39 Best Travel Credit Cards in 2018

39 Best Travel Credit Cards in 2018

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: October 23, 2018
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Although some may lack any desire to stir from their lives, many, many more are oft compelled to wander the world and see what it has to offer. Indeed, the desire to travel seems to be one shared by most people, albeit to varying extents.

Of course, whether your idea of a perfect journey involves a weekend road trip or a year backpacking around the world, there is one inescapable fact of modern-day travel with which we must all contend: Travel is rarely free.

While many resources exist that are full of tips and tricks for cutting your travel budget, you can also tackle the problem from the other end of things with smart credit card use. With the right travel credit cards, you can save on nearly any travel expense, including earning free flights, hotel stays, and more.

Given that we all have our own, unique travel goals, the right travel credit card — or combination of cards — will vary by individual. Happily, dozens of great options are out there, making it easy to find the best cards for maximizing your travel experience.

Overall | Points | Miles | No Annual Fee | Travel Insurance | Lounge Access
International | Business | Airline | Hotel | Cruise | Attractions | Gas

Best Overall Travel Credit Cards

While everyone’s travel needs are unique, some travel credit cards are simply better than others. Our picks for overall best travel cards include options for various types of travelers that can, individually or together, meet many common travel card requirements.

  • Earn 50K 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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • 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
  • 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
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

One of the most popular travel rewards cards on the market, this card has just about everything you could ask for in a travel card, including triple points for both travel and dining expenses. And, the points you earn are Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, well-regarded for their redemption flexibility and the option to turn them into loyalty points with a number of airline and hotel brands.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

This card is ideal for travelers who value flexibility above all else, offering a consistent redemption value, redeemable as a statement credit for a wide range of travel-related expenses. The card also offers a nearly unheard-of 10X miles per dollar on hotels booked with hotels.com, adding to the flexibility and value.

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® Review

at Barclays'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% intro for first 12 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness
$89 (waived first year)
Good/Excellent

Another option for flexible, blackout-free travel, this card’s miles redeem as a statement credit for a variety of travel purchases, including airfare and hotel stays. Where this card excels, however, is that it also offers chip-and-PIN functionality, which can be a huge win for travelers who spend a lot of time in the UK.

Best Travel Credit Cards for Earning Versatile Points

For many travel rewards aficionados, the name of the game is maximizing their value. Luckily, maximizing points is made easier by the fact that most rewards points programs offer the best per-point value on travel redemptions. Some will also offer transfer options to partner loyalty programs that can further boost your value.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

Although this card isn’t as robust as its big sibling, it still offers a very respectable 2X points per dollar on travel and dining — Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, popular for their versatility and value — as well as providing many of the same travel protections. And it does it all with a fraction of the annual fee.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.49%-26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

The broad rewards categories offered by this card certainly make it worth a look, but it’s those rewards paired with the lack of an annual fee that really makes the card stand out. Unlike some programs, points can’t be transferred to airline or hotel loyalty programs, though they can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, charity donations, or cash back.

6. Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express may come with a large annual fee, but it provides market-leading rewards on airfare and hotel stays, offering 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.

American Express Platinum Card

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points per $1 on flights/hotels booked directly with the airline/hotel or American Express Travel
  • Receive up to $200 in Uber credits per year
  • Pay $550 annual fee

Rewards can be redeemed for travel through Amex, or transferred to one of many partner airline or hotel loyalty programs. The card also comes with a wide range of additional travel benefits, including airline and Uber fee credit, airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and travel insurance.

Best Travel Credit Cards for Earning Flexible Miles

Although loyalty points and frequent flyer miles can be redeemed for great value with some planning, not all travelers want to go through the (sometimes substantial) bother of squeezing every last penny from their rewards. These flexible miles travel rewards cards offer the ability to redeem for travel expenses free of blackouts or brand restrictions.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

One of the first cards to offer blackout-free redemption, this travel rewards card provides a solid unlimited earnings rate on every purchase, plus extremely valuable 10X points on hotels booked through hotels.com/venture. Redeem miles as a statement credit to cover many travel-related expenses, including things like hotels, airfare, rental cars, and parking fees.

