Who should get a travel credit card?

Written by
Jennifer Doss
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards.

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Though it feels like an obvious thing to say, travel credit cards are best suited for people who regularly travel. Really, this isn’t actually a silly thing to point out though. Travel is fun and exciting, and almost everyone travels at one point or another, so it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you need one of these cards. But if you just travel occasionally, going here and there but sometimes a couple years pass without you going very far, then a different type of rewards credit card, one that doesn’t focus exclusively on travel, is likely a better idea.

You should, however, consider applying for a travel rewards credit card if you are one of the following types of travelers:

Who is a travel credit card a good fit for?


If you’re the sort of person who travels all the time for business or pleasure, then, of course, you can make a very solid argument for applying for a travel rewards credit card. As for what type of card – a general travel card, an airline credit card, or a hotel credit card – the smart choice is whatever you prefer and seems to make sense for your lifestyle. If you only fly one type of airline, then take a good look at applying for a credit card from your favorite airline. If you’re up for anything and don’t care where you’re staying, maybe a general, all-purpose travel card is best. But the main thing is – if you’re traveling all the time and spending money, you can help to offset some of your costs with things like airline miles or free hotel stays which can be earned with the right card.

One big trip a year-ers

Do you tend to go on a big vacation once a year? And spend a small fortune every time? You might as well get rewarded for it. Even if you aren’t traveling all the time, you can still earn rewards throughout the year to put towards the one big trip a year you do take. Something like the CardName may be a good fit for you. One of the nice things about this card is that it earns 2X miles on every purchase – not just travel purchases – and those rewards can be redeemed for almost any travel purchase you may later make with the card.

Someone who lives far away from family

Assuming you wish you could see your parents or siblings or other relatives, a travel card could be your ticket for seeing them more often. Or at least when you do visit your family, you’ll rack up points or miles that can go towards other trips (or more trips to see family). If this is your situation, a credit card that offers bonus rewards on travel purchases might be right for you.

What credit score is needed for a travel credit card?

Another important factor to consider is your credit score. Most travel rewards credit cards require a good or excellent credit score for an application to be approved. That means having a credit score that is at least 670 for most cards.

Each lender has its own definition of what constitutes a good score, but FICO, a company that creates some of the most widely used credit scores, provides the following guidelines:

  • 670-739: Good
  • 740-799: Very Good
  • 800+: Exceptional

If your credit score falls into the fair or poor category, you may have trouble being approved for a travel card. In that case, focus on making on-time payments and paying down any existing debt to boost your score so that you can qualify for better credit card terms and offers.

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    Are travel credit cards worth it?

    Travel credit cards can absolutely be worth it for the right cardholder. If travel is a regular part of your lifestyle, and you’re already using credit cards to pay for your travel purchases, a credit card that rewards you for those travel-specific purchases can help you to maximize your earnings. Remember, too, that these credit cards often do more than just reward you with points or miles on travel purchases. The best travel credit cards come with a plethora of other money and time saving perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, airport lounge access, hotel upgrades, and more. Benefits such as these often make travel cards more than worth it for frequent travelers.

    Jennifer Doss
    CardRatings Executive Editor

    Jennifer Doss is a credit card analyst and the executive editor of CardRatings.com. She has worked as both a print and online journalist and has over a decade of experience in the media industry. Her published work has covered a broad range of topics, from...Read more

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