dcsimg

Best credit cards for travel rewards

By , Editor-in-chief
Best credit cards for travel rewards

Who doesn’t love to see new parts of the world? Whether you’re climbing a mountain, touring ancient ruins, or just sitting on a beach, traveling is one of the most enjoyable activities and provides a welcome break from our busy, everyday lives. Travel rewards credit cards can help you earn miles and points to offset the cost of these excursions. Better yet, if you regularly travel for business, these cards will boost your points earning and may even give you extra benefits.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Apply Now

Our editor's take:
We like this card’s hefty sign-up bonus and the ability to transfer points to participating frequent travel programs at full value.

Card Details
Points or Miles 1-2 pts/$1
Sign-up Bonus 40,000 bonus points
when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn 5,000 additional bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
Purchase APR 15.99% Variable
Annual fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Why might you want this card? First, new customers have the potential to earn a lot of bonus points -- earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, plus an additional 5,000 points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months from account opening. You can earn 2X points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Multiple redemption options (including cash back, gift cards and travel) make this card one of the top picks for avid travelers. The key lies in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which allows not only for cash redemption at 1 cent per point, but also 20 percent off travel when you redeem your points for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and cruises when booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

As if that weren’t enough, you can also transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards, at full value, to participating frequent traveler programs. These partner programs include popular ones such as United and Southwest Airlines, and hotel properties Marriott, Hyatt and more. This flexibility is the hallmark of a truly valuable card and the main reason we recommend it so highly for all travelers. The introductory annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

See More

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Our editor's take:
Two miles per dollar spent is a nice start. Compound that earn rate with a 10 percent redemption bonus and no foreign transaction fees and you’re looking at a top-notch rewards card.

With this card you can earn two miles for dollar spent on purchases (a little different from its no-annual-fee sibling Barclaycard® Arrival™ World MasterCard®, which offers two miles per dollar spent on travel and dining, and one mile per dollar on other purchases). But that’s not the best part; you also get 10 percent of your miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem for travel statement credits.  With a current sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days with your card – that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit. So, if you redeem those sign-up bonus miles for a travel statement credit, you’re looking at 44,000 points, or $440 worth of statement credit.  Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing. Yes, you’ll pay an annual fee ($89, waived in the first year) but you won’t pay foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country. Cardholders can also take advantage of a number of travel-friendly benefits including travel accident and trip cancellation insurance, baggage delay insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver.

See More

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Learn More

Our editor's take:
Great travel card for those who don’t want to commit to a particular airline or hotel chain. Earn 2X miles per dollar, with no cap on earning potential, no expiration date on those miles, travel when you want with no blackout dates and no foreign transaction fees.

Card Details
Points or Miles 2X miles/$1
Sign-up Bonus Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles
once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel
Purchase APR 12.9% - 22.9% (Variable)
Annual fee $0 intro for first year; $59 after that

Here’s another great option for earning 2X miles per dollar spent on purchases.  This card does not require you to keep track of various, changing spending categories to get the most rewards for your buck – it’s as simple as 2X miles per dollar spent on every purchase, every day. Miles don't expire and there's no limit to how many you can earn, and you can redeem your miles for any flight or hotel stay, as well as car rentals, cruises, and more. 

New cardholders can earn a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months, equal to $400 in travel. This card comes with a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $59 after that. As with all Capital One offerings, this card charges no foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside of the U.S. Venture Rewards also comes with many Visa Signature benefits that may appeal to travelers – travel upgrades and savings, complimentary concierge service and 24-hour travel-assistance services.

See More

Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year

Discover it® Miles-Double Miles your first year
Apply Now

Our editor's take:
Earn rate of 1.5x miles per dollar is competitive, but Discover also doubles all the miles you earned at the end of your first year with this card. Other interesting perks: Get up to $30 back for in-flight Wi-Fi each year, no annual fee, and you get a free FICO score each month.  Turn your miles into cash or use them as a credit toward your statement.

