The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Friday, October 7, 2022
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2022's Best 2022's Best Travel Credit Cards

Below are the best travel rewards credit cards for 2022. These cards feature generous rewards on travel purchases, travel credits, insurance coverage, and lucrative signup bonuses, among other perks. Whether you're a casual traveler or a seasoned globetrotter, one of these cards is sure to fit your needs.

Written by: Eric Bank

Eric Bank

Eric Bank has been covering business and financial topics since 1985, specializing in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences. In addition to his work on CardRates.com, Eric has appeared regularly on Credible.com, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Get.com, Zacks, Chron and dozens of other outlets. A former software engineer, Eric holds an M.B.A. from New York University and an M.S. in finance from DePaul University.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewed by: Ashley Dull

Ashley Dull

With more than a decade of experience as a content manager and marketer, Ashley has specialized in finance coverage since 2015. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media campaigns. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among others.

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Review Breakdown: Review Breakdown: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Are you on the fence about one or more travel rewards credit cards? Our review breakdown below summarizes the top credit cards for travel rewards. Click on a card name to visit the issuer's official site and online application.

Here are 2022's best credit cards for travel rewards:

Best Travel Credit Cards
Rank Card Name Feature Intro APR Expert Rating
1 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 5.0
2 Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.9
3 Chase Sapphire Reserve® Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.9
4 Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.9
5 Discover it® Miles Travel 0% Intro APR for 15 months ★★★★★ 4.9
6 Chase Freedom Flex℠ Travel 0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months ★★★★★ 4.9
7 Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.8
8 The Platinum Card® Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.8
9 Chase Freedom Unlimited® Travel 0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months ★★★★★ 4.8
10 Business Platinum Card® from American Express Travel 0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months (Pay Over Time) ★★★★★ 4.7
11 U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
12 HSBC Elite Credit Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
13 Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
14 Citi Premier® Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
15 Capital One Spark Miles for Business Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
16 Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
17 Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card with Rewards Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
18 American Express® Green Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
19 Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.6
20 Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Travel N/A ★★★★★ 4.6

13 FAQs About Travel Credit Cards

Eric Bank
By: Eric Bank
Finance Expert
Updated:
13 FAQs About Travel Credit Cards

The travel credit cards market is enormous, with dozens of high-quality candidates deserving of your consideration. To increase your IQ on the topic, we provide answers to frequently asked questions about travel cards.

With so many to choose from, it pays to research the travel cards that give you the benefits you want at a price you’re willing to pay.

1. What Is a Travel Credit Card?

A travel rewards card makes traveling more convenient and economical by offering money-saving benefits and valuable rewards. If we were to divide the reward card universe into cash back versus points and miles, travel cards would land in the latter group.

These cards usually offer tiered rewards on travel-related purchases, typically 2X to 5X points or miles per dollar spent. Card issuers are responsible for structuring rewards, including their denomination, value, and redemption options.

A travel card may also offer a flat rewards rate of 1.5X to 2X points or miles per dollar spent on all purchases. This rate usually exceeds those for nontravel purchases (typically 1X) from tiered travel cards.

For example, consider co-branded Travel Card A, which offers 4X miles on purchases from Airline A and 1X points on all others. In contrast, general-purpose Travel Card B pays 2X points on all eligible purchases. Which of the two will award you more points for the year depends on your shopping patterns and travel habits.

Complicating the picture, Card A may place an annual limit on the miles it will reward at the 4X rate, whereas Card B’s rewards are unlimited.

To further confuse the comparison, the value of Card A’s miles depends on the current reward structure of Airline A’s frequent flyer program, something the airline often modifies. Maybe each mile is worth $0.75 toward the purchase of some Airline A flight tickets versus $1.25 for other flights, depending on date, time, seating, and route.

Rather than diving into the weeds to figure out what your Card A miles are worth, you may prefer Card B’s miles, which you can redeem for tickets on any airline with no blackout dates or other restrictions.

Many travel cards offer signup bonuses to those who spend a set amount during an initial period (usually three months) after account opening. The cards may offer benefits that reduce the cost of travel, increase travel security, and complement nontravel perks.

In most cases, travel rewards do not expire while the credit card account remains open. But a few mileage cards may allow rewards to expire if you don’t use them within a set period.

