ultimate flexibility of its Ultimate Rewards points (you can transfer points 1:1 to a variety of hotel and airline partners, and even redeem them for cash back at a value of 1 cent per point).

Rather than being confined to one brand, flexible points credit cards earn generic points that can be redeemed for a wide range of travel purchases. Flexible points:

  • Are worth 1 cent each on average
  • Can be redeemed through the card's travel portal for hotels, flights, rental cars and sometimes cruises and activities
  • Can often be transferred to a long list of airline and hotel transfer partners

Why get a travel credit card?

A travel credit card helps you save money on hotels, flights and more by offering travel-related benefits and rewards.

These rewards typically include features that make travel more affordable and enjoyable, like:

  • Bonus points on travel spending
  • The option to redeem rewards for travel
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Emergency evacuation coverage
  • Airport lounge access
  • Elite status benefits

It's important to understand the difference between cash back, miles and points to decide which type of credit card is best for you. However, if you travel regularly, finding the best travel rewards credit card for your needs and adding it to your wallet can be very beneficial.

Should you get a travel credit card?

Consider trying a travel rewards credit card if you travel regularly enough to offset the cards costs and find the perks valuable.

If you rarely travel or aren’t willing to pay an annual fee for travel cards with the top rewards, you may be better off with another type of credit card, like a cash back, balance transfer or secured credit card instead. Choosing the best credit card for your needs, travel or otherwise, will depend on your spending habits and preferences.

Pros

  • Offers travel rewards on spending
  • Special travel perks
  • Travel insurance and protections
  • Airport lounge access
  • Hotel chain elite status

Cons

  • Often charge annual fees
  • Spending requirements can be high to earn sign-up bonuses
  • Less valuable for infrequent travelers
  • Redeeming rewards can be complicated
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What's your points and miles strategy?

You'll want to consider both your spending and your travel goals when developing a points-and-miles strategy. On the spending side of things, analyze where most of your spending lies and look for cards that reward those spending categories. You also need to make sure the rewards you're earning are useful to you. You should have some idea of how you want to use your points and miles. Answering these questions will guide you toward the right credit card.

  1. Do you have a specific destination in mind?
  2. Do you have a specific redemption in mind? (Are you looking for a lie-flat seat on an international flight, a weekend getaway at a luxury resort or are you simply trying to shave dollars off your next flight in economy class)?
  3. Or, do you just travel often and want to stockpile points and miles without a specific trip in mind?

Points vs. miles: What's the difference?

First off, let's clarify what we mean by "points and miles," as the terms can mean more than one thing (and are often used interchangeably). There are three basic types of "points and miles":

  • Airline miles are earned through one particular airline (for example, Delta SkyMiles), and can be redeemed for flights with that airline and its airline partners.
  • Hotel points (like Marriott Bonvoy points) are earned with one particular hotel program and can be redeemed for hotel nights with that program.
  • Credit card points (sometimes also called "miles" by issuers like Capital One and Discover) are earned by making purchases with a general travel credit card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including flights and hotel nights with a variety of programs.
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To be or not to be loyal?

You'll need to figure out whether you're willing to stick with a specific airline or hotel chain, or if you prefer more flexible credit card points. Consider the following:

  • Credit cards that are co-branded with an airline or hotel chain can help you earn lots of points or miles very quickly, but only if you're loyal to that brand and want to spend your rewards with them.
  • You might stay with a particular hotel chain all the time for work, but if you don't plan to stay with them on vacation, the points you earn might not be as useful.
  • Credit cards that earn generic travel points are better if you're not sure how you plan to redeem them, especially if they offer the ability to transfer your points to travel partners.

What's the best loyalty program for you?

Knowing where you typically fly and what airlines tend to fly those routes will help you develop a solid points-and-miles strategy.

If your home airport is a hub for a particular airline — like Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson is a Delta hub or Chicago O'Hare is a hub for United — you're likely to fly with that airline. This means you'll want to consider any credit cards co-branded with that airline, but you'll also want to consider generic travel credit cards with that airline on their list of transfer partners.

