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Best Travel Credit Cards of December 2022 (Updated Monthly)

Best Travel Credit Cards of December 2022 (Updated Monthly)

The best travel credit card of 2022 is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns flexible, valuable points and offers moderate travel protection.

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.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. Citi is an advertising partner.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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Most people want to travel more, and the right travel credit card can make that possible. The best travel credit cards make trips both locally and internationally more comfortable, and they can also help you earn free flights, hotels and other types of rewards. 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.

Compare the best travel credit cards of 2022

Welcome Offer
Credit Needed
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Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> 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®.720 - 850$95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel720 - 850$395
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel660 - 850$95
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve<sup>®</sup>
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®720 - 850$550
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles<sup>®</sup> Gold American Express Card
Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.660 - 850$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99. See Rates & Fees.
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.660 - 850$95
Not available on ValuePenguin
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel660 - 850$0
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited<sup>®</sup>
Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That’s 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.660 - 850$0
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Bank of America<sup>®</sup> Travel Rewards credit card
25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening660 - 850$0
Not available on ValuePenguin
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Ink Business Preferred<sup>®</sup> Credit Card
Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.720 - 850$95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.660 - 850$695 See Rates & Fees.
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> 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. 660 - 850$695
Not available on ValuePenguin
American Express® Gold Card
American Express<sup>®</sup> Gold Card
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.660 - 850$250 See Rates & Fees.
Apply Now
See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases660 - 850$0
Not available on ValuePenguin
PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card
PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card
PNC will match the cash back rewards you earn under the PNC Cash Rewards Program during the first year after account opening.See website for details$0
Not available on ValuePenguin
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Bank of America<sup>®</sup> 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 opening660 - 850$0
Not available on ValuePenguin
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
Capital One Platinum Credit Card
No bonus0 - 660$0
Not available on ValuePenguin
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Discover it<sup>®</sup> Secured Credit Card
Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.0 - 600See terms
Not available on ValuePenguin
Welcome Offer
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®.
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
Credit Score Needed
?
720 - 850
720 - 850
Annual Fee
$95
$395
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Capital One's Secure Website

Best overall travel credit card

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

18.99% - 25.99% 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 benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x 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 BackSM, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • First year card value: $1,553.86 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $353.86 ?

We ranked the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card as the best travel card overall because it has some of the most flexible and valuable points. It also has several types of travel insurance and protections while having a reasonable $95 annual fee. Those benefits and coupled with a good earning rate for travel and a generous sign-up bonus makes this a great card choice for both beginners and experienced travelers.

  • Generous welcome bonus worth $750 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal and possibly more with a Chase transfer partner
  • 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x 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
  • Extensive trip insurance benefits
  • $0 foreign transaction fee
  • Up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards
  • $95 annual fee
  • No intro APR

One of the most highly regarded credit cards in general, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is also 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.

Best travel credit card for a high rewards rate

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

$395

19.99% - 26.99% (Variable)

720 - 850

  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • First year card value: $723.05 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: -$26.95 ?

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a premium travel card that has elevated earning rates in multiple categories. With a $300 annual travel credit and anniversary bonus of 10,000 miles, this card is packed with value for frequent travelers.

  • High earning rate: 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 10 Miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023; 5 Miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer miles to Capital One's 15+ travel loyalty partners
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
  • Anniversary bonus of 10,000 miles (equal to $100 toward travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • $300 annual travel credits
  • Unlimited complimentary visits to Capital One Lounges with two free guests per visit
  • $395 annual fee
  • No automatic elite status

With the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, you qualify for Hertz President's Circle status. That lets you skip the rental counter and head straight to your car.

Best travel credit card for international travel

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

$95

18.99% - 26.99% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 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®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's 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
  • First year card value: $1,025.94 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $275.94 ?

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is our top pick for international travel because it has None foreign transaction fees — and it's a Visa card, which means it generally has wide international acceptance. It has a simple rewards structure and a moderate $95 annual fee, which also makes it a good card for beginners.

  • Generous welcome bonus
  • 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 5 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 5 Miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
  • Transfer your miles to 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • $95 annual fee
  • Light on travel perks

Use your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to access two free lounge visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to more than 100 locations through its Partner Lounge Network.

