Whether you spend a little or a lot, travel frequently or just occasionally, you’ll find tremendous value in having the right travel rewards-earning credit card.
The right travel rewards-earning credit card does more than help you offset the cost of travel. It can:
- Let you linger with late checkouts and freshen up with early check-in at hotels
- Reimburse you for airline checked baggage fees
- Allow you to experience some of the best hotels in the world
- Provide discounted (or free) flights, hotel rooms, and experiences
- Give you priority access to special entertainment and sporting events
- Provide a 24/7 concierge service
- Cover your rental vehicle for theft and damage
- Give you access to some of the nicest airport lounges in the world
And this is just a sampling of the benefits of having a travel rewards credit card. The perks you’ll receive with the actual card you carry will vary, but they should complement your travel profile while rewarding your spending habits.
Let’s take a look at some of the best travel rewards credit cards available in 2022, review their perks and benefits, and consider which card might be a perfect match for you, depending on your travel goals and spending priorities.
Travel Credit Card Comparison Table
Best Card for First-Time Cardholders
One of the most compelling reasons to hold a travel rewards credit card is to fund your travel goals, and one of the most valuable ways to accomplish this is to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easy to earn and offer flexible redemption options.
This is a great card for first-time cardholders since you’ll go on to earn 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, plus 2x points on all other travel purchases.
When it comes time to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points — whether you’re transferring your points to hotel or airline partners or using the Chase travel portal to book your travel — the experience will make you a fan forever.
You can’t go wrong beginning your travel-rewards journey with any Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is an especially fine first choice because it allows you to redeem your points for 25% more in value. Plus, it comes with perks like a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit, and bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year.
It’s difficult to find a downside to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card as it’s one of the most well-rounded travel rewards cards out there. If we had to dig deep and find any travel benefits that would make the card better, however, it would be that the card does not reimburse for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fees or offer lounge access.
With that having been said, for a modest annual fee of $95, the card provides exceptional value as a travel rewards card.
Best Cards for Luxury Travelers
When you prefer the best travel experiences, you want only the best travel rewards card. If you’re an international traveler who won’t settle for anything less than a nice comfy seat, lounge access, and premium travel perks and benefits, you’re going to want the Amex Platinum card.
The benefits of the Amex Platinum card collectively create a stunning package of everything a luxury international traveler needs to elevate their travel experience.
Note that some benefits require enrollment through your American Express account.
- The Best Travel Earnings: With the Amex Platinum card, earning valuable Membership Rewards points is simple. Make your flight and prepaid hotel purchases through Amex Travel and you’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent.
- The Best Lounge Access: Whether you want to visit a Delta Sky Club when flying Delta, a Priority Pass lounge, or treat yourself to a Centurion Lounge visit, your card will grant you access to over 1,400 lounges.
- Savor Those Upgraded Hotel Rooms: Enjoy the benefits of complimentary hotel elite status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.
- The Best Seat on the Plane: Purchase an upgraded seat and get reimbursed up to $200 for incidental airline fees each year (you can even upgrade with points).
- Make Checked Luggage Fees Disappear: Use your airline fees credit for incidental airline fees reimbursed each year and forget about checked luggage fees or other incidental airline charges.
- Take Uber for Free: Each month you’ll receive $15 in Uber Cash. In December, you receive $35, for a total of $200 annually.
- No Reservations? No Problem: Just call your private concierge.
- Ease Through Security: Purchase CLEAR, Global Entry, or TSA PreCheck and receive a statement credit.
- Offset the Cost of Your Hotel Stay: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your card.
- Enjoy Those Hotel Perks: Book a stay at a Fine Hotels and Resorts property via Amex Travel and receive a room upgrade, $100 property amenity, late checkout, and more. For 2-night stays or greater at The Hotel Collection, you’ll receive room upgrades and a $100 hotel experience credit.
There’s no doubt the Amex Platinum card has a high annual fee, however, the card does offer premium travel benefits that if used, can more than offset that fee. And while the card offers over $1,400 in valuable statement credits, the airline incidentals credit can be difficult to use as it does not cover airline tickets.
We like the worldwide lounge access, especially Centurion Lounges. However, the Priority Pass membership, unlike Priority Pass Select memberships offered by other card issuers, does not include any participating restaurants.
And finally, although the card comes with a long list of special offers that can save you plenty of money, most offers require you to register or add an Amex Offer to your card in order to activate the offer.
