The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, May 19, 2022

12 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards of 2022

Travel Rewards Credit Cards

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer

Written by: Brittney Mayer

Brittney Mayer

Brittney is a Credit Strategist and Finance Expert who has spent years honing her knowledge of the credit industry both personally and professionally. Brittney applies her more than a decade of research experience to crafting in-depth consumer guides designed to help CardRates readers make better, more informed financial decisions.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian is a Content Editor who brings her journalism experience in business and consumer finance to ensure CardRates news articles and reports have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. Her primary goal is to assure editorial content meets the highest level of quality and precision.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Travel rewards credit cards can provide consumers with an array of benefits, saving major bucks on flights, hotels, restaurants, and other travel-related expenses. In the article below, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite travel rewards credit cards available today.

In 2016 alone, almost 13 million Americans traveled abroad for either business or leisure. And for every trip abroad the average American took in 2016, more than six domestic trips were taken somewhere in the country.

Indeed, Americans like to travel so much, the U.S. is actually second on the list of countries whose citizens travel the most, coming in behind the jet-setters of Finland overall, and first for domestic travel. With so much coming and going, the top priority often becomes finding ways to save on all that travel — or at least make it more comfortable.

For many, the solution to both problems is the travel rewards credit card. Offering rewards redeemable for flights, hotels, or even cash, travel rewards cards can not only make travel more affordable, but can often make it more enjoyable with other exclusive travel perks such as airport lounge access and personal travel concierges.

Miles | Points | Chip-and-Pin | No Annual Fee | Hotels

The Best “Airline Miles” Travel Rewards Cards

Started in the 1970s as a way to reward loyal travelers and lure new people into the air, modern frequent-flyer programs have grown beyond the airlines themselves and into the mainstream credit card space. Airlines have paired with traditional credit card issuers, such as Mastercard and American Express, to offer consumers credit cards good on more than just airfare, adding in lucrative rewards to sweeten the deal.

With the right credit card and miles rewards program, frequent flyers can easily earn their way to free flights simply by making their normal purchases — especially if they take advantage of sweet signup bonuses. If you haven’t given your heart to a single airline, don’t worry; our top picks also include an option for a miles program that doesn’t discriminate between brands.

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 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
16.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card credit card is one the most flexible miles card on our list, offering the ability to redeem miles on any airline without blackouts when used toward a statement credit. Or, transfer miles to a qualifying airline loyalty program to combine with your existing frequent flyers miles.

Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and 2X miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1X miles on all other purchases.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets
  • Take up to $50 off the cost of your flight for every 5,000 miles you redeem with Pay with Miles when you book on delta.com
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good

With its first passenger flights starting in 1929, Delta Airlines is one of the oldest commercial airlines in the country and has been offering rewards to loyal travelers for decades. With the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card cardholders earn miles on every purchase, meaning you don’t have to be a frequent flyer to earn free flights.

This card also offers a solid signup bonus with an attainable spend, putting you that much closer to your next vacation.

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

at the issuer'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$99, waived for first 12 months
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.)

American Airlines has been transporting passengers for over 90 years, and the AAdvantage program has been a part of that journey since 1981. Today, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® offers any qualified consumer an easy way to earn free travel.

Cardholders can also earn up to 10,000 of their redeemed miles back each year simply by redeeming their points with the 10% redemption rebate. See an in-depth list of pros and cons for the Citi® Platinum Select® Mastercard here to help decide if this card is right for you!

The Best “Points” Travel Rewards Cards

The versatile cousins of the miles credit card, points-based programs offer many of the benefits of airline miles — including the ability to be redeemed for free flights — but typically have fewer brand limitations. Additionally, points can often be redeemed for non-travel rewards such as gift cards, unique experiences, and merchandise.

The key things to look for when comparing travel rewards cards that offer points are the rate at which you’ll earn points and if any particular categories apply. If you don’t spend a lot eating out, for instance, you may not need one that rewards restaurant purchase. Our favorite points cards for travel have flexible redemption options and quality signup bonuses.

