The Best Credit Cards for Maximizing Family Travel [2020]

couple smiling shopping online credit card laptop

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Traveling with family can be one of the most rewarding things parents can do with their children. Parents can put a lot of effort into making sure that kids have regular vacations so that they can see different parts of the world and learn about different cultures — and go to Disney World, of course!

It’s no secret that raising kids can be very expensive, but traveling with them doesn’t have to be!

Whether you are just going on a quick road trip for the weekend or planning a big European summer vacation, having the right credit cards in your wallet can really help reduce your costs and give you peace of mind if something happens to go wrong.

But if you are strategic with your credit card usage for your day-to-day spend, take advantage of sign-up bonuses, and have a plan, your next trip might just be free!

Don’t worry — we can help with all of those little details!

What to Look for in a Travel Credit Card

Just like any credit card, when looking for a travel credit card, you need to find one that works for you and your family. Your family’s needs may be very different from the next when it comes to travel.

Some families may prefer to stretch their points as far as they can go at less expensive hotels, while others may want to indulge at a resort that they might otherwise not have been able to stay at.

To each their own! We don’t judge, we just want to educate you on your options!

Sign-Up Bonus

When applying for a credit card, one of the most important factors you should be considering is the current sign-up bonus.

A sign-up bonus is usually a fixed amount of points that you will receive after spending a predetermined amount on your new credit card within a certain amount of time, usually the first 3 months.

For example, after being approved and you have received your new credit card, you will need to spend $3,000 within the first 3 months and then you will receive a 50,000-point bonus (in addition to the points earned from spending $3,000).

Hot Tip: These sign-up bonuses change all the time, so it is important to do your research and take advantage of signing up for a new credit card when the bonus is high. 

Perks

Centurion Lounge Hong Kong
Enjoy a place for your family to relax and refuel, like an American Express Centurion Lounge! Image Credit: Greg Stone

When it comes to credit cards, and especially travel credit cards, there are often perks that companies will add on to be competitive.

Depending on how much your annual fee is (it could be $0), your perks can vary greatly from one card to another.

Common perks on travel credit cards often include:

These perks may be more considered more valuable to some more than others, so it is always a good idea to compare cards to see what is included and see what you will really take advantage of.

Annual Fee

Many credit cards nowadays come with an annual fee. You may balk at the idea of paying to have a credit card, but depending on the perks and sign-up bonuses, more often than not, you can make an argument for paying an annual fee.

While there are certainly some travel credit cards out there with no annual fee, some of our personal favorites come with annual fees. In fact, it can be easy to justify paying hundreds of dollars per year in annual fees by the amount of value you receive from them.

That being said, if you look at the benefits and don’t think you will be able to take advantage of them, a no annual fee card may be a better fit.

Ease of Use

An often-overlooked obstacle when gathering points for a big trip is how complicated it can be when it comes time to redeem said points.

Parents have enough on their plate without needing to add hours of research just to learn how to redeem their miles.

For example, it doesn’t make sense for you to sign up for a Delta credit card if Delta doesn’t serve your local airport!

Instead, it may make more sense to sign up for a Chase card where you can book whatever you want directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, or a Capital One card with Purchase Eraser.

Travel Credit Cards

Alright, let’s jump into the fun part and start looking at some options!

Below, we’ll dig into hotel- and airline-specific credit cards, but for now, let’s look at bank-owned travel credit cards.

Bank-owned credit cards (like American Express, Chase, and Citi) allow you to build up a point balance in their own “ecosystem” and then either redeem those points for travel or transfer them to certain travel partners.

Chase

Chase is probably the biggest name when it comes to travel credit cards. It has multiple options for cards which makes it easy to earn Ultimate Rewards points with entry-level cards, all the way up to premium travel cards.

On top of that, it has multiple airline and hotel transfer partners and its own booking portal, so redeeming those points are easy as well.

Here are some of our favorite Chase credit cards for family travel.

Person Holding Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card In Front of A Chase Bank
Image Credit: Nicole Glass Photography via Shutterstock

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is probably the biggest name (lately) when it comes to premium travel credit cards, and for good reason. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a whole slew of travel-related perks, but at a cost!

The annual fee is steep! That may be enough to scare off many people, but let’s look at some of the benefits to see if it is worth it for your family.

Right off the bat, you will see that this card comes with a $300 annual travel credit. So anything travel-related (yes, even a trip to Disney) that you charge to your card will get reimbursed up to $300. For a limited time, the annual credit includes gas and grocery purchases through June 30, 2021.

