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Best travel rewards credit cards of August 2020

Whether you frequently fly, drive, stay in hotels or Airbnbs, there are credit cards which reward every type of travel. CardRatings editors reveal the best credit cards for airline and hotel rewards, as well as cards offering flexible travel rewards for those not loyal to one particular brand.
Jennifer Doss, CardRatings Editor Last Updated, July 27, 2020

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers (terms apply) from our partners. How we make money.

best travel rewards cards With the help of the top travel rewards cards from our partners, you can travel better and less expensively and not have to jump through dozens of hoops to make it happen. Whether you're looking for the best travel rewards credit card, an airline rewards card or are more focused on the best hotel rewards cards, there are options out there that will reward you for your everyday purchases...

Think about it, if you use your American Express® Gold Card, your mundane walk through the grocery store aisles could be the first step toward a stunning walk along a beach very, very far away from your local supermarket. Or, if you're more interested in making your business travel less expensive, your everyday business purchases with your Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card could help you rack up points toward a future business trip.

LIST OF WINNERS

The key to all of this is understanding how travel credit cards work, what you should think about when comparing the many options on the market and, at last, looking at the best travel rewards credit cards on the market to determine which will best fit into your lifestyle. CardRatings experts consider the rewards, the fees, the perks/features, the ease of use and more to come up with our list of top travel rewards credit cards. This list is dynamic; credit card issuers change their terms, so we keep an eye on those terms and update our recommendations accordingly. 

In addition to bringing you our top picks for the best travel rewards credit cards, we've also put together a Travel Rewards 101 guide, which features 19 FREE lessons that can help save you money and keep you on the road more often. It's a great resource for learning how to make the most out of your new travel credit card!

Whatever your wanderlust is dreaming of, we have a suggestion that will help you get there. Bon voyage!

BEST AIRLINE REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Airline rewards cards are certainly a niche travel product, but this card offers bonus earning beyond your purchases with United Airlines, which makes this a decent choice for an everyday card. Plus, there are a number of extra features that you don't usually find in a card with this low an annual fee.

The Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

The Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent with United Airlines and at restaurant and on hotel stays. Earn one mile per $1 on everything else.

Added Perks:  Enjoy up to a $100 credit to cover your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application fee. Check your first bag for free when you use your card to purchase your ticket, a perk that alone could more than offset your annual fee.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Cardholders receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™.
  • Enjoy 25% back on United inflight purchases.
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket.
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club (SM) with two one-time passes each year for your anniversary.

CONS:

  • The bonus mile earning opportunities are somewhat limited. If you’re not loyal to United Airlines or don’t eat out or stay in hotels often, you might be better off with a more general travel rewards credit card.
  • It’s waived the first year, but there is an annual fee to think about moving forward.

Read our full review of the United℠ Explorer Card.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Shopping for an airline rewards card doesn't have to mean you only earn top rewards when you shop with that particular airline. This card offers you bonus rewards on some everyday purchases as well. (Citi is a CardRatings.com advertiser)

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 on your new card in the first three months.

The Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months

The Rewards: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Also earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renew your card.

Added Perks: You and four companions traveling with you can check your first bags for free on domestic American Airlines itineraries. You'll also enjoy 25% off in-flight food and drink purchases on American Airlines flights when you use your card. Plus, earn a $125 American Airlines flight discount after your spend $20,000 or more on your card in an anniversary year and renew your card.

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renew your card.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation.
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights.

CONS:

  • The bonus mile earning opportunities are somewhat limited. If you’re not loyal to American Airlines or don’t eat out often or have high gas expenses, you might be better off with a more general travel rewards credit card.
  • It’s offset the first year, but there is an annual fee to think about moving forward.

Read our full Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: If you're brand-loyal, it pays to pick up a card that supports that. In this case, the welcome offer helps you take a giant step toward the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, which is a nice jump start on your earning.

The Bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

The Annual Fee: $149

The Rewards: Rack up two points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and on purchases with Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.

Additional Perks: Card members will have their loyalty rewarded with 7,500 bonus points each year after the cardholder anniversary. Additionally, you'll receive a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year and four upgraded boardings per year as available.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Enjoy 7,500 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • Enjoy four upgraded boardings per year when available and 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is a little steep. You can certainly find cards with cheaper annual fees if your travel plans don’t regularly include flights with Southwest Airlines.
  • This card doesn’t offer some of the benefits found on some other airline card, such as access to airport lounges or discounted reward travel options.
  • Frequent international travelers might find Southwest’s offerings to be limited.

Read our full Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card review.

 

COMPARE MORE

For even more options, check out our full list of best airline rewards credit cards.


BEST HOTEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: With the combining of the Marriott, SPG and Ritz-Carlton hotel rewards program, guests have more options than ever when it comes to using those points. This new card gets you started on the right foot with a good sized bonus opportunity.

The Bonus: For a limited time, earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Cardholders will also enjoy an additional free night award (up to a 35,000-point value) after each account anniversary.

The Annual Fee: $95

The Rewards: This card allows you to rack up six points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Beyond that, earn two points per $1 spent on everything else.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Enjoy one free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year.
  • Enjoy 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • Bonus points aren’t limited to purchases at Marriott properties– earn 2X Bonvoy points for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

CONS:

  • As with all brand-specific credit cards, you’ll reap the most benefit if you’re truly loyal to those brands. If you aren’t, you would likely be better off with a more general travel rewards card.
  • It’s manageable, and can easily be offset with proper use of the card, but there is an annual fee to consider.

Read our full Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This one rewards you even if you don't stay in hotels all the time, so it's a good everyday card. Plus – and this is unusual – there are airport lounge visits included with this card.