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 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, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 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
  • 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
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

POINTS & GIFTS RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • 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
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

While points programs do offer more redemption options than the typical miles card, think about the value of your points when you redeem. In many cases, points are worth more when redeemed for travel, either through the bank’s specific travel portal or by transferring rewards points to an eligible airline or hotel partner.

The Best “Chip-and-Pin” Travel Rewards Cards

Ubiquitous throughout the U.S. and E.U., the EMV credit card, also known as a chip card, uses an integrated circuit to generate single-use codes for each purchase, making them more secure than traditional magnetic stripe cards. While American chip cards are chip-and-signature, meaning purchases are verified with the cardholder’s signature, credit cards in the UK and Europe are chip-and-pin, requiring a four-digit pin for verification.

While many EU merchants will accept and be able to process your American chip-and-signature credit card, U.S. cardholders may run into problems at unmanned terminals and kiosks, such as those that dispense train tickets, which may only accept cards with pins. Frequent travelers may prefer to obtain a chip-and-pin credit card to avoid any potential hassles. Our top picks come without any foreign transaction fees, increasing their travel value.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • 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

In many cases, pin-capable credit cards issued to U.S. cardholders will still default to chip-and-signature verification whenever possible. This means you may be required to provide a signature at some merchants, but should be able to use your pin at automated kiosks and other locations that only accept chip-and-pin verification.

The Best “No Annual Fee” Travel Rewards Cards

High on the list of features that are no-brainers for a sweet travel rewards card are cards that don’t charge an annual fee. Ranging from $30 to well over $500, annual fees not only cut into your potential rewards, including potentially eliminating your signup bonus, but they are often charged right away, immediately eating into your available credit limit.

Although annual fees are often associated with the best rewards and perks, you don’t have to sacrifice travel benefits to avoid an annual fee. In addition to providing unlimited rewards on everything you buy, our top picks for this category won’t charge you foreign transaction fees, either, saving you a pretty penny on your overseas purchases.

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
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • 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.
  • New Intro APR: 0% intro APR† for 15 months on purchases. Then 12.24% to 23.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • 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 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • 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

As you compare no-annual-fee cards, be sure to carefully consider the signup bonuses; because there’s no annual fee to bite into your bonus, you’ll really get the full bang for your buck. If you’ll want to avoid interest fees on top of everything else, look for a quality introductory 0% APR offer to round out your travel card.

The Best “Hotel” Travel Rewards Cards

When considering upcoming travel, one of the first things many people think about is the cost of the flight, especially when traveling abroad. However, with the average hotel room going for around $120 a night, your flight may not be the biggest bite to your budget — it might actually be your hotel.

For the frequent traveler, brand loyalist, or even casual vacationer, a hotel rewards credit card can offer a lot of tempting perks, including benefits like free in-room wifi. Our favorite hotel cards all come with healthy signup bonuses that will put you well on the path to free stays in no time.

10. Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

Going back almost 100 years, Hilton has served millions of guests and today has more than 540 properties around the world. The Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express allows cardholders to enjoy Hilton Honors Gold status when they open an account.

Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

  • Earn 12X points per dollar for Hilton purchases
  • Earn points for purchases at U.S. restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
  • Earn 3X points for all other purchases

Hilton Honors cardholders who spend $40,000 or more in a calendar year can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.

11. 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.

(Non-Monetized. The information related to Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 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.)

12. 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 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.

(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.)

Find Out How Rewarding Travel Can Be

Every year in America, the U.S. Department of State issues literally millions of passports to its citizens for travel abroad. In fact, 2016 alone saw 18,676,547 passports issued, adding to the more than 131 million U.S. passports currently in circulation.

To top that, the average American takes more than six domestic trips a year, nearly 80% of which are for leisure purposes. With so many people traveling each year, it’s little wonder cardholders around the country are turning to travel rewards credit cards to make travel easier, cheaper, and more comfortable.

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