Assuming that you spend at least that much on Uber, airfare, hotels, etc., per year, the real cost of the card is now down to $250.

Another nice perk of this card is a Priority Pass Select membership. This will get you and 2 guests access to over 1,200 lounges worldwide at over 600 airports. That means you can take advantage of free food, drinks, Wi-Fi, and showers instead of spending your money in the terminal while you wait for your flight.

Additionally, if you don’t have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you will be reimbursed for the $100 application fee.

Here are additional reasons that the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is so popular:

  • 3x points on travel and dining (and up to $1,000 in monthly grocery store purchases from November 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021)
  • 1.5 cents per point when redeeming via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay and lost luggage insurance
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Elite status and other perks with rental car companies
  • Travel accident and emergency medical coverage
  • 1:1 point transfers to many hotels and airline
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free subscription to DoorDash DashPass and free membership with Grubhub+/Seamless+ (via Lyft Pink perk)
  • $120 Peloton Digital and All Access Membership statement credit (through December 31, 2021)
  • Enroll in complimentary Spot Club Platinum status at The Parking Spot for 2 years and receive 20% off of your first reservation and points for 1 free day of parking
  • Enroll to receive 10% back on Groupon deals every month for 12 months (up to $50), rewarded as Groupon Bucks
  • Extended warranty protection on purchases, and much more

Bottom Line: With all of these benefits, it is easy to see why the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the most popular credit cards on the market.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If the Chase Sapphire Reserve card was a bit too expensive for your taste, or you don’t need all of the benefits, perhaps the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a better fit.

With a lower annual fee, the initial hit isn’t as hard, but the benefits are still pretty impressive.

Along with a very generous sign-up bonus, you will earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining and still reap the benefits of being able to transfer them to all of the same transfer partners as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

Additionally, your family will have peace of mind due to the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s slew of other benefits:

Here is the rundown for you:

  • 2x points on travel and dining (and up to $1,000 in monthly grocery store purchases from November 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021)
  • Primary rental car insurance
  • Travel delay insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • $60 Peloton Digital and All Access Membership statement credit (through December 31, 2021)
  • Enroll in complimentary Spot Club Platinum status at The Parking Spot for 2 years and receive 20% off of your first reservation and points for 1 free day of parking
  • Enroll to receive 10% back on Groupon deals every month for 12 months (up to $50), rewarded as Groupon Bucks
  • Extended warranty protection on purchases, and more

Bottom Line: If you don’t need all of the bells and whistles that come along with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a great travel credit card for families.

American Express

Paying with the Amex Platinum
Image Credit: American Express

We can’t talk about credit cards, especially travel credit cards, without bringing up American Express.

American Express has a long history of servicing travelers, and its experience shows. It consistently offers some of the best credit cards available for both casual and professional travelers.

Let’s take a look at some of the best options for families looking to get the most out of their travels.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum card is the premium offer from Amex, which means it carries a hefty annual fee, but also a long list of benefits which many families should be able to take advantage of.

Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, the annual fee is a staggering, but new cardmembers may be targeted for welcome bonuses as high as 100,000 Membership Rewards points!

While 100,000 Membership Rewards points (valued at ~$2,200) can easily justify the annual fee, if you plan on keeping the card long-term, you will need to get some value out of the benefits that come with the card.

One of the most powerful and unique benefits of the Amex Platinum card is the fact that you will have access to a network of lounges, including the exclusive Centurion Lounges.

Centurion Lounges are high-end lounges found in many U.S. airports that are only available to specific Amex cardmembers; access cannot be purchased, unlike many other lounges.

In addition to the Centurion Lounge, the Amex Platinum card comes with access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection which includes:

Having access to a lounge with free food, beverages, and Wi-Fi can be critical when flying as a family and potentially save a lot of money compared to having to buy meals in the airport terminal.

But this card offers more than just lounge access… families can enjoy a whole slew of other benefits:

Bottom Line: The list of perks goes on and on, but the bottom line is that most families should be able to get more than the annual fee in benefits to help justify the annual fee.

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

If you don’t think that your family will need all of the extras that come with a card like the Amex Platinum card, but are still interested in earning Amex Membership Rewards points, the Amex EveryDay Preferred card may be a good option for you.

With a much more manageable annual fee, the Amex EveryDay Preferred card doesn’t require a lot of calculations to determine its value.