Bottom Line: The Amex Platinum card sets the standard for a premium travel rewards card. If its benefits are some you can use, the value will far exceed the annual fee. There’s even a possibility of getting a 100,000- to 150,000-point welcome bonus for the Amex Platinum card!
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is not just another premium travel rewards credit card. Yes, it earns rewards on travel and dining, offers a fine collection of premium travel benefits (including lounge access), and grants annual statement credits for travel purchases.
But it also does something that no other travel rewards credit card does: when you redeem your points for travel on the Chase travel portal, 50% more value is added to your points.
For example, if you redeem 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, you’ll receive $900 in value toward your travel purchase.
While expensive long-haul premium flights can be better secured utilizing Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners, a sweet spot for redeeming your Ultimate Rewards points is for first class domestic flights.
If you’re a frequent domestic traveler, this means you can basically travel in first class for the price of economy.
We should also talk about earning Ultimate Rewards, too, as the card is clearly a winner with earnings of 10x points on hotels, car rentals, and dining purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5x points on airfare through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and 3x points spent on all other travel and dining purchases. All other purchases earn 1x, and purchases using the Chase shopping portal can earn as much as 20 points per $1.
Benefits of this card include complimentary Priority Pass Select membership that includes access to over 1,300 network airport lounges, participating restaurants, and Minute Suites worldwide. There are also more than 90 locations domestically.
A $300 travel credit each card anniversary year is easy to utilize and automatically reduces travel expenses. Plus, you’ll receive a statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry, Nexus, or TSA PreCheck, adding even more value.
The road warrior will find value in the additional travel coverage that comes with the card, including primary auto rental collision damage coverage and 24/7 travel and emergency assistance.
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve card also comes with a high annual fee, you’ll find plenty of premium travel benefits that provide value. We like that the card includes participating restaurants and Minute Suites with its Priority Pass Select membership, but the card falls short of the Amex Platinum card when it comes to overall worldwide lounge access.
Additionally, the card does not offer hotel or airline elite status.
Bottom Line: The world traveler can certainly find value in having the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but the frequent domestic traveler who likes to fly first class, enjoys Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access, and spends a lot on travel and dining will fare very well by having the card.
Packed with premium benefits a traveler can appreciate, such as elevated rewards for travel purchases and a generous welcome bonus to jumpstart your earnings, you’ll find value early on as a cardholder.
Your earning and redemption experiences are also enhanced significantly when you utilize the Capital One Travel portal. With an extraordinary 10x earnings on hotels and rental cars, 5x earnings on flights, and an up to $300 travel credit, it will pay to utilize the portal frequently.
The elevated earning on the card goes beyond Capital One Travel purchases with 2x miles per dollar spent on every other purchase. Plus, at your card anniversary, you’ll earn another 10,000 miles.
Additional redemption options allow you to transfer miles earned on your card to travel partners, most of which transfer at a ratio of 1:1.
As a Visa Infinite card, you’ll enjoy related benefits such as cell phone insurance, primary car rental insurance, trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, and baggage insurance.
We also like that the card comes with special Gravity Haus benefits, complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, giving you access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide and unique access to Capital One Lounges and Plaza Premium Lounges.
If you’ll utilize Capital One Travel, this premium card offers a lot of value for just a $395 annual fee.
The CapOne Venture X card does have a higher annual fee than most travel rewards cards, but the card is a nice value alternative to premium travel rewards cards that come with even higher fees.
Additionally, in order to receive the best earning and redemption values, you must utilize Capital One Travel. Booking via Capital One Travel can negate any hotel elite benefits or elevated earnings you would normally receive when booking directly.
Bottom Line: With a lower annual fee for a premium travel rewards card, the CapOne Venture X card could deliver plenty of value for the cardholder who will utilize the Capital One Travel portal for travel purchases and redemptions.
Best Value Hotel-Branded Card
For the traveler who values choice when it comes to hotels, you won’t find a hotel chain with more properties around the world than Marriott. Plus, each year after your card anniversary, you’ll receive a complimentary hotel night certificate (good for up to 35,000 points in value).
We like that the card delivers plenty of earning potential, good-value redemption options, and lots of additional benefits without a high annual fee.