Once you determine the likely value of the rewards and travel credits your card accumulates in a year, you need to subtract the card’s annual fee. The best travel cards have yearly charges between approximately $400 and $1,000.

A card with rewards, benefits, and credits that save you $500 per year may not be worth an annual fee of more than $600.

2. What Should I Look For in a Travel Credit Card?

The major rewards card issuers allocate significant resources to the smart people and powerful computers that design travel card characteristics. It’s then up to you to choose the card that best matches your needs.

Design Considerations

The credit card companies must, first and foremost, make a profit on their credit cards, or they may not survive very long. To earn that profit, card designers must factor in many variables, including:

  • How many people will obtain the card
  • How much revenue the cards will earn each year from interest and fees
  • The cost of the card’s rewards based on the value of points or miles the average cardholder will accumulate over a set period.
  • The cost of the card’s introductory promotions
  • The estimated cost of defaults among cardholders
  • The cost of each card benefit and the percentage of cardholders who take advantage of it. The cost of an expensive perk may be low if relatively few cardholders use it.
  • The characteristics of the card’s main competitors and the latest trends in consumer demand for various features
  • The capital the issuer needs to finance the card’s operations, marketing, and overhead
  • The issuer’s required gross and net margins
  • Regulatory requirements and constraints

What emerges is a shiny plastic (or metal) card with a unique set of characteristics that must compete with other cards that are just as carefully designed. You, dear reader, must decide which of these carefully prepared packages works best for you.

Points of Comparison

Here is what to look for when you shop for a travel credit card:

  • Annual fee: This is how much you’ll pay each year for the privilege of owning the card. Some travel cards charge no or low annual fees, but don’t expect them to offer the same perks you’d get from more expensive cards.
  • Interest rate: If you have good to excellent credit, you should qualify for an APR below 20%. Thankfully, the APR is irrelevant if you pay your entire monthly balance thanks to the interest-free grace period.
  • Foreign transaction fee: The better travel cards waive this fee. Other cards typically charge 3% to 5% of each transaction.
  • Signup bonus: The best travel cards offer a large sum of points or miles for new card membership if you spend a set amount on purchases during the introductory period. You may not qualify for the signup bonus if you recently owned the same card or another from the same issuer.
  • 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfer transactions: This perk is less prevalent among travel cards than it is among cash back credit cards. It may come in handy if you are planning an expensive vacation and want to finance the cost over several months. A 0% APR balance transfer promotion can help you consolidate your debt.
  • Travel benefits: Each travel card creates a unique array of benefits that make traveling more secure and less costly. As detailed below, the range of benefits is broad and includes goodies such as trip insurance, free baggage check, and rental car collision damage waiver, among others.
  • Other benefits: Travel cards usually offer nontravel benefits since most of us can’t be on vacation all the time. Look for perks such as purchase protection, extended warranties, and $0 fraud liability.

Our CardRates.com rating system consolidates all these considerations into an easy-to-compare score between zero and 5. One valuable benefit of this system is that you’re likely to find highly ranked cards that charge low or no annual fees.

Focus on Travel Benefits

Many consumers look beyond a travel card’s reward structure to its package of benefits that add value, convenience, and security to one’s travel plans. A card’s travel benefits may include:

  • Access to select dining and entertainment experiences
  • Access to select airport lounges
  • An annual travel credit
  • Concierge service
  • Enhanced point values when redeemed for travel
  • Free baggage check
  • Global Entry & TSA Pre Check® reimbursement
  • Insurance covering travel accidents, lost luggage, and trip cancellation/interruption
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Point transfers to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Price drop protection
  • Primary or secondary rental car collision damage waiver
  • Special car rental privileges from select agencies

As noted earlier, travel cards can also deliver non-travel benefits, including:

Very few credit cards provide all these benefits, but the best credit card options, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Capital One VentureX Rewards Credit Card, come close.

Thankfully, you can find travel cards that offer many benefits at a considerably lower cost.

3. Can I Use a Travel Credit Card For Anything?

While card issuers may optimize travel credit cards for travelers, you can use them as you would any other credit card. The difference is that their top-tier rewards and benefits predominantly favor travelers, whether they’re flying on airlines, cruising the oceans, staying in hotels, or renting cars.

