5 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

5 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

21
Hours
Researched
108
Products
Evaluated

After 21 hours of research evaluating 108 products, we picked Chase Sapphire Preferred® as our top choice.

For those of us that have both a passion for both travel and spending, travel rewards cards are more than just a way to build credit, but a way of life.

Now we know that sounds dramatic, but we guarantee that it's not. If you shop and travel regularly you simply must consider applying for a travel rewards credit card—the benefits will largely outweight the annual fee.

In fact, the best travel credit cards will not only offer some pretty delicious rewards, they can enable you to travel for free in many cases.

That's why we see it as an important mission to help you find the best travel credit card for your individual needs.

Let me explain:

So, if you're not familiar with travel reward credit cards, you may be wondering what types of benefits they may offer. Well let us tell you, the possibilities are endless!

Many cards offer rewards may be used toward a variety of hotel, airline, and rental car brands. Others are associated with a single hotel or airline. But regardless of where your allegiances lie, we promise our list includes something for everyone.

What's the bottom line?

And if you're wondering how to know whether or not it's okay to add yet another piece of plastic to your collection, check out our recent blog post on "How many credit cards should you have?" It will tell you everything you need to know about maximizing credit benefits, depending on your individual financial situation.

Now, onto our list of the best travel credit cards ever!

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated October 11, 2019 but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

5 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

  • 5. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • 4. Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
  • 3. Capital One Venture Card
  • 2. The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 1. Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Best Overall Airline Credit Card

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Best Overall Airline Credit Card: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Variable APR
17.24% - 26.24%
Cash Advance APR
26.74%
Rewards Rate
2 miles on every dollar spent on qualifying Delta purchases, 1 mile on other qualifying purchases
Annual Fee
$0 for the first year, then $95
Intro APR
n/a
Bonus Offers
Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
78 % Editor Score
84 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Rewards everyday spending as well as travel-related spending
  • Extra perks like priority boarding, free checked bags, and in-flight discounts
  • Annual fee is waived the first year

  • First checked bag free - worth $50 round-trip
  • Earn up to 2 Delta miles per dollar
  • Offers mediocre rewards for everyday spending
  • Charges an annual fee
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and receive a decision in as little as 60 seconds.

Rewards: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then pay $95 per year thereafter.

Bonus Offers: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months.

Details:Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express »

Best Travel Rewards Credit Card with No Annual Fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Best Travel Rewards Credit Card with No Annual Fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Variable APR
16.49% - 24.49%
Cash Advance APR
19.49% to 26.49%, based on creditworthiness
Rewards Rate
1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% for the first 12 billing cycles
Bonus Offers
20,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening - which can be redeemed for a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
80 % Editor Score
88 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Offers a decent sign-up bonus and rewards rate for no annual fee
  • You can earn up to 2.625 points per dollar with Bank of America Preferred Rewards
  • Introductory APR promotion on purchases

  • Decent rewards for no annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The card doesn't offer big rewards and perks like annual-fee travel cards
  • Rewards aren't as flexible as cash-back rewards
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and receive a response in as little as 60 seconds. 

Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. Points can be applied towards statement credit or any travel purchases, including flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees.

Bonus Offers: Receive 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days, which can also be used as a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases. Also get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America checking or savings account. If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you could increase that bonus to 25% - 75%, depending on how much is in your account. For a card with no annual fee, we think the bonus offers are pretty legit!

Annual Fee: None.

Details:Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card »

Best for Frequent Travelers

Capital One Venture Card

Best for Frequent Travelers: Capital One Venture Card
Get from Capitalone
194 Clicks
Variable APR
14.49% - 24.49%
Cash Advance APR
24.49%
Rewards Rate
2 miles per dollar
Annual Fee
$0 for the first year, then $95
Intro APR
n/a
Bonus Offers
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.
81 % Editor Score
97 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • No annual fee for the first 12 months
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Generous bonus offer for qualifying cardholders

  • Nontransferable points
  • Reduced redemption value for cash rewards
  • Requires good credit for approval
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Check your approval odds using Capital One’s prequalification tool before you apply. The tool doesn’t leave a hard inquiry on your credit report, so you can use it with no worries.