The Bonus: Earn 125,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on the card in the first three months. Additionally, on an ongoing basis you can earn a weekend night reward stay each calendar year you spend at least $15,000 on the card, an opportunity that could more than offset your annual fee.  

The Annual Fee: $95.

The Rewards: Earn 12 points per $1 spent directly with participating Hilton properties. Enjoy everyday earnings with six points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations and three points per $1 on all your other purchases.   

Added Perks: Cardholders receive 10 airport lounge visits each calendar year after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select. Visits beyond your 10th will incur a $27 fee, but those 10 complimentary visits are basically unheard of for a card with just a $95 annual fee. 

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • The welcome bonus is a great incentive for new cardholders, especially considering the fact that it has a relatively low spend threshold required to earn it.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Rewards from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchase on your card in a calendar year.
  • If you frequently stay at Hilton hotels, earning 12X points at eligible properties is an easy way to rack up rewards fast.
  • Bonus points aren’t limited to just hotel stays. Earn at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and on everyday purchases as well.

CONS:

  • As is usually the case with brand-specific credit cards, you’ll reap the most benefit if you’re truly loyal to those brands. If you aren’t, you would likely be better off with a more general travel rewards card.
  • It’s manageable, and can easily be offset with proper use of the card, but this card does come with an annual fee.

Read our full Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: If you like how the Hilton Honors Surpass card sounds, but you don't want to pay an annual fee, this may be the card for you. Its benefits aren't quite as extensive, but for a no-annual-fee card, it does a solid job rewarding those loyal to the Hilton brand.

The Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points once spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

The Annual Fee:

$0

The Rewards: Earn 7X Hilton Honors points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands. Earn 5X points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

Added Perks: Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.

Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • The earn rate is very solid for a card with no-annual-fee. Not only does this card generously reward you for stays within the Hilton portfolio, but it also offers bonus rewards on everyday purchases as well as on all "other" purchases, which is rare for no-annual-fee cards.
  • If you plan to travel internationally, this is a great card to travel with as it does not charge foreign transaction fees.
  • If you frequently stay at Hilton hotels, earning 12X points at eligible properties is an easy way to rack up rewards fast.
  • Spend $20,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.

CONS:

  • As is usually the case with brand-specific credit cards, you’ll reap the most benefit if you’re truly loyal to those brands. If you aren’t, you would likely be better off with a more general travel rewards card.
  • If you're willing to pay an annual fee and would utlize the extra perks offered with the Surpass card, it could be worth upgrading to this annual-fee version.

Read our full Hilton Honors American Express Card review.

 

COMPARE MORE

For even more hotel rewards credit card options, check out our full list of best hotel rewards credit cards.


BEST TRAVEL CARDS WITH TRANSFERABLE REWARDS

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to many frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, so you aren't tied down to a single brand with this card. Furthermore, your points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel, making them even more valuable than they are at face value.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That's worth $750 in travel.

The Annual Fee: $95

The Rewards: Earn two times the points on travel and dining at restaurants and one point on everything else. Plus earn five points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's three points in addition to the two points you already earn on travel. Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to numerous frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

The information related to this credit card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

PROS:

  • When redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, the 60,000 bonus points new cardholders can earn once spending $4,000 in the first three months as a cardholder, is worth a whopping $750 toward travel!
  • Chase has a number of travel partners so there’s a lot of flexibility in how you’re able to redeem your rewards.
  • This card earns bonus points on all travel purchases, not just with a specific hotel or airline brand.
  • The card does not charge foreign transaction fees, so it’s great whether you’re traveling near or far!

CONS:

  • The 2X point earn rate is limited to travel and restaurant purchases. If you’re looking to rack up rewards quick and don’t spend often in these categories, this might not be the best card for you.
  • This card charges an annual fee, so if you’re just a causal spender you might find it difficult to offset this.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE

Combine this card with Chase Freedom® and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn top rewards in categories beyond travel and dining. Use Chase Freedom® strategically to earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating categories when you activate (check out the current bonus categories) and use Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn 1.5% back on everything that doesn't earn more with Chase Freedom® or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Finally, transfer all your points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card where your points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The information related to Chase Freedom card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card.


Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: There's a ton of flexibility with this card when it comes to redeeming those miles; plus, the annual fee is less than what you might expect to pay for a card with this kind of earning and redemption power. For example, you can fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime and not have to worry about blackout dates. Plus, you can transfer your miles to multiple leading travel loyalty programs. Lastly, cardholders are eligible for a reimbursement of their Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee, a perk worth up to $100 and not common among cards with this low of an annual fee.

The Bonus: Snag 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

The Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

The Rewards: This is a card with which you earn two miles for every $1 you spend. Redeem miles for any flight or hotel stay, as well as car rentals, cruises and more.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • From airfare to grocery purchases this card earns 2X miles on it all. This is a great option for anyone looking to rack up rewards fast.
  • This card offers reimbursement for most travel purchases so you aren’t limited to traveling with a specific airline or hotel brand. From Airbnb stays, to car rentals, to National Park campsite bookings, your miles are good to cover almost any travel purchase– even out-of-the box-ones!
  • Additionally you can transfer miles to over 15 leading travel loyalty programs, offering even more flexibility with how you redeem your rewards.
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it’s great to use domestically as well as internationally.

CONS:

  • Though it’s waived for the first year, after that this card charges an annual fee. If you’re a casual credit card spender you may find it difficult to offset this cost.
  • If you’re loyal to a particular airline or hotel you might benefit more with a card that earns extra rewards on purchases with that brand.

Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: As we've already discussed, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are the solid transferable rewards that offer a ton of flexibility. This card functions on that system plus throws in a luxury polish to go along with it. Furthermore, Reserve cardholders enjoy 50% more value when redeeming points for travel through Ultimate Rewards®. In fact, this would be another good option for combining with no-annual-fee cards that also function on the Ultimate Rewards® platform.