If you're considering travel credit cards with premium perks, look into the airports you'll be flying from, to and through. If you typically fly out of or through airports that don't have Priority Pass™ lounges but do have an American Express lounge, for example, you might lean toward The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Airlines alliances

Apart from looking at how you'll earn miles, you also want to look at how you'll spend them — this is where airline alliances come into play. Many major airlines belong to airline alliances, or networks of airlines that have agreed to cooperate and, often, share benefits. This means you can usually redeem your miles for flights with any airline within the same airline alliance. The three main airline alliances are:

Star Alliance

SkyTeam

Oneworld

  • United
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • ANA
  • Avianca
  • Copa Airlines
  • Egypt Air
  • Lufthansa
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • and more

Star Alliance

  • United
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • ANA
  • Avianca
  • Copa Airlines
  • Egypt Air
  • Lufthansa
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • and more

SkyTeam

  • Delta
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • AeroMexico
  • AirFrance
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • and more

Oneworld

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • and more

In other words, the airline you've pledged loyalty to might not fly to the country where you've planned a summer vacation, but you might still be able to redeem your miles with a partner airline that does.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIn other words, the airline you've pledged loyalty to might not fly to the country where you've planned a summer vacation, but you might still be able to redeem your miles with a partner airline that does.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Hotel brands

You'll also want to decide which hotel brand you're most likely to stay with.

Major hotel chains include Hilton Hotels, Marriott International, Hyatt, Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), Wyndham Hotel Group and Choice Hotels.

Each chain has a long list of brands under its umbrella. For example:

  • Waldorf Astoria, Embassy Suites and DoubleTree are all brands owned by Hilton Hotels, so Hilton points can be used at all of them.
  • Marriott owns The Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Springhill Suites and Aloft, so Marriott points can be used at any of those properties.

While Hilton and Marriott have enormous footprints and their hotels can be found in just about any city, smaller hotel rewards programs like Hyatt might provide a preferable experience for you.

That being said, you want to make sure you'll be able to stay with the brand you choose regularly, whether you're traveling for work or pleasure. Look into destinations where you travel often or plan to travel and find out which hotel chains have properties located there. You can choose credit cards that are co-branded with the hotel of your choice, or you can go with a generic travel credit card that lists that hotel as one of its transfer partners.

Value of points and miles

Whether you're searching for the best airline rewards program, the best hotel rewards program or the best credit card for travel points, you'll need to consider points and mile value to earn the most rewards on your spending. In general, you'll find that some rewards will take you farther than others. Keep these rules in mind:

  • With the exception of Hyatt, hotel rewards program points tend to be inflated
  • Airline miles tend to be a little more valuable than average
  • Flexible points like Chase Ultimate Rewards® and Amex Membership Rewards tend to be especially valuable, because you can transfer them to a variety of loyalty programs

Here's how some popular rewards programs stack up according to our own estimates:

$0.02
American Express Membership Rewards
$0.02
Chase Ultimate Rewards®
$0.02
Citi ThankYou Rewards
$0.017
World of Hyatt
$0.015
Southwest Rapid Rewards
$0.013
Delta SkyMiles
$0.011
United MileagePlus
$0.01
American Airlines AAdvantage
$0.008
Marriott Bonvoy
$0.005
Hilton Honors
$0.005
IHG Rewards Club

Ultimately, the value of points and miles depends on how you redeem them. With a redemption option in mind, use this simple equation to calculate the value of your points/miles:

Cash price* ÷ Number of points needed for redemption = Points value

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*Check to see if taxes and fees are included in your award