Additional benefits of having the Marriott Boundless card include:
- Complimentary Elite Status: 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher elite status, good for Silver Elite status
- Accelerated Earnings: Earn up to 17 points per $1 at participating Marriott hotels and 2 points per $1 on all other purchases
You’ll also receive a variety of Visa Signature travel perks with the card, including:
- Roadside dispatch
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Travel and emergency assistance
- Baggage delay insurance and lost luggage reimbursement
- Travel accident coverage
- No foreign transaction fees
The Marriott Boundless card does come with a $95 annual fee, so utilizing the annual free night certificate would be critical to receive full value from the card. Additionally, the Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status that comes with the card is the lowest level of status in the loyalty program.
Bottom Line: If you’re loyal to a particular hotel brand, it makes sense to be earning additional rewards on those hotel expenditures with a hotel-branded travel rewards credit card… especially when those rewards can be turned into more free nights.
Best Cards for the Everyday Spender
Want a card that doubles as an everyday spending card and a travel rewards card? Get richly rewarded with the Amex Gold card that offers a stellar 4 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 per calendar year (1x thereafter), and at restaurants!
As a traveler, there’s no need to be loyal to a single airline — with the Amex Gold card, you’re going to earn 3 valuable Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent for flights purchased directly from the airline and via Amex Travel.
You can also redeem those Membership Rewards points for travel with any airline or hotel and for other travel purchases at Amex Travel.
With a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), you will need to spend a lot at grocery stores and on dining to offset that fee — $6,250 to be exact. If you do spend more than that, this card could offer you good value.
If there’s another downside to the card, it might be that the card does not offer any type of lounge access — but we might be getting a tad critical.
The Citi Premier card earns 3x ThankYou Points on everyday purchases such as restaurants, at the supermarkets, and at gas stations. Plus, you’ll be earning 3x ThankYou Points on airline flights and hotels. If you spend a lot in these bonus categories, the card will offer strong earnings for your spending mix.
The card offers a generous welcome bonus and no foreign transaction fees, as well as a $100 hotel credit each calendar year for a single hotel stay of $500 or more.
Points can be redeemed for travel via the ThankYou portal or transferred to airline and hotel partners for greater potential value.
While the card does come with purchase protection and extended warranty coverage, it does not come with travel insurance benefits. If you have another travel rewards card with travel benefits and protections, however, the card is worth it for the earning potential and redemption options.
Hot Tip: With so many different issuers in the travel credit card space, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with each bank’s specific rules before applying.
Best Cards for Travelers Who Want Simple Earnings and Redemptions
Keeping track of bonus spending categories, quarterly registrations, and complicated redemption processes may have deterred you from securing a travel rewards-earning credit card.
If that’s the case, you’ll find these 2 travel rewards cards refreshingly simple:
- Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on every purchase
- Redeem miles for travel or transfer to airline partners
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement
- No foreign transaction fees
The only downside to the CapOne Venture Rewards card is that it has an annual fee of $95. If you spend enough on the card, however, the ongoing fee (beyond the first year) should not be an issue.
- Earn a total of 2% cash-back on every purchase: 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when paying your card (earned as ThankYou Points)
- Unlimited earnings
- Redeem for cash-back, travel, statement credit, or gift cards
- No annual fee
We like that the card earns cash-back on every purchase you make on a daily basis. There are, however, no additional bonus categories to reward your highest purchases.
Cardholders can transfer ThankYou Points to Choice Privileges at a 1:1.5 ratio and Wyndham Rewards and JetBlue TrueBlue at a 1:0.8 ratio, but will need a premium Citi ThankYou Point-earning cards (like the Citi Premier card) to receive potentially higher value when transferring points to the full suite of travel partners.
The card also charges a 3% foreign transaction fee and does not come with any travel benefits or protections.
Bottom Line: To learn more about additional card options for Capital One travel rewards credit cards and Citi Rewards cards, these articles expand on some of the most popular choices.
Best Card for the Low Spender
You don’t have to be a big spender to earn travel rewards. With a relatively low minimum spend requirement once you’re approved for the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card, you can earn a welcome bonus and jumpstart the rewards-earning process.
Perhaps you haven’t pursued a rewards-earning credit card because you don’t spend a lot and might be wondering whether it’s worth the effort at all. You may be surprised to learn that the purchases you’re already making can earn rewards to help you fund a trip, or just add some cash to your bottom line.
Because you’ll be earning rewards on your everyday purchases with the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card, you don’t have to spend big for the cash-back to start adding up. On groceries alone, you’ll earn $180 after getting 3% back from $6,000 in annual purchases at U.S. supermarkets.