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Thanks to that 50% more value situation, those points are worth as much as $750 when redeemed through Ultimate Rewards® and could be worth even more if you transfer them to hotel and airline loyalty partners.

The Annual Fee: $550

The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 spent on travel (after earning your annual $300 travel credit) and on dining and one point per $1 on everything else.

Added Perks: As we said, this is a luxury card and it boasts the luxury perks you'd expect, such as airport lounge access at more than 1,000 lounges around the globe, concierge services, special hotel benefits and upgrades and more. It can also save you money with up to a $100 credit every four years to cover your TSA Pre✓™ or Global Entry application fee plus up to $300 in statement credit each year to cover travel charges.

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • Points are worth a whopping 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That means the 50,000 bonus points you can earn once spending $4,000 within three months can be worth up to $750!
  • Enjoy access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.
  • Cardholders receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™.
  • This card offers some solid travel insurance protections such as trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, emergency evacuation and transportation coverage, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and more.
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it’s a great for purchases near and far.

CONS:

  • This card offers a lot of bang for its buck, but there’s no ignoring its sizable annual fee. If you don’t plan to use the card often enough to truly reap its benefits, this might not be the best option for you.
  • There’s also an annual fee for each additional authorized user added to the account.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: A card with this large of an annual fee as a top pick for a travel rewards credit card?! Astounding, but we believe for the right frequent traveler who enjoys comfort and enjoys the exclusive perks that come with this card, it’s worth it. Let’s dig in. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

Is the Platinum Card® from American Express Worth the Annual Fee? In addition to the opportunity to earn 60,000 welcome bonus you get 5x membership rewards points on a) flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express travel and b) prepaid hotels that you book through amextravel.com. The card comes with an annual $200 airline fee credit, annual $200 in Uber credits, annual $100 in statement credits at Saks Fifth Avenue or Saks.com; and a Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✔™ ($85) application fee waiver every four years. It's well known for access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, and Delta Sky Clubs when flying with Delta. Plus complimentary Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status.  

The Bonus: New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months of membership. This is worth $600 toward airfare booked through Amex partners. 

The Annual Fee: $550. If you happen to be active duty military or a spouse of one, American Express will waive the annual fee.

The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com and on prepaid hotels booked through American Express travel. You earn one point per $1 spent on all your other purchases.

Added Perks: Cardholders will save money with up to $200 annually in Uber savings via a $15 per month Uber credit ($20 in December) and up to $200 each year in airline fee credit with your pre-selected airline. You can also take advantage of complimentary access to airport lounges around the globe and a reimbursement for your Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee.  

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Enjoy a $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Cardholders receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • This card offers a few travel insurance protections such as car rental loss and damage insurance and baggage insurance plans
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it makes a great international travel companion.

CONS:

  • This card carries a hefty annual fee. It offers a lot of benefits to offset its cost, but if you don’t travel enough to utilize these benefits, the cost likely won’t be worth it.
  • If you anticipate needing to carry a balance, you’ll want to look for another option as this is a charge card, which requires the balance to be paid in full each billing cycle.

Read our full review of The Platinum Card® from American Express.

American Express® Gold Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card offers a number of luxury perks without the through-the-roof annual fee of other luxury cards. Consider, for instance, that taking full advantage of the $100 per year airline fee credit (with a pre-selected airline) essentially reduces your annual fee to $150. And there are plenty of perks with this card that certainly make that worthwhile.

The Bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within your first three months as a cardholder.

The Annual Fee: $250

The Rewards: You'll earn four times the Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases at supermarkets, then one point per $1). Earn three times the Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; and one point per $1 on your other purchases.

Added Perks: Receive up to $100 in statement credits annually to cover incidental airline charges, like baggage fees, with a pre-selected airline. You can also take advantage of up to $10 total monthly in statement credits when you use your card to pay for purchases at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations. 

Credit Needed:  Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • The rewards rate on restaurant purchases worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets is quite high, making it a solid option for anyone who spends heavily in those categories in addition to travel.
  • Enjoy up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it’s a great option for trips abroad.

CONS:

  • This card is a charge card so you’ll be expected to pay your balance in full each billing cycle.
  • The $250 annual fee isn’t horrendous; however, if you don’t travel often, it likely won’t be worth it.

Read our full American Express® Gold Card review.

American Express® Green Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: In addition to no foreign transaction fees, the American Express® Green Card offers a lot of great travel benefits that we like, including an annual $100 CLEAR®, an expedited airport security program, credit; and an annual $100 LoungeBuddy, an airport lounge access program, credit. Plus, you'll earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on travel and transit, and 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide, meaning you can earn rewards whether traveling near or far.

The Bonus: Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend at least $2,000 in the first three months of opening an account.

Annual Fee: $150

The Rewards: Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on travel and transit and on restaurant purchases worldwide, and 1X Membership Rewards® point on all other purchases.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • From subway swipes to hotel stays to city tours, you’ll earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on so much more than just airfare.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use your card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S.
  • Use this card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy at any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network– no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. You can earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

CONS:

  • It’s not horrible, but don’t overlook the annual fee. Though lower than that of premium travel cards, it’s still something you’ll want to consider when deciding whether this is the right card or not for you.
  • While the network of merchants accepting American Express is ever-growing, it’s still a smaller network than you’ll find with Visa or Mastercard. This is particularly true if you do a lot of traveling abroad.

See our full American Express® Green Card review to learn more.

 

FREE TOOL

Dreaming of traveling more, but fear your budget can't handle it? You may be surprised at how far your rewards can take you when you're using the right credit card. Follow our lead to greater travel savings through 19 FREE lessons in our easy-to-use Travel Rewards 101 guide.


