There are hundreds of choices for credit cards that allow you to earn travel rewards. There are cards that give point bonuses for every dollar earned, cards that give huge sign-up bonuses, and even co-branded airline or hotel cards that allow you to earn more with specific travel alliances.
Even people with bad credit can find cards that will allow them to open an account, provided they follow the right steps.
However, the difference between choosing any rewards card and the best one for your needs and preferences could be worth thousands of dollars and countless miles.
We’ve done the research so you don’t have to. There are some of the top travel cards that can help you fight the overwhelm when it comes to selecting the right card to help you get your travel rewards faster. To showcase this effectively, we’ve broken it down into two different categories:Travel Points Rewards Cards and Co-Branded Credit cards, where rewards are linked to specific travel brands.
Travel Points Cards
The Platinum Card from American Express
You can rack up travel rewards quickly with the Platinum Card from American Express. The card gives 60,000 bonus points for sign-up when you spend $5,000 in the first three months as a card holder. The card also boasts up to $200 in free Uber credits and memberships to exclusive airport lounges all over the world.
This card is best for travelers who have the flexibility to book their travel through American Express travel services, as the card gives 5x Membership Rewards for flights and hotels booked on http://amextravel.com. American Express also provides travel insurance, rental car insurance, purchase protection, and more. There is one major drawback to this card, however. The yearly fee for the card is a whopping $550 dollars.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a top choice for many travelers because the points earned have 25% more value when redeemed. 50,000 points equals up to $625 toward travel. You can earn that 50,000-point balance quickly with the sign-up bonus when you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months as a card holder.
The Sapphire Preferred card also allows you to earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining worldwide. The card also provides auto rental collision damage waivers and trip cancellation/interruption insurance. With an annual fee of $0 for the first year and $95 per year after that, it’s easy to see why this card is so popular.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
Your points never expire with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, if your account is open, active, and in good standing. This card also has a lower yearly fee than most other cards at $89 per year. The first year, as with most cards, is free.
The card also offers 2 miles per dollar on every purchase and no foreign transaction fees. You can even get 5% miles back to use toward a future redemption every time you redeem.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
You can earn 2 points per dollar on every purchase and redeem your points for virtually any travel-related expense with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. With no minimum amount to redeem, you can cash in your points for cab fare to the airport, or even across town to that new place you’ve been dying to try.
The sign-up bonus of 50,000 points when you spend your first $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening the card could be worth up to $500 in travel spend. Earning 10 points per dollar on hotel stays is a fantastic bonus. The yearly fee for the Venture card is $0 for the first year and then $95 per year thereafter.
Co-Branded Travel Cards
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
The unique thing about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit card is that the number of miles to be redeemed is tied to the amount of the cost of the flight. So, the cheaper the ticket, the less miles it would take to redeem for it. It also keeps you from being “blacked out” and unable to use your miles.
You’ll earn 2 points per dollar on anything purchased through Southwest and 1 point per dollar on anything else. The drawback to this card is the 3% foreign transaction fee, so you’ll want to leave this card at home during international travel.
United MileagePlus Explorer Card
This card features a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, and an additional bonus of 5,000 miles after you add the first authorized user and make your first purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.
Using your United MileagePlus® Explorer Card to pay for your flight gives you (and a companion on your reservation) one free checked bag. United charges $25 per checked bag, if both of you check a bag each way, it can total a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip flight. That’s enough to cover the yearly fee of $95 per year after the first year is waived.
It won’t be surprising to hear that there’s no one right card for every traveler. You must weigh the benefits of each card against your travel and spending habits. Even more important to remember, if you carry a balance on any of these cards, what you pay in interest could potentially outweigh any travel benefits you reap.