Best travel credit card for flexible points

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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 $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

$550

20.74% - 27.74% 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 $900 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.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights 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, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 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 PassTM Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
  • First year card value: $1,475 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $275 ?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers some of the most versatile points. It's not a co-branded card, so you can earn and redeem points in multiple ways. That includes booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal for 50% more value or transferring points at a 1:1 rate to Chase's airline and hotel loyalty partners.

  • Earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • 5x points on flights and 10x points on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 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
  • Complimentary access to 1,300+ Priority Pass airport lounges
  • One of the best travel insurance credit cards, as it offers emergency evacuation and emergency medical insurance
  • $0 foreign transaction fee
  • $550 annual fee
  • Doesn't offer elite status with any airline or hotel rewards programs
  • No intro purchase APR
  • Authorized user fees

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

Best travel credit card for airline miles

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

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

Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

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

19.49%-28.49% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at U.S. Supermarkets and at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 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.
  • First year card value: $1,103.29 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $159.29 ?

The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is one of the best for airline miles because of its welcome offer and rewards rate. Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. The rewards rate for everyday purchases can help your airline miles add up quickly.

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 on Delta flights
  • Priority boarding
  • $100 Delta flight credit
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Foreign transaction fees: None
  • Nice travel perks
  • Other travel cards offer higher welcome offers
  • No airport lounge access

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.

Best travel credit card for hotel points

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership.

$95

18.74 to 27.74% variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 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.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • 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, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.  
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • First year card value: $984.92 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $334.92 ?

The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a great choice for Hilton Honors rewards members because of its high earning rates and generous welcome offer. You can earn elevated points on a wide variety of purchases, including Hilton hotels and resorts, U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and more. It also offers exclusive benefits that make this worth the $95 annual fee for Hilton frequenters.

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Elite status (enrollment required)
  • Free Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases on your your card in a calendar year
  • Access to 1,200+ airport lounges (enrollment required)
  • Strong welcome offer
  • Great earning rate
  • $95
  • Can only redeem points for Hilton purchases

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.

Best travel credit card for beginners

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

$0

17.99% - 27.99% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X 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
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's 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
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 17.99% - 27.99% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • First year card value: $467.95 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $267.95 ?

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card makes a great first travel card for those new to points and miles. It has a $0 annual fee, simple rewards structure, and low spending threshold for earning a sign-up bonus. It doesn't have any bells and whistles like travel credits or anniversary bonuses, which makes it a better fit for beginners than experienced travelers.

  • $0 annual fee
  • APR of 0% intro on purchases for 15 months and 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months; 17.99% - 27.99% (Variable) APR after that
  • Simple rewards rate: Earn unlimited 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 5 Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $0 fraud liability
  • Lacks robust travel benefits
  • Small sign-up bonus
  • Low earning rate

Best travel credit card with no annual fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That’s 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

$0

17.99% - 26.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.99% - 26.74%
  • No annual fee – You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.
  • First year card value: $340.76 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $340.74 ?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a cash back card — not a traditional travel card. However, it still makes for a great $0 annual fee travel credit card. The card has a high cash back earning rate across multiple categories that can be redeemed for travel rewards in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months from account opening on purchases. After the intro period, an APR of 17.99% - 26.74% Variable applies
  • High earning rate across a variety of spending categories
  • Comes with several protections
  • Earns cash back rather than traditional rewards
  • Foreign transaction fee

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.

Best travel credit card for 0% intro APR

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Generic art
Not available on ValuePenguin

25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

$0

17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR

660 - 850

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire. 
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. 
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions. 
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout. 
  • New longer intro period! 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases. 
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap. 
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
  • First year card value: $520.00 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $270.00 ?

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers a long intro APR compared to other cards (many of which only last 15 billing cycles). It offers a 0% 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days of opening your account (then a 17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR APR applies). However, its earning rate and sign-up bonus is lackluster — so this card is probably best used for its intro APR or for a starter travel card.

  • Long intro APR offer
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $0 annual fee
  • FICO® score updates
  • $0 Liability guarantee
  • Low sign-up bonus
  • Low earning rate
  • No everyday spending bonus elevated earning categories

Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn 25% to 75% more points on every purchase with their Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.