BEST FIXED-VALUE TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: The GoFar Rewards program offers you a lot of value and flexibility, and this card offers access to that program, plus a lot of other perks, all for no annual fee.

Bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months as a cardholder. That is worth $200 cash redemption value. Additionally, if a balance transfer is what you need, you can take advantage of a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (fees apply), then a 13.99%-25.99% Variable APR balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn three points per $1 on eating out and ordering in; your gas station, rideshare and transit purchases; on travel purchases, including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals; and on popular streaming services. Earn one point per $1 on everything else.

Added Perks: Pay your cellular bill with your card and the primary phone as well as up to three other phones on the same bill will be protected against covered damage and theft (terms and deductibles apply.) It's a nice added benefit that won't cost you a thing and will save you money if you're used to paying for cell phone insurance.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • This card does not charge annual fees or foreign transaction fees.
  • This card offers a lot of opportunities to earn bonus rewards. Earn 3X points on dining out, ordering in, on travel, at gas stations, on rideshares and transit purchases, and on select streaming services.
  • Enjoy up to $600 in cell phone protection against covered damage and theft if you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card.
  • Take advantage of 12 months of intro 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 13.99%-25.99% Variable).

CONS:

  • This card leaves out a popular category that many other tiered cards often offer bonus points in: groceries. If you spend heavily on grocery purchases, you might want to consider a different card to maximize your rewards.
  • • The welcome bonus isn’t eye-popping, but it is a solid offer for a card with no annual fee.

Read our full Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card review.

Discover it® Miles

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: In a word, the match. Earning what amounts to three miles per $1 spent during your first year makes this card even more lucrative than cards with sky-high annual fees. Make sure you rack up those miles during your first year.

The Bonus: Discover will match all the miles new cardholders earn during their first year, effectively meaning that 35,000 miles earned is actually 70,000 miles earned.

The Annual Fee: See Terms

The Rewards: Because of the match bonus, you effectively earn three miles per $1 spent during your first year. The ongoing rewards rate is a respectable 1.5 miles per $1.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • The match bonus Discover offers is unique, and has the potential to reward you big time. If you plan your spending right, you have the potential to walk away with thousands of extra miles at the end of your first year as a cardholder.
  • You can redeem your rewards in any amount for travel credit or cash back.
  • No annual fees or foreign transaction fees.

CONS:

  • While the mile match bonus has potential to pay off big, it requires patience. If you’re looking to earn a sign up bonus that you can use almost immediately, this might not be the card for you.
  • Because of the match bonus, you effectively earn three miles per dollar spent, but after your first year as a cardholder, the 1.5X earn rate might not seem as desirable.

Read our full Discover it® Miles review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card offers you a simple, straightforward path to earning rewards and, perhaps more importantly, a TON of value when it comes to redeeming those rewards whether you choose to redeem for airfare or for cash back. Those things together with luxury perks and money-saving features offer a nice path toward offsetting the annual fee.

The Bonus: There isn't a traditional bonus offer with this card, but you could consider the regular redemption value to be a bonus of sorts. That's because each point you redeem for airfare is worth $.02 and each point you redeem for cash back into a U.S. bank account or for statement credit is worth 1.5 cents. That means that 25,000 points is worth $500 if redeemed for airfare or $375 if redeemed for cash back. That's a solid step above the typical redemption values of 1% for cash back and even the 1.5% cash back some cards offer for airfare.

The Annual Fee: $495

The Rewards: Earn one point per $1 spent on every purchase. While that earning alone isn't super high, you make up for that with the solid redemption value of 2% when redeemed for airfare with any airline and 1.5% when redeemed for cash back.

Added Perks: This credit card offers impressive perks and one of them is that the card itself is impressive. It's made of stainless steel and carbon, making it a strong, heavy card the pretty much guarantees you'll get a second look when you pull it out of your wallet. As for the other perks: save money with a $100 annual airline credit to cover flight-related purchases like baggage fees, upgrades and more; receive up to a $100 statement credit every five years to cover your Global Entry application fee (TSA Pre✓™ status is included with Global Entry); and enjoy complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world with Priority Pass Select. Lastly, the 24/7 luxury concierge is available to help cardholders with reservations, travel bookings, personal requests, conducting research, securing you tickets and more, saving you precious time.

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • This card is loaded with luxury perks. Some of our favorites include: a $100 annual airline credit to cover flight-related purchases like baggage fees and upgrades, up to a $100 statement credit every five years to cover your Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee, and complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world with Priority Pass Select.
  • Enjoy access to a luxury concierge, who can help you with reservations, travel bookings, personal requests, research, and more.
  • This is a great card to travel abroad with as it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

CONS:

  • There’s no ignoring the annual fee. There are a lot of benefits offered with this card to help offset it, but this card isn’t for everyone.
  • There’s no sign-up bonus as an incentive to help make your initial investment in the card feel worth it.

Read our full Mastercard® Black Card™ review.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Easy to earn rewards plus the opportunity to boost your earning as a part of the Preferred Rewards program make this no-annual-fee card a solid choice.

The Bonus: Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days as a cardholder. Those points can be redeemed for $250-worth of statement credit to cover travel purchases.

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: Receive 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases with no caps or categories. If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can boost your earning by 25-75% on every purchase depending upon your Preferred Rewards tier.

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good

PROS:

  • No foreign transaction or annual fees.
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards member you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase.
  • This card offers a simple rewards earning structure meaning your rewards can accumulate quickly without a lot of thought or planning.