One of the biggest perks of the card is that you can earn between 3-4.5x Membership Rewards points!

This card earns 3 Membership Rewards per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year) and if you have 30 or more transactions on that card during a billing period, you will get 50% bonus on the points you earned!

Our favorite perks include:

  • 3x Membership Rewards per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 50% bonus on points earned when you have 30+ transactions per month

Bottom Line: Like most families, spending $6,000 per year on groceries is certainly not out of the question. That means you could earn an extra 27,000 Membership Rewards points per year with no extra effort. 

Citi

Citi Prestige
Citi Prestige® Card. Image Credit: Citi

While Citi doesn’t get as much attention as Chase and American Express do, it is still a major player with some excellent travel credit card options for families.

Its points system, ThankYou Points, is a very straightforward program that allows you to transfer points directly to airline partners, or use them to book travel directly via the Citi Travel Portal.

While there may not be as many transfer partners as some of the competitors, there is certainly enough to get some excellent value out of the program.

Here are some cards that we think will help your family maximize your travel experience.

Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi Prestige card is the premier credit card offering from Citi. When you hear “premier” you can usually expect a hefty annual fee to be attached, and you aren’t wrong. The Citi Prestige card carries a heft annual fee… and a whole list of benefits.

To start, cardholders will receive an annual travel credit of $250, bringing your real cost down to $245 pretty easily. Combine that with the  sign-up bonus, and having this card for at least 1 year is a no-brainer.

The Citi Prestige card also offers the very unique perk of getting a complimentary fourth night hotel stay when you book your hotel through ThankYou.com.

While this perk has been watered down over the years and is only limited to 2 uses per year, it is still a great way to save money on a family vacation. It could also pay for the entire annual fee in a single use if used at an expensive hotel!

Although the card went through quite the devaluation of benefits in the past year, there is still plenty of room to make this card very valuable to new cardholders.

Here are some other benefits that you may find value from:

Bottom Line: Families will be able to rack up their points balance thanks to 5x points on air travel and dining, which is the best in the industry. If your family can take advantage of the strengths of this card, it certainly deserves a spot in your wallet. 

Citi Premier℠ Card

Do you still want to earn some valuable ThankYou Points, but can’t justify the annual fee of the Citi Prestige card? Consider the Citi Premier card!

With a reasonable annual fee and a solid sign-up bonus, the Citi Premier card is a slam dunk for families looking to boost their point balance quickly.

While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Cit Prestige card, the Citi Premier card has enough travel perks to make it worth considering for most families.

Some of the benefits include:

  • 3x points on travel and gas stations
  • 2x points at restaurants and entertainment
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Bottom Line: Just the sign-up bonus alone should be enough to convince even the most anti-annual fee cardholders out there!

Capital One

Capital One
Image Credit: Isabelle Ohara via Shutterstock

Capital One had been known for its straight forward rewards system across all of its cards, allowing users to simply “erase” purchases with the rewards they had earned.

But that all changed (in a good way) when it decided to add transfer partners. Let’s take a look at one of our favorite credit cards.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards card is one of the most straightforward, easy-to-use rewards credit cards available at the moment. That means less time doing math and more time enjoying vacations with your family!

Let’s get the big questions out of the way: How much is the annual fee and how big is the bonus? 

Not bad, huh? So that means you can get an excellent bonus and try out the card for a year at no cost!

On top of that, you will earn 2x points on every purchase and you can use those points to redeem for travel through the Capital One Travel Portal or transfer them to one of the many transfer partners.

We really like this card, and the card’s benefits that come along with it. Here are a few to highlight:

  • 2x points on every purchase
  • Purchase Eraser
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Multiple transfer partners
  • Miles sharing
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Travel assistance services
  • Lost luggage assistance
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Extended warranties on purchases

Bottom Line: If you want a straightforward credit card with plenty of benefits and a low (or even no) annual fee, the Venture card is worth a look.

Hotel Credit Cards

We have looked into what the big banks are offering in each of their own rewards programs, but what about individual hotel programs?

If you are loyal to a hotel brand or like the idea of earning complimentary nights, it is probably a good idea to have one of these credit cards in your wallet. Let’s dig in!

Marriott

Ritz Carlton Kapalua Pool Maui Hawaii
Relax by the pool at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. Image Credit: Marriott

We could go on and on about the Marriott Bonvoy program any day of the week. And while it isn’t as legendary as SPG used to be, Marriott Bonvoy continues to be a program that cannot be ignored due to the hotel chain’s massive footprint, as well as incredible airline transfer partners!