Best travel credit card for business owners

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

18.99% - 23.99% 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
  • First year card value: $2,326.92 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $326.92 ?

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 significantly on travel 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 other travel credit cards, but you'll earn big on some business-related spending categories.

  • Huge welcome bonus that's extremely valuable when transferred to one of Chase's airline and hotel partners
  • Earn 3X points on travel and a variety of business purchases
  • 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

Travel for business? Optimize your business travel credit card for lounge access, airline miles or your other travel goals.

Best travel card for lounge access

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

$695

See Pay Over Time APR

660 - 850

  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • 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.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, 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. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. 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.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • First year card value: $1,306.93 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: -$453.07 ?

The Platinum Card® from American Express is an elite travel card that gives you access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 650 cities in 140 countries. Its annual fee is $695, but it comes with a long list of other perks, like large travel credits and hotel statuses (enrollment required). With strong travel protections and a large welcome offer, it can be well worth the steep annual fee for frequent travelers.

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

  • Generous welcome offer
  • 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 American Express's airline and hotel partners
  • Enjoy up to $200 in Uber savings ($15 monthly, $20 in December) on rides or eats orders in the U.S. annually once you add the card to the Uber app
  • 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®, including Centurion lounge access
  • Up to $200 hotel credit
  • Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors (enrollment required)
  • Trip delay/cancellation insurance, as well as emergency medical transportation coverage
  • $695 annual fee
  • Annual credits can be hard to use fully
  • Bonus spending categories are narrow

Choosing a 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.

Best travel card for luxury travel

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

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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.

$695

17.99% - 25.99% Variable

660 - 850

  • Welcome Offer: 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.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • First year card value: $2,155.71 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: -$484.29 ?

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is similar to the The Platinum Card® from American Express, but offers a few additional perks that can add to your luxury travel experience — whether you're a business owner or not. Cardholders will receive up to a $200 airline fee credit (enrollment required), a $189 CLEAR credit (enrollment required), 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.

  • Earns Amex Membership Rewards points
  • 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
  • $695 annual fee
  • Low rewards rate for everyday purchases
  • Membership Rewards have low value for non-travel redemptions

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the best American Express travel 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.

Best travel card for dining rewards

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 of Card Membership.

$250

19.74%-26.74% Variable

660 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 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: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • First year card value: $1,799.52 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $149.52 ?

The American Express® Gold Card has one of the best rewards rates for restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and U.S. supermarkets. With its reward rate plus its $120 dining credit for eligible purchases ($10 monthly, enrollment required), it can make a solid choice for frequent diners who love to travel.

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

  • Generous welcome offer
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 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.
  • Save up to $120 on dining in the form of $10 monthly statement credits for Grubhub 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 American Express® Gold Card to your Uber account)
  • $100 hotel credit with The Hotel Collection
  • $250 annual fee
  • Annual credits can be hard to use fully
  • Travel insurance protections are limited

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.

Best travel credit card for students

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

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25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

$0

17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR

660 - 850

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • New longer intro period! 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.
  • When handled responsibly, a credit card can help you build your credit history, which could be helpful when looking for an apartment, a car loan, and even a job. Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
  • First year card value: $520.00 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $270.00 ?

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students can help students start earning points while establishing their credit. It's easier to qualify for than most other premium travel cards. Although its earning rate and sign-up bonus are minimal, it has a $0 annual fee — so it costs students nothing to learn how to use credit card points.

  • Simple rewards structure: Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
  • $0 annual fee
  • Long intro APR offer
  • Easy to qualify for
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Limited travel insurance and protections
  • Small sign-up bonus
  • No elevated earning categories

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students earns the same amount of points everywhere — so students can take this card anywhere and not have to wonder how many points they've earned.

Best travel credit card for RV travel

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card

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PNC will match the cash back rewards you earn under the PNC Cash Rewards Program during the first year after account opening.