All the reviewed cards offer at least 1X points or miles on all eligible purchases, including groceries, clothing, electronics, dining, and fuel. Most of these cards reserve their higher reward levels, generally 2X to 5X, for travel purchase items.

Some travel cards provide a flat reward rate (i.e., 1.5X to 2X) on all eligible purchases. No matter how you accumulate your rewards, you can redeem them to pay for airline tickets and other travel expenses.

Travel cards highlight the benefits travelers want most, from airport lounge access to travel insurance. But many also provide generic benefits, including extended warranties and fraud protection.

If you travel often, you may want to consider supplementing your travel credit card with a cash back card that offers generous rewards on non-travel purchases. You can then use your cash rewards to pay travel expenses, knowing that all your purchases earn top reward rates.

4. What Credit Score Do I Need to Get a Travel Credit Card?

You need good to excellent credit to qualify for most travel credit cards. That translates to a minimum FICO Score of about 670, more or less.

FICO Credit Score Chart

You generally need at least good credit to qualify for a travel rewards card unless you’re a student.

Of course, this score doesn’t guarantee approval; conversely, some folks with lower scores may qualify for a travel card.

Borderline scores can prompt a card issuer to rely on other information to determine approval, such as recent credit history, income, and debt. In most cases, issuers provide instant decisions when you apply for a card.

5. Which Travel Credit Card Is the Easiest to Get?

Identifying which travel credit cards are easier to get than others is challenging. Looking at travel cards with a low annual fee is a good starting place. They offer modest perks and may be more willing to approve applicants that other cards wouldn’t.

Naturally, a high annual fee makes a travel card harder to afford.

Co-branded airline and hotel cards may also provide easier approval. These cards limit rewards to a particular airline or hotel (and affiliates) and therefore serve as marketing tools. The issuers may be willing to approve somewhat riskier applicants as the price for brand loyalty.

Without a doubt, students get the best credit card deals. If you are enrolled at least half-time at a college or trade school, you can get a student credit card that requires no credit history. Some of these are travel cards, including the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students, that provide point or mile rewards and other high-quality perks.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students Review

Look for student travel cards that don’t charge an annual or foreign transaction fee and offer signup bonuses and 0% APR promotions to new cardmembers.

6. How Can a Travel Credit Card Improve My Vacation?

Chase, American Express, Capital One, and other issuers operate travel departments that can help you plan and book your vacation. The catch is that you must use the issuer’s card to pay for the trip. The credit card travel departments give you personalized service for free, whereas traditional travel agencies usually charge significant fees.

Nothing improves a vacation more than free airline tickets, seat upgrades, and free nights at a hotel. Travel credit cards deliver these rewards when you accumulate the necessary points or miles. But it doesn’t stop there.

Vacationers love perks, and the better travel cards provide them in spades. Free access to airport lounges sets the right mood even before you board your flight. Around-the-clock concierge service simplifies many tasks, from booking dinner reservations to obtaining tickets for exclusive events. And while no one likes travel delays, trip insurance can help ease that pain.

With travel cards and most things in life, you get what you pay for. If you want major pampering during your vacation, be ready to shell out several hundred dollars a year in credit card annual fees. The best travel cards partially offset these fees by providing travel credits and reimbursements.

For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a handsome annual travel credit and reimburses your TSA PreCheck expenses. The result is a much lower cost of ownership, making it one of the best travel credit card values.

A 0% introductory APR is another excellent vacation benefit for new cardmembers. You can use this feature to spread out your vacation payments interest-free for at least six months.

If you are considering a new travel card, pay attention to the signup bonus. Getting the card and then using it to book your vacation may satisfy the bonus spending requirement and shower you with points or miles.

Are you planning to rent a car during your vacation? Many travel cards provide free collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage, but only a few offer primary CDW. A primary policy means you may not need to file a claim with your insurance company should a collision occur.

Don’t discount the surprising little things that add spark to your vacation. Some travel cards give you a discount on in-flight purchases, including those lovely little screw cap bottles with the fancy labels.

And, really, can’t you find a better use for your money than to pay for baggage check? Several credit cards pick up the tab for one or two bags per traveler.

