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The Best Cards for Summer Travel: If You’re Driving

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Planning to hit the road over the next few months? TPG Points & Miles Editor Sarah Silbert shares some of the best credit card options for those of you driving to your destination or renting a car once you get there.

Recently, we shared some of the best credit cards for summer travel that involves taking a flight or two. Luckily, there are also quite a few options for those of you planning to road-trip it this summer, too.

Before we dive into the list, there are a few important things to consider. If you’re booking a rental car, your first priority should be using a card that offers primary rental insurance. Note that to utilize this benefit, you need to decline the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered by the rental agency. Meanwhile, whether you’re in your own car or a rental, you’ll want to pick a card that offers bonus points/miles at gas stations whenever you stop to refuel. Also, note that this article is designed to simply scratch the surface and highlight some of the best options overall — it’s by no means a conclusive list. For a more detailed look, see these posts:

Keep reading for a quick rundown of each of the top options.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 

This card is worth considering for several reasons, including its generous 2x points on a wide range of travel and dining purchases, including overnight stops during your road trip. For those hitting the road this summer, though, the most important benefit is primary rental car coverage, which has your back in the event of the loss or damage of a vehicle for rentals that don’t exceed 31 consecutive days. Note that while this card is a top pick for car rentals, it doesn’t earn bonus points on gas.

Currently, this card’s offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, and you can earn an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the first three months. You can redeem points with a variety of transfer partners, including Hyatt and United. This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

Ink Plus Business Card from Chase

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The Ink Plus Business Card offers primary rental car insurance for business rentals and earns you 2x points at gas stations.

Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, this card offers primary rental car insurance, but note that you must be renting a vehicle for business purposes to be eligible. Even if you can’t take advantage of this feature, though, it could be worth getting this card if you’re a small business owner who can maximize its lucrative bonus categories. You’ll earn 5x points on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year, plus 2x on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly from the hotel each account anniversary year.

This card’s currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. It has a $95 annual fee, and no foreign transaction fees.

Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Citi recently pulled the sign-up bonus for its ThankYou Premier Card, but it’s still a worthwhile option thanks to a few features. First, while this card offers just secondary coverage for car rentals in the US, it offers primary coverage abroad, so this could be a good option if your travels take you to a country that the Chase cards’ policy doesn’t cover. You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar on travel purchases including gas with this card, in addition to 2 points per dollar on dining out and entertainment and 1 point per dollar on everything else. This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express

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The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card earns you bonus points at US gas stations. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

With the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card, you’ll earn an uncapped 2x points at US gas stations — perfect if you’re planning a road trip around the country. You’ll also earn 3x points on the first $6,000 spent at US supermarkets per year and 1x points on everything else. Plus, when you make at least 30 purchases in a billing period, you’ll receive a 50% points bonus. For more information on this card and how it compares to the no-fee Amex EveryDay Credit Card, see this post.

This card’s currently offering a sign-up bonus of 15,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. It has an annual fee of $95, and it charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee on all purchases processed abroad.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re renting a car or jumping in your own set of wheels, there are several credit cards to consider. Choices like the Chase Sapphire Preferred keep you covered in the event of damage to your rental, while other picks earn you valuable rewards every time you fuel up at a gas station.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

What’s your favorite card to use when your travel plans include driving?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • 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®
  • Named a 'Best Credit Card' for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine
  • 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
  • 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
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 0% Excellent Credit