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

You may be noticing a trend — these travel credit cards like to offer a premier version, and Marriott is no exception. While it doesn’t come cheap, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card is a heavy-hitter when it comes to earning Marriott points and perks.

Right off the bat, you will receive a $300 statement credit for charges at Marriott properties. Additionally, cardholders will receive complimentary Gold Elite status and premium internet access while staying on property.

On top of that, each year you will get a certificate to stay 1 night at any property selling nights for 50,000 points or less. For example, you could stay for free at the Walt Disney Dolphin and Swan Hotel or even the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando — a great use for a family vacation!

Add in a Priority Pass membership and you can easily see why this is a popular card.

Here is a quick rundown of what you need to know:

  • 6x Marriott points spent at participating hotels
  • $300 annual credit
  • Complimentary annual night certificate (up to 50,000 points)
  • Gold Elite status

If you stay with Marriott often, it should be easy to see the value here.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

If you want the points, but don’t want to deal with making sure you are getting the most out of your annual fee, the Marriott Bold card is the next logical place to look.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, earn 2X on other travel purchases, and 1X on all other purchases. A solid card for Marriott loyalist looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.

As expected, this card doesn’t come with all of the perks as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, but you can still get some value out of the card.

Here are some of the card’s highlights:

  • 3x Marriott points at participating properties
  • 2x Marriott points on travel purchases
  • Silver Elite status
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Hilton

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi Overwater Villa
Enjoy a free weekend night at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi thanks to your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Image Credit: Hilton

If you are a Hilton fan, you probably already know about at least one of the cards we are going to talk about next!

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

You know the drill, this is where the expensive annual fee card shows up, right? Right.

But why is this one different? Because with it’s high annual fee, the Hilton Aspire card gives you great benefits including top-tier Hilton Diamond status

This is the only credit card that provides top-tier status with no other requirements besides simply having the card and paying the annual fee.

Having Diamond status can get you and your family access to on-site executive lounges, which can be a huge money saver on snacks and drinks.

But, that is not the only benefit that comes from having such a high fee. Cardmembers earn 14x points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.

Another unique perk is the annual complimentary weekend night at any Hilton property worldwide. Hello Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi Maldives!

Here is a quick rundown:

  • 14x points at Hilton properties
  • 7x points on select airfare and car rental purchases
  • 7x points at restaurants
  • $250 Hilton Resort statement credit
  • $100 on-property credit at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties
  • Diamond status with Hilton Honors
  • Priority Pass membership

If you are planning on taking your family to any Hilton properties, having this card in your wallet certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

The Hilton Surpass card comes with a more palatable annual fee and an equally impressive welcome bonus!

The annual fee is much for reasonable and you will still earn 12x points at Hilton properties and 6x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.

Here is the recap:

  • 12x points at Hilton properties
  • 6x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations – awesome for families!
  • 3x points on all other purchases
  • Complimentary weekend night after spending $15,000 in a calendar year

If you end up spending $40,000 on your card in a calendar year, you can earn yourself top-tier Diamond status!

Bottom Line: This card earns a good chunk of Hilton Honors points at a steady pace without spending a lot on the annual fee. 

Hyatt

Park Hyatt New York Pool
Park Hyatt New York Pool. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

If you were expecting a big annual fee Hyatt card to show up here, you are mistaken! Hyatt is quite modest in this area, but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing!

World of Hyatt Credit Card

In our opinion, the Hyatt Credit Card is a card that everyone should have in their wallet.

World of Hyatt Credit Card - Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after $6,000 total in purchases within 6 months of account opening.

We like how you also get one free night at any Category 1–4 Hyatt hotel (or resort) every year after your cardmember anniversary. See how to best use your free night for maximum value!

The relatively modest annual fee can easily be justified thanks to an annual complimentary night at any Category 1-4 hotel.

Add in Discoverist status for as long as you have the card and you will see why many families have this card in their wallet already!

Why we love this card:

  • Moderate annual fee
  • 9x points for Hyatt stays
  • 2x points per $1 spent at restaurants, airline tickets, transit/commuting, and fitness club/gym memberships
  • Free annual night at any category 1-4 hotel
  • Discoverist status

IHG

InterContinental Resort Mauritius
InterContinental Resort Mauritius Beach. Image Credit: IHG

Although IHG does, technically, have a “Premier” card, it isn’t one of the premium cards we are used to talking about… at least when it comes to annual fees.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG Premier card is another one of those cards that can easily be justified due to its annual fee and outsized benefits.

