The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

15 Best Credit Cards for Travel Rewards in 2022

Best Credit Cards For Travel Rewards

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: March 30, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

The best credit cards for travel rewards can save travelers big bucks and come with that satisfying feeling that comes with knowing you’ve just gotten a great bargain on a flight or hotel.

The first documented passport wasn’t quite a passport at all, but a letter from the Persian king Artaxerxes requesting safe passage for a court official around 450 BCE. Through the mid-1500s, the passe porte allowed European travelers passage through the city gates (called portes). The first US passe-port was written by Benjamin Franklin and printed on his own press. Here in the 21st century, the passport has evolved to not only act as the key to get through (airport) gates, but it has become a symbol of our ability to travel freely throughout much of the modern world.

Well, perhaps not quite freely. The average flight from the US to Europe ranges from $788 to $1,435 — per person — depending on where you fly out from, and that doesn’t touch meals and lodging. That’s where travel rewards credit cards come in; you can turn your rewards into free flights, hotel stays, and other key travel expenses, allowing you to put that passport to good use.

Flexible Rewards | No Annual Fee | Air Miles | Hotel | Business

Best Credit Cards for “Flexible” Travel Rewards

Few things in life are quite as frustrating as saving and planning for the perfect trip — only to have everything go sideways when it’s time to book. Welcome to the roadblock that is travel rewards blackout dates. Add in airline or hotel brand restrictions, and successfully organizing your points or miles vacation can start to feel like wandering through a maze with nothing but dead ends.

Thankfully, a number of great travel rewards credit cards offer points or miles without the strings and limitations of blackout dates and brand restrictions. Instead of planning your trip around your points, the rewards you earn can be redeemed for travel expenses regardless of where or when — or with whom — you travel. Plus, pay no foreign transaction fees with many of our favorite flexible travel rewards cards.

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99% - 23.99% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 03/31/22.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

If you do have a specific travel brand you prefer, you can still win with flexible travel rewards credit cards. Besides redeeming your points or miles for travel credit, some programs also allow you to transfer your rewards to a partner airline or hotel loyalty program. This can turn your flexible rewards into branded points or miles that can be combined with your existing frequent flyer miles or hotel loyalty points.

Best Credit Cards for “No Annual Fee” Travel Rewards

Depending on how much you spend each year, it can be easy to earn enough rewards and rebates to more than offset any annual fee, even on cards with triple-digit annual fees. Likewise, if you place a lot of value on certain perks and benefits that often accompany high annual fees — particularly when it comes to travel cards — then those fees may be worth paying for you.

For others, however, annual fees are simply nuisance expenses that detract from the value of the rewards — and the card. Luckily for them, the rewards credit card marketplace is thick with no-annual-fee card options, including a wide variety offering solid travel rewards. What’s more, our top-rated picks for travel cards without annual fees also won’t charge you foreign transaction fees for purchases in another currency.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 14 months
10.99% Intro APR for 14 months
11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
$0
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 25,000 online 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 $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time, and no expiration on points
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees while earning points to use for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Introductory 0% APR offer on purchases, then a variable APR applies
  • Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 you spend, everywhere, every time.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% APR for 15 billing cycles
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

One thing to keep in mind is that “no annual fees” doesn’t mean “no fees at all.” Unless you have an introductory 0% APR offer active on your card, you’ll be charged interest fees on any credit card balances you carry from month to month. These fees can easily overwhelm any purchase rewards you earn, as well as eliminating the savings from not paying an annual fee.

Best Credit Cards for “Air Miles” Travel Rewards

While having the flexibility to redeem your travel rewards can make planning your next trip significantly easier, credit cards co-branded with specific airlines can frequently offer exclusive perks and benefits that may offset the limitations for some applicants. These benefits can include cost-saving perks, such as free checked bags, as well as luxuries like airport lounge access.

And co-branded credit cards can be especially appealing to cardholders who have a particular affinity for a specific airline and want a faster way to accrue frequent flyers miles, as these cards typically reward you with miles for every purchase. The cards on our list also offer bonus frequent flyer miles — at least 2X per $1 — for qualifying airline purchases.

7. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Earn unlimited frequent flyer miles with the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, plus enjoy special cardholder perks like priority boarding and a free checked bag.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 2X miles per dollar spent with Delta, 1X miles per dollar on all other purchases
  • Get your first checked bag free on every Delta flight
  • Pay $0 annual fee the first year, $95 each year after

As an added perk, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, freeing you up to purchase like a local when you travel.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at restaurants and gas stations
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 travel companions
  • 25% savings on inflight good and beverage purchases + preferred boarding on AA flights
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0 first year, $99 thereafter
Excellent, Good

Additional Disclosure: (The information related to Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)

With domestic trips starting at just 7,500 miles, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® offers cardholders an easy way to earn free travel.

Additionally, redeeming your points can earn you more points, as you’ll receive bonus miles equal above and beyond your redeemed miles.

9. British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Servicing more than 180 destinations globally, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card can get you to many of the most popular travel spots around the world.