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® Review

at Barclays'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% intro for first 12 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness
$89 (waived first year)
Good/Excellent

This card’s unlimited 2X miles per dollar earnings rate is solid, but it’s the other perks that make the card worth noting. They include a very competitive, one-time bonus for new cardholders, an intro-APR balance transfer offer, chip-and-PIN functionality, and bonus miles every time you redeem.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74%-23.74% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

This card offers unlimited 1.25X miles per dollar on every purchase, plus, 10X miles per dollar on hotel purchases made through hotels.com/venture, all with no annual fee.

Best Travel Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

With a top-tier rewards card in your pocket, you can potentially earn hundreds of dollars a year in free travel, enjoy airport lounge access around the world, and reach elite hotel status without a single stay. You’ll also likely fork over $400 or more for all those perks. Thankfully, you don’t have to pay a fortune in annual fees to enjoy flexible travel rewards.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.49%-26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

This card has a rewards rate for travel purchases that’s hard to beat without an annual fee, plus offers bonus rewards for dining and select streaming services. All in all, this card is a good choice for consumers who travel occasionally, but not enough to make a more expensive travel card worthwhile.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

While this card’s unlimited miles rate is competitive, it’s only one of the reasons to take a look at this no-annual-fee card. Other features include a unique signup bonus — Discover will match all of the miles you earn in your first year, automatically — plus simple, blackout-free redemption, free FICO credit score tracking, and free Social Security number alerts.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74%-23.74% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Domestic travelers who spend more on hotels than most other travel expenses can make the most of this card, which offers the same 10X miles per dollar on hotels.com/venture bookings as its more expensive sibling, but without the annual fee. Redeem miles as a statement credit for a variety of travel-related expenses.

Best Credit Cards for Travel Insurance

The main goal of travel rewards card users may be to earn points and miles, but the secondary benefits of a good travel card can be worth just as much — if not more — to cardholders who can make the most of them. One such perk is travel insurance, which many top-tier travel cards offer. You can protect yourself from trip cancellations, flight delays, and even lost luggage.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50K 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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • 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
  • 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
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

In addition to its popular rewards program, this card offers competitive travel insurance benefits, including trip delay or cancellation insurance, delayed or lost luggage coverage, and emergency travel assistance.

14. Citi Prestige® Credit Card

The Citi Prestige® Credit Card offers a range of travel insurance benefits, including trip delay coverage, trip cancellation and interruption protection, and lost luggage reimbursement.

Citi Prestige Credit Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on airline, hotel, and travel agency purchases
  • Earn 2X points per $1 on dining and entertainment
  • Pay $450 annual fee

In addition, cardholders can access secondary rental car collision coverage. The card also comes with a number of purchase protections like extended warranties, damage and theft protection, and 90-day return protection.

15. U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card has many of the travel-insurance bells and whistles you’d expect from a top-tier, high-fee travel rewards credit card. Cardholders receive trip cancellation or interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage coverage, and travel emergency assistance.

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 on eligible travel purchases and mobile wallet spending
  • Receive up to $325 annual travel reimbursements
  • Receive 12 annual complimentary wifi passes

Other than a pricey $400 annual fee (which is mostly offset by the card’s annual travel credit), the main downside to this card is its exclusivity: Only active US Bank customers can qualify for a U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card.

Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access

Travel rewards can be a great way to save on your travel expenses, but they’re hardly the only reason many people go after the top-tier travel rewards cards; the fringe benefits are also a big draw. For example, these cards all offer cardholders access to hundreds of airport lounges, putting a new spin on a long layover.

16. Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express provides cardholders with access to the largest number of airport lounges through its Global Lounge Collection, including the prestigious Centurion Lounges, as well as Delta Sky Club® and Priority Pass lounges.

American Express Platinum Card

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points per $1 on flights/hotels booked directly with the airline/hotel or American Express Travel
  • Receive up to $200 in Uber credits per year
  • Receive a $200 airline fee credit each year

The elite perks don’t stop once you leave the airport; this card also comes with elite hotel status with Starwood and Hilton, as well as premium car rental status and access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts® program.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50K 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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • 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
  • 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
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

This card offers access to over 1,000 global lounges and restaurants through complimentary annual Priority Pass™ Select program membership. Want into a lounge not in the program? The card’s annual travel credit covers a wide range of travel expenses, including airport lounge day passes purchased directly with the airline.