Add that to your 2% earnings at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and you’ve paid for your hotel nights without spending any more than you’d normally spend!
Cash-back is the most liquid form of rewards you can earn. Whether your travel goal is a weekend trip away with the family or a flight to visit an old friend, you can utilize the cash-back you earn on the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card to help offset the cost of your adventure.
Unfortunately, redeeming cash-back is limited compared to flexible rewards points that could be transferred to travel partners for the potential to earn greater value. You won’t have this option with cash-back.
Hot Tip: If you’re working toward a travel goal and using a cash-back credit card, you may want to purchase gas, hotel, or other travel-related gift cards with your rewards to help save for your trip.
Best Card for Family Road Trippers
It’s Friday afternoon and the workweek is done. You’re ready to high-five the family when you arrive home because you’re hitting the road for a weekend adventure. It doesn’t happen often… but this weekend it’s on!
We’re certain the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card was created with family road trippers in mind. After all, you’ll earn cash-back on all the purchases you’ll be making during your trip, and you can use the cash-back you earned previously on everyday expenses to actually help fund your trip.
It’s a win-win cash-back solution for the family that hits the road together or those who just want a little extra cash flow.
Earning 6% cash-back on U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%) delivers up to $360 each year in cash-back. Add all the cash you’ll earn with 3% cash-back on your U.S. gas stations, and you’ll have plenty of travel funds for that weekend road trip.
Not only do you earn cash-back at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, but the card also offers 6% cash-back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and 3% cash-back on transit, including taxis and rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more.
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card just might make you a family road trip hero!
The card does have an annual fee (see rates and fees), so you’ll need to be spending enough on the card to offset that fee. We also prefer flexible rewards for the purpose of receiving potentially higher value at redemption time, but if you’re just trying to earn cash-back to help fund a family vacation, this card could work just fine for that purpose.
Best Card for the Budget Traveler
Do you like to travel but have a tight budget? The Freedom Unlimited card has a little secret that might help you out.
The Freedom Unlimited card earns 5% back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, plus 1.5% back on all other purchases that fall outside of these bonus categories.
The trick is, the cash-back you earn on all of your purchases with the Freedom Unlimited card is not just cash-back; it can be redeemed for travel or transferred to Chase premium credit cards for even greater value.
If you like to travel on a budget, Ultimate Rewards points are perfect for securing economy flights on the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Booking travel is easy, and you can redeem your points for airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, and travel experiences.
To step up the value of your Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer them to a Chase premium card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, where the value of your Ultimate Rewards Points is increased by up to 50% more (see our example below). You’ll also have the option to then transfer your points to airline and hotel partners for even greater potential value.
With no annual fee, a simple earning structure, and the value you can receive when redeeming Ultimate Rewards Points (or transferring points to premium Chase cards), the Freedom Unlimited card is a fine choice for the budget traveler.
Normally, we wouldn’t recommend a card that charges a 3% fee on foreign transactions as a good choice for a travel rewards card. However, the card earns well on everyday purchases (and more), making it easy to accumulate a lot of rewards. Then, when paired with a premium Chase card, as mentioned above, your rewards will go much further.
Bottom Line: When redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for travel, you can pick any airline, hotel, or travel experience without worrying about award availability or blackout dates — redeeming your points is just like paying with cash. You’ll also be earning frequent flyer miles!
Best Card for the Hotel Loyalist
If Hilton is your hotel brand of choice, you’ll be happy to learn that the perks and benefits you receive in its Hilton Honors loyalty program will be elevated to a new level when you carry and use one of its hotel-branded credit cards.
Let’s take a look at how your experience can be enhanced with the addition of a hotel-branded credit card.
It’s unusual that a credit card alone would grant top elite status to the cardholder, especially without a required level of spending each year — but that’s exactly what you’ll receive by having the Hilton Aspire card. And it’s not the only premium benefit that comes with this card!
- Top Diamond Elite Hilton Honors status: Valid for as long as you have the card, you’ll receive room upgrades (including suites), breakfast, hotel amenities, bonus points, internet, and more. Diamond elite members receive 20 Hilton Honors points per $1 spent at Hilton properties, and the Hilton Aspire card elevates that to a total of 34 points per $1.
- Free Hotel Room Nights: Receive 1 free hotel room night each card anniversary year, plus another when you spend $60,000 on the card each year. You’ll also receive your fifth night free when booking award nights with your points.