British Airways Visa Signature

  • Earn 3X Avios per $1 on British Airways purchases and 1X Avios on other eligible purchases
  • Receive a Travel Together Ticket for spending $30,000 in a year
  • Pay a $95 annual fee

The cost of rewards flights are based on the distance you fly, with short-distance trips (650 miles or less) starting at 4,000 Avios miles for off-peak travel dates.

Even if you choose to go with a co-branded airline travel rewards credit card, you likely won’t be limited to a single airline. Most major airlines are part of an airline alliance that partners them with other airlines, some alliances holding up to 27 members. Many frequent flyer programs allow you to transfer rewards between alliance airlines and/or redeem your rewards for flights on other airlines in the alliance.

Best Credit Cards for “Hotel” Travel Rewards

Similar to co-branded airline credit cards, travel rewards cards co-branded with a hotel loyalty program typically offer cardholders a quick way to earn hotel loyalty program points. Most co-branded hotel cards not only provide at least one point per dollar for all of your card purchases, but most also allow you to earn bonus points — at least 2X per $1 — for hotel stays and on-property purchases.

Additionally, hotel-branded travel rewards credit cards frequently provide a range of freebies and perks, including complimentary elite status, free internet access, and no-cost room upgrades that can make your stay more comfortable and more affordable. The hotel brands on our list include global options with thousands of properties from which to choose.

10. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card is the new mid-tier card that resulted from the rebranding of the Marriott and Starwood programs after their merger. The card offers six points per dollar on Marriott purchase and two points on everything else.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

  • Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at eligible Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Earn 2X on all other purchases
  • Pay $95 annual fee

Cardholders receive automatic Silver Elite Status with Marriott Bonvoy and can earn Gold Status by spending $35,000 on purchases each account year. Users can also enjoy free premium in-room wifi and an annual free night award after the account anniversary.

11. Hilton Honors Ascend Card

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card is not only a quick route to free stays with its double-digit rewards rate for Hilton purchases, but also provides you with complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card

  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points per dollar for Hilton purchases
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points for purchases at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points for all other purchases

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card is also great for big buyers, as you can earn a free Weekend Night Reward when you spend at least $15,000 on your card in a single calendar year.

12. IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers all the usual perks of a mid-tier co-branded hotel card, including a high rewards rate for branded purchases and complimentary Platinum Elite status.

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

  • Earn 10X points per $1 on IHG® hotel purchases made directly with IHG®
  • Earn 2X points per $1 on gas, groceries, and dining
  • Pay a $89 annual fee

This card also offers a number of other money-saving perks, like a free anniversary night each cardmember year and your fourth reward night free on rewards point stays of four nights or more.

The same way other travel rewards programs often allow you to transfer points and miles, so, too, will many hotel loyalty programs allow you to transfer points to partnering hotels and airlines.

(Non-Monetized. The information related to IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card was collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this product. Product details may vary. Please see issuer website for current information. Product details may vary. Please see issuer website for current information. CardRates.com does not receive commission for this product/card.)

Best Credit Cards for “Business” Travel Rewards

In some ways, the always-on-the-go businessperson who practically lives in the air or on the road has become a cultural cliche — but that doesn’t make it any less a reality for many people. For these frequent travelers, a quality travel rewards business credit card is nearly a necessity, offering not only a way to save on trips but also providing a host of perks that can make those trips much more pleasant.

But even if your business requires a little less roaming, you can still use a travel rewards business card to earn points or miles on your business purchases — rewards that can reward you with free travel when the work is done. Business travel cards, including our picks below, offer most (if not all) of the benefits of their consumer counterparts, as well as providing extended benefits for business customers.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles – equal to $500 in travel – once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account
  • Transfer your miles to 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Redeem your miles instantly for any travel-related purchases, from flights and hotels to ride-sharing services
  • Fly through security with one statement credit for either the $85 TSA PreCheck® application fee or the $100 Global Entry application fee
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, travel and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99%-20.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
Business Platinum Card® from American Express Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of card membership
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, 1.5X points on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more (that's an extra half point per dollar) up to 1 million additional points per calendar year, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases
  • Select one qualifying airline and get up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year for baggage fees and other incidentals charged by the airline to your Business Platinum Card®
  • Access to more than 1,300 lounges across 140 countries and counting with the American Express Global Lounge Collection®
  • Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of an eligible fare and get 35% of those points back, up to 500,000 points back per calendar year
  • $595 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A (Charge Card)
$595
Excellent

Your new business credit card can also have another benefit that has nothing to do with hotels or airlines: building business credit. Your business can — and should — build its own credit history separate from your personal credit. As you responsibly use your card to earn rewards, you’ll also be building a credit history that can help unlock other types of business financing in the future.

Make the Most of Your Travel with a Great Rewards Card

The US passport started from humble origins, hot from Ben Franklin’s printing press and hand-delivered to its recipient. Today, more than 136 million US passports are in circulation, meaning 1 in every 2.4 Americans has a valid US passport.

Sadly, those passports do many of us little good sitting in a desk drawer or safety deposit box, waiting for the day we can afford that trip of our dreams. Travel rewards credit cards can be a simple, convenient way to make the purchases you were going to make anyway, all while earning points or miles you can redeem to cover a wide variety of travel expenses — and a reason to pull that passport out of hibernation.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.