CONS:

  • The rewards and intro offer are decent for low to average credit card spenders but if you heavily use your card you’d likely be better off with a travel rewards card that offers a more substantial rewards program. Sure, you might have to pay an annual fee for that, but if you’re using your card often enough, you’ll likely quickly offset that.
  • The fact that Preferred Reward members can earn up to 75% more points is fantastic, but you must have a Bank of America and/or Merrill investment account and a specific average account balance to qualify.

Read our full Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card review.

BEST NO-ANNUAL-FEE TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: If simple travel rewards and avoiding an annual fee are your goal, this could be your card. You can transfer your miles to numerous leading travel loyalty programs. There is a nice bonus for a no-annual-fee card as well as some solid features sure to make the periodic traveler glad to have the card in their wallet.

Bonus: Receive 20,000 bonus miles after spending just $1,000 on purchases in the first three months; that's worth $200 in completely flexible travel rewards.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn a simple-to-remember 1.25 miles for every $1 you spend, with no caps or categories to worry about. Your miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to what you can earn.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • No foreign transaction or annual fees.
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase with no caps or categories to worry about.
  • Transfer your miles to multiple leading loyalty programs, or fly any airline or stay at any hotel by using the “purchase eraser” feature.
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (then 14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)).

CONS:

  • There’s no annual fee, which is great, but if you plan to spend $10,000 or more annually with the card the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card might be a better choice. It charges an annual fee, but offers unlimited 2X miles on all purchases instead of 1.25.
  • For a card with no annual fee, the rewards rate is fine. However, if you’re looking to take a trip fast using rewards, it might take a while to rack them up at a 1.25 point per dollar rate.

Read our full Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card review.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It:: This card offers a broad range of categories that earn three times the points per $1 spent and there's no annual fee to worry about. That means this is a good card for a lot of different types of spenders/credit card users. And, as we mentioned above in the "fixed value" section, this one is great for flexible travel.

Bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months which amounts to a $200 cash redemption value. Additionally, if you are considering a balance transfer, you can take advantage of a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (fees apply), then a 13.99%-25.99% Variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn three points per $1 spent on your eating out and ordering in purchases; your gas station, rideshare and transit purchases; and your travel purchases, including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn one point per $1 on everything else.

Added Perks: If you pay your cellular phone bill on your card, the primary phone and up to three other phones on the same bill will be protected against covered damage and theft (terms and deductibles apply.) It's a nice added benefit that won't cost you a thing and will save you money if you're used to paying for cell phone insurance.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • This card does not charge annual fees or foreign transaction fees.
  • This card offers a lot of opportunities to earn bonus rewards. Earn 3X points on dining out, ordering in, on travel, at gas stations, on rideshares and transit purchases, and on select streaming services.
  • Enjoy up to $600 in cell phone protection against covered damage and theft if you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card.
  • Take advantage of 12 months of intro 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 13.99%-25.99% Variable).

CONS:

  • This card leaves out a popular category that many other tiered cards often offer bonus points in: groceries. If you spend heavily on grocery purchases, you might want to consider a different card to maximize your rewards.
  • The welcome bonus isn’t eye-popping, but it is a solid offer for a card with no annual fee.

Read our full Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card review.

TOP PREMIUM TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Take what you love about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and up it a notch. This is the luxury sibling of that card and, while the annual fee could come as a bit of a shock, when you consider what you get for the fee, we think it's worth it.

The Bonus: You can earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. With this card, however, your points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, so that bonus alone could be worth as much as $750 in travel.

The Annual Fee: $550

The Rewards: Earn three times the points on dining at restaurants and on travel charges after earning your annual travel reimbursement statement credit and one point on everything else. Once again, those Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are transferable to numerous frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs and, as mentioned earlier, they're worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal. And, yes, this is another option if you're considering following the advice in the Pro Tip box above and opening a couple of cards that work on the Ultimate Rewards® system. Remember, though, that you can't hold this card and the Preferred version. Furthermore, you won't be able to collect a signup bonus on any Sapphire card if you've gotten one with another Sapphire card within the past 48 months.

Added Perks: Cardholders are eligible for up to $300 each account anniversary year in travel reimbursement – that alone significantly helps to offset the annual fee. Additionally, you'll be eligible for a reimbursement of your Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee every four years and you'll enjoy a complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership that allows access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world.

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • Points are worth a whopping 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That means the 50,000 bonus points you can earn once spending $4,000 within three months can be worth up to $750!
  • Enjoy access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.
  • Cardholders receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™.
  • This card offers some solid travel insurance protections such as trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, emergency evacuation and transportation coverage, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and more.
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it’s a great for purchases near and far.

CONS:

  • This card offers a lot of bang for its buck, but there’s no ignoring its sizable annual fee. If you don’t plan to use the card often enough to truly reap its benefits, this might not be the best option for you.
  • There’s also an annual fee for each additional authorized user added to the account.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: If a heavy, metal credit card doesn't say "premium," we don't know what does. This card offers you the status of an impressive card design as well as enough perks and features to make that annual fee worth it. In fact, if you're a regular traveler and you use this card regularly, you should have any trouble at all offsetting the fee.

The Bonus: The bonus comes into play when you redeem your points. Instead of being worth the typical $.01 or even 1.5 cents each, your points are worth $.02 each when redeemed for airfare and 1.5 cents each when redeemed for cash back into a U.S. bank account or for statement credit.

The Annual Fee: $495

The Rewards: Earn at an easy-to-understand rate of one point for every $1 your spend. Then, redeem those points for up to $.02 each if you're redeeming for airfare.

