Best travel rewards credit cards of September 2022

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 travel credit cards for airline and hotel rewards, as well as cards offering flexible travel rewards for those not loyal to one particular brand.
Best credit cards of 2022
author Jennifer Doss
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards. Please note: Any balance transfer savings vary depending upon account usage and payment behavior.
20+ years
finding the best card for you
1,500+ cards
in our database
5,000+ cardholders
polled about their cards
243 reviews
from our experts
Learn about our methodology  

List of Winners

  • CardName - Best for No Annual Fee
  • CardName - Best for Transferring Rewards
  • CardName - Best for Flexible Redemption Options
  • CardName - Best Premium Card for Authorized Users
  • CardName - Best for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Reimbursement
  • CardName - Best for Airport Lounge Access
  • CardName - Best for Premium Travel Benefits
  • CardName - Best with 0% Intro APR
  • CardName - Best for Dining Out
  • CardName - Best for Gas Rewards
  • CardName - Best for Airline Perks
  • CardName - Best for Free Companion Travel
  • CardName - Best Hotel Credit Card for Everyday Purchases
  • CardName - Best Hotel Credit Card for Free Night Rewards
  • CardName - Best for Travel Insurance
  • CardName - Best for First/Business Class Air Travel

The right travel rewards credit card could mean the difference between a fantastic getaway once every other year and a fantastic getaway (or two!) every year. It all depends on your budget, your spending and, of course, ensuring you have the best travel rewards card for your specific needs.

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 or personal trip.

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 sometimes change their terms, so we keep an eye on those terms and update our recommendations accordingly. 

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

Filters
Filters
X
Clear All

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: If simple travel rewards and avoiding an annual fee are your goals, this could be your card. Additionally, this card allows you to redeem rewards to cover your dining purchases, which means it offers a solution to the question of how to offset the expense of food when you travel. Plus, it's one of few travel rewards cards to offer a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (details below; after the intro period, the APR becomes RegAPR).
Welcome Bonus
25,000 points Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

Bonus: Receive 25,000 online bonus points after spending just $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days; that's worth $250 in statement credit to cover your travel or restaurant purchases. Plus, you could save with a 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases and any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (then, RegAPR. A balance transfer fee applies: BalanceTransferFees)

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Rewards Rate: Earn a simple-to-remember 1.5 points for every $1 you spend, with no caps or categories to worry about. Furthermore, if you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you will earn 25%-75% more on every purchase depending on your tier.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • No foreign transaction or annual fees.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 on every purchase and up that to 1.87-2.62 points depending on your tier if you're a Preferred Rewards client.
  • Redeem your rewards to cover restaurant purchases, one of travel's biggest expenses and one you can't often use credit card rewards to offset.

CONS:

  • There’s no annual fee, which is great, but travel cards with annual fees do tend to offer more in the way of perks and features. If you're a regular traveler and can justify an annual fee, you stand to enjoy more perks and possibly earn more rewards.
  • 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 1.5 points per $1 rate.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 74.0 85.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.2 8.4
Customer Service 7.5 8.5
Website/App Usability 7.8 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.4 8.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
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. Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel, making them even more valuable than they are at face value. Furthermore, the welcome offer is solid, so it's always a great time to apply.
Welcome Bonus
60,000 points Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

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

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 5X total points on all travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services and takeout; 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on travel purchases; and 1X point on all other purchases. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are transferable to numerous frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.

Added Perks: Cardholders can earn a $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards as well as a 10% anniversary bonus each account anniversary, equal to 10% of total purchases made the previous year. That means $25,000 in spend will earn an additional 2,500 bonus points.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

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 $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:

  • While the welcome bonus is impressive, it might be hard for some cardholders to reach the $4,000 spend threshold required to earn it.
  • 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 CardName

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 75.9 83.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.5 8.3
Customer Service 7.9 8.5
Website/App Usability 7.7 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 8.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.1 8.1

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

EDITOR'S NOTE

Combine this card with CardName and/or CardName to earn top rewards in categories beyond travel. Use Freedom Flex℠ 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 CardName to earn 1.5% back on everything that doesn't earn more with CardName or the CardName. Finally, transfer all your points to your CardName where your points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

One more thing to note: Both Chase Freedom FlexSM; and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are no-annual-fee cards that feature an intro 15 months of no interest on purchases and balance transfers for new cardholders (then, RegAPR for CardName and RegAPR for CardName).