18. Citi Prestige® Credit Card

The Citi Prestige® Credit Card has a lot of travel perks, not the least of which is complimentary annual membership in the Priority Pass™ Select program, which unlocks over 1,000 lounges and restaurants around the world.

Citi Prestige Credit Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on airline, hotel, and travel agency purchases
  • Earn 2X points per $1 on dining and entertainment
  • Pay $450 annual fee

Other travel perks offered by the card include an annual airline fee credit and the card’s popular 4th Night Free benefit on hotel stays of at least four consecutive nights.

Best Credit Cards for International Travel

For some travelers, one of the most compelling reasons to use credit cards while adventuring is the convenience of not having to deal with local currencies. However, not all cards are created equal on the international stage, particularly in the UK where chip-and-PIN authorization is common.

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® Review

at Barclays'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% intro for first 12 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness
$89 (waived first year)
Good/Excellent

This card offers the same unlimited miles, chip-and-PIN functionality, and no foreign transaction fees that make them ideal for international travel.

Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® Review

at Barclays'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★
4.3

OVERALL RATING

4.3/5.0
  • Enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 13.99% APR will apply
  • Low 13.99% variable APR on purchases and cash advances
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
See Terms
13.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

With this card, you’ll get chip-and-PIN functionality and the same low ongoing APR on purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. All with no annual fee.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
N/A
16.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

Formerly known as the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® card, this card offers flexible travel rewards at a competitive unlimited rate of 1.5X points per dollar on every purchase. It also comes chip-and-PIN enabled, charges no annual fee, and charges no foreign transaction fees for purchases in foreign currencies.

Best Business Travel Credit Cards

Although there are likely some well-traveled consumers out there, the average business traveler probably spends more time on the road or in the air than your typical traveler. These awesome business travel rewards cards can not only help your business save on every trip, but may also offer extra benefits like lounge access or travel insurance.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem 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 no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

The only business card to offer the popular Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, this card offers triple points on travel, as well as select business categories. Points can be redeemed through the issuer portal or transferred to a dozen hotel and airline partners for even more value.

23. American Express Business Platinum Card®

The American Express Business Platinum Card® not only offers all the bells and whistles of its consumer counterpart — it surpasses them. That means cardholders earn the same 5X rewards on airfare and prepaid hotels, they’ll also get bonus rewards on large purchases.

Amex Business Platinum Card®

  • Earn 5X points per $1 spent on flights and hotels booked through amextravel.com
  • Earn 1.5X points per $1 on purchases $5,000 and up
  • Receive up to 75,000 bonus points for meeting spending requirements

The business version of the card also includes the same travel perks as the consumer card, including hotel elite status, airport lounge access to over 1,200 global lounges, and an annual airline fee credit.

24. U.S. Bank Business Edge™ Select Rewards Card

The U.S. Bank Business Edge™ Select Rewards Card may not have fringe benefits, like lounge access, but what it offers could potentially be far more valuable: broad, unlimited bonus categories. Cardholders who travel a lot can earn triple points on Travel and Entertainment purchases, which includes airline, hotel, car rental, travel agency, and restaurant purchases.

U.S. Bank Business Edge™ Select Rewards Card

  • Earn 3X rewards points on a broad bonus category of your choice, including day-to-day expenses, automotive, and travel/entertainment
  • Earn unlimited 1X point on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee

Unlike some cards, there’s no limit to how many bonus rewards you can earn, and there’s no huge annual fee (or none at all). The card also comes with a competitive intro-APR offer on new purchases, as well as a decent signup bonus.

Best Co-Branded Airline Credit Cards

While co-branded cards aren’t bastions of flexibility, they do offer a lot of perks for brand-loyal consumers. Airline credit cards, for example, not only offer a simple way to earn frequent flyer miles, but also tend to come with benefits like free checked bags and preferred boarding.

25. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® allows cardholders to earn American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer miles, as well as providing preferred boarding and your first checked bag for free.

