Travel credit cards are your best bet if you want to greatly cut the cost of your next vacation. One big reason why we 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.
GET.com's best travel cards
|Best For||Credit Card|
|Bonus||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|Hotel||Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card|
|Airline||Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express|
|Rewards||Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express|
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 at GET.com have shortlisted 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.
Best Travel Cards with Huge Signing Bonus
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase 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 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. $0 foreign transaction fee. $95 annual fee waived the first year. Read our review of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card here.
Discover it® Miles has a very attractive bonus offer by which Discover matches all the miles you've earned at the end of your first year as a cardmember. If you've earned 20,000 miles, for example, Discover will match it so you would get 40,000 miles automatically. This bonus offer is for new cardmembers only. You earn unlimited 1.5x miles on every $1 of purchases that you charge to this card. It has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and Discover reimburses your in-flight Wi-Fi fees with an automatic statement credit, up to a cap of $30 per year. Other benefits include a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (with 11.24% - 23.24% variable purchase APR after that), and free FICO® Credit Score tracking in an easy-to-read chart on monthly statements, and online. Read our detailed review of Discover it® Miles here.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card rewards you with a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval. 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 fees. 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 Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card here.
Best Travel Cards with Free Airport Lounge Access
The Platinum Card® from American Express, a GET.com advertiser, is a prestigious rewards card that gives you complimentary access to over 900 airport lounges (The Centurion® Lounge, Delta Sky Clubs®, Airspace Lounges, and complimentary enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select). Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 on purchases with your new Card within your first three months of Card Membership. Enjoy savings on a ticket for a companion booked on your same reservation on international first or business class flights that are purchased through the American Express travel website. Get complimentary benefits and competitive rates at over 900 hotel and resorts with FINE HOTELS & RESORTS bookings. You can earn 5x points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Receive up to a $200 airline fee credit annually (in the form of statement credit) which can be used towards the qualifying airline purchases you select. Travel with no foreign transaction fees. Benefit from 24/7 assistance while traveling with the Premium Global Assist® Hotline. The annual fee of this travel card that comes with many exclusive perks and benefits is $450. Terms and conditions apply. Read our detailed review of The Platinum Card® from American Express here.
Citi Prestige® Card, is a prestigious travel rewards credit card for cardholders with excellent credit. Earn 40,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You will also receive $250 Air Travel Credit each year as well as complimentary access to hundreds of VIP Priority Pass Select lounges and nearly 40 American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges. Enjoy a free 4th night stay every time you book a hotel stay (of four consecutive nights) through Carlson Wagonlit Travel and pay with this card. Other travel benefits include a $100 Global Entry application fee credit, lost/delayed baggage protection, travel insurance coverage, Citi Prestige® Global Concierge, and more. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on hotel and air travel purchases, 2 points per $1 on restaurant dining and entertainment purchases, and 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 on your other purchases. If you spend a lot in these categories this may be a rewarding card for you. Travel with ease with chip-based technology and no foreign transaction fees. This card has an $450 annual fee. Read our review of Citi Prestige® Card here.
Best Hotel Credit Cards with Huge Signing Bonus
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card has a limited time bonus offer that lets you earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 during the first 3 months after account opening. Earn 6 points for every $1 you spend at any participating Hilton Portfolio hotel 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 the benefits of HHonors Silver status for as long as you are a cardmember. No annual fee. Read our review of Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card here.
Best Airline Credit Cards
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express lets you earn 2 miles on your Delta purchases and 1 mile for every dollar you spend on other eligible purchases. After you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months you will earn 30,000 bonus miles, and you will get a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with this Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Enjoy Priority Boarding, and your first checked bag is free on every Delta flight for you and up to 9 other people in your reservation. $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. Terms and restrictions apply.
Read our review of Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® has a welcome offer that lets you earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn double AAdvantage®miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every dollar you spend on other purchases. Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back, up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months.
Read our review of Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® here.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, issued by JPMorgan Chase lets you earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn double miles on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases. Earn unlimited miles that never expire as long as your credit card account is open. Get 10,000 bonus miles when you spend more than $25,000 in net purchases 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 one-time use lounge passes to the United Club lounge. First bag checked-in is free which can save up to $100 per round-trip. $0 foreign transaction fee. $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. Read our review of United MileagePlus® Explorer Card here.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card lets you earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Receive 6,000 anniversary bonus points after each Cardmember Anniversary. Earn 2 points/$1 spent on Southwest® purchases and participating Hotel and Car Rental partners and 1 point/$1 spent on all other purchases. Points never expire as long as your account is open and can be redeemed for hotel stays, gift cards, car rental, international travel and more. There are no seat restrictions or blackout dates. First and second checked-in baggage are free on Southwest. Benefit from Chip technology and 24/7 fraud monitoring. Annual fee of $99. Read our review of Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card here.