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3\u003EValue of points and miles\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EWhether you're searching for the best airline rewards program, the best hotel rewards program or the best credit card for travel points, you'll need to consider points and mile value to earn the most rewards on your spending. In general, you'll find that some rewards will take you farther than others. Keep these rules in mind:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content ShortcodeList--content-margin\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--bullet\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n With the exception of Hyatt, hotel rewards program points tend to be inflated\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Airline miles tend to be a little more valuable than average\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Flexible points like Chase Ultimate Rewards\u00ae and Amex Membership Rewards tend to be especially valuable, because you can transfer them to a variety of loyalty programs\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EHere's how some popular rewards programs stack up according to our own estimates:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"row\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--root\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 100%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.02\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EAmerican Express Membership Rewards\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 100%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.02\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EChase Ultimate Rewards\u00ae\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 100%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.02\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003ECiti ThankYou Rewards\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 85%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.017\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EWorld of Hyatt\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 75%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.015\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003ESouthwest Rapid Rewards\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 65%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.013\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EDelta SkyMiles\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 55%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.011\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EUnited MileagePlus\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 50%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.01\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EAmerican Airlines AAdvantage\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 38.5%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.008\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EMarriott Bonvoy\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 25%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.005\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EHilton Honors\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-wrapper\"\u003E\u003Cdiv style=\"width: 25%;\" class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar ShortcodeBarChart--bar-blue\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-value\"\u003E$0.005\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeBarChart--bar-label\"\u003EIHG Rewards Club\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EUltimately, the value of points and miles depends on how you redeem them. With a redemption option in mind, use this simple equation to calculate the value of your points\/miles:\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ReactComponent--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"js-react-component-rendered js-react-component-Panel\" data-component-name=\"Panel\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"PanelRoot-sc-1o7qkaw dLetxb\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"Panel--content\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodePullquote--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodePullquote--text ShortcodePullquote--black\"\u003E\n Cash price* \u00f7 Number of points needed for redemption = Points value\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"js-react-component\" data-component-name=\"Panel\"\u003E{\"backgroundColor\":\"white\",\"content\":\"\\u003C\\\/p\\u003E\\n\\n\\u003Cp\\u003E\\u003Cdiv class=\\\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--center\\\"\\u003E\\n \\u003Cdiv class=\\\"ShortcodeAlign--container\\\"\\u003E \\n \\u003Cdiv class=\\\"ShortcodePullquote--root\\\"\\u003E\\n \\u003Cp class=\\\"ShortcodePullquote--text ShortcodePullquote--black\\\"\\u003E\\n Cash price* \\u00f7 Number of points needed for redemption = Points value\\n \\u003C\\\/p\\u003E\\n\\u003C\\\/div\\u003E\\n \\u003C\\\/div\\u003E\\n\\u003C\\\/div\\u003E\\n\\u003C\\\/p\\u003E\\n\\n\\u003Cp\\u003E\",\"padding\":\"double\"}\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeDisclaimer--root ShortcodeDisclaimer--root \"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ContextualDisclaimer--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ContextualDisclaimer--copy\"\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E*Check to see if taxes and fees are included in your award\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n \n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

How to compare travel credit cards

To find the best travel credit card for your needs, you'll want to compare your options. You can do this by:

  1. Adding up the monetary value of the rewards you'd likely earn in a year
  2. Subtracting any fees from the estimated rewards value (this gives you a clear idea of which card will save you more money)
  3. Considering additional benefits, such as travel insurance, airport lounge access and elite status

The table below gives you an example of how to compare two similar travel credit cards.

Note that the first-year value will skew heavily in favor of cards that include a sign-up bonus — make sure to consider how much value the card has beyond the first year.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ENote that the first-year value will skew heavily in favor of cards that include a sign-up bonus \u2014 make sure to consider how much value the card has beyond the first year.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

First-year value comparison

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earning rateEarn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases
Points/miles earned ($2,000 Southwest flights, $2,000 dining, $14,000 other purchases)30,000 (including 6,000-point anniversary bonus)22,000
Sign-up bonusOur best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months. 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Redemption optionsSouthwest airfareChase Ultimate Rewards® travel for 25% more value, cash back for 1 cent per point, transfer to 13 travel partners, including Southwest
Target redemption optionSouthwest airfare (worth 1.5 cents/point)Southwest airfare (worth 1.5 cents/point)
Value of rewards(30,000 + 40,000) x 1.5 cents = $1,050(22,000 + 60,000) x 1.5 cents = $1,230
Annual fee$99$95
First year value$951$1,135
Other benefits
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary car rental insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Free DashPash subscription for one year
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

Alternative options to travel rewards credit cards

For infrequent travelers or consumers who tend to carry a balance on their credit card, travel rewards credit cards may not be your best option. Luckily, there are plenty of other types of credit cards that can be equally as beneficial.

Instead of a travel rewards card, consider the following:

  • Cashback credit cardCashback credit cards offer straightforward, valuable and reliable rewards. These types of cards offer consumers a percentage back on every purchase. Best of all: You can spend your cash back rewards on anything you want, and you’re not limited to the redemption structure of a travel rewards card.
  • Balance transfer credit card — For those carrying a balance on their card, a balance transfer credit card or a card with a low intro APR period can help you avoid falling into debt.
  • Secured credit card — For consumers with poor or no credit, a secured credit card is a great option for building or rebuilding your credit. After you’ve shown you can pay off your card in full and on time each month for a certain period, you’ll likely be given the opportunity to graduate to a regular credit card.
  • No annual fee credit card — For consumers who prefer to avoid paying an annual fee, there are lots of wonderful no-annual-fee credit cards available. Some of these cards even include rewards and other perks, as well.