- Airline and Hotel Statement Credits: Get $250 in incidental airline fees, a $250 Hilton resort credit, and a $100 property credit at Conrad or Waldorf Astoria properties.
- Worldwide Lounge Access: Your Hilton Aspire card comes with a full Priority Pass Select worldwide lounge membership.
- Terms Apply.
The Hilton Aspire card comes with a high annual fee, so you would only want to have the card and pay that annual fee if you’re a Hilton loyalist who can realize most of the Hilton-centric benefits that come with the card.
That said, earning Hilton Honors points is easy: you’ll receive 14 points per $1 spent at Hilton properties; 7 points per $1 spent on airlines, Amex Travel purchases, U.S. restaurants, and U.S. rental cars; and 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Redeem your Hilton Honors points for the best value by booking free hotel nights with points or with cash and points. Our expert guide on the best ways to redeem your Hilton Honors points will help make sure you receive maximum value at redemption time.
How We Selected Our List of Best Travel Credit Cards
There are several factors we use to determine our choices for the best travel rewards cards. Some of the most important factors include the level of associated travel benefits, earnings structure, welcome bonuses, fees, and travel redemption value.
Here is some insight into our thought process when selecting the best travel rewards cards:
Associated Travel Benefits
The top travel rewards cards will offer benefits that can make your travel more comfortable, save a traveler money, or provide protection should something go wrong during the journey. Benefits such as worldwide lounge access, travel statement credits, elite-style hotel and airline benefits or status, and travel insurance are just some examples of travel perks we look for.
We look for cards that earn well and either offer bonus earnings on travel purchases or have other bonus categories that provide for accelerated earnings. A good travel rewards card could also have flat-rate earnings on all purchases, making it easy to accumulate travel rewards on everyday purchases.
A card’s welcome bonus is a unique opportunity to earn a large number of rewards in a short period of time. Welcome bonuses do play a role when we select a travel rewards card to recommend. We’ll provide you with the current welcome bonus information available to us for each card, but we also encourage you to confirm the welcome bonus and review any earnings offers before applying for any card.
The best travel rewards cards come with premium travel benefits, but you’ll also be paying a higher annual fee for those benefits. It’s important that the benefits offered by a travel rewards card could potentially offset any annual fee you’ll be paying. The best travel rewards cards also do not charge foreign transaction fees, although a card that does could still provide good value for domestic travel and offer good redemption for international travel.
Travel Redemption Value
A card will score high if it earns flexible rewards that allow for several options at redemption time. The best travel rewards cards provide the option to redeem points directly for travel, provide a bonus for rewards redeemed via a travel portal, allow rewards to be redeemed for statement credits for travel purchases, or allow the transfer of rewards to airline and hotel partners for the opportunity to receive the greatest potential value.
Hot Tip: You can read more about Upgraded Points’ credit card rating approach in our detailed guide.
What Are Travel Credit Cards? How Do They Work?
Travel rewards credit cards earn points or cash-back on every dollar charged to the credit card. They’re called travel rewards credit cards because you either earn points or cash on travel-related purchases, redeem points or cash for travel, or both.
Travel rewards credit cards can earn points or cash-back for travel purchases, dining, gas, groceries, or other categories. The rewards can be used for free travel or to offset the cost of travel.
The Difference Between Cash-back Credit Cards and Travel Credit Cards
This should feel relatively straight-forward, and it is! Cash-back credit cards are designed for those looking earn cash-back on all of their daily purchases, and travel rewards cards are for those looking to earn rewards redeemable towards travel purchases.
While there are many travel rewards cards that offer the ability to redeem your points towards cash-back, you’ll often get significantly better value when redeeming them towards travel.
Further, it is common for cash-back credit cards to not charge an annual fee, while most travel credit cards do charge an annual fee. Given that, travel rewards cards make the most sense for people who travel often enough that the rewards and card benefits will easily outweigh the annual fee.
The Different Types of Travel Credit Cards
When it comes to travel rewards credit cards, there are 4 main categories that nearly every card will fall into: transferable rewards cards, fixed-value rewards cards, airline cards, and hotel cards.
Transferable Rewards Cards
Transferable rewards cards are offered by programs that include a wide array of airline and hotel transfer partners that you can move your points to. These include cards from programs like American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points.
These cards are often rated as the very best travel credit cards in our view, due in large part to their flexibility. One of the best ways to consistently get great value out of travel rewards is by having multiple redemption options, and transferable travel rewards cards offer you that.