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

  • Earn 2X AAdvantage® miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases & at US restaurants and gas stations
  • Get a free checked bag on domestic American Airlines flights
  • Pay $0 annual fee the first year, $99 each year after

As an added perk, redeeming your points can actually earn you more points, as you’ll receive bonus miles equal to 10% of your redeemed miles.

26. Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is an easy way to earn Southwest frequent flyer miles on your everyday purchases, as well as receiving statement credits for Southwest travel and four Upgraded Boardings each year.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

  • Earn 2X points per $1 on Southwest Airlines® purchases made directly with the airline
  • Receive an annual $75 Southwest® travel credit
  • Pay $149 annual fee

Although Southwest doesn’t offer free bags or year-round priority boarding like some other cards, it does provide a discount on in-flight purchases. It also offers 7,500 bonus points each year after your cardmember anniversary.

27. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers cardholders a simple way to earn Delta SkyMiles®, plus travel perks like priority boarding and free checked bags.

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

Fringe benefits of the card include discounted access to Delta Sky Clubs, a 20% discount on in-flight purchases, and no foreign transaction fees.

Best Co-Branded Hotel Credit Cards

While flexible rewards are useful, co-branded cards can offer exclusive perks to enhance your stay at your favorite hotel brands. Many hotel credit cards offer bonus loyalty points for branded purchases, plus extra benefits like elite hotel status and upgraded in-room internet access.

28. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is full of perks at both Starwood and Marriott properties, including 6X points per dollar on qualifying brand properties and an annual free night award worth up to 35,000 points.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 6X points per dollar spent on eligible Starwood or Marriott purchases
  • Earn 2X points on all other purchases
  • Pay $0 annual fee the first year, $95 each year after

Cardholders will also unlock extra benefits like Silver Elite status, premium in-room internet access at participating properties, and no foreign transaction fees.

29. Hilton Honors Ascend Card

Hilton Honors Ascend Card cardholders can earn Hilton loyalty points in no time with double-digit rewards rates for Hilton purchases and bonus rewards at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card

  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors™ points per dollar for Hilton purchases
  • Earn 6X points for purchases at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
  • Pay $95 annual fee

Users also get a range of branded perks, including Gold elite status, as well as 10 free Priority Pass Select airport lounge passes good at over 1,000 lounges around the world.

30. IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers all the usual perks of a midtier 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 $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.

Best Co-Branded Cruise Credit Cards

Air travel and hotel stays are often at the heart of the travel rewards game, but what about travelers who want to set sail on a cruise? These cards offer cardholders a way to earn free cruises with their everyday purchases, as well as valuable one-time bonuses for signing up and using your card.

31. Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®

The Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard® allows cardholders to earn WorldPoints® on every purchase. WorldPoints® can be redeemed for Norwegian Cruise Line® stateroom upgrades, travel discounts, onboard credits, and more.

Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®

  • Earn 3X WorldPoints® rewards points for every $1 spent on Norwegian purchases
  • Earn 1X WorldPoints® points per $1 on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee

The card also comes with a juicy 10,000 bonus rewards points for those new cardholders who make a qualifying transaction within the first 90 days of opening their account.

32. Carnival® World Mastercard®

The Carnival® World Mastercard® earns FunPoints on every purchase, making it a simple way to save on your next trip on any World’s Leading Cruise Line family cruise line.

Carnival® World Mastercard®

  • Earn 2X FunPoints per $1 on Carnival and World’s Leading Cruise Lines purchases
  • Earn 1X FunPoints per $1 on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee

Cardholders will also earn 10,000 bonus FunPoints when they use their card for the first time, enough points to redeem for a $100 credit on your next qualifying cruise purchase.

33. Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® credit card

The Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® credit card earns MyCruise points on every purchase, which can be redeemed toward purchases with Celebrity Cruises, as well as its sister lines, Royal Caribbean® and Azamara Club Cruises®.

Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® credit card

  • Earn 2X MyCruise points for every $1 spent with Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean®, and Azamara Club Cruises®
  • Earn 1X MyCruise points on all other purchases
  • Pay $69 annual fee

Make your first qualifying transaction within 90 days of account opening to score a bonus 10,000 MyCruise points, which can be redeemed for a $100 onboard credit.