With a moderate annual fee and a free annual night, finding value for your family is very easy.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Apply Now
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2x points on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; then 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, $89 thereafter

This is another card that we think everyone should have because of these perks:

  • 25x points at IHG properties
  • Platinum Elite status
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit

Now would be a great time to grab this card!

Airline Credit Cards

Having a co-branded airline credit card is a surefire way to help boost your frequent flyer balance. On top of the miles, you can also get some unique perks that only the airline can offer.

If you are a frequent, or even an occasional, flyer, having one of the following credit cards could certainly help make your next flight more enjoyable. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite options for families.

American Airlines

Citi Aadvantage Executive Card GIG champagne
The Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard offers access to the Admirals Club lounges when you travel. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

American Airlines is unique in the credit card world as it has agreements with both Citi and Barclays to have co-branded credit cards. That means more competition and more offers for you!

Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

Aside from having one of the longest official names of travel credit cards, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card is also the premium offering from Citi. You know what that means — a big annual fee!

Is it worth it? That will depend if you and your family want to use the Admirals Club lounge when you travel. One of the biggest perks of this card offers is the Admirals Club membership that will allow you and 2 guests or your entire immediate family to access the lounge when flying American Airlines or other Oneworld members.

If you were to purchase an Admirals Club membership on your own, it would cost between $550-$650 per year. With Priority Pass memberships being so widely available through other cards, you would have to decide its value to you.

However, the real benefits of this card shine when you start adding authorized users.

You can add up to 10 authorized users at no cost and each user will get their own card which will grant them access to the Admirals Club. So now your family can help you chip away at that annual fee!

Here is what you need to know:

  • 2x miles on American Airlines purchases
  • Admirals Club membership for you and up to 10+ authorized users
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Free checked bag on American Airlines flights
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority check-in
  • Priority TSA screening lines
  • 25% discount on inflight purchases
  • Reduced mileage awards
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Purchase protection and extended warranties on purchases

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

Looking to boost your American Airlines AAdvantage account balance but don’t need the lounge access and hefty annual fee that comes along with the AAdvantage Executive World Elite? Consider the AAdvantage MileUp card.

If you spend a lot on groceries (like most families do) you will earn 2x miles, a great way to steadily grow your balance!

A quick rundown:

  • 2x miles at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
  • $50 statement credit
  • 25% discount on inflight food and beverages

Delta Airlines

Delta 737 Comfort+
Delta Comfort+ seating includes extra legroom, and complimentary drinks and snacks. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

If you and your family regularly fly Delta Air Lines, you have probably already considered getting a Delta-branded credit card and American Express has a bunch of options for you to sort through.

All of Delta’s personal credit cards offer really solid perks which include a free checked bag, priority boarding, and 20% off inflight food and beverage. Let’s look into 2 of our favorite options and see which is a better fit for your family.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

If you are looking for that premium card that will get you extra perks and make your next flight on Delta more enjoyable, the Delta Reserve card may be the card you are looking for.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
Apply Now
(at Amex's secure site)
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary access into Delta Sky Clubs and Centurion Lounges.
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve card, please click here.

Must Reads: For more info on the Delta Reserve card, see our insights on its benefits and our full review.

On top of the basic perks that we’ve mentioned above, cardholders will be traveling comfortably thanks to lounge access at Sky Clubs as well as at American Express Centurion Lounges!

We think the Delta Reserve card is a winner, here is why:

  • 3x miles on Delta purchases; 1x miles on all other eligible purchases
  • Sky Club membership and Centurion Lounge access
  • 2 Sky Pass club guest passes annually (in addition to your membership)
  • Domestic first class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin companion ticket at each card renewal
  • Upgrade priority
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit

Bottom Line: If you are a Delta loyalist, you will surely find plenty of value in the Delta Reserve card.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

If you are just getting started with your travels on Delta or don’t think you will maximize the return on a higher annual fee card like the Delta Reserve card, the Delta Gold card may be a better fit for you and your family.

While the Delta Gold card is the entry-level option for Delta, it is packed with benefits that make this card worth considering even for the casual flyer.