What is the best travel credit card?

The best travel credit card for you is one that offers a high earn rate in your biggest spending categories, high-value points or miles you'll actually use and, ideally, some travel-related benefits.

How do travel credit cards work?

Travel credit cards reward your spending with points or miles that can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, cruises and more. The best travel credit cards also come with perks and protections that make travel more comfortable and save you money.

What types of travel credit cards are there?

There are three types of travel credit cards: airline, hotel and general travel rewards cards. Airline credit cards will earn you miles through an airline loyalty program for free flights and offer airline-specific perks. Hotel credit cards will earn you points through a hotel loyalty program for free stays and offer hotel-specific perks. General travel rewards cards will earn you flexible points and miles that can be used to book any type of travel or even be transferred to airline or hotel loyalty programs.

What credit cards offer free travel insurance?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express come with some of the best travel insurance benefits. Look for cards that come with trip cancellation insurance, lost luggage insurance and primary rental car insurance to save money on travel and plan for unexpected itinerary changes. As for medical and travel emergency insurance, most credit cards aren't a good replacement for that, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve® does come with some travel accident insurance, emergency medical insurance and emergency evacuation coverage.

Is it worth getting a travel credit card?

Travel credit cards are worth it for anyone who travels and can pay off their credit card balance in full each month. If you don't travel often enough to justify an annual fee, you can go for a no-annual-fee travel credit card. Carrying a balance, even on the best travel credit card, isn't recommended because they tend to have higher interest rates. Interest fees will eat up any travel rewards you're earning.

Does my credit card have travel insurance?

Your credit card might have some travel insurance. To find out, read your card's benefits guide, which usually comes in the mail with your credit card. You can also search for your card's benefits guide online.

Should I get a travel credit card?

If you travel at least a couple of times each year, it's worth getting a travel credit card. Just do the math to find a card with rewards and benefits that outweigh its annual fee, and make sure you'll get good use out of the points and miles you earn.

Can you combine travel points from different credit cards?

Some credit card issuers let you combine travel points from different credit cards as long as the points are part of the same rewards system. For example, you can combine the Ultimate Rewards points you earn on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® with those you earn on the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. You can also combine hotel points or airline miles from different credit cards as long as they're from the same loyalty program.

How many travel credit cards should I have?

Having more than one travel credit card can be advantageous for people who travel often. Some people like to have both an airline and a hotel credit card, while others like to juggle multiple flexible points credit cards with different earning categories so they can maximize their earnings and have access to more transfer partners. The question of how many credit cards you should have depends on your spending habits, but know that as long as you space out your credit card applications, pay your bills on time and don't run up a balance, having multiple credit cards shouldn't hurt your credit.

How do credit card travel points work?

Credit card travel points can be redeemed for a variety of travel purchases. Some credit cards come with a travel portal where you can use travel points to book flights, hotels, rental cars and more, while others let you use your points as statement credits that erase travel purchases. Others let you transfer your credit card travel points to various airline and hotel partners.

Is credit card travel insurance enough?

Depending on your needs, credit card travel insurance might be enough to cover your trip against interruptions, delays and cancellation. However, if you want to make sure you're covered medically while traveling, most credit cards don't come with extensive travel medical insurance. You might want to purchase an add-on plan or separate coverage in case of a medical emergency.

Should I get a cashback or travel credit card?

When it comes to cash back versus miles, the answer is all about your spending habits and how you prefer to redeem rewards. If you travel at least a few times per year, it's often wiser to go for a travel credit card because they come with additional benefits that make travel easier and more affordable. However, if you don't travel often or don't want to spend your rewards on travel, a cashback card is usually a better option.

How do credit card points work?

On average, travel points are worth 1 cent each. However, this varies a lot across different rewards programs, and even within each program based on how you redeem your travel points. Typically, when redeemed for travel through a rewards portal, travel points are worth 1 cent each unless your card offers a bonus on travel redemptions. However, redeeming them for cash back might only get you 0.5 to 0.7 cents each, while transferring travel points to the right airline or hotel loyalty program can get you 2 to 4 cents per point.

How do I keep my points and miles from expiring?

Most credit card points and miles don't expire as long as your credit card account is open and in good standing, so leaving your card open is your best bet. If your points are in a hotel loyalty or frequent flyer account rather than your credit card account, you typically have to have some kind of activity every 24 months. Activity can be earning or redeeming points or miles, so you can either buy or redeem some points/miles to keep your account active.