The JetBlue Card stands out because it has $0 annual fee and comes with a welcome bonus offer of 5,000 bonus points after your charge $1,000 of purchases to your new card in the first 90 days after account opening. You earn 3 points per $1 on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1 point per $1 on your other purchases charged to this card. That means you can earn travel rewards on purchases you make all the time, and since you don't pay an annual fee, the points you earn are straight travel savings. Your points don't expire and you can earn and share points together with Family Pooling. You can redeem your points for travel with no blackout dates. This card has no foreign transaction fees. You enjoy 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like food, movies and cocktails. Plus you get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening, which is a big perk if you have a balance you need to transfer from another credit card. After that intro APR period the standard 12.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% variable APR applies to transferred balances which you haven't paid off by that time.
Best Travel Credit Cards with Travel Rewards
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express rewards you with 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. With The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. you can also get a $75 hotel credit (on qualifying charges), plus a room upgrade upon arriving, Terms apply. Earn 3X points when you book flights directly with airlines, 2X points at US supermarkets, US gas stations and US restaurants, and 1X points on your other purchases. You can redeem your points for rewards from over 500 leading brands (travel, merchandise, entertainment, gift cards) or transfer them to a selection of frequent traveler programs. This card comes with solid travel insurance coverage and shopping benefits. $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195. Terms and limitations apply.
Read our review of Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card rewards you with points that can be redeemed towards travel purchases. You can qualify for 20,000 online bonus points when you use your new credit card to make at least $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of the account opening date. Those 20,000 online bonus points can be a $200 statement credit towards travel purchases. You earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases you make with this card. The total amount of points you can earn is unlimited and points do not expire. Redeem points for statement credit towards your travel purchases. Bank of America customers with an active Bank of America checking or savings account benefit from an additional 10% points bonus on every purchase. Preferred Rewards clients (click "Apply Now" to learn about Preferred Rewards) can increase that bonus to 25%-75%. Enjoy 0% Introductory APR on purchases, then 15.24% - 23.24% Variable APR on balance transfers. Benefits include no foreign transaction fees and chip technology. This card has no annual fee. See Terms. Learn more in our review of BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is a travel rewards card that lets you earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of cardmembership. This is enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit. Earn 2X miles on all your purchases. You can even get 5% miles back each time you redeem your miles. Enjoy 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months for every balance you transfer within the first 45 days of account opening and a 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24% variable APR thereafter, depending on your creditworthiness. Paying for travel with this card gives you complimentary travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver coverage. Other benefits include an exclusive concierge service and special privileges at select hotels. No foreign transaction fees. $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $89.
Read our review of Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.
Different Types Of Travel Credit Card
A travel credit card is a credit card that gives you special travel benefits. These include airline credit cards, hotel credit cards, and cards that let you earn rewards which can be redeemed for travel.
Flexible Travel Cards
These cards let you earn rewards which can be redeemed for travel with many different airlines and hotels. You can usually also redeem points (or other rewards) for travel purchases like cruises or vacation packages.
These cards often let you earn points for purchases you make every day, rather than purchases from a specific airline or hotel. So a card like this is a good choice if you want to earn miles or points fast just by using the card for your daily spending.
Airline Credit Cards
Airline credit cards usually work with specific airlines or frequent flyer programs and can be a good choice if you do a lot of flying with the same airline. The main benefits of cards like these is that you earn actual frequent flyer miles or points that you can redeem for flights directly with the airline.
These cards usually give you special benefits when you fly with their airline, such as free checked baggage, priority boarding, on-board credit (for food, beverages, upgrades), or even airport lounge access.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card,
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card,
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express are all examples of airline credit cards. The downside of these cards is that the miles you earn may not be as flexible as the miles or points you earn with other travel cards.
Hotel Credit Cards
Many large hotel groups offer credit cards that let you earn rewards through their customer loyalty programs. Many of these cards come with large bonus offers that let you earn bonus points when you successfully apply and fulfill certain requirements. A hotel credit card will usually also give you benefits that can help you get more out of your hotel stays.