7. Do Travel Credit Cards Offer Non-Travel Benefits?

We mentioned earlier a few non-travel benefits these cards offer, but let’s take a closer look:

  • Purchase Protection: The card covers you against the loss or theft of purchased items for a set period, often six months to a year.
  • Price Protection: Your card will give you a refund for the difference in price if an item you bought with the card within a set period is available for a lower cost than what you paid for it.
  • Extended Warranties: The card adds a year to the basic warranty on eligible items. Several constraints usually apply, so read the fine print carefully.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee: You’ll save 2% or more on every purchase you make when traveling abroad by not paying a foreign transaction fee.
  • Roadside Assistance: This is a handy benefit when your car breaks down, has a flat tire, or runs out of fuel.
  • Subscriptions: Your card may offer free or reduced-cost subscriptions to streaming services, food delivery companies, and downloadable periodicals.
  • $0 Fraud Liability: This standard benefit covers you when your card is lost or stolen.

The non-travel benefits available from your travel card make owning other credit cards less important.

8. What Are Co-Branded Travel Cards?

A co-branded travel credit card is a joint venture between a travel-related company and a credit card issuer. Airlines such as United, American, Delta, and Southwest work with Chase, Amex, and other banks to offer travel credit cards with narrowly focused rewards. Hotel chains, such as Hilton and Marriott, also issue co-branded travel cards.

The miles you earn from a co-branded airline credit card are the same frequent flyer miles you collect to travel on the airline. Contrast this with general-purpose travel cards that issue points or miles that pay any eligible travel expense at a fixed rate (e.g., $1 per 100 points or miles).

Some implications of using co-branded travel cards include:

  • Redemption: You can redeem these cards only with the co-branded issuer. That’s fine if you always fly the same airline or stay at the same hotel chain but less valuable if you don’t have brand loyalty. You would need several co-branded travel cards to give you the same reward coverage as a conventional travel card.
  • Value: The value of each airline mile is unclear, and the number of miles you need for a free flight depends on several factors. These include the airline’s frequent flyer program rules, the flight date, time, departure/arrival locations, and the seating class. ValuePenguin conducted a survey revealing the airline miles required for one free flight ranges from 5,000 to 147,000.
  • Expiration: Some co-branded cards allow miles to expire if you don’t redeem them within a set period. That’s seldom true for conventional points or miles.
  • Transfers: You can’t transfer co-branded miles to an unaffiliated airline or hotel, and the issuer usually doesn’t allow you to cash out your miles. Most general-purpose travel cards let you transfer your points or miles to a partnering loyalty program or redeem them for cash.

Clearly, understanding how to value your co-branded air miles requires extensive research.

9. What Is the Difference Between Points and Miles?

Credit card rewards can take the form of cash back, points, or miles. Cash back is the easiest to value, as a dollar is worth, well, a dollar. Points and miles are not as transparent.

Points are versatile. You can use them to pay for purchases, convert them to cash, or transfer them to partnering loyalty programs. In most cases, points are worth one cent each.

But a few credit cards enhance point values when you redeem them with the issuer’s travel agency. For example, when you use your Chase Sapphire Reserve® points to purchase airline tickets via the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, the points increase in value by 50%.

On the other hand, American Express Membership Rewards points are worth less than one cent each when you cash them in. The only way to know the exact value of reward points is to read the card’s disclosure documents.

Reward Value Chart

Miles differ from points in several ways. Their primary purpose is to pay for travel, although some credit cards let you use them for other travel-related expenses.

Many mileage cards do not let you convert your miles to cash. If you want to do so, you must sell your miles on a third-party website.

Miles come in two varieties:

  • General-purpose miles: Non-co-branded miles are similar to points. You can use them to pay for travel regardless of brand, a handy feature if you fly on multiple airlines or stay at different hotels. As with points, general-purpose miles are usually worth one cent each. Discover it® Miles exemplifies the type of credit card that offers general-purpose reward miles. You can use the card’s miles to pay for travel and other expenses. The card even allows you to convert your miles to cash.
  • Loyalty miles: These are the miles you earn with a co-branded travel card, such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. They are the same frequent flyer miles you collect for your spending at a co-branding airline or hotel chain. You can use loyalty miles to pay for issuer-related purchases and perhaps for other travel expenses. You can’t use the miles to pay for a competitor’s offerings — your AAdvantage miles won’t get you a flight on Delta. You may be able to use miles on a partner airline as well. Miles can pay for your flight but won’t cover international taxes or fuel surcharges.