Best Credit Cards for Attractions & Events

No matter how much you love a good plane ride, getting to your destination is usually just a small portion of your travels. These rewards credit cards provide the ability to save on the attractions and events that help make travel more than simply going from one place to another.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $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
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

This card’s 4% bonus rewards category includes a variety of entertainment purchases, including movie theaters, record stores, sporting events, and numerous tourist attractions like amusement parks, aquariums, and zoos.

35. Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier Card not only has a high bonus rewards rate for travel, but also offers double ThankYou® points per dollar for entertainment purchases, a broad category that includes everything from theme parks to sporting events.

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, including gas stations
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

As handy as the card’s entertainment category can be for travel, it can also be useful at home, offering 2X points per dollar at record stores and on video rentals, including many digital video services.

36. Marvel Mastercard®

The Marvel Mastercard® may be designed for Marvel lovers, but nearly anyone can benefit from its 3% cash back category, which includes entertainment purchases like amusement park purchases, museum visits, and movie theater tickets.

 Marvel Mastercard®

  • Earn 3% cash back on dining, select entertainment, and eligible Marvel merchandise purchases
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee

In addition to saving on attractions and shows while you travel, you can also get 3% cash back as you stock up on books, comics, and digital entertainment to take with you on your adventures.

Best Credit Cards for Gas Rewards

Most travel rewards credit card posts and forums dedicate a lot of time to airline travel, but the typical consumer likely spends far more time driving than flying. These cards offer bonus rewards for gas station purchases, as well as offering other useful travel or everyday categories.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
14.49%-26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

Time on the road can be a little more affordable with this card, which offers triple points on travel and gas purchases, as well as take-out and dine-in meals.

38. Citi Premier Card

While many cards offer bonus rewards for travel expenses, the Citi Premier Card is one of the few that includes gas station purchases in its broad travel category.

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, including gas stations
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

The travel category also includes the expected purchases, such as airfare and hotel stays, as well as things like tolls and parking fees. ThankYou® points can be redeemed for travel through Citi, or transferred to one of many partner airline or hotel loyalty programs.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
15.24% to 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

In addition to a competitive cash back rate on gas purchases, this card also offers bonus rewards for grocery and wholesale club purchases. Keep in mind that bonus rewards are limited to the first $2,500 in combined category purchases each quarter.

Selecting the Best Travel Credit Card

With literally dozens of potential options, how do you select the right travel rewards card — or, is it cards? Although travel cards have plenty of overlap, there’s enough variation in rewards and benefits that you’ll need to start by determining your travel goals.

For example, if you only travel a few times a year, then you may not care about airport lounge access or hotel status — let alone paying a $400 annual fee for a card that unlocks those features. Instead, a card with a rewards program that doesn’t have date or brand restrictions may prove to be the better fit.

If you’re simply looking to maximize your rewards, the most important thing will be finding the cards that offer high rewards rates for the categories in which you spend the most. If you spend most of your travel dollars on gas and parking, for example, then you’ll want to avoid cards that focus on airfare and hotel stays.

Of course, if your primary goal is to quickly earn as many points and miles as possible for free travel, then the size of the sign-up bonus — a one-time bonus offered to new cardholders who meet a minimum spending requirement within a certain time after account opening — may be more important to you than the specific bonus rewards categories.

Logos for Four Major Credit Card Networks

Some networks will be more widely accepted than others, particularly in more remote regions.

Other factors that may influence your decision will vary based on your needs. For example, if you travel internationally on a regular basis, you may be more concerned about the credit card issuer or network. Only a handful of US issuers provide cards with chip-and-PIN functionality, for instance, and the network will dictate which merchants accept your card.

And don’t forget about the more traditional credit card features, such as the APR. Many of the best travel rewards cards have relatively high APRs, which may factor into some decisions. However, although rare, a few travel cards will offer new purchase and/or balance transfer APR deals.

Additionally, just because you select a card doesn’t mean you’ll be approved for it. This makes your credit profile arguably the most important factor in picking a credit card of any type, especially a travel credit card, as top-tier travel rewards cards will generally require an excellent credit score to qualify.