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: There's a ton of flexibility with this card when it comes to redeeming miles earned; 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.
Welcome Bonus
75,000 miles Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel. That's some serious mile-earning potential!

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

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.

Added Perks: Cardholders are eligible for a reimbursement of their Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, a perk worth up to $100 and not common among cards with this low of an annual fee.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

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. Plus, earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cards booked through Capital One Travel.
  • 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 numerous leading airline and hotel 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:

  • 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 CardName

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 81.9 83.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.1
Customer Service 8.2 8.3
Website/App Usability 8.0 8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.5 8.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: This card offers a whopping 10X miles on hotels and rental cars and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel. All other purchases, including all other travel purchases, earn 2X miles per dollar spent. Plus, the card comes with numerous travel benefits such as travel credits, lounge access, and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement. But what really stands out is that it's a premium/luxury card that doesn't charge a fee to add an authorized user AND authorized users receive their own Priority Pass Select membership.
Welcome Bonus
75,000 miles Earn 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Additionally, enjoy 10,000 bonus miles every year, starting on your first account anniversary.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 2X miles on all other purchases.

Added Perks: Receive up to $300 back as statement credits for bookings made through Capital One Travel; enjoy unlimited free visits to Capital One Lounges and Plaza Premium Lounges, plus bring two free guests per visit; enjoy complimentary visits for you and your guests at Priority Pass lounges; receive up to a $100 credit to cover your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee; protect your cell phone with up to $800 in coverage when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your card.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • If you book a flight when Capital One recommends, and the price later drops, you'll get a partial refund thanks to free price drop protection.
  • Additionally, if you find a better price, Capital One will match it. Just let them know within 24 hours of booking and they will refund you the difference.
  • Earning 10,000 bonus miles every year on your account anniversary is a nice incentive for maintaining card membership.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is easy to offset if you'll utilize the card's numerous benefits, but if you don't travel often, you may find you have trouble offsetting the cost of the card.
  • The annual travel credit is nice, but earning it means you'll need to do your travel bookings through the Capital One Travel portal. This may feel limiting for some cardholders.

Read our full CardName.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: This card offers $100 in airline incidental credits annually plus TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credits of up to $100 every four years making it a great choice for frequent fliers.
Welcome Bonus
50,000 points Earn 50,000 online bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days from account opening
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Receive 50,000 online bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn unlimited two points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Added Perks: Cardholders receive $100 in airline incidental credits annually plus TSA PreCheck/Global Entry statement credits of up to $100 every four years. Plus, if you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can earn 25% to 75% more points on every purchase.
  • Receive $100 in airline incidental credits annually.
  • Cardholders receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years.
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so feel free to bring it along on your next international trip.

CONS:

  • This card is designed with Bank of America customers in mind, so if this isn't currently your bank you may miss out on reward opportunities.
  • It's manageable, but there is an annual fee to consider.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 81.5 82.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.2
Customer Service 8.1 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.0 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.6
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: Take what you love about the 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.
Welcome Bonus
60,000 points Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: You can earn 60,000 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 $900 in travel.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining and 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Those Chase Ultimate Rewards points are transferable to numerous frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs and, as mentioned above, they're worth 50% more when you redeem them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

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 PreCheck application fee every four years and you'll enjoy a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that allows access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Points are worth a whopping 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That means the 60,000 bonus points you can earn once spending $4,000 within three months can be worth up to $900!
  • Enjoy access to 1,300+ 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 PreCheck.
  • 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 CardName

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 83.2 82.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.3 8.2
Customer Service 8.4 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.3 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.5
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.2 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: A card with this large of an annual fee as a top pick for a travel rewards 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. Furthermore, there are a ton of opportunities to offset that fee just with included benefits and perks – not even considering the rewards. Let’s dig in American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.
Welcome Bonus
100,000 points Earn 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in the first six months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

Is the Platinum Card® from American Express Worth the Annual Fee? In addition to the opportunity to earn a hefty welcome bonus you get 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) as well as on prepaid hotels that you book through amextravel.com. The card comes with an annual $200 airline fee credit for incidental fees with a pre-selected airline, up to $200 annually in Uber Cash, up to $100 annually in statement credits at Saks Fifth Avenue or Saks.com, a Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) application fee waiver every four or 4.5 years, respectively, and so much more. 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. Enrollment required for select benefits.

