Travel credit cards are your best bet if you want to greatly cut the cost of your next vacation. One big reason why I like travel rewards cards is because they reward you in miles, points or cash for every dollar you spend on everyday purchases, which means you rack up rewards very rapidly. These credit cards also give you special travel perks, such as travel insurance, free check-in of your first bag, access to VIP airport lounges or hotel room upgrades.
Because credit card issuers frequently change their travel card promotions, it can be a challenge for you to find the right travel card for yourself. To help you cut through the fine print and mass of offers, we have compiled a list of the best travel credit cards that offer the most attractive rewards out there. You need a very good to excellent credit score for these cards.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card This Capital One card rewards you with a one time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. These bonus miles are worth $400 in travel. Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on all purchases. Earn unlimited miles that don’t expire. Fly anytime, on any airline, without any blackout dates. No foreign transaction fee. Enjoy extended warranty, purchase protection, auto rental insurance, travel accident insurance, advanced ticket sales to entertainment events, 24/7 concierge service, and much more. $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that. Read our review of Venture card here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Receive 40,000 points after spending $3,000 during the first 3 months, worth up to $500 in travel bookings through Ultimate Rewards. Earn 5,000 bonus points after adding an authorized user to your account and making a purchase within the first 3 months of card membership. Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 for every other purchase. No foreign transaction fee. $95 annual fee waived the first year. Read review of Chase Sapphire Preferred Card here.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card. This rewards card lets you receive 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases with your card within the first 3 months, which are worth $200. Earn 1.25 miles for every $1 spent on all your purchases. Earn unlimited miles that never expire. Miles are redeemable for cash, merchandise, hotel stays, car rentals, airfare and more. Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases till August 2015. and a variable APR of 11.9%-19.9% thereafter, depending on your credit score. 0% foreign transaction fee. No balance transfer fee. No annual fee. Read review of VentureOne card here.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card. This card issued by JPMorgan Chase gives you 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on tickets from United Airlines, and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Earn unlimited miles that never expire. Get 10,000 bonus miles when you spend more than $25,000 yearly. You will qualify and receive 5,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and addition of an authorized user to your account; both must occur during the first 3 months from account opening. Miles can be redeemed for airfare, hotel stays or auto rentals. Enjoy 2 annual complimentary lounge passes to the United lounge. First bag checked-in is free. No foreign transaction fees. $0 introductory annual fee, after that a $95 annual fee. Read review of United card here.
Chase Sapphire. Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $500 during the first 3 months. Receive 2,500 when you add another authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3 month period. Earn 2 points for every $1 spent at restaurants, as well as on airfare and hotels booked through Ultimate Rewards and 1 point for each $1 spent on all other purchases. No limit to how many points you can earn. Points never expire. No annual fee. Read review of Chase Sapphire here.
Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card. Receive 40,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 during the first 4 months. Earn 6 points for every $1 you spend on participating Hilton hotels around the world, 3 points for every $1 you spend on gas stations, supermarkets and drugstores; and 2 points for every $1 you spend on all other purchases. You also have the option of purchasing bonus points if you’re short of points in order to redeem them. Enjoy HHonors Silver status when staying at Hilton 4 times or 10 nights earned yearly. No annual fee. Read review of Hilton card here.
Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®. Receive 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, which you can redeem for a round trip flight in the US. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every dollar you spend on other purchases. Earn $100 American Airlines Flight Discount each year that you spend $30,000 or more in purchases and renew your card membership. Get 10% extra miles on the miles you redeem each month, up to 10,000 bonus miles each year. $95 annual fee, waived for first 12 months. Read review of Citi AAdvantage MasterCard here.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. Receive 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Receive 6,000 anniversary bonus points each year. Earn 2 points for every $1 you spend on Southwest and AirTran Airways purchases made directly with the airline, as well as Rapid Rewards car rental partner and hotels purchases, and 1 point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases. Receive 1 point for every dollar you balance transfer onto this card during the first 90 days, up to 15,000 points. Points never expire and can be redeemed for hotel stays, gift cards, car rental, international travel and more. First and second checked-in baggage are free, and there are no seat restrictions or blackout dates. Annual fee of $99. Read review of Southwest card here.
Travel Credit Card Tips
Travel rewards cards, hotel credit cards and airline credit cards let you earn reward points or air miles whenever you spend on them, and these points or miles can be accumulated towards free flights, hotel nights, car rentals, cruises and other merchandise. If you are a frequent flyer who is not so particular about which airline to fly with or which hotel to stay at, it may be a smarter choice to get a general travel credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture Rewards Card, since all of the miles or points you earn can be redeemed towards any airline of your choice.
On the other hand, if you tend to fly with a particular airline such as United or Delta, it is better to get specific airline credit cards since they come with many travel benefits such as free check-in for the first bag. Travel credit cards have generally flexible reward redemption options, which may let you redeem your miles or points for merchandise, gift cards, hotel stays and others.
All travel cards vary in their rewards programs, and have their own point system. Generally, you can expect 1 or 2 points for every dollar spent on these cards. Many cards listed on this page let you earn bonus points or miles when you spend a certain amount after getting your card. Some cards also don’t impose any foreign transaction fees and/or annual fees.
Many of these cards tend to charge higher interest rates compared to other types of credit cards, so you should always pay your balance in full by the due date each month so as to avoid paying any interest. Use your card wisely, and you will be richly rewarded!