The Delta Gold card comes with plenty of perks to justify the annual fee after the first year, including:

  • Free checked bag
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% off inflight food and beverages
  • $100 flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year on your card
  • Car rental coverage
  • Free ShopRunner membership
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection on retail purchases (great for the kid’s toys and electronics)

Bottom Line: If you like to fly Delta and are looking to boost your SkyMiles balance, the Delta Gold card is an excellent card to consider.

United Airlines

United airplane
United-branded credit cards offer lots of great travel benefits. Image Credit: Skeeze via Pixabay

United offers 4 co-branded credit card options with Chase bank — 2 personal and 2 business cards. For this article, we are only focusing on personal cards which we feel will be a good fit for you and your family. Fortunately, the 2 personal United credit cards fall perfectly into that category!

United Club℠ Card

As expected, United has a premium card for those travelers who want a few extra perks when they are flying. With a steep annual fee, will your family get value out of it? Let’s take a look.

One of the biggest differentiators that the United Club card offers is a full membership to the United Club.

Normally, this United Club membership would cost $550 per year, and you can use the club even when you aren’t flying United, so most families should find some value there (even if it isn’t the full $550).

This card is loaded with perks, the highlights are:

  • $450 annual fee
  • 2x miles on United purchases
  • 1.5x on all other purchases
  • United Club lounge membership
  • First and second checked bag for free when using your card to purchase tickets
  • Premier Access with priority check-in, security screening (where available), boarding, and baggage handling privileges
  • World of Hyatt Discoverist status
  • Hertz President’s Circle status
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The Luxury Hotel & Resorts Collection perks

United℠ Explorer Card

If you are a casual United flyer, you should probably take a look at United’s most popular credit card, the United Explorer card.

Cardholders will have a whole list of benefits that will make the annual fee justifiable after the first year, including:

  • 2x miles on United purchases, hotels, and dining; 1x miles on all other purchases
  • Free checked bag
  • 2 United Club one-time passes each anniversary
  • Priority boarding
  • 25% back on inflight Wi-Fi, food, and drinks
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit
  • Trip insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Car rental protection
  • Purchase protection

Bottom Line: For a credit card with a relatively low annual fee, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to benefits. The United Explorer card is definitely a card worth putting in your wallet if you and your family like to fly United.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Plane Taking Off
Image Credit: Nick Morales via Unsplash

We love JetBlue around here, especially when we are talking about family travel. With free entertainment and live TV on flights, Wi-Fi, and unlimited snacks and (non-alcoholic) beverages, it is easy to see why so many families enjoy flying them.

Fortunately, Barclays offers some credit cards that will make flying JetBlue even more enjoyable!

The JetBlue Plus Card

The JetBlue Plus card is the closest that JetBlue comes to offering a “premium” credit card. Like most things it does, it tries to keep the cost (annual fee) low while providing an above-average product.

The points keep coming in thanks to a 6x bonus on JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1x points on all other purchases.

JetBlue points are really easy to use (which is great for families) because they never expire and you can redeem JetBlue points for any seat on any flight! Value is directly tied to the price of the seat so you never have to worry about making sure you are getting the best value because you always are!

Here is a quick overview:

  • 6x points on JetBlue purchases
  • 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores; 1x points on all other purchases
  • 5,000 bonus points every year after your account anniversary
  • 10% back when booking with points
  • 50% discount on inflight food and beverage purchases
  • Free first checked bag for the primary cardholder
  • TrueBlue Mosaic status (the highest tier) after spending $50,000 in a calendar year
  • $100 statement credit after purchasing a JetBlue Vacations Package with your card

Bottom Line: At the end of the day, if you and your family travel with JetBlue, having The JetBlue Plus card in your wallet could make a lot of sense!

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Wing View
Image Credit: ThreeMilesPerHour via Pixabay

Another family favorite when it comes to airlines is Southwest Airlines. Southwest is popular with families (and many others) thanks to no checked bag fees, no change fees, great customer service, and no blackout dates on award travel.

Southwest has a few options when it comes to co-branded credit cards — they are all pretty similar when it comes to benefits with a few perks getting enhanced along with the annual fee.

For the purpose of this article, we have chosen 1 card that will best fit family travel (in our humble opinion!).

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

When it comes to Southwest credit cards, one stands above the rest, the Southwest Priority card.

