The 12 Best Travel Credit Cards

Travel credit cards are a fantastic tool to travel for free and cheaply. They give you category bonuses, insurance, and large sign-up bonuses. They earn flexible points that can be transferred to their many partners. 

These points are like currency. They happen to be better spent traveling for free than being paid as a cashback. 

If you are just getting started and looking for an excellent card to go with, these travel credit cards will help you begin your journey. 

The 12 Best Travel Credit Cards

When looking for the best travel credit cards around, you must consider a few things. 

  • Will the card be worth it?
  • How large is the sign-up bonus?
  • How much to spend to hit the sign-up bonus?
  • Will this card add value to my travel hacking?
  • How much is the Fee?

There are numerous reasons to pick a specific card. Go with something that has good value, transferable points, and a card that allows you to travel for free. 

If you like United and Marriot, you could choose one of those cards and add a Chase Sapphire card to transfer points to both programs. That way, you can maximize your points and value.

Here are the 12 best travel credit cards to get.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is probably one of the best travel credit cards for beginner travelers. The annual fee is meager, and there are just so many perks you will get from the card. Each anniversary year, you will get a $50 Annual Hotel credit. The points you can gain through travel, dining, and anything else are worth it. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is hands down one of the best travel cards. The currency of the Chase Ultimate Rewards points is so versatile. Here are some of the features of the card.

  • Welcome Bonus: 80,000 Ulitmate Rewards Points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months opening up the account.
  • Sign-up bonus worth $1000 in travel through the Chase portal.
  • $50 Annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit
  • 5x points on flights and hotels booked through the Chase Portal
  • 3x points on dining out
  • 3x points for online purchases at grocery stores
  • 2x points on all other travel-related purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee
  • Learn how to apply here

If you are just getting started into travel hacking or traveling in general, it is good to have a card to go with you. The Chase Sapphire Preferred can help you get there. 

Read the review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Capital One Venture X Card

Capital One is a little late to the credit card game, but they are making a big splash. The Captial One Venture X card is one of their newest cards. They made the Venture X into its premium card, coming with a fee of $395, but with all of the bonuses combined, you should be able to walk away with more value and money at the end of the day. 

Here are some of the features of the Capital One Venture X card.

  • Welcome Bonus: 75,000 Miles after spending $4,000 over the next 3 months.
  • Sign-up bonus worth about $750 in travel.  
  • $300 Travel Credit through their portal
  • 10,000 ($100) bonus miles each year on your account anniversary.
  • 10x points on hotels and rental cars through the Capital One Portal
  • 5x points on flights booked through the Capital One portal
  • 2x on everything else
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • Lounge Pass to Capital One Lounges
  • $100 Global Entry and TSA Precheck Credit
  • Points can be used to cover any travel expense
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $395 Fee every year.
  • Learn how to apply here

If you want to go with a premium card, you cannot go wrong with the Capital One Venture X Card. The fee may sound terrible, but if you book more than $300 in the travel portal, you will get the $300 credit, plus an additional 10,000 points at the card anniversary. You will be making $5 instead of losing $395 in the fee. That is a win-win for most people. 

The great thing about this card is you can get up to 4 authorized users for free added to the card. They will then access the Capital One Lounges and the Priority Pass Select Membership. 

Capital One is making a name for itself in the credit card industry and the Venture X card is one of the best travel credit cards out there.

Read the review of the Capital One Venture X Card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

One of the best premium travel cards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Reserve is a part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. With it, you get a load of different features that helps out travelers. Here are just a few of the features.

  • Welcome Bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening the account
  • $300 Travel Credit
  • 10x points for hotel and rental card purchases through the Chase Portal
  • 5x points for flights booked through the Chase Portal
  • 3x Points on all other Travel and Dining Out. 
  • 50% more value using the points in the Chase Portal
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • Primary Rental Car Insurance
  • $100 Global Reentry Pass
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • $550 fee every year. 
  • Learn how to apply here

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card does more than any regular travel card can do. It gives you primary rental car insurance and Priority Pass Select Membership to enjoy those lounges and lots of points. 

If you are a big-time traveler, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is excellent to have in your pocket. You can also connect it with the other Chase cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Freedom Flex to combine points to have even more value as a card. 

It is one of the best travel credit cards out there. 

Capital One Venture Card

Capital One Venture Card is one of the best travel credit cards. It is simple to use; you can get 2x miles on everything. Simplicity at its best. You can use this card for almost anything. 

The way you use the points is that you can wipe out any travel expenses on the card. Here are some of the other features of the card.

  • Welcome Bonus: 60,000 miles if spend $3,000 in 3 months
  • Sign-up bonus worth $600 in travel credit
  • 5x points on hotel and rental cars rented through the Capital One Portal
  • 2x points on everything else
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit
  • Transfer points to over 15 travel partners
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The annual fee is $95
  • Learn how to apply here

If you want to keep things simple and have one card do all things, then the Capital One Venture card is best. It has a low annual fee with getting 2x points on everything. 

American Express Platinum

One of the most premium travel cards will be the American Express Platinum card. The Platinum Card comes with loads of features, credits, and a large sign-up bonus. 

Here are some of the features of the card.