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 5X points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com (up to $500,00 spent annually) 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 in Uber Cash ($35 in December) as well as 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 PreCheck application fee. If you're staying close to home, you can take advantage of up to $300 annually in credit for qualifying Equinox memberships; up to $240 annually for purchases with Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, Audible and/or The New York Times; up to $200 in statement credit each year when you use your card on prepaid bookings with American Express Travel at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection (minimum two-night stay required) properties; and more.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Enjoy a $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying pre-selected airline.
  • Cardholders receive up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • 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.
  • Enrollment may be required for select benefits.

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 might want to consider another option. Unlike typical credit cards, this card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.

Read our full CardName

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 75.1 88
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.5 8.7
Customer Service 7.6 8.9
Website/App Usability 7.5 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 8.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.3 9.0

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: Put simply, 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. Plus, cardholders can enjoy a lengthy 15-month 0% APR intro period on new purchases and balance transfers (then, RegAPR).
Welcome Bonus
First year match Discover will match all the miles you've earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

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 welcome 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 CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 79.9 82.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.0 8.2
Customer Service 8.0 8.2
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.1 8.6
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.1

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: This card offers a number of luxury perks without the through-the-roof annual fee of other luxury cards, with a high rewards rate earned on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, as well as on everyday purchases like at U.S. supermarkets and at restaurants.
Welcome Bonus
60,000 points Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within your first six months as a cardholder.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: You'll earn four times the Membership Rewards points at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.; four points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases at supermarkets, then one point per $1); 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: Take advantage of up to $10 total monthly in statement credits when you use your card to pay for purchases at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations (enrollment required). 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.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • The rewards rate on restaurant purchases 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.
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it’s a great option for trips abroad.
  • Hotel Credit up to $100 - book through The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel and get a $100 hotel credit when you stay at least two consecutive nights.
  • Enrollment may be required for select benefits.

CONS:

  • Unlike typical credit cards, this card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
  • The AnnualFees annual fee isn’t horrendous; however, if you don’t travel often, it likely won’t be worth it.

Read our full CardName

Current Scores Past Score (avg.)
Overall Score 80.9 86.8
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.0 8.6
Customer Service 8.3 8.9
Website/App Usability 8.1 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.0 8.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: Whether you drive, fly, dine out, or dine in, this card rewards you for it all. Plus, there's an annual hotel savings benefit so it's great for hotel stays as well. Citi is a CardRatings.com advertiser
Limited Time Offer
80,000 points For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou Poinst after you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

Bonus: For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening, worth $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com.

Annual Fee: AnnualFees

Rewards Rate: Earn three points per $1 spent at gas stations, air travel and hotels; three points per $1 spent at restaurants and supermarkets; and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Added Perks: Enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through thankyou.com once per calendar year.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it's a good one to use abroad.
  • Transfer ThankYou Points to participating airline loyalty programs to get flights fast. There is no fee, and the minimum transfer is only 1,000 points.
  • Points can also be redeemed for gift cards including for department and home stores, restaurants, and more. Or, use ThankYou Points to shop online at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com.
  • Enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through thankyou.com once per calendar year. This alone offsets the annual fee.

CONS:

  • This card does carry an annual fee, so that's something to consider if you were hoping for a no-annual-fee credit card.
  • If you prefer the flexibility of cash-back rewards, you might want to consider another card.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 76.7 Did not survey
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.6 n/a
Customer Service 7.7 n/a
Website/App Usability 7.8 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 n/a

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
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, in addition to rewarding you generously when you fly.
Welcome Bonus
50,000 miles Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

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: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases.

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: CreditScoreNeeded

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 credit card.
  • It’s offset the first year, but there is an annual fee to think about moving forward.

Read our full CardName

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 73.7 83.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.2 8.3
Customer Service 7.5 8.4
Website/App Usability 7.8 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.5 8.7
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.2 8.1

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

EDITOR'S NOTE

If you are a small business owner you might consider the CardName instead. This card offers two 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 and 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases. It also offers new cardholders the opportunity to earn a 65,000-mile welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first four months of opening an account plus generous airline 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.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: If you're brand-loyal, it often pays to pick up a card that supports that. In this case, the welcome offer and all the points you earn help you along the path to a coveted Southwest Companion Pass.
Welcome Bonus
50,000 points Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: Rack up three points per $1 on Southwest purchases as well as two points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshares) and on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming and one point per $1 on other eligible purchases.