Added Perks: When it comes to luxury travel, it all starts with the airport lounge. With this card you'll enjoy complimentary access to the Priority Pass Select network of more than 1,200 lounges around the globe, a perk that on its own could completely offset the annual fee if you're someone who would normally purchase an annual pass to the lounge network. Furthermore, you'll enjoy a $100 travel credit annual to offset flight-related charges such as baggage fees and upgrades. You can also take advantage of a $100 reimbursement every five years to cover your Global Entry application fee (TSA Pre✓™ status is included in Global Entry). And don't forget the value of the luxury concierge, available to cardholders 24/7 to assist with things like reservations, securing tickets, travel bookings, personal requests, conducting research and more.

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • This card is loaded with luxury perks. Some of our favorites include: a $100 annual airline credit to cover flight-related purchases like baggage fees and upgrades, up to a $100 statement credit every five years to cover your Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee, and complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world with Priority Pass Select.
  • Enjoy access to a luxury concierge, who can help you with reservations, travel bookings, personal requests, research, and more.
  • This is a great card to travel abroad with as it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

CONS:

  • There’s no ignoring the annual fee. There are a lot of benefits offered with this card to help offset it, but this card isn’t for everyone.
  • There’s no sign-up bonus as an incentive to help make your initial investment in the card feel worth it.

Read our full Mastercard® Black Card™ review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Another option for people who like to travel in comfort and luxury, this card also offers transferable points and plenty of money-saving perks that will help offset that annual fee. It also offers the Instant Card Number feature so eligible cardholders can get started racking up rewards immediately upon approval rather than waiting for your new card to arrive in the mail three to five days later.

The Bonus: New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months of membership. 

The Annual Fee: $550.

The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com and on prepaid hotels booked through American Express travel. You earn one point per $1 spent on all your other purchases.

Added Perks: Cardholders will save money with up to $200 annually in Uber savings via a $15 per month Uber credit ($20 in December) and up to $200 each year in airline fee credit with your pre-selected airline. You can also take advantage of complimentary access to airport lounges around the globe and a reimbursement for your Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee. 

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Enjoy a $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Cardholders receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • This card offers a few travel insurance protections such as car rental loss and damage insurance and baggage insurance plans.
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it makes a great international travel companion.

CONS:

  • This card carries a hefty annual fee. It offers a lot of benefits to offset its cost, but if you don’t travel enough to utilize these benefits, the cost likely won’t be worth it.
  • If you anticipate needing to carry a balance, you’ll want to look for another option as this is a charge card, which requires the balance to be paid in full each billing cycle.

Read our full review of The Platinum Card® from American Express.

BEST TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS FOR BUSINESSES

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: With double mile earnings on eligible American Airlines purchases, gas, and select business purchases, it doesn't take long for miles to start adding up, especially thanks to the generous 65,000-mile welcome bonus for new cardmembers, earned once spending $4,000 in the first four months of opening an account. Plus, employee cards are available at no additional cost and also earn AAdvantage® miles, further helping your miles-earning potential.

The Bonus: Earn a 65,000-mile welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first four months of opening an account.

The Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months

The Rewards: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases.

Additional Perks: Spend at least $30,000 annually on the card and you'll receive a $99 companion ticket for domestic travel. Plus, enjoy a number of airline benefits such as a free first checked bag on domestic American Airlines itineraries, 25% savings on American Airlines inflight Wi-Fi when you use your card, and preferred boarding on American Airlines flights.

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it's great whether your travel plans take you near or far.
  • Receive a $99 companion ticket for domestic travel once spending at least $30,000 annually on the card.
  • Not only does this card reward you for airline loyalty, but it rewards you for every day business purchases as well.

CONS:

  • If American Airline isn't your airline of choice, you may fare better with a card that earns more general travel rewards.
  • The annual fee is reasonable, and it's waived for the first year, but it's still something to consider.

Read our full CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This is a great option for those loyal to the Marriott brand thanks to six points earned on stays at Marriott Bonvoy properties. Plus, it also rewards everyday business spending with four points earned at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping.

The Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.

The Annual Fee: $125

The Rewards: Earn 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping; and 2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Additional Perks: Receive one Free Night Award every year after your card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees. You can also enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your card, as well as earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • This is a good card to travel internationally with as it does not charge foreign transaction fees.
  • The Free Night Award that's rewarded each year on your account anniversary is a valuable perk.
  • If you use your card regularly you could enjoy an additional Free Night Award, which is great for frequent travelers.

CONS:

  • The annual fee actually isn't too bad considering how nice the rewards are with this card, but still, if you'd rather not pay an annual fee, it's something to think about.
  • Like with any branded card, this card really only makes sense for those loyal to particular brands. So in this case, if you don't stay at Marriott properties often, you may want to consider something else.

Read our full Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Brand loyalty pays off with this card. Cardholders can enjoy a free first checked bag, main cabin one priority boarding, $100 off your next Delta flight after you spend $10,000 with the card in a calendar year, and more.

The Bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership.

The Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99

The Rewards: Earn two miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta, on eligible U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, on eligible U.S. shipping purchases, and on every eligible dollar spent on dining at restaurants. Earn one mile on every other eligible dollar spent.

Additional Perks: After you spend $10,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, you will earn a $100 Delta flight credit to use toward future travel.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Check or stow your bag with ease with your first checked bag free plus main cabin one priority boarding.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel overseas.
  • The annual fee is waived the first year of card membership.

CONS:

  • Though it's waived the first year, there is an annual fee moving forward.
  • The price is right with this card; however, if you fly Delta heavily, it may be worth considering a Delta credit card with a higher annual fee that rewards you more generously for Delta purchases.

Read our full Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card rewards you for spending where you already spend the most, plus it's great for travel thanks to the opportunity to earn 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel (up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.)

The Bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the card within the first three months of opening an account.

The Annual Fee: $295

The Rewards: Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points on the two select categories where your business spends the most each month and 1X point on all other purchaess. The 4X point rate applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from the bonus categories each calendar year.