Fixed-Value Rewards Cards
A fixed-value rewards card is any program that offers you a predetermined value towards travel purchases when you redeem your rewards. One such example is the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, which offers you a fixed 1 cent per point in value towards any travel redemptions you make through its travel portal.
Programs with fixed-value rewards take much of the complexity of the equation when it comes to redemptions, but what you make up for in ease-of-use, you lose upside but not having access to higher-value redemptions that transferable programs offer.
An airline credit card is one tied to a specific airline, which only earns points or miles for that airline alone. Further, all perks of the card will be tied to their airline, and popular features are free checked bags, early boarding, discounts on inflight purchases, and more.
Airline cards are a great option for those who are loyal to one airline, and are working towards reaching high levels of elite status with that airline.
Similar to airline cards, hotel cards are tied to a specific hotel chain, and all of the rewards you earn are redeemable at hotels within that hotel chain.
Hotel cards can be a great way of enhancing your hotel stays, even on paid stays, as they often offer some level of complimentary elite stats, which might offer benefits like late checkout, room upgrades, free breakfast, and more, depending on the hotel program.
The Pros and Cons of Travel Credit Cards
Pros of Getting a Travel Rewards Card
- Rewards cards allow you to travel farther, and better, for less. Using points and miles can make any travel destination attainable, and you can even fly there in style in first or business class for a fraction of what a cash ticket would usually cost.
- Welcome bonuses kickstart your travel savings. Most travel rewards credit cards come with very lucrative welcome bonuses that you receive after meeting a minimum spend requirement. These bonuses alone can be enough points for a free business class flight or multiple free nights in a luxury hotel.
- Enhance your travel experiences. Having a travel rewards card can help make the whole experience of travel much nicer for you by giving you airport lounge access, an expedited airport security experience, and hotel elite status.
- Save money each time you fly. Travel rewards cards, specifically airline cards, can help you save money each time you fly by offering you perks like free checked bags, free seat selection, discounts on inflight purchases, and priority boarding.
- No foreign transaction fees. If you’re going to be traveling overseas, the last thing you want to do is use a card that charges foreign transaction fees, as it can add an extra 3% to all of your purchases. This is where travel rewards cards come in handy, as any card worth it’s salt won’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Cons of Getting a Travel Rewards Card
- Rewards cards charge annual fees. Most travel rewards credit cards charge an annual fee, and the very best cards can charge annual fees of $550 to $695. Put simply, if you don’t travel often enough in order to for the benefits you receive from the card to easily outweigh the annual fee you pay, then a travel rewards card probably wouldn’t be worth it for you.
- Rewards redemptions can be complicated. Making strategic use of your points through transfer partners, tracking down award space, navigating airline alliances, and more can all be quite complicated at times. There is definitely a degree of difficulty added in for those looking to make the most out of their travel rewards points. That said, the juice is definitely worth the squeeze.
- Not ideal for those who don’t pay their balance off in full. Travel rewards cards usually carry much higher interest rates than other types of credit cards. That said, if you pay your balance off in full each and every month, this should make little difference to you. On the other hand, if you’re not sure that you can pay your balance off in full every month, then travel rewards credit cards are not for you.
When Should You Use a Travel Credit Card?
You should use a travel rewards credit card if you fall into the following 3 criteria:
- You love to travel and want to earn travel rewards for every purchase you make that you can later redeem for free flights and hotel stays.
- You travel often enough that, even though most travel rewards cards charge an annual, you know you’ll easily get more value out of the card thanks to benefits like airport lounge access, travel credits, hotel elite status, expedited airport security, and more.
- When you receive your credit card statement, you pay it off in full each and every month so that you never pay interest on your purchases.
If you meet all of those 3 criteria, then you likely should be using a travel rewards credit card.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to selecting a travel rewards-earning credit card. Fortunately, each card has its own distinct characteristics that match up with certain travel and spending profiles. This makes it possible to zero in quickly on which travel rewards credit card might be a good fit for you.
Remember, because Chase plays a prominent role in the travel rewards credit card arena, you’ll want to consider the Chase 5/24 rule in your selection process.
Regardless of which card you choose, we know for sure that travel rewards credit cards can change the way we travel and the way we live. The cards allow us to earn points, cash, or miles on purchases we would be making anyway and give us the ability to offset the cost of travel we may have never considered otherwise.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Card, and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.