$0

17.74% to 28.74% variable

See website for details

  • $100 Bonus after you make $1,000 or more in purchases during the first 3 billing cycles following account opening.
  • You’ll earn at least 1% cash back on purchases everywhere, every time. 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.
  • Cash back is automatic – there’s no need to enroll or track rotating categories
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles following account opening when the balance is transferred within the first 90 days following account opening. Then a variable APR, currently 17.74% to 28.74% based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
  • First year card value: $554.96 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $354.96 ?

The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card can help mitigate gas expenses for RV travelers. 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 a high earning rate on all gas station purchases, you'll be earning a percentage back every time you spend at the pump.

  • $0 annual fee
  • Cash back never expires for the life of the account
  • Intro APR of "0% introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles following account opening when the balance is transferred within the first 90 days following account opening.". Then a 17.74% to 28.74% variable 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

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.

Best travel credit card for Disney

Disney Premier Visa® Credit Card

  • First year card value: $534.47 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $234.47 ?

For Disney fanatics, the Disney Premier Visa® Credit Card can offer special deals and rewards that aren't available through any other card. One of the biggest perks is special Disney vacation financing and discounts for just a $49 annual fee.

  • Special Disney vacation financing: Promotional APR of 0% for the first six months on select Disney vacation packages or purchase of a real estate interest on select Disney vacation packages from the date of purchase, followed by an APR of 16.99% to 25.99% variable
  • 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

Keep in mind that the Disney Rewards Dollars you earn expire five years from the date they're posted to your account.

Best travel credit card for cruises

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

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

$0

17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR

660 - 850

  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase. That means you could earn 3.75%-5.25% cash back on purchases in your choice category.   
  • No annual fee and no expiration on rewards.
  • New longer intro period! 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

 
  • First year card value: $279.45 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $279.44 ?

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, automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. Cardholders can select travel as their 3% cash back category and earn rewards when they purchase a cruise.

  • $0 annual fee
  • High earning rate
  • Cash rewards don't expire
  • Long intro APR offer
  • Earns in cash back rather than traditional rewards
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

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.

Best travel credit card for fair credit

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

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No bonus

$0

28.49% (Variable)

0 - 660

  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card like this
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • First year card value: N/A ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: N/A ?

The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is easy only requires fair credit to qualify for — and has a $0 annual fee and None foreign transaction fees. It doesn't offer cash back or travel points, but it's rare for cards available to applicants with poor or fair credit to have no annual or foreign transaction fees. You can also access credit monitoring tools to keep track of your progress.

  • $0 fraud liability
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • $0 annual fee
  • Free credit score
  • 24/7 customer service available
  • No rewards
  • High ongoing APR, so make sure not to carry a balance

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

Best travel credit card for poor credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

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Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

See terms

See terms

0 - 600

  • No credit score required to apply.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. That means a $200 deposit for a $200 credit line. Or a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit, and the security deposit equals your credit limit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.
  • First year card value: $468.25 ?
  • Ongoing annual card value: $351.00 ?

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card can help those with poor credit improve their score by making payments in full and on time while earning cash back rewards at the same time. It's easy to get approved for and offers reviews to upgrade to a secured credit card in as little as seven months.

  • Earns rewards
  • Excellent sign-up bonus
  • Easy approval with poor credit
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • Helps build credit
  • It's a secured card which comes with some limitations
  • $200 refundable deposit required

For those looking to build or improve their credit score while simultaneously earning rewards that can be put towards travel, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card can be a fabulous option.

What is a travel 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.

Should I get a travel card?

Travel credit cards aren't for everybody — but you should get one if you travel frequently and will take advantage of the benefits and rewards. Applying for credit cards triggers a hard check to your credit score, which can temporarily hurt it — so it's important to make sure every card you apply for will be worth it.

Who travel credit cards are best for

  • Occasional or frequent travelers. There are cards with low or no annual fees and simple rewards structures that can help casual travelers save — and cards with higher annual fees, complex rewards structures and several travel protections that serious travelers can benefit from.
  • Luxury travelers. If you love the idea of spending time in airport lounges or flying business class, then a travel credit card can offer you those perks and more.
  • Future frequent travelers. Even if you don't travel a lot now, getting a travel card can help you start earning points to save on travel in the future. You can garner a lot of points by using your card regularly and meeting the requirements to earn a sign-up bonus.