Additional Perks: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Feel free to bring this card along for any international traveling you may do; It does not charge foreign transaction fees.
  • This card offers a flexible payment option with interest to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.
  • The 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year, is a unique and solid offer. If you travel often, this is a really beneficial perk.

CONS:

  • The annual fee isn't outrageous considering the value of the card's perks, but it is something to be mindful about. If you don't travel often, some of the card's offerings might not benefit you much.
  • Earning 4X points where you spend most is an excellent benefit if you steadily spend money on the same things; however, if your expenses are all over the place, you can likely find a card that better suits your spending habits.

Read our full American Express® Business Gold Card review.

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Road-weary business travelers deserve to be taken care of as much as possible while they crisscross the country (or world). This card does that for you. It also offers healthy rewards, which means you can put a little something back toward your business' bottom line by way of a reward flight here and there.

The Bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first three months of card membership.

The Annual Fee: $595

The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. You'll also earn an extra half-point (so, 1.5 points) per $1 spent on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million points per year) and one point per $1 on all your other purchases. Additionally, when you Pay with Points for a first or business class flight with any airline through amextravel.com, or book any class ticket through the portal on your pre-selected airline, you'll receive 35% of your points back to use on a future redemption (up to 500,000 points back each year).  

Additional Perks: Save money with up to $200 in statement credit each year to cover incidental charges with your pre-selected airline. You'll also be able to wait for your flights in comfort thanks to complimentary airport lounge access. And, once every four years, you'll be eligible to have your Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee reimbursed via statement credit.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That’s an extra half point per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • Enjoy a 35% airline bonus. Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of those points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
  • This card gives you access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across 120 countries and counting through the Global Lounge Collection℠.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

CONS:

  • There are a lot of benefits to help offset it, but the annual fee is substantial. If you don’t expect to use the card enough to offset this fee, you might be better off with a lower-annual-feel card.
  • The welcome bonus for new cardholders is a great offer, but the spending threshold may be out of reach for some users.

Read our full review of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are extremely flexible and valuable; it's nice to be able to earn them easily with a card designed for your small business needs. Plus, there's the added perk of cellular phone protection with this card.

The Bonus: Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The Annual Fee: $95

The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel; shipping costs; Internet, cable, and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. After reaching the spending cap, and on all your other purchases, you'll earn one point per $1 spent. When you redeem your points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, they're worth 25% more.

Additional Perks: Pay your cellular bill on your card and you'll be protected against covered damage and theft to the phone (subject to a deductible and terms). The protection applies to the primary phone as well as the other phones listed on the account.

Also, consider adding a no-annual-fee card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards®, such as the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, to your business tools as it's an excellent complement to the Business Preferred card. You can use the no-annual-fee card to earn top rewards in categories beyond those offered by the Business Preferred card and then combine all your points in a single bucket in order to take advantage of the 25% more value when you redeem them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

The information related to this credit card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

PROS:

  • For a card with such an affordable annual fee, it offers a really nice welcome bonus. Sure, the spend threshold to receive it is a bit high, but considering the fact that the bonus is worth $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, it’s worth planning ahead to make sure you do what you need to do (within reason, of course) to earn it.
  • This card is perfect for travel with no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waivers, and more.
  • Pay your cell phone bill with your card and enjoy cell phone insurance for the primary cardholder and employee phones on the same account.

CONS:

  • The welcome bonus offered with this card is huge, but the spend threshold to receive it is a bit high. If your business doesn’t regularly spend much, or doesn’t have a large purchase on the horizon, this might not be the card for you.
  • There is an annual fee, but at $95, it’s quite modest for the amount of perks offered with this card.

Read our full Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card review.

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: A simple rewards-earning and redemption structure as well as a manageable annual fee make this the kind of small business credit card that busy business owners can truly embrace. Plus, with this card you'll receive up to a $100 credit for one Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application fee, plus a number of other travel benefits.

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles when you spend $4,500 in the first three months from account opening.

The Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

The Rewards: Earn two miles for every $1 spent on all your purchases and five miles per $1 on hotel and car rental bookings through Capital One TravelSM. Rewards won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit on the miles you can earn.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • In addition to earning two miles for every dollar spend on every purchase (with no caps or categories to worry about), you’ll also earn five miles per dollar spend on hotel and car rental bookings make through Capital One Travel™.
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for one Global Entry or Pre✓™ application fee.
  • Enjoy free employee cards, quarterly and year-end summaries, downloadable purchase records, a mobile app to manage purchases, and more.
  • Use the “purchase eraser” tool to “erase” all or part of a travel purchase, or transfer those miles to one of several popular travel loyalty programs.

CONS:

  • It’s waived the first year, but after that, there’s an annual fee to consider. If you’re regularly using the benefits of your card though, it should be easy to offset this cost.
  • If you spend a lot in certain categories, you could stand to earn more with a card that offers a high percentage rewards rate in those specific categories instead.

Read our full Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business review.

 

COMPARE MORE

For even more options, check out our full list of best business credit cards.


WHAT CAN A TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD DO FOR YOU?

HOW DO TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS WORK?

"Travel rewards credit card" is a broad term that actually takes in a far ranging variety of credit cards. In fact, cards you wouldn't necessarily think of as travel rewards cards can actually function that way if you use your rewards a particular way (see the editor's note above about Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® for a good example).

In a pure sense, though, travel rewards credit cards generally fall into a few specific boxes:

TRANSFERABLE POINTS

These are cards that allow you to rack up rewards, often they're called something proprietary like Ultimate Rewards® or Membership Rewards®, and either use your rewards within that proprietary system or transfer them to other travel loyalty programs such as airline frequent flyer accounts or hotel frequent stay programs.