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  • Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases. Earn between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 on up to $2,000 spent per month. Plus, earn 2 points per $1 spent on all other Southwest purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Receive 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Annual $75 Southwest travel credit.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year, when available
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi
  • Annual fee: $149

With a higher annual fee, it is the most expensive in the Southwest personal card lineup, but the benefits should outweigh the cost for most Southwest flyers.

The biggest benefit (compared to the other Southwest co-branded options) is the $75 Southwest travel credit each year. This should take a good chunk out of the annual fee if you would have normally spent that money anyway.

Cardholders will also receive 7,500 bonus points (valued at ~$105) on their card anniversary, 4 Upgraded Boardings per year, and 20% back on inflight Wi-Fi and drinks.

This is a solid card thanks to:

  • 2x points on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases; 1x points on all other purchases
  • $75 annual credit
  • 7,500 bonus points each year
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings
  • 20% back on inflight Wi-Fi and drinks
  • No foreign transaction fees

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Mileage Plan miles are one of our favorite currencies due to unique partners, flexibility, and the option to add extra stopovers on award flights.

Being able to earn these valuable miles without having to necessarily fly is a great way to help fund your next award vacation!

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

If you are looking to beef up your Mileage Plan balance, having the Alaska Signature card in your wallet is a good place to start.

With a relatively small annual fee, this card offers so many perks that the fee should be no problem for families who fly Alaska or its partners.

On top of the welcome bonus, you will receive a companion pass for $99 that has no blackout dates!

Some of our favorite highlights include:

  • 3x miles on Alaska Airlines tickets, vacation packages, cargo, and inflight purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • Companion pass
  • Free checked bags for you and up to 6 passengers on the same reservation
  • 50% discount on Alaska Lounge day passes
  • 20% rebate on inflight purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Bottom Line: If you value Alaska miles as much as we do, definitely consider this card.

British Airways

British Airways Club Suites
British Airways Club Suites. Image Credit: British Airways

One program that is often overlooked by the casual American traveler is British Airways. British Airways Avios can be extremely valuable due to their distance-based pricing, which means that you can fly to many cities within the U.S. for less than the competition.

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Travelers looking to top off their Avios balance, look no further than the British Airways Visa card.

All said and done, you could have at least 120,000 (100,000 bonus points + 20,000 from spend) fresh Avios to play with in less than a year (more if that spend is on bonus categories like British Airways)!

While you may have already been sold on the bonus points alone, here are some other considerations:

  • 3x Avios on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and Level purchases
  • 2x Avios on hotel purchases; 1x Avios on all other purchases
  • Travel Together Ticket (good for 2 years) when you make $30,000 in purchases in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Bottom Line: If you and your family are going to be spending a good amount of money on your credit cards, and think you can get value out of the Avios program, this is a great card to boost your balance.

Final Thoughts

Families looking to get free flights, hotel nights, or travel perks have no shortage of options when considering travel cards in the United States.

Whether you are the casual traveler looking for an easy way to save a few dollars on your next trip to Florida or are the road warrior looking to maximize your daily spend so that you can take your family to Europe for the summer, there is a card for you.

Finding the balance between annual fee and benefits is something that each family will need to look at and evaluate individually. Hopefully, we have laid out your best options clearly.

If you’re looking for even more information on making the most of family travel, explore our Family Travel section to make all your vacations stress-fee and point earning!


The information provided regarding the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, and Citi Prestige® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card® from American Express, click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors™ American Express Surpass® Card, click here
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.


Frequently asked questions

What is the best credit card for families?

Depending on your individual travel goals, there could be multiple cards that could be good for you and your family. Whether you like to travel domestically or internationally, want to stay at luxury hotels or stretch your points at budget hotels, we have all of your options laid out clearly with all of the important information you need to make your decision!

What is the best hotel credit card for my family?

We have reviewed every hotel credit available in the U.S. market and have picked out our favorites for you. Depending on how much you travel, there could be multiple options that could be a good fit. Some premium credit cards come with an annual fee of almost $500, but they could be worth it if you use all of the benefits! Scroll up and read our review!

What is the best airline credit card for my family?

Are you looking for an airline credit card for you and your family? We got you! Whether you are just looking to boost your mileage balance or get access to that fancy airport lounge you always walk by, we’ve broken down all of the costs and benefits so it is easy for you to make your decision.

Chris Hassan

About Chris Hassan

Chris is from Boston and is currently living in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Shelby. When Chris was in college, he spent a semester abroad studying hotel and business management in Switzerland. That is where he caught the travel bug and met his wife. Quite a successful trip!

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