Added Perks: Card members will have their loyalty rewarded with 6,000 bonus points each year after the cardholder anniversary.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Enjoy 6,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Once you earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points or travel on 100 qualifying one-way Southwest flights in a calendar year, you'll be able to take a designated companion along with you on Southwest flights for only the cost of taxes and fees. This card can help you more easily reach that 125,000-point threshold since all the points you earn in a given year on the card – including the bonus – count toward that total.
  • This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it's a great one to use when traveling abroad.

CONS:

  • It's manageable, but there is an annual fee to consider.
  • This card doesn’t offer some of the benefits found on some other airline cards, 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 CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 75.7 85.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.5 8.4
Customer Service 7.2 8.6
Website/App Usability 7.6 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.0 9.1
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 8.5

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: For a no-annual-fee card, it does a solid job rewarding those loyal to the Hilton brand, plus rewards users generously for everyday purchases as well.
Welcome Bonus
100,000 points Earn 100,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn up to $100 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of membership.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

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 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. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Credit Score Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

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" eligible 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 7X points on purchases charged directly with eligible properties is an easy way to rack up rewards fast.
  • You can earn up to $100 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at any of the Hilton family hotels in the first 12 months of membership.
  • 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.
  • Enrollment required for select benefits.

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 CardName it could be worth upgrading to this annual-fee version.

Read our full CardName.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 79.6 84.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.5
Customer Service 8.1 8.6
Website/App Usability 8.0 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 8.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 8.1

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: With the combining of the Marriott, SPG and Ritz-Carlton hotel rewards program several years ago, guests have more options than ever when it comes to using points earned with this card.
Limited Time Bonus
100,000 points For a limited time, earn 100,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

The Rewards: This card allows you to rack up up to 17 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Beyond that, earn 3X total points on up to $6,000 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores each year and two points per $1 spent on everything else.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Enjoy one free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary, easily offsetting the annual fee.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year.
  • Enjoy 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year as well as one elite night credit each time you spend $5,000 on the card.

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 (or that annual free night reward), but there is an annual fee to consider.

Read our full CardName

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 74.9 80.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.5 8.0
Customer Service 7.6 8.1
Website/App Usability 7.8 8.0
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.9 8.3
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.1 7.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
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 are a number of travel perks offered with this card, including travel insurance which could really come in handy for business travel.
Welcome Bonus
100,000 points Earn 100,000 points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

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

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

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.

Added 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. Furthermore, this card features a number of travel perks like trip cancellation and interruption insurance, roadside dispatch service, and auto rental collision damage waiver.

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

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 AnnualFees, it’s quite modest for the amount of perks offered with this card.

Read our full CardName

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 66.4 82.5
Rewards Program Satisfaction 6.7 8.3
Customer Service 6.8 8.3
Website/App Usability 6.1 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.2 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 6.4 8.0

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued    Winner

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
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.
Welcome Bonus
120,000 points Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases in the first three months of account opening
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Regular APR
RegAPR
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

The Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first three months of card membership.

The Annual Fee: AnnualFees

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 a cap) as well as on eligible purchases with U.S. construction material and hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software and cloud system providers, and shipping providers. Earn one point per $1 on all your other eligible 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, you'll be eligible to have your Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) application fee reimbursed via statement credit once every four years or 4.5 years, respectively. Enrollment required for select benefits

Credit Needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards points. That’s an extra half point per dollar on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more (up to a cap) and on eligible purchases in select business categories.
  • 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 airport lounges across the globe, a perk road-weary business travelers will appreciate. Enrollment required for select benefits
  • 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-fee 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 CardName

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 78.1 84.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.6 8.4
Customer Service 7.9 8.4
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.5 8.5
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 8.3

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

No matching cards found
Compare:
Compare Cards
Delete All
FAQ

Travel credit cards earn rewards on purchases made with the card, particularly on travel purchases. There are four main types of travel credit cards, each featuring their own type of rewards. These include:

  • Transferable points
  • Fixed value/cash value
  • Airline rewards
  • Hotel rewards

Which type of travel rewards credit card is right for me infographic

Which type of card is right for you will depend on your spending habits and how you prefer to earn and use travel rewards. Learn more about the four types of credit card travel rewards.