PRO: You can often get even better value for your rewards when you transfer them to branded loyalty programs.
CON: It can be complicated to figure out how to get the most value out of your rewards.

FIXED VALUE

 These cards allow you to earn rewards that are then redeemable only within the program from which you earned them; you can't move them into another loyalty program. Often, these types of travel rewards can be redeemed for statement credit to cover the cost of travel you purchased on the card.

PRO: These cards allow you to "double-dip" when it comes earning rewards. Since you purchase your flight or hotel stays on a credit card, you can still earn rewards within that airline's or hotel's loyalty program, but then you can redeem credit card rewards to cover the cost. If you redeem rewards directly with a hotel or airline, you won't earn rewards for that flight or stay.
CON: These rewards are worth what they're worth; you can't transfer them to other loyalty programs to take advantage of discount loyalty reward fares or prices.

AIRLINE REWARDS

Airline rewards credit cards are attached to a specific airline frequent flyer program. Your credit card rewards are frequent flyer miles/points for that specific airline. 

PRO: Your credit card purchases can help you work toward status tiers within your airline of choice. Additionally, should you close the credit card, you generally get to keep any rewards you've earned because they are housed within your frequent flyer account and not within your credit card account.
CON:These rewards are fairly limited in terms of how you can redeem them; furthermore, you often have to have a fairly large chunk of points/rewards accumulated before you can redeem them for much travel.

HOTEL REWARDS

Again, the rewards you earn accumulate within your hotel loyalty account and not on your card.

PRO: Like with airline rewards cards, your purchase can help you earn status with your hotel brand of choice, and you can generally hold onto your points/rewards if you close your credit card account. Additionally, many hotel-branded credit cards offer cardholders a free night stay each year after you renew your card.
CON: As with airline cards, redeeming your rewards – particularly if you're interested in top value – is limited to stays with your hotel brand.

HOW TO COMPARE TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS

Travel rewards credit cards sound amazing, but you have to understand how to make them work for you in order to maximize their benefits. Here are some things to keep in mind when you're comparing travel rewards cards and looking for the one that's right for you.

Know your credit score and history. We always have to start with this recommendation regardless of the type of credit card you're looking for. The first step when comparing credit cards is to narrow down your options based on your credit score and history. If you have excellent credit, this probably won't narrow down your options much since most cards will be available to you. If, however, you have fair or average credit, this step will probably narrow your options considerably, especially when it comes to rewards cards. Don't grow discouraged! Just work with the credit score you have, use responsibly  the credit cards for which your eligible and you may soon qualify for a card designed for those with good or excellent credit. DON'T apply for cards that require excellent credit if you simply don't have excellent credit as that could very well damage your score.

Assess your travel goals. Are you someone who takes a mega-trip once a year? Or are you a person who escapes for weekend getaways whenever possible? Do you care about things like airport lounge access and VIP perks, or are you primarily concerned with top rewards for the lowest possible annual fee? Be honest about how you travel and don't convince yourself you will change your travel habits to fit a new credit card. Instead, find the card that fits the travel patterns you've already established.

Be honest about your spending habits. As with any rewards credit card, you want to find the one where the top rewards-earning most closely aligns with your regular spending habits. If, for instance, you rarely dine out than you aren't going to reap the full benefit of a travel rewards card that offers top rewards at restaurants. Likewise, if you prefer road trips to transatlantic flights, an airline rewards card probably isn't for you. Now, that sounds pretty basic, but it can be more nuanced. Let's say, for instance, that you are a bargain shopper who will fly any airline that offers you the cheapest airfare to your destination; conversely, maybe you are an airline loyalist who is prepared to pay a little bit more to fly the airline you've come to know and love.

Consider the fees. Many of the top travel rewards credit cards do charge an annual fee, but that's not necessarily a deal-breaker. Often, redeeming your travel rewards for just one flight or one hotel night or one car rental can completely offset that fee and than some. The trick is to make sure you're going to spend enough on the card and then use the rewards effectively enough to fully offset any fee you may owe. Additionally, we are talking about travel rewards cards here, so make sure you know whether the card you're considering charges foreign transaction fees. If you are someone who plans to use your card while abroad, you'll definitely want to apply for a card that doesn't charge those fees.

Look at the extra perks and features. The top travel rewards credit cards offer cardholders more than just rewards and the conveniences and security of paying with plastic. instead, they feature "fine print" benefits like included car rental insurance, lost luggage insurance or even trip cancellation/interruption insurance. Some cards reimburse you for some travel expenses or offer statement credit to cover Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ application fees. And, of course, there are cards that offer complimentary checked bags on flights and/or airport lounge access or free room upgrades. Decide which of these features is important to you and search for a card that meets those needs.

FREE TRAVEL REWARDS GUIDE

Maybe you want a travel rewards credit card just to help you offset some of your annual travel costs, or maybe you love visiting new places, but have had to cut back because travel expenses aren’t great for your journey to financial independence. What if, however, by being intentional, you and a companion could fly to Honolulu for a week for less than $150, hotel included? Or, for just under $200, you jet off on a solo travel adventure to Sydney, Australia and Tokyo, Japan in business class round trip, complete with great in-flight service and lie-flat seats? Both are real examples of why we think travel rewards can be a great way to travel the world for nearly free, and we show you how in our Travel Rewards 101 course, complete with 19 FREE, easy-to-follow lessons.

Whether you want to cash in on rewards just once year or stretch your reward dollar as far as possible, this course can help get you there. Binge the lessons or absorb the information at a slower pace. Whatever you do, get started by signing up for free today!

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card (See Rates and Fees); Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Business Gold Card (See Rates and Fees); The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees); The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees); Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Green Card (See Rates and Fees)

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

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