21 Best Vacation Credit Cards in 2018

21 Best Vacation Credit Cards in 2018

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: June 20, 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.

As one workday blends into the next, it can become hard not to feel sometimes as though your life has become a mediocre remake of the movie Groundhog Day — and you’re Bill Murray.

It’s at this point that you know it’s time to take a vacation. But whether you make a solo getaway or take the whole crew, vacations are budget busters at the best of times.

That’s where a little smart credit card use can come in remarkably handy. By using the right credit cards for your vacation expenses, you can earn your way to free flights and hotel stays, as well as save on everything from gas to theme park tickets.

Flexible Travel | 0% APR | Gas | Hotels | Airlines | Amusement Parks | Cruises

Best Vacation Credit Cards for Flexible Travel

When it comes to travel rewards credit cards, the more flexible your rewards are, the more value they often carry. And not just monetary value. If you want to take a last-minute trip, having a good stash of flexible travel points can be infinitely more valuable than branded miles with no availability.

To select a credit card with flexible travel rewards, consider how you’re most likely to use them. Some cards operate on simple credit redemptions, while others will allow you to transfer points to partner loyalty programs for greater value.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
5.0

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
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with 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

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

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.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 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
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent Credit
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, 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
13.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

While nearly priceless in a pinch, flexible travel rewards are also great for year-round earning, too. If you use your favorite travel rewards credit card for your everyday expenses, you could wind up with a free vacation with some strategic redemption.

Best Vacation Credit Cards with 0% APR

Between signup bonuses and accelerated category spending, it can be fairly easy to earn enough credit card rewards to take a big chunk out of your vacation expenses — but what’s left can still be a hefty amount.

If you think you’ll need a little time to pay off your vacation, then a credit card with an introductory 0% APR offer may be the solution. With one of the better offers, you can have 12 months or more interest-free to pay down your purchases, making one less thing on your mind during your vacation.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 16.90%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
  • Free access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
16.90%-26.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

Make sure you read the terms of your introductory offer carefully and understand the limitations. Some offers only apply to new purchases, while others may also include balance transfers. Credit card cash advances are always exempt from 0% APR offers, so think twice before making a withdrawal.

Best Vacation Credit Cards for Gas Rewards

If ever there were a quintessential family vacation, the summer road trip is likely it — or was, until sky-high gas prices made it a lot more expensive to pack up the car and hit the road.

Thankfully, a number of quality rewards credit cards offer bonus rewards for gas station purchases, making it more affordable to grab the family and take off on the Great American Road Trip.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

If your vacation coincides with the gas stations bonus category quarter for the Chase Freedom®, you’ll earn a whopping 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in gas purchases for the whole quarter when you activate the bonus category.

BankAmericard 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
  • $150 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)
14.49% to 24.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card can make your next car trip a little more affordable with 3% cash back on gas, groceries, and wholesale club purchases (on up to $2,500 in combined category purchases each quarter).

9. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a great pick for your vacation road trip, providing 3% cash back on gas station purchases, plus save when you stock up on supplies with 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in grocery store purchases each year.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Earn 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases
  • Earn 3% cash back at US gas stations and US department stores
  • Pay $95 annual fee

You can also use the American Express Blue Cash Preferred to purchase new vacation duds, as you’ll earn 3% cash back at qualifying department stores.

Best Vacation Credit Cards for Hotel Rewards

As our home away from home, the hotel we stay at can have a big impact on how much we enjoy our vacation — which is likely why many travelers have at least one hotel brand they prefer over the alternatives.

For those who frequently stay with one hotel chain, co-branded hotel rewards credit cards can offer free nights, as well as perks like elite status and room upgrades.

10. Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express earns 2X Starpoints per dollar spent on qualifying Starwood and Marriott purchases, plus 1X Starpoints per dollar on all other card purchases.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 2X Starpoints per dollar spent on eligible Starwood Preferred Guest® or Marriott purchases
  • Earn 1X on all other purchases
  • Pay $0 annual fee the first year, $95 each year after

Starpoints are not only valuable when redeeming for hotel stays, but they can also be transferred to a variety of airline frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 transferred points.

11. Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus credit card

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus credit card is ideal for the Marriott enthusiast, but also works for Starwood fans, as well. Cardholders earn 6X Marriott Rewards® points per dollar spent at participating Marriott and SPG properties worldwide, and 2X points on everything else.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • Earn 6X Marriott Rewards® points per $1 on eligible Marriott or SPG purchases
  • Earn 2X Marriott Rewards points per $1 on all other purchases
  • Pay $95 annual fee

Cardholders also receive automatic Silver Elite status, with the ability to hit Gold Status after spending $30,000 on their card in a single account year.