These perks may include free breakfasts, free room upgrades, access to a higher customer status without fulfilling minimum hotel stay requirements, and in some cases even free hotel stays every year.
What Should I Look For In A Travel Card?
Rewards are the reason why most people get travel credit cards, but there are other perks that can save you just as much money if you travel often.
Here we at GET.com list the main benefits that you should look for when choosing a travel credit card:
Many travel credit cards have good bonus offers which let you earn a large number of points (or miles, cash back, etc.) by successfully applying for the card and fulfilling additional requirements like spending a certain amount in the first few months, applying for a secondary card or even just making 1 purchase with your new card.
These bonus offers can add up to big savings because you can redeem those points or miles for flights, hotel stays or other travel basics.
This is where you will want to look at the card more closely. Although almost all travel cards will let you earn some travel rewards on all your purchases, if you want to earn higher rewards (and you probably will) you will have to spend in certain categories.
Cards that let you earn higher miles or points for everyday purchases like gas, restaurant dining, grocery shopping and other basics are a good choice because you will earn rewards for purchases you already make.
If a card only gives you higher rewards for purchases with a specific airline or hotel, you probably won't earn a lot of points unless you spend a lot of money on purchases from those specific travel companies.
If you do any serious amount of traveling, you probably spend a lot of money on things like airport lounges, internet, upgrades, hotel breakfasts, and hotel stays. These are all benefits that you could get on a complimentary basis by using the right travel credit card to pay for your travel bookings.
Citi Prestige® Card, for example, gives you a complimentary 4th night for any hotel stay and complimentary access to American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges and hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority PassTM Select. United MileagePlus® Explorer Card lets you check your first bag for free and lets you enjoy priority boarding privileges.
Travel insurance is another cost that you can avoid by using the right travel card. When you use Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to pay for your travel purchases, for example, you get trip cancellation/interruption insurance (you could be reimbursed for up to $10,000 of your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses per trip that is canceled or cut short by severe weather, sickness and other covered situations), travel accident insurance (up to $500,000 in accidental death or dismemberment coverage), lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger if your, or your immediate family members', checked or carry-on bags are lost or damaged by the carrier), trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per ticket for overnight delays and delays of 12 hours or more when you and your family travel by common carrier travel), baggage delay insurance (get reimbursement for essential purchases like clothing and toiletries for passenger carrier baggage delays of over 6 hours, up to a maximum of $100 per day for 5 days).
All you have to do to enjoy complimentary insurance coverage is use the right credit card to purchase your travel bookings.
Foreign Transaction Fees
A travel card should be made for travel. If you travel outside of the US, then you can save a lot of money by using a card that doesn't have foreign transaction fees. A foreign transaction fee is a fee you pay every time you use your card to make a payment in a foreign currency. This usually comes to 3% of each transaction, which can add up to a lot of money. Many good travel cards do not charge foreign transaction fees.
It's important to choose a card that really suits your travel needs. A card with a high annual fee may be the best choice if it has benefits that save you hundreds of dollars. If you don't travel outside of the US, things like no foreign transaction fees and chip technology are not that important. What you do want is a card that will give you the most travel savings and perks for your personal needs.
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 Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card since all of the points you earn can be redeemed towards any travel purchase you make.
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!
To see our full selection of Travel Credit Cards click here.
How We Rate Travel Credit Cards
Travel credit cards are rated by GET.com based on the benefits and added value that they offer to travelers in relation to their card fees.
We look at the value of travel rewards when redeemed for travel in different ways to determine the average cash value of travel rewards. We look at whether a card offers 1:1 conversion to frequent traveler programs, actual frequent traveler points, rewards that must be redeemed through a rewards program, or rewards that can be redeemed towards any travel purchases as a statement credit.
We also look at whether or not rewards expire, and if there are any limits or caps on the amount of rewards you can earn.
Other important travel benefits like travel insurance, car rental insurance, lounge access, concierge services, chip technology, no foreign transaction fees, hotel and airline benefits and other travel perks also influence our ratings.
Additionally, we also take basic card features like APR, introductory APR periods, annual fees, other card fees and the availability of the payment network into consideration before settling on a card rating.
Emma Fox is a staff writer at GET.com. Email: email@example.comEditorial Disclosure: Any personal views and opinions expressed by the author in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of GET.com. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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