Card Details
Points or Miles 1.5x Miles on every dollar you spend on purchases*
Sign-up Bonus Exclusive Double Miles Offer:
At the end of your first year--when other Miles cards charge an annual fee--Discover doubles all the Miles you've earned.*
Purchase APR 10.99% - 22.99% Variable*
Annual fee $0

Discover’s newest product differentiates itself from other Discover it® cards by not offering bonus rewards on rotating categories, instead offering a higher base rate of earning plus some interesting perks for the frequent traveler.

Cardholders earn 1.5x miles for every dollar you spend in purchases, with 100 miles equating to one dollar. At the end of your first year of membership, Discover will double all miles earned. You can redeem miles in any amount toward travel purchases on your statement or get cash as a direct deposit to your bank account. Another core benefit is reimbursement for all in-flight Wi-Fi purchases via statement credit (up to $30 per year).  All this comes with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

See More

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Our editor's take:
This card comes with a tempting sign-up bonus—earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first three months with the card. You also receive one free night stay at a Category 1-5 location each year, after your account anniversary year, which is very unique. 

Card Details
Points or Miles 1-5 points/$1
Sign-up Bonus Earn 50,000 Points
after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Purchase APR 15.99% Variable
Annual fee $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year, then $85

Frequent business or leisure guests at Marriott’s hotel portfolio, which includes such brands as Renaissance, Courtyard and Fairfield Inn, will want to put this card in their wallet. With the current sign-up bonus, you can earn 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first three months from account opening. You can also receive one free night stay in any Category 1-5 property every year after your account anniversary date.

All spending at 3,800 Marriott properties earns five points per dollar; spending on airfare bought directly from an airline, car rentals, and restaurants earn two points per dollar. Get one point per dollar for all other spending.  This card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $85. You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees and won’t run into a points accumulation limit.

See More

PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card

PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card
Apply Now

Our editor's take:
We’ve liked this card from the start. Five points per dollar spent on airfare, an appealing bonus offer, no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, plus the consumer-friendly benefits of a credit union.

Card Details
Points or Miles 1-5 points/$1
Sign-up Bonus 20,000 bonus points
when you spend $2,500 within the first 3 months of opening the Card account
Purchase APR 9.99% - 17.99% Variable
Annual fee $0

For anyone who flies a lot on various airlines instead of one exclusively, this card from the Pentagon Federal Credit Union is worth a close look. Earn five points per dollar spent on airfare purchases and one point per dollar on all other purchases, and pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.  With the current sign-up bonus you can earn 20,000 points after spending $2,500 in the first three months.  You can earn two complimentary Lounge Club visits at airports around the world after spending $15,000 on the card in a calendar year. It's worth noting that Pentagon Federal Credit Union membership is a requirement but not a guarantee than an applicant will be approved for this credit card.

See More

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

Citi® Hilton HHonors™  Reserve Card
Apply Now

Our editor's take:
If you stay at the Hilton frequently, this premiere travel card has very aggressive rewards including 10 HHonors Bonus Points for every dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio. 

Card Details
Points or Miles 3-10 HHonors Bonus Points/$1*
Sign-up Bonus Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio
after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening*
Purchase APR 15.24% Variable
Annual fee $95

Hilton loyalists will do well with this card, from Citi, a CardRatings.com advertiser, with which you can earn 10 HHonors bonus points per dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio. You can earn 5 HHonors bonus points per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases, and 3 HHonors bonus points per dollar spent on other eligible purchases.

Earn two weekend night certificates after making $2,500 in purchases in the first four months of account opening. These certificates can be redeemed at over 4,100 hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio in 92 countries. You’ll pay an annual fee of $95, but you’ll also enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember.

See More

Good to know

You generally need excellent credit to qualify for travel rewards credit card offers. You should pay off your bill in full each month, because the interest applied to an unpaid balance would negate any benefit from the points earned.  And if you go abroad often make sure the card you choose has no foreign transaction fees, which can add up to around 3 percent or more on each and every individual charge you make outside of the U.S.

Be the first to comment!

No Comments

Leave a Comment
 
 
 

Find your card

See which cards might be better for you