Best Travel Credit Cards
If you are an avid traveler then having a travel rewards credit card in your wallet is a must. These cards can help you earn everything from free airfare or hotels stays to money off your next cruise.
It’s important to understand that no travel credit card is created equal. There are cards that will award miles on a specific airline, cards that will give hotel points, and there are even cards that will allow you to redeem points for statement credits towards travel purchases. Some travel credit cards even allow you to transfer your points to several different travel partners.
Before you pick your next travel credit card, it’s important to understand what your goal is. If you have a specific travel destination in mind, understand how you can make that trip happen for the least amount of points or miles. Knowing your travel goals and your spending habits will help determine the best credit card for your travel needs.
Here is a look at our three favorite travel credit cards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase made a huge splash in the travel credit card world when they released the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This card quickly became what everyone was talking about and with good reason. It’s a premium credit card that offers incredible value for any traveler.
Signup Bonus - You will receive 50,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Reward points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account. When used to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, those points would be worth $750. By transferring them to one of the many transfer partners available there is the potential for even more value.
Rewards - You will receive 3x points on all dining and travel purchases made with your card. For all other purchases, you will receive 1x points.
Additional Benefits - One of the best benefits of this card is that it offers a $300 travel credit each calendar year. That means each year you can get up to $300 back when you charge eligible travel purchases like airfare, hotels, car rentals, or even cab rides. Every four years you will receive up to a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
You will also have access to over 1,000 airport lounges through the Priority Pass™ Select network. In addition, you will receive benefits like room upgrades when you book your hotel rooms through The Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection. Finally, you will receive special benefits from select rental car companies like discounts and free upgrades.
Fees - The only drawback to this card is that it has a $450 annual fee. While this might seem like a lot, it’s offset by the signup bonus and the annual airline credit. If you are going to be traveling outside of the United States there are no foreign transaction fees.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a popular card because of the transfer partners that it has. People want to have flexibility with their rewards. Another card that offers flexibility is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®. The flexibility that you get with this card is a little different though. Instead of being able to transfer points to partners, you can use your miles as a statement credit to cover nearly any travel expense that you have.
Signup Bonus - You will receive 60,000 miles after you spend $5,000 within the first 90 days of being a cardmember. That is good for a $600 statement credit on travel expenses.
Rewards - You will receive 2x miles on every purchase that you make. For anyone that doesn’t want to be tied down to just one hotel or one airline then this is a great card. There is no portal that you need to book through. You just make your reservations with the card and your miles can then be applied to wipe away the travel expense.
Additional Benefits - When you redeem your miles for a travel expense you will receive 5% back into your account. You will also receive free access to view your updated FICO score each month.
APR - You will receive an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles. After the introductory period, it will change to a variable 18.24%-25.24% depending on your creditworthiness. This is the same APR as you will have for purchases.
Fees - There is an $89 annual fee for this card that is waived for the first year. There is also a fee on balance transfers of either $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Editorial Note: The information related to Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by Credit Cards House and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
Do you find yourself traveling frequently throughout the year? If so, then the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, a Credit Cards House advertiser, needs to have a permanent spot in your wallet. Not only will you be able to use the Starpoints you earn to book stays at Starwood properties, but you can also transfer them to over 30 different airlines. This makes it one of the best travel credit cards available.
Rewards - When you use your card at any Starwood property you will receive up to 5x points. For any other purchases, you will receive 1x points.
Additional Benefits - One of the best features of this card is that you can transfer your points to so many different airlines. Making this benefit even better is that you will receive a 5,000 point bonus for each 20,000 Starpoints that you transfer to a participating partner. Each year you will receive two stays and five nights towards Starwood elite status just for being a cardholder. To help keep you connected when you’re on the road you will receive free Boingo Wifi worldwide.
Fees - There is a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year. In addition, there are no foreign transaction fees when you use your card outside of the United States. If you are planning to transfer a balance then you will be charged a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of different travel credit cards available for you to choose from. Some have huge signup bonus, others give you bonus points for category spending, but the best cards allow you to redeem your points with multiple different hotels or airlines.
Editorial Note: The information related to Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected by Credit Cards House and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
First published , last updated
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.