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Best Travel Credit Cards

Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Many credit card companies offer travel rewards cards that let the cardholder earn points on everyday purchases. Points can be cashed in for airfare, hotel stays and other travel expenses, and cardholders often get access to exclusive perks and benefits. We reviewed offers from more than 30 travel credit cards and created a list of our top picks to help you compare and decide which travel credit card is best for you.

Our picks for
Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Best all-around travel rewards credit card
Chase Sapphire Preferred

Company nameContact
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Recommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months
FEES
  • Annual fee is $95 per year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review

If you're someone who travels frequently, Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card because it's one of the most flexible credit cards when it comes to rewards for both international and domestic travel. You'll earn rewards points for every dollar you spend, plus double points on purchases in travel and restaurant categories.

Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits

You’ll be able to transfer your reward points frequent travel programs at a 1-to-1 value without any foreign transaction fees. Chase Sapphire Preferred perks include trip interruption or cancellation insurance, as well as baggage delay insurance.

  • Earning Chase Sapphire Preferred points
    At a minimum, you'll receive at least one point for every dollar you charge to this card. You’ll earn two points per dollar when you spend on travel and dining out. The travel category will include purchases you make with airlines, hotels, rental cars, travel agencies, trains, parking and more. Be aware that some types of travel-related spending won't be covered, like in-flight purchases and tourist attractions.
  • Using Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards
    Points are redeemable for cash, gift cards and travel. If you redeem points for cash, each point is worth one cent (e.g., the redemption value of 100 points would be $1). If you redeem points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards, each point is worth $1.25 (e.g., the redemption value of 100 points would be a $1.25), which is 25% more valuable than redeeming your points for cash.

What to know before you apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card

The annual fee for this card is $95. Even though this card has more flexible ways to cash in rewards, you'll still be limited to the companies they have available. 

Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card worth it?

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card's sign-up bonus isn't unique from its competitors, this card stands out when it comes to earning and redeeming rewards points over time.

Best for initial bonus offer
Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Company nameContact
Capital One Venture RewardsRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
FEES
  • Annual fee is waived for the first year, then $95 each year
  • No foreign transaction fees
READ MORE

Capital One Venture Rewards Card review

The Capital One Venture Rewards card has a generous early spend bonus offer that's easy to reach and gets you the most value per dollar, making it best for people who want to quickly rack up a lot of travel points.

Capital One Venture benefits

With this card, you'll get a $100 credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. Plus, The Venture card is fully integrated with Apple Pay and includes other benefits like complimentary concierge service, identity theft resolution services, travel upgrades, travel protection and price protection.

  • Earning Capital One Venture points
    You’ll get two miles for every dollar on every purchase and 10 miles when you use it on hotels.com (100 miles is equal to one dollar in travel rewards). There’s no limit to how many rewards points you can earn, and rewards won’t expire as long as you hold the account.
  • Using Capital One Venture rewards
    Once you make a travel-related purchase, you can redeem your miles as a statement credit toward the cost of that purchase. You’ll be able to easily transfer your miles to participating airline partners. You can fly any airline and stay at any hotel—no blackout dates—or easily transfer your miles to one of 10+ participating airline partners for more flexibility.

What to know before you apply for a Capital One Venture card

While the travel benefits on this card are great for frequent travelers, you'll have a lot less flexibility if you ever want to redeem your miles for cash back or statement credits. Rewards are only worth half as much if they're redeemed for non-travel expenses.

Is the Capital One Venture card worth it?

This travel credit card is designed for frequent travelers who want a simple plan with an easily obtainable early spend bonus. For a $95 annual fee, you can earn two miles for every dollar spent anywhere in the world, and you can earn even more when booking rooms through hotels.com/venture.

Best for travel points categories
Citi Premier Card

Company nameContact
Citi Premier CardRecommended Credit:
Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
FEES
  • Annual fee is waived for the first year, then $95 each year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Citi Premier Card review

Citi Premier Card is the ideal travel rewards card if you are someone who would redeem their rewards on travel expenses and also wants special entertainment perks and benefits. Using points on travel will get you the most redemption value, plus you'll get deals on entertainment events and dining experiences.

Citi Premier Card benefits

Citi Premier card holders get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events annually, including presale tickets and VIP packages to concerts, sporting events, dining experiences, plus complimentary movie screenings and more, at citiprivatepass.com. Citi Concierge is available 24/7 to assist you with travel, dining, entertainment, shopping and more.