Now if you're getting to this section, and you follow some of the advice here, and you're excited about it, you probably should apply for a travel credit card. At least if you plan on really utilizing it.

Some strategies you may want to consider:

  • Double dipping. That's when you can use your credit card to get points but also with the same purchase get points in another way. For instance, let's say you get a welcome bonus of 30,000 points. You can put them toward anything you buy, but if there's an online shopping portal that your credit card encourages you to use, and if you get a steeper discount there, you can go there instead and get even more bang for your buck. (Just make sure that what you're buying at the online portal is stuff you need. That's an obvious statement, but it's easy to get excited and carried away over a deal, only to later realize that without the deal in place, you weren't likely to buy the item.) Or if you pay for your trip with your travel rewards card, you might earn loyalty points with an airline or hotel - and then you may possibly be able to also redeem your credit card rewards for a statement credit for that same purchase. If nothing else, you'll earn rewards on the purchase that you can then use for a future trip. Similarly, if you're shopping at a cash-back site with your travel credit card, you might save money from the cash-back site and rack up points with your credit card. Yet another form of double dipping.
  • Make sure you're still signed up for brand loyalty and frequent flyer programs. One, this is a good idea anyway if you've been using the program and you have a lot of points you don't want to lose. But even better, some travel cards let you transfer your points to an airline frequent flyer program. So even if your travel credit card isn't an airline-branded one, you may be able to, in effect, make it one by sending those points over to your frequent flyer program.
  • Keep track of incentives to redeem in specific ways. Sometimes you get more savings if you redeem your points or miles in a certain way. Like maybe it's worth more to redeem your points for cash than it is a gift card. Or maybe if you redeem your points for travel, you'll get a steeper discount than you would if you redeemed them for anything else. You just want to pay attention to how you redeem your points, so you can get the highest bang for your rewards buck that you can. In some cases, for instance, your points will be worth more if you redeem them through a proprietary site.
  • Use your credit card for purchases in categories in which you earn the most rewards. If you have one credit card, you'll use it to pay for whatever you darn well please, of course, but if you really want to maximize the heck out of the rewards you may want to, say, get a cash-back rewards credit card for bonus points on purchases like those at supermarkets or gas stations and use that card every time you fill up or stock the pantry. Then, use your travel rewards card for all of your airline and hotel purchases.
  • Travel in the off-season. If you can. Many people, especially parents with kids in school, can't vacation any other time but during the summer or spring break or during the end-of-the-year holiday season. But if you can swing it and go on that big vacation in September or January or some other time of the year when few people go get R&R, you'll save money on your vacation - and you can rack up points and discounts with your travel credit card. Plus, those cash-value points will take your further in the off-season.
  • Be financially responsible. In other words, don't apply for several credit cards if you aren't sure you can manage your money with multiple credit cards. And hopefully this goes without saying, but unless it's an emergency and you have to have cash right now, do not use your credit card for cash advances. Due to the high interest that kicks in immediately, it's just a bad idea. You also want to make sure that you pay your balance in full, every billing cycle.

    If you can't pay the balance every time on each billing cycle, you can't. But carrying interest on a credit card is an effective way to undo all the work you've been doing to save money and reap rewards by using your travel credit card.

    And it is, in a way, work, making sure that you're maximizing your rewards with travel credit cards. Still, if researching, applying for and using your travel credit card really does wipe you out, the good news is that you can take all of your points and use them to go find somewhere to relax and recover - like on a Caribbean beach.

    For more, see what CardRatings Senior Manager Brooklyn Lowery has to say:

Learn more about how to maximize travel credit card rewards.

Travel rewards credit cards can be alluring, 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 
  • Assess your travel goals 
  • Be honest about your spending habits
  • Consider the fees
  • Look at the extra perks and features

Once you've considered these things you'll be in a better position to start comparing options. The right card for you may not be right for the next person, so taking into account your spending habits, lifestyle, and card expectations will help set you up for a successful travel credit card experience. Learn more about how to choose a travel rewards credit card .


Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2021 to conduct surveys among 1,524 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2021-Aug. 31, 2021 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted. "Current Scores" reflect scores from the most recent survey; "Past Scores (avg.)" are the scores averaged over each prior year the card has been surveyed. "Past Scores" indicates a card has only been surveyed in one prior year.

Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (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.

top