12. Hilton Honors Ascend Card

The Hilton Honors Ascend Card has three bonus tiers, offering 12X Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points per dollar on Hilton Portfolio purchases, as well as 6X points per dollar at US restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets. Plus, get 3X points per dollar on all other purchases.

Hilton Honors Ascend Card

  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points per $1 for Hilton purchases
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points for purchases at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
  • Pay $95 annual fee

The benefits of the Hilton Honors Ascend Card also extend past its purchase rewards, with perks that include Hilton Gold status, 10 Priority Pass Select passes, and a weekend night award for spending at least $15,000 on your card in a calendar year.

Best Vacation Credit Cards for Airline Rewards

Although credit cards that earn flexible rewards points can be more versatile, co-branded airline credit cards can be a good way to earn piles of miles thanks to typically generous signup bonuses and decent purchase rewards.

Co-branded airline credit cards also tend to come with additional perks, including preferred boarding and free checked bags, making them a tempting choice for anyone with a favorite airline brand.

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

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® not only provides 2X AAdvantage® miles per dollar for American Airlines purchases, but it provides the same bonus for restaurant and gas station purchases, as well.

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

  • Earn 2X AAdvantage® miles per $1 on American Airlines, restaurant, and gas station purchases
  • Earn 1X AAdvantage® miles per $1 on all other purchases
  • Pay $0 annual fee the first year, $99 each year after

In addition to AAdvantage® miles, cardholders can also receive perks like a free checked bag, priority boarding, and a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases.

14. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express gives users a way to earn SkyMiles® without leaving the ground, offering 2X miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases, including flights, Sky Club® membership passes, and in-flight purchases.

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 Delta flights
  • Pay $0 annual fee the first year, $95 each year after

The card also offers perks beyond purchase rewards, offering a free checked bag on round-trip Delta flights, priority boarding, and in-flight discounts.

15. United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card earns bonus miles for United purchases, as well as offering perks like a free checked bag and priority boarding.

United MileagePlus Explorer Card

  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased from United, 1X on all other purchases
  • Get your first checked bag free on United-operated flights
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card also comes with two United Club passes each year, allowing access to the exclusive United Club airport lounges.

Best Vacation Credit Cards for Amusement Park Rewards

While there may be some travelers who are content to simply lounge poolside for the length of their trip, most of us like a little more activity during our vacations. And what better place to find a little vacation amusement than, say, an amusement park?

If you love a specific park, you can often find a credit card dedicated just to them, but your better pick may be a card that offers rewards on a wider range of entertainment options.

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on purchases for 15 months from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer
  • Points are redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants and department and home stores. 2,500 ThankYou® Points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • Earn 2X Points on dining out and entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on all other purchases
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent

The 2X ThankYou® points per $1 on entertainment purchases makes the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card a good option for a range of vacation activities, including amusement parks, concerts, and live sporting events.

17. 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

Beyond the card’s inclusive purchase rewards, the Marvel Mastercard® also offers a host of perks for the Marvel devotee, including discounts and free shipping on MarvelShop.com purchases, as well as special discounts on Marvel Unlimited and Marvel digital comics.

18. Disney® Premier Visa® Card

While Chase offers two Disney co-branded cards, the Disney® Premier Visa® Card definitely provides the better rewards rate, providing 2% in Disney Rewards Dollars at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and most Disney locations, as well as unlimited 1% back on all other purchases.

Disney® Visa® Card

  • Earn 2% back in Disney Rewards Dollars for card purchases in select categories
  • Save 10% on select Disney and Star Wars purchases
  • Pay no annual fee

In addition to its purchase rewards, the Disney® Premier Visa® Card offers exclusive cardholder discounts, photo opportunities, and character experiences to help you make the most of your Disney vacation.

Best Vacation Credit Cards for Cruise Rewards

For some travelers, cruises are the best way to travel, not only offering a bevy of onboard entertainment options — and an unlimited buffet — but also providing a chance to explore multiple destinations during a single trip.

Given the thousands of vacationers who go crazy for cruises, it makes sense that most major cruise lines offer their own rewards credit card. These cards are best for those who are loyal to one cruise line, as each card’s rewards can only be used with its associated brand.

19. 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.

20. Carnival® World Mastercard®

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

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.

21. 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.

Make Your Dream Vacation a Reality

Sometimes life can feel a little repetitive. Sometimes life can feel a little repetitive.

That’s when it’s time to shake things up with a good vacation. You know, that one you daydream about when you put your day on autopilot.

If you’ve been using the right travel credit card to earn rewards all year, you likely already have the points and miles to make that dream come true. For everyone else, it’s not too late to start earning your way to a little adventure.