  • Earning Citi Premier Card points
    Earn three points per dollar on travel expenses, including when you use your card at gas stations, and two points for every dollar spent on restaurants and entertainment experiences. For all other purchases, you’ll still earn one point per $1.
  • Using Citi Premier Card rewards
    Points are worth 25% more when you spend them on airfare, and your bonus points are redeemable for airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center. Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs.

What to know before you apply for a Citi Premier Card

It’s easy to rack up points with the Citi Premier Card, and you have several options for spending the points you earn. However, bonus ThankYou Points aren’t available if you’ve had a Citi Preferred, Premier or Prestige card opened or closed in the past two years. The annual fee is waived for the first year, but you'll have to pay $95 annually after that.

Is the Citi Premier Card worth it?

The Citi Premier Card will earn you more points for travel-related purchases, and your points go further when you redeem them on airfare. You’ll earn at least a point for every dollar you spend, and purchases related to travel, dining and entertainment earn even more points. There’s no expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card.

Best for international travel
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Company nameContact
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCardRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles if you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
FEES
  • Annual fee is waived for the first year, then $89 each year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard review

If you often travel overseas, the Barclaycard travel rewards card comes equipped with an additional chip and PIN that can be used internationally at self-service chip terminals anywhere in the world. There are no foreign transactions fees, and you’ll be protected with free fraud liability.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard benefits

This card has a lower annual fee and a higher sign-on bonus offer than its competitors. It comes with $0 fraud liability protection and an international chip and PIN to use at self-service chip terminals anywhere in the world. Also, enjoy 0% APR for balance transfers made within 45 days of opening your account.

  • Earning Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite points
    You’ll earn two miles for every $1 you spend automatically, every time you use your card. You can earn even more miles for sharing your travel stories on the Barclays Travel Community.
  • Using Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite rewards
    Anytime you cash in your miles, you’ll get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption. Miles won’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.

What to know before you apply for a Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Though there aren’t bonus categories, every dollar spent on new purchases earns two miles, regardless of category. At $89 per year after the first year, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard’s annual fee is lower than competitors.

Is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard worth it?

This card is best for people who want large initial rewards with lower long-term fees. You can use Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard’s international chip and PIN at point-of-sale terminals around the globe, and you won’t pay any foreign transaction fees on international purchases.

Best for no annual fee
Capital One VentureOne Rewards

Company nameContact
Capital One VentureOne RewardsRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
FEES
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
READ MORE

Capital One VentureOne review

If you want a card for earning easy travel miles with no annual fee, then the Capital One VentureOne credit card is best for you. Like Capital One’s other travel rewards cards, the VentureOne card is also fully integrated with Apple Pay and comes with travel upgrades, travel protection and price protection.

Capital One VentureOne benefits

VentureOne's early spend bonus is easier to reach than other cards, but the bonus amount is smaller. You can earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases within three months of opening your account. Other benefits include travel and roadside assistance.

  • Earning Capital One VentureOne points
    You'll earn 1.25 miles for every dollar you spend, plus 10 miles for every dollar spent on hotel stays booked through hotels.com. There’s no cap on how many rewards you can earn.
  • Using Capital One VentureOne rewards
    You can redeem your miles directly through Capital One’s Rewards Center or through Purchase Eraser. Rewards never expire and can be redeemed to fly any airline and stay at any hotel, or you can redeem miles for account credits, cash rewards, gift cards and more. Easily transfer miles to any of Capital One’s 10+ travel partners.

What to know before you apply for a Capital One VentureOne card

Unlike other travel card rewards programs, your monthly income must exceed your monthly rent or mortgage by at least $425 to qualify. If you do qualify, calculate how many miles you’ll need to redeem your travel purchase by simply multiplying the total cost by 100 (e.g., if total travel purchase is $800, you need 80,000 miles).

Is the Capital One VentureOne card worth it?

VentureOne Rewards Card is worth it if you want to earn miles but aren’t concerned with VIP status or luxury perks—what this card lacks in extra benefits it makes up for with convenience and simplicity.

Best travel card with luxury benefits
The Platinum Card from American Express

Company nameContact
The Platinum Card from American ExpressRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
WELCOME OFFER
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
FEES
  • Annual fee of $550
  • No foreign transaction fees
READ MORE

American Express Platinum Card review

American Express Platinum is best if you’re a frequent traveler who enjoys VIP status and luxury benefits, like access to the Global Lounge Collection, which is the only credit card airport lounge collection with more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world.