  • Welcome offer: 100,000 points after spending $6,000 in 6 months. 
  • $200 Airline credit from booking with qualifying airlines
  • $200 Hotel credit through booking Fine Hotels and Resorts or The Hotel Collection
  • 5x points booked through the airline or American Express Travel
  • 5x points booked hotels on American Express Travel
  • Access To Global Lounge Collection (Includes Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The annual Fee is $695
  • Learn how to apply here

As you can see, the American Express Platinum Card has a hefty annual fee. It comes with being one of the highest premium cards out there. If you can effectively use all the perks and features of this card, you can make the value worth more than the $695 fee.

If you cannot take advantage of all the perks, it may be better to go with a lower fee card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Preferred, or the Capital One Venture X card.

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier Credit Card is another excellent card with some of the other Citi Cards. They get ThankYou points as their currency of choice, but it allows many great perks as a low annual fee card. 

Here are some of the features of the Citi Premier Card.

  • Welcome Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. 
  • 3x points on Restaurants and Grocery Stores
  • 3x points on Gas Stations, Hotels, Air Travel, and Other Travel
  • 1x points on everything else
  • 1:1 transfer of points to airline partners
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 Annual Fee
  • Learn how to apply here

If you are in the Citi ecosystem, the Premier card is fantastic to add to your arsenal of cards. If it fits you, then grab the card. When the sign-up bonus is much higher, then the sign-up is more worth it. At 60,000 points is an excellent time to grab it.

United Explorer Card

If you fly United a lot, then the United Explorer Card is the best. With priority boarding, a free checked bag, and two club passes, you cannot go wrong with having this card to help you fly for cheaper. 

Here are some of the perks of the United Card. 

  • Welcome bonus: Up to 70,000 miles. 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Add an additional 10,000 miles if spend $4,000 in 6 months. 
  • 2x miles on United purchases, dining, and hotel bookings
  • 1x miles on everything else
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • First Checked Bag Free
  • Priority Boarding
  • 2 free United Club passes
  • $100 credit for Global Entry
  • The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year
  • Learn how to apply here

United is also a transfer partner with the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program, so you can transfer points from one of the Chase Sapphire cards to United and get even more band for your buck. 

Delta Skymiles Gold American Express

Delta is one of the best airlines in the U.S.A. Having a Delta credit card can give you access to so much and allow you to earn many more miles to travel for cheaper. 

Take a look at some of these features.

  • Welcome bonus: 70,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. 
  • $100 Delta Flight credit after spending $10,000 in a calendar year. 
  • 2x Delta Miles on Delta flights, restaurants, and U.S. Supermarkets
  • 1x miles on everything else
  • Priority Boarding
  • Free check bag
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, $99 after that. 
  • Learn how to apply here

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card is great if you often fly Southwest. With this card, you can earn even more points gaining the coveted Southwest companion pass that allows you to travel with your companion for even cheaper. 

Here are some other features of the credit card

  • Welcome bonus: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2x points on Southwest Purchases
  • Earn points towards Southwest companion pass
  • No seat restrictions or blackout dates
  • Annual Fee $69
  • Learn how to apply here

If you are flying with Southwest Often, then the Rapid Rewards Plus card is great to jump onto. It allows you to gain miles and fly for cheaper with a companion. 

Hilton Honors Surpass American Express

Hilton has upped their game with their credit cards and points. The Hilton Honors Surpass American Express card features a great sign-up bonus with many perks.

Here are some of those features. 

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 130,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. 
  • 7x points on Hilton Purchases
  • 5x points on U.S. restaurants, Gas stations, and supermarkets
  • 3x points on everything else
  • Hilton Silver Status
  • Hit Hilton Gold status after spending $20,000 in a calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee of $95
  • Learn how to apply here

Loyalty to a brand can reward you very well. The more you stay and spend, the more rewards you can gain. Having a Hilton credit card can allow you to accumulate more points and even free nights. 

Marriot Bonvoy Boundless

If you enjoy Marriot then you cannot go wrong with this card. Here are some of the features that comes with the Marriot Bonvoy Boundless card.

  • Welcome Bonus: 3 free Nights (up to 50,000 points each) after spending $3,000 in 3 months.
  • Earn 3x points on the first $6,000 on U.S. restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations in a year. 
  • Free night award (35,000 points) on each anniversary.
  • Elite Silver Status
  • 17x points on over 7,000 Marriot properties
  • 15 Elite Night credits earned each year
  • No Foreign Transaction fees
  • $95 fee
  • Learn how to apply here

Chase Ink Preferred Business Card

You could open up a business card if you own a business or work as a Sole Proprietor. The Chase Ink Preferred Business card is one of the best travel business cards. The great thing is that you can connect your points with the Chase Ultimate Rewards and book more free travel. 

  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
  • Redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards for $1,250 in value
  • 3x points on the first $150,000 spend for travel and category bonus
  • 1x points on everything else
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 fee
  • Learn how to apply here

If you can hit the bonus, then the Chase Ink Preferred Business card may be the card for you. Spending $15,000 can be a ton. The Chase Ink Business Unlimted and Cash Back cards have a lower threshold so take a look at those. Plus they have no annual fee as well. 

Final Thoughts:

Travel credit cards come in all shapes and sizes. They have different uses and ways to accumulate points and miles for you to travel cheaper and farther. Take advantage of some of the offers and find a card that suits you. 

If the card has an annual fee choose a non-annual fee card that can match up with it in order to get more points like having the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. These cards can help you to save more money on travel. 

Which card do you travel with?

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