Who shouldn't get a travel credit card

  • People who don't ever or rarely travel. For rare travelers, the annual fees or spending requirements for sign-up bonuses may not be worth it.
  • People who prefer cash back. Cash back credit cards are usually more flexible than travel credit cards. You can redeem your cash and use it for anything — where some travel cards only let you redeem points or miles for travel.
  • People with credit card debt. To reap all the rewards from travel credit cards, it's crucial to pay off your balance on time and in full. If you have existing credit card debt, paying it off before getting a travel card can help you do that.

Alternatives to travel 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:

Types of travel credit cards

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.
  • Flexible 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.

Airline miles

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 points

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.

Flexible points

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:

  • 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, making them much more valuable than hotel points and airline miles
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

How to choose a travel credit card

Before you choose a travel credit card, you should have an idea of how you will use the rewards and perks. You'll want to consider both your spending and your travel goals. On the spending side, 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.

  • Do you have a specific destination in mind?
  • 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)?
  • Or, do you just travel often and want to stockpile points and miles without a specific trip in mind?

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.

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.

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

  • British Airways
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon)
  • Delta Airlines
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Finnair
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Iberia
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Radisson Rewards

American Express

  • British Airways
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon)
  • Delta Airlines
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Finnair
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Iberia
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Radisson Rewards

Chase

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

Citi

  • Aeromexico
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific Airways/Cathay Dragon)
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • Choice Privileges
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • InterMiles
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Royal Orchard Plus
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Wyndham Rewards

Savvy traveler tip: 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.

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While the welcome bonus shouldn't be as important as the card's lasting value, it's an important factor. Some cards offer sign-up bonuses worth $1,000 or more. 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. Understanding the cash value of points or miles across different cards can help you compare sign-up bonuses and overall card value.

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

Make sure you can redeem points or miles for travel — or another option if you'd like. Cards have different rules for redemption. For example, some co-branded cards have restrictions on where you could redeem points. So before you choose a travel card, get an idea of where and how you can redeem rewards.

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.

How much are your points and miles worth?

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

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

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How to travel for free

  1. Plan out your next few cards. It's helpful to create a timeline of when you plan to apply for different cards. Some issuers have restrictions that could influence when you get approved for cards. For example, Chase has its unspoken "5/24 rule," which means you'll likely be denied a Chase card if you've opened five or more credit cards of any kind in the last 24 months. Wells Fargo also has a rule that prevents you from opening a new Wells Fargo card if you've already opened a card from the issuer in the last six months.
  2. Time your applications for bonus offers. Credit card bonus offers can be significant. Earning a sign-up bonus before you book a trip can help you reduce the price of your flight or hotel.
  3. Juggle multiple cards. Using multiple cards can take some extra planning and effort, but it can be worth it. Strategically using certain cards for specific earning categories can help you earn points faster — and helps you spend less money to get the same number of points.
  4. Consider how to redeem your points. There are several ways to redeem your points, depending on what travel card you have. Two of the best ways for travel are either your issuer's travel portal or transferring to airline or hotel loyalty programs. How you redeem can alter the value of your points.
  5. Take advantage of your issuer's shopping portal. Some issuers have online shopping portals that allow you to do your shopping at popular retailers as you normally would, but earn more points for it. So if you're already going to do the shopping, you might as well do it where you can earn more rewards for it.

Airline and hotel loyalty programs

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
  • 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.

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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.

Frequently asked questions

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card makes for the best travel credit card because of its point flexibility, reasonable $95 annual fee and array of travel insurance and protections. You'll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which are worth 25% more value when redeemed for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards® . You can also transfer points to hotel and airline loyalty programs at a 1:1 rate.

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.

Your credit cards should reflect your spending habits. If you're a frequent traveler, you'll likely get more out of a travel card because of the extra travel credits and savings that come with them. But if you don't travel as much, you'll probably benefit more from a cash back card with a high earning rate, and likely a lower annual fee. Plus, many cash back cards give you the option to redeem your cash back for travel.

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 12 to 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.

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.

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.

Methodology

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 Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, please click here

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

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

The information related to Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students, PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® Credit Card, Disney Premier Visa® Credit Card, Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, Capital One Platinum Credit Card and Discover it® Secured Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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).