You must review an airline’s award chart to know how many frequent flyer miles you’ll need for a free ticket. For example, a survey found the following frequent flyer mile requirements to buy a one-way economy ticket one month in advance from New York City to Los Angeles:

Air Canada: 7,500 – 12,500
Alaska Airlines: 5,000 – 23,000
American Airlines: 12,500 – 30,000
Delta Air Lines: 15,000
JetBlue: 10,000 – 20,000
Southwest Airlines: 15,000
United Airlines: 12,500
Virgin America: 8,000 – 13,000

The wide variation in mileage requirements shows how the value of miles can vary significantly. The mileage range for each airline indicates the difference in price based on various departure dates and times.

More expensive cabin classes require additional miles. For example, JetBlue requires up to 150,000 miles for a first-class seat.

Here are some tips for using co-branded air miles:

  • The cheapest seat may require more miles than a more expensive seat.
  • International flights require more miles than do domestic flights.
  • Award charts and online travel search engines may not reflect an airline’s dynamic pricing policy, in which real-time supply and demand determine seat cost. You may have to use online tools such as Escape to find up-to-the-second ticket prices, although these tools accept only cash purchases, not frequent flyer redemptions.
  • Upper-class seats cost more, but they also offer a better dollar-to-mile ratio. You get more value by redeeming your miles for business or first-class seats.
  • You may be able to use your miles retroactively to pay for tickets you’ve already purchased. Pay for your tickets (including all taxes and fees) using the co-branded card, and then apply your accumulated miles as a statement credit to pay the credit card bill.

Planning is the key to getting the most value from your credit card miles and gives you time to find the best available deals.

10. How Do I Get the Most Value From a Travel Card?

If you’re going to plunk down some significant coinage to obtain a travel card, you’d like to extract maximum value from it. Here are a few tips:

  • Choose the right type of travel card: General-purpose travel cards are more versatile than their co-branded cousins, which means you can use their rewards at any airline or hotel. Co-branded cards make sense if you are a fan of a specific brand. Alternatively, you may want to own several co-branded cards if you travel often but have eclectic tastes. Many co-branded cards have annual fees that limit their appeal unless you use them frequently.
  • Compare signup bonuses: Issuers attract new cardmembers by offering generous signup bonuses. It’s a good idea to compare a card’s bonus rewards against those of its competitors. You also want to evaluate the size of the bonus against the card’s annual fee — a big signup bonus is worth less if you must pay a $500 annual fee.
  • Compare rewards: All things being equal, you’d prefer to earn 4X rewards on travel purchases instead of 3X or less. Compare competing cards to see which one offers rewards that match your lifestyle best.
  • Pay attention to special purchase rates: Some travel cards offer higher reward rates when you book your travel through their internal travel agencies. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card provides its highest reward rate for purchases made on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website.
  • Maximize redemption value: As mentioned earlier, several credit cards boost the value of their rewards when you redeem them through a card’s travel agency (such as Capital One Travel). It’s wise to get the most value from your points or miles. It may be a mistake to convert points (or, if permitted, miles) to cash if they are worth more when they’re applied directly to travel expenses.
  • Consider reward transfers: Sometimes, your points may be worth more if you transfer them to a partnering loyalty program. The best deals provide a transfer ratio of 1:1 or better.
  • Take advantage of credits: Several travel cards offer one or more credits that reimburse travel-related expenses. These may include general yearly travel credits, reimbursements for TSA PreCheck fees, and anniversary bonus point awards.
  • Avoid interest: Even the best credit cards charge double-digit interest rates on balances you carry across billing cycles. If possible, pay your monthly balance and avoid interest charges. If you are planning an expensive vacation, consider getting a credit card with a 0% intro APR.
  • Never miss a due date: Late fees, which are typically around $40/incident, reduce the overall value of your card. You can set up autopayments to ensure you never miss a deadline. Also, some cards charge for overdrafts, so avoid these as well.
  • Increase your credit line: If your card has granted you a modest credit limit, ask for more. A higher limit means you can charge bigger vacations on a single card. You should typically wait six to 12 months before requesting a credit increase.
  • Add authorized users: You’ll collect rewards faster if you add authorized users to your card. It’s nice to receive the points or miles for user purchases, but know that authorized users are not legally liable for the charges.
  • Consider charging your rent: Some landlords accept credit card payments, but you may have to pay an interchange fee. The strategy makes sense when your credit card’s rewards exceed the extra charge.
  • Collect referral fees: Some cards may pay you bonus rewards or a fixed cash amount for referring new cardmembers.