What credit score do I need to get a travel rewards credit card?

While the credit score needed will depend on the travel rewards credit card you apply for, you should generally try to aim for a good credit score or higher for the best chance of approval. This means you should have a FICO Score of 670 or greater. If you're looking for a travel credit card for fair credit, start with the Capital One Platinum Credit Card to build credit. Work your way up to a good credit score, then apply for a more rewarding travel card.

What are the best travel credit cards for bad credit?

While technically not advertised as a travel card, we think the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is a good option for travel. It doesn't charge an annual fee and it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, which means you won't rack up extra fees on your purchases overseas.

What are the best travel credit cards for fair credit?

In a similar vein, the Capital One Platinum Credit Card (which doesn't require a security deposit) is a good fair credit option for travel. Though it's lacking in fancy travel perks, it offers a couple key benefits: $0 annual fee and None foreign transaction fees.

How do travel credit cards work?

Travel credit cards let you earn rewards that can be redeemed for travel purchases, like hotel nights and flights. They also frequently come with travel benefits, like travel insurance, airport lounge access and credits to cover your travel purchases.

Do I need to be vaccinated to fly?

For the moment, you do not need a COVID-19 vaccine to travel in many destinations that are open to tourists, although destinations like Iceland and the European Union have begun making vaccines a requirement to enter and travel freely.

Should I laminate my vaccine card?

Laminating your card for the COVID-19 vaccine might not be the best idea. For instance, you may need to get a booster eventually, and your vaccine provider will not be able to update your vaccine info on the card if it is laminated. Instead, try storing it in a safe place until you need it.

What are credit card miles?

Credit card miles are miles or points earned through spending money on your travel rewards credit card. You can use these miles to save money on flights, hotel stays and other travel-related purchases.

Which credit card is most accepted worldwide?

The credit cards with the most worldwide acceptance include cards that use either the Visa or Mastercard networks. American Express and Discover cards are less widely accepted.

How to fly for free with credit cards?

If you earn enough airline points or miles with your credit card, you can redeem your miles for a free flight. If you tend to fly more often with one particular airline, you may be best suited with a co-branded airline credit card so every time you make a purchase, you’ll be earning points towards your next free flight with that airline.

How to redeem miles from a credit card?

Different rewards credit cards offer different redemption options. For example, co-branded rewards cards allow you to redeem your rewards for flights or hotels directly with that airline or hotel chain. Chase and American Express cards will also allow you to redeem your points through their flexible travel portals, which can maximize the value of your rewards and offer a wider variety of redemption partners.

Which is the best credit card to use abroad?

The best credit card to use abroad will be a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. We like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for international travel because it earns valuable rewards and offers flexible redemption options.

Which credit card has the best perks?

Travel rewards credit cards tend to have the best perks. These often include benefits like automatic elite status with a hotel chain, access to airport lounges, complimentary travel credits and more. One example of a card with great luxury travel perks is The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Which travel credit card is best for me?

Choosing the best travel credit card for you will depend on your preferences and travel habits. If you often stay at the same hotel chain or fly with the same airline, you should consider a co-branded travel rewards card. If you’re not particularly brand loyal, a general travel rewards card with flexible redemption options, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, might be better suited to your needs.

Recap of the best travel credit cards of December 2021

Methodology

What is the best travel credit card?

ValuePenguin's pick for the best travel credit card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

While the best travel credit card will depend on your personal travel habits and preferences, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with a high sign-up bonus and flexible rewards. For consumers looking for a valuable travel card, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be a great option.

How we chose the best travel credit cards

To make choosing the travel right card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin, as well as cards on major issuer sites, to compile a list of the best rewards credit cards available right now. Our recommendations are based on the additional value you can earn with these travel cards. We primarily considered travel rewards value, the cost of ownership and the value of benefits like travel and purchase protections, lounge membership and airline companion passes.

We selected cards whose features best represented each identified topic. For example, when choosing the best credit card for RV travel, we focused our search on cards that reward highly for gas purchases. When choosing the best travel rewards card for beginners, we analyzed a list of cards with a simple yet valuable rewards structure.

Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.

For rates and fees of Hilton Honors American Express Card, please click here

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here

The information related to Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, Capital One Platinum Credit Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card, Disney Premier Visa® Credit Card and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).