American Express Platinum Card benefits

This card is loaded with a long list of extra benefits. Get up to $200 per year for Uber rides, $200 in airline fee credits and up to $100 in statement credits on purchases made at Saks Fifth Avenue. American Express Platinum Card memberships also access Global Dining Collection for special offers on exclusive culinary events. Plus, receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels and Resorts, a $200 Airline Fee Credit and up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees at qualifying airlines.

  • Earning Platinum Card points
    You’ll earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. Flights and hotels on amextravel.com qualify for extra rewards and savings.
  • Using Platinum Card rewards
    You can redeem your Membership Rewards Points for airfare, gift cards and more, but the value of your points will vary by how you choose to redeem them. American Express’s online tool lets you see how much your points are worth for different redemption options.

What to know before you apply for a Platinum Card

American Express Platinum comes with many perks, but it also comes with a high annual fee. Be sure to consider how frequently you'd use the perks. You will have to pay your full balance each month, but you won’t have to pay any interest on those purchases.

Is the American Express Platinum Card worth it?

American Express Platinum is a prestigious card that offers luxury perks that are beneficial to those who travel often. Considering the high annual fee, the rewards are only worth it if you maximize this card’s potential.

How do travel credit cards work?

With travel rewards credit cards, you earn reward miles or points when you make new purchases. Most credit cards we’ve seen give you a mile or point per dollar you spend, and some cards award more bonus points for purchases made in particular categories. Certain cards come with more benefits, like complimentary concierge or VIP lounge service.

Find a travel credit card and start earning rewards today


COMPARE CARDS

How to get the most out of travel rewards cards

Compare rewards points and perks.
When you’re fielding different credit card travel offers, pay attention to details that will matter most to you. If you're an international traveler, make sure you get a card without foreign transaction fees. If you're a frequent traveler, consider applying for a card that will provide luxury travel perks like grants you hotel room upgrades or access to exclusive airport lounges. Also, look for cards without blackout dates so that your points aren’t restricted.

Use your card for big purchases.
Many travel rewards credit cards will offer initial sign-up bonuses for spending a certain amount of money within a few months of opening your account. A good time to apply for a travel rewards credit card is right before making a big purchase—that way, you can be sure to hit the sign-up bonus and maximize the amount of points you gain right off the bat.

How to redeem travel rewards points

The steps to redeem your travel rewards will differ depending on which card you use. Cards most often require you to book your flights or hotel stays through the company website. However, some cards, like the Capital One Venture Rewards, give you points for booking through third-party sites like hotels.com.

Compare travel credit cards

With a travel rewards card, you can earn rewards by making purchases that can be redeemed for airfare, hotel stays, cruise lines, gift cards, statement credits and more. When comparing travel rewards cards, consider how easy it is to earn extra points or miles during the welcome bonus period.

Card*Sign-up Bonus
Chase Sapphire PreferredEarn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months
Capital One VentureEarn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
Citi Premier CardEarn 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCardEarn 70,000 bonus miles if you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
Capital One VentureOneEarn 20,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
The Platinum Card from American ExpressEarn 60,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months

Types of travel reward credit cards

While the main reason for acquiring the credit card is to earn air travel miles or points for hotel stays, there are numerous other travel perks worth considering. Here are the different types you can get:

  • Miles credit cards
    A miles credit card rewards your purchases in air miles. Every purchase is worth a set number of miles you can redeem for airfare. These cards may be tied to particular airlines or they may extend to various airlines.
  • Luxury travel credit card
    Luxury travel credit cards have high annual fees but come with numerous travel benefits. These cards come with extra perks like access to exclusive airport lounges and yearly travel credits.
  • Airline credit cards
    Airline credit cards partner with particular airlines to give you benefits when you fly with them. For example, some cards provide credits for TSA PreCheck, discounts on in-flight meals and free baggage checks.
  • Hotel credit cards
    A hotel credit card can help you earn points for staying in a certain hotel. These cards will typically gain you extra points if you use them to pay for a stay at particular hotel chains.

Bottom line

Travel rewards cards are a great way to earn free miles and other travel perks on everyday purchases. Different travel rewards cards come with similar benefits, and you can easily earn credits toward airfare and lodging. Additional features like exclusive lounge access, free checked luggage and premium room upgrades are also available. When deciding which travel rewards card is right for you, consider your lifestyle, spending habits and travel schedule.

Want to compare more travel rewards credit cards?


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Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.