Considerations When Traveling with Your Card

The things you need to consider when traveling with a credit card will vary, mostly based on your destination. You likely won’t need to do much if you’re only traveling domestically, but foreign travel with your cards will have a few prerequisites.

For example, you’ll want to make sure to alert your credit card issuer that you intend to use your card in a foreign country. If you don’t, your purchases will likely be flagged as fraud attempts and your credit card account frozen.

Another common concern for foreign travelers is currency changes. While credit cards will automatically handle conversions when you make your purchases, you’ll want to make sure your travel card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for the privilege (most travel cards don’t, but check your card’s terms and conditions to be sure).

Graphic of Chip-and-Pin Card Use

EU chip cards require pins rather than signatures.

Having a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees can pay off in multiple ways — and not just in convenience. Some foreign merchants will happily allow you to make your purchase in US dollars, but there’s a catch; called dynamic currency conversion, the exchange rates are typically not in your favor.

Acceptance may also be a major hurdle for some travelers. While all four major US card networks — Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express — are accepted in other countries, the exact countries and rate of acceptance will vary widely by network.

If you’re headed to a region with limited credit card acceptance, you may want to check if your credit card network is accepted before you arrive and try to make a purchase. Consider taking credit cards from multiple networks to ensure you have options. (And, of course, be sure to carry some local currency, just in case).

Your card’s verification method may also impact your ability to use it abroad. In particular, the UK utilizes chip-and-PIN purchase verification, rather than the US-favored chip-and-signature verification. While many merchants can manually run your card, unmanned kiosks may only accept chip-and-PIN enabled cards.

Although they may require a little preparation, credit cards are often the most secure way to shop. Unlike other methods, such as cash, debit cards, or traveller’s cheques, losing your credit card won’t be the end of the world. Your liability for fraudulent use is limited, by law, to $50 — and most major issuers offer $0 fraud liability policies on their cards.

If you’re concerned about fraud (or your budget), you can set up credit card usage alerts before you leave. Most banks allow you to customize alerts through your online banking or mobile app that will tell you when transactions are made and where your card is being used.

Tips for Using Travel Rewards Points & Miles

After you’ve selected a card and started earning, the next step is to, well, redeem your rewards. As implied earlier, however, redeeming your rewards can vary in complexity based on your rewards program and your goals.

The simplest form of travel rewards are flexible points and miles that are redeemed for statement credits to cover travel-related expenses. Most of these programs allow you to select the transactions you wish to credit right from your online banking account, making redemption a snap.

Since co-branded credit cards earn loyalty points or frequent flyer miles, the redemption difficulty will vary mostly by program. Since these points are typically added to your existing loyalty program account, you’ll redeem them exactly as you would any other points or miles earned from flights or hotel stays.

Screenshot of Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal

Redeeming through an issuer’s travel portal can provide greater flexibility.

Redemption gets more complicated if you have more versatile points that can be redeemed for travel through your issuer or transferred to partner loyalty programs. In general, redeeming through your issuer can provide more flexibility, but transferring your points can often afford more value, especially with a smart redemption.

For example, Ultimate Rewards® points are only worth 1.25¢ to 1.5¢ per point when redeemed through the Chase portal, but can command 4¢ per point or more when transferred and redeemed for travel through a partner program, especially when used for upper-class tickets or high-demand hotels.

However, finding award redemptions can be difficult with some airlines and hotels, especially for last-minute redemptions or peak travel times. Depending on the credit card issuer, the dedicated travel portal may be the best choice for flexibility while maintaining a decent value.

Use the Right Card On Your Next Adventure

Since the earliest days when humans first went wandering out of Africa, many of us have retained the urge to see the world. There is a quote, attributed to the theologian St. Augustine, that summarizes that drive: “The world is a great book, and none study this so much as a traveler.”

For the many students of the world seeking to study its offerings, travel is as necessary a part of life as breathing. For others, travel is merely a way to break away from the everyday — though, to anyone who has daydreamed of such a break, there may be little mere about it.

No matter why you travel or where you go, your budget shouldn’t be the sole dictator of your adventure. Together with good planning, smart credit card use can help take some of the budget crunch out of traveling, helping wanderers near and far make the most of their travels.