Travel cards can elevate your lifestyle when you use them intelligently. Avoiding paying interest and fees on these cards is a good starting point, but pay attention to your reward options to maximize the card’s value.

11. Which Card Is Best For Airport Lounges?

Airport lounges are hot nowadays. Credit card issuers know this and compete for customers by offering free or discounted lounge access. Our top three selections for airport lounge access are:

There are several other travel cards that also offer lounge access. If this perk is important to you, check out the roster of lounges available from each card you’re considering.

You may need to read reviews about the different lounge networks, as some are more opulent than others. Do you need a place to take a quick shower, grab a nap, or enjoy a delightful complimentary cocktail? Some lounges deliver all three; others don’t.

You’ll also want to verify which lounges reside at your local airport and your usual destinations. Some credit card issuers, such as Chase and Capital One, are rolling out their lounges slowly and only at a few airports so far.

For the frequent business traveler, airport lounge access can be a valuable perk that lets you recharge your batteries, literally and figuratively, before your next conquest.

12. Can I Cash Out My Travel Rewards?

Travel cards with point rewards usually allow you to cash out. But many co-branded points or miles cards do not give you this option.

For example, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card will let you use your points to buy gift cards, but you can’t convert them directly to cash. The points reportedly have a low redemption rate when you use them for gift cards.

If your travel card doesn’t allow cash redemptions, you may want to try an online mile-selling portal. The procedure is simple:

  1. Get a quote for your miles by specifying their type and number
  2. Allow the portal to verify your account details and authorize payment
  3. Receive payment, typically via PayPal or a check

The amount you’ll receive depends on the supply and demand for your points.

Now for the big caveat: Airline frequent flyer programs don’t allow you to sell your miles. They have the technology to detect unusual account activity. If they catch you, they will likely cancel your miles.

If you don’t want to risk selling your miles to a broker, consider gifting them to family or friends. The transaction is supposed to be profit-free, but I’m betting you can work out a private arrangement with the recipient. Gifting is an excellent way to avoid losing miles that are about to expire.

Another alternative is to purchase goods and services with your co-branded points or miles. Check your card for details.

13. Is It Worth Getting a Travel Card?

You don’t need a travel card, but if you regularly spend money on flights, hotels, and rental cars, owning one can make great sense. As always, the devil is in the details, meaning you must evaluate a travel card’s unique mix of costs and benefits to judge whether it’s right for you.

On the plus side, you will likely earn a nice signup bonus, generous rewards, and valuable benefits. Cards that include travel insurance can come in very handy when things go sideways, and perks such as collision damage waiver and free baggage check can save you big bucks.

The only downside is the cost. Yes, the top travel cards have annual fees starting at around $400. But there are two mitigating facts:

  • Expensive travel cards can pay for themselves through discounts, rewards, and credits.
  • Several very good travel cards exist with annual fees below $100. They don’t offer the same perks as the more expensive cards, but they still represent a good value.

It’s easy to make a case for general-purpose travel cards. Co-branded cards can be problematic due to their various restrictions. But if you like to use a particular airline or hotel chain, they are worth considering.

Editorial Note: Our site content is not provided or commissioned by any credit card issuer(s). Opinions expressed on CardRates.com are the author's alone, not those of any credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by credit card issuers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information; however, all credit card offer details, including information about rewards, signup bonuses, introductory offers, and other terms and conditions, is presented without warranty. Clicking on any offer on CardRates.com will direct you to the issuer's website, where you can review the current terms and conditions of the offer.

The information on this page was reviewed for accuracy on .

About the Author

Eric Bank Eric Bank Finance Expert

Eric Bank has been covering business and financial topics since 1985, specializing in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences. In addition to his work on CardRates.com, Eric has appeared regularly on Credible.com, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Get.com, Zacks, Chron and dozens of other outlets. A former software engineer, Eric holds an M.B.A. from New York University and an M.S. in finance from DePaul University.

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