After that, spend a few minutes answering basic questions about your name, residence, and Social Security Number. You may score an instant approval, or you might have to wait a couple of weeks for an answer.

Fees: Test drive this travel rewards card for 12 months without shelling over money for an annual fee. After that, expect to pay $95 per year.

There’s a transfer transaction fee that totals 3% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR. There is no fee for balances transferred using the standard transfer APR.

You’ll shell out $10 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater, if you use your credit card like a debit card. You’ll also pay a higher APR on cash advances.

Late payment fees run up to $38, but you can sometimes get your first late payment fee waived.

Rewards: Rake in 2 miles per dollar spent on everyday purchases. Some hotels qualify for as much as 10 miles per dollar spent, so consider that when you plan your next getaway.

Cardholders generally like the rewards offered by the Capital One Venture card. However, there are numerous complaints about the reduced cash value associated with redemptions. If you trade points for cash, expect to collect half the value you’d get for travel perks.

Bonus Offers: Don’t apply unless you plan to book trips with this card right away. New cardholders qualify for a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases during their first 3 months. This equals $500 toward travel expenses.

Details:Capital One Venture Card »

Best Premium Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best Premium Card: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Get from D.derrt
295 Clicks
Variable APR
n/a
Cash Advance APR
n/a
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. 1X points on all other purchases.
Annual Fee
$550
Intro APR
n/a
Bonus Offers
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
76 % Editor Score
94 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Premium perks, including airline fee credits, Uber credits, and other travel perks
  • Bonus rewards on eligible airline and hotel purchases through Amex Travel

  • Luxury travel perks for the frequent traveler
  • Make up for the annual fee through benefits and rewards
  • Charges a sky-high annual fee
  • Offers a low rewards rate on everyday spending
  • The airline fee credit is limited to just one airline and only on incidental fees
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.

Rewards: Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, and hotel stays booked through Amex Travel. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

APR: None; it's a charge card and requires you to pay your balance in full each month.

Annual Fee: $550.

Details:The Platinum Card® from American Express »

Best for Flexible Redemption

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Best for Flexible Redemption: Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Get from V.vuyti
421 Clicks
Variable APR
17.49% - 24.49%
Cash Advance APR
26.49%
Rewards Rate
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Annual Fee
$0 for the first year, then $95
Intro APR
n/a
Bonus Offers
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
86 % Editor Score
91 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Offers a large signup bonus compared to similar cards
  • You'll get a rewards boost if you use your points to book travel through Chase
  • Redeem points for airlines and hotels, without being tied to any specific companies

  • You can use points to book travel through Chase, get cash back or gift cards, or transfer them to one of Chase's travel partners
  • The card itself is metal instead of plastic
  • You'll get premium travel protections
  • Base rewards rate is mediocre
  • Charges an annual fee
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Online, through Chase.

Rewards: Earn 2X points on travel and dining purchases worldwide, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Bonus Offers: Earn 50,000 rewards points for every $4,000 spent for the first three months, which is $625 towards travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. If you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within the first 3 months, you’ll earn an additional 5,000 points.

Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.

 

Details:Chase Sapphire Preferred® »

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Article Staff

Jenna is an Iowa native and former Chicago resident who is currently living her best life in the Tampa Bay area with her husband and fur baby. She has a BS in Political Science from the University of Iowa, as well a JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Jenna has a passion for running, brunching, home decor and, of course, her beloved Iowa Hawkeyes. When she isn’t writing, Jenna loves to read just about anything she can get her hands on.

Jenna covers everything from health and beauty to home and lifestyle, you name the product, she’s likely tried it. So if you’re looking for ways to beef up your beauty regimen or enhance your humble abode, Jenna is your go to girl.

Editor Jenna Holtz
Researcher Ronnie Langston
Art Director